A senior official at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has defended clerical celibacy in the wake of the abuse crisis.
In an essay published in a Spanish magazine, Fr. Jordi Bertomeu Farnós said that there is “no evidence” celibacy has any relation to instances of sexual abuse, and warned that priests have been unfairly branded a suspect class.
In the essay, published in Palabra Dec. 10, Fr. Farnós laid out the context of sexual abuse by Catholic priests, noting that the high-profile nature of the scandals has resulted in a number of mistaken presumptions about the causes of abuse.
“Although unfortunately, in all social classes, professions, ethnic groups and, of course, religions, there is the phenomenon of child abuse, Catholic priests are seen or even increasingly treated as ‘suspects’ of having committed this horrible crime.”
Speaking against attempts to link the discipline of celibacy to crimes of sexual abuse, Farnós said that “regardless of other circumstances and arguments that have emerged in the recent Synod for the Amazon,” “this conclusion does not present any logical connection with the problem we are dealing with here: there is no scientific data that demonstrates that a married life would put an end to the deviant behavior of these few priests with this sexual disorder.”
“There is no evidence that priestly celibacy directly causes any deviant sexual addiction, as evidenced by those cases of men or women who, due to life’s circumstances, must live as celibate.”
“In addition,” he added, “celibacy has never been considered as a relevant parameter to identify abusers. Rather, most abusers are married men. Priests, mostly celibate men are… usually characterized precisely for their psychological balance, for their availability and selfless delivery to all, not only to the Catholic faithful.”
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