Friday, September 14, 2018


 Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York, recently answered this question posed to him by a CNN reporter:


On whether the church should change its rules on clergy celibacy

"If it needs to change, it shouldn't be just because of that reason (the clergy sex abuse crisis). There could be other good reasons to talk about a change. And I'm at peace with talking about those. To jump to the conclusion here, I don't know."

My commentary: I have written this before and also to my parish, that the root problem of the scandal we are experiencing is first and foremost the mismanagement of seminarians and priests by bishops. First, it has to do with recruitment of men not suited to the priesthood or capable of celibacy and then secondly giving the clergy a pass after a pass for egregious infractions of normal sexuality and chaste celibacy.

We have to admit as well, and seminaries can back this up, that bishops are accepting candidates for the priesthood who do not have the intellectual and human gifts/qualities necessary to fulfill this high calling of God and the Church.  With the vocation crisis caused by Vatican II and which began just a few years afterward, bishops have lowered their standards and are grateful to get anyone applying to their dioceses. They are lax (not all but some). Usually this hinges on the bishop's vocation director and his discerning/evaluating capabilities. 

I was vocation director for almost 12 years. I have never taken any credit for the candidates I recruited who eventually became priests. But I do take credit for the candidates I processed and rejected for various reasons.

I believe the primary problem of this scandal is not the abuse of prepubescent children (although this is a factor, but not as big as some would lead us to believe) but the homosexual abuse of teenage boys or even pre-teens who look like teenagers.

It is the most asinine statement to say that only boys are abused because the priest has more access to them, as though a homosexual priest would want to abuse a teenage girl.  80% of the abuse is directed to teenage boys.

Yes, there are immature heterosexual priests who have abused teenage girls. About 20% of the abuse is of girls. Homosexual men aren't going to abuse in a sexual way, girls, unless they are bisexual.

Thus to obfuscate the obvious would really mean that we are dealing with homosexual clericalism as well as political correctness which is the secular form of clericalism. 

But let's talk about celibacy.

Yes, this indeed could be part of the problem. The Catholic priesthood may well attract men who think that making a commitment to celibate chastity will assist them with their disordered affections. Or they are not aware of their own sexuality and disorders and think God will take away their sex drive, normal or abnormal, once they are in the seminary and ordained. They are very immature in their human relationships and sexuality.

As far as the callousness of bishops and priests about the effects of sexual abuse on those abused and their families, I think we have to admit that these bishops and priests simply cannot relate to parents and their love for their children and how horrendous it is for a man who represents God and the Church to take advantage of children, theirs or others, these bishops and priests are called to protect and save, both here on earth and in heaven.

When "Marc" decries what has happened by saying directly that the "rape of children" is a crime and immoral, he doesn't mince his words and it strikes at the heart of the matter for a man like Marc who is also a lawyer but more importantly a father, who wants to protect his children and trust those who are called to protect and save his children.

I am not opposed to the Eastern Rite's approach to married clergy and it might be a solution down the road by expanding the pool of candidates who are intellectually and psychologically/sexually healthy and mature.

But we have to be willing to pay living wages to married clergy, allow them to build up equity in any homes they purchase and recognize the other issues that arise with married clergy, such as adultery and divorce.

And certainly  we know that married men also commit sins and crimes of sexual abuse against their own children and teenagers as well as other children and teenagers. Our prisons are full of married pedophiles and ephebophiles, not celibate priests. 


Anonymous said...

The root problem of the scandal in the Church is the abuse of minors AND the mismanagement of seminarians and priests by bishops.

But the root cause of the societal crisis is another thing. The stats below have nothing to do with who is and who is not suited to the priesthood, "homosexual clericalism," or lowered standards.

•One in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused before they turn 18 years old
•30% of women were between the ages of 11 and 17 at the time of their first completed rape
•12.3% of women were age 10 or younger at the time of their first completed rape victimization
•27.8% of men were age 10 or younger at the time of their first completed rape victimization
•More than one third of women who report being raped before age 18 also experience rape as an adult
•96% of people who sexually abuse children are male, and 76.8% of people who sexually abuse children are adults
•34% of people who sexually abuse a child are family members of the child

The gift of human sexuality has been taken for granted. This began not with the "sexual revolution" but with the growing acceptance of divorce and "remarriage," the rate of which has been on an almost steady rise since the end of WW2. And, obviously, since gay marriage was not generally available until 2015, the roots are squarely in the heterosexual community.

But finding someone or some group to blame isn't going to help reverse the trend and rebuild respect for the gift of sexuality that should be evidenced in our culture.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Good luck on your last sentence! But my last paragraph corroborates your comment except for one thing, as opposed to society in general where more heterosexuals abuse girls than homosexuals abusing boys, in the priesthood it is the exact opposite. Thus to deny this as it concerns the priesthood, one is part of the problem and certainly not the solution.

Anonymous said...

"Good luck on your last sentence!"

That's the Church's job. With God's help, the goal is attainable.

Marc said...

If priests are going to be married, perhaps you should rethink whether the Church has the duty to completely financially support them. Married priests could hold jobs. The priest at my local Russian Orthodox parish is a nuclear engineer, for example. I suspect that if you tell the Catholic priests that they can have wives so long as they also have a job, you'll see less support for married priests.

Anonymous said...

Bee here:

"They [some men attracted to the Catholic priesthood] are very immature in their human relationships and sexuality."

So how is a man who is "very immature" in his human relationships supposed to be a good shepherd? Who would ever accept such a candidate to begin with?

Ya' gotta wonder....

God bless.

ByzRus said...


I applaud you, Fr., for spring-boarding a very necessary discussion here (where, I completely agree with your points). Unless, however, this becomes part of the broader reform of the presbyterate discussion within the hierarchy, nothing will change. If we turn back to PF's "field hospital" metaphor, the "sick" are, in part, being treated by the "sick". By no means are these the ideal conditions to heal the body......and the soul.

Anonymous said...

Since Catholics tend strongly to be among the stingiest giver at church, I suspect many dioceses would have little difficulty supporting a married priest with his family if people would contribute just a bit more. . .

Dan said...

Penance is good, therefore all priests should be married!

Anonymous said...

In "Oliver" Fagin is considering marriage and sings...

"I'm reviewing the situation
Can a fellow be a villain all his life?
All the trials and tribulations!
Better settle down and get myself a wife.
And a wife would cook and sew for me,
And come for me, and go for me,
And go for me, and nag at me,
The fingers, she would wag at me.
The money she would take from me.
A misery, she'd make from me..

I think I'd better think it out again!"

Gene said...

How does one take a Dickens novel about child abuse, sodomy, rape, and murder and make a fun musical out of it? LOL!

Anonymous said...

The same way on takes Hugo's Les Misérables, a tale of the starving and dispossessed, or Shakespear's Romeo and Juliet, a tale of double suicide, and turns them into musicals.

Православный физик said...

I agree with Marc (my priest also holds a job), I would argue the exact opposite. If working was good enough for the Apostles', it should be good enough today.

If the Roman church is to relax the discipline on forbidding those who are married to ordination (with rare exception) to make it a universal practice....

a. I think this would be a gain for some parishes, as the diocese would no longer be responsible for the wages (of course the priest should still get a stipend from the Liturgies offered). I'm not thinking of the well to do parishes with more money than they know what to do with (St Monica's in Santa Monica for example)....competent lay people could take over the administrative aspects of the parish so the priest can focus his energy on the Sacraments.

b. The married priest would have to be able to be ready to move at any time, just like a celibate clergy.

c. Those that are celibate should be attached to a monastery (probably as a 3rd order). and do their best to incorporate the monastic life into the parish by offering all he Liturgical series.(Mass is not the only Liturgical service within the church of Rome). (Well, that should be done at all parishes).....

And lest anyone think that married priests aren't as much available for their flock as their celibate counterparts, At least in my own experience, I've had a much easier time getting ahold of married clergy for advice, or the speed need to confess, or what not.

Traditional confessionals need to come back.....Or confessions should take place in the public eye. None of these reconciliation rooms.