Celibacy doesn’t lead to pedophilia

As someone who seriously planned on a lifelong celibacy (before eventually getting married to another adult), I have to say I’m completely baffled by the discussion in the press right now about questioning priesthood celibacy in connection to child sex abuse scandals in the Catholic church:
Austrian Priests Suggest Celibacy May Be a Problem
Celibacy vows to stay despite sex abuse scandal
Celibacy debate re-emerges amid Church abuse scandal

Get it through your thick skulls, people. Even if you accept the premise that forcing priests into a celibate lifestyle might make some of them (the ones who actually were forced instead of actively choosing the lifestyle) sexually frustrated, why should sexual frustration mean child abuse? Seriously. If you’re sexually frustrated, break your celibacy vow… with a consenting adult. If you have that much of a problem with being celibate, why not just take off your priest outfit and go have sex with a fully grown adult woman or man? As Paul says in I Corinthians 7:8-9:

Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I am. But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion. [NIV]

Celibacy’s cool. Or, as Jesus says in Matthew 19:11-12:

Jesus replied, “Not everyone can accept this word [that it is better not to marry], but only those to whom it has been given. For some are eunuchs because they were born that way; others were made that way by men; and others have renounced marriage because of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it.” [NIV]

I don’t see anything about people who can’t handle being celibate thus being okay’ed to molest little children. Look, if you’re a priest reading this, and you don’t dig the whole swearing to be celibate, I would highly recommend A) quitting the priesthood and marrying B) masturbating extensively or C) having a consensual sexual encounter (or two or three) with someone 18 or older, male or female. Yes, I realize as a die-hard Catholic, you probably consider B and C to be sinful, but would you rather be sinful and hurting nobody or sinful and traumatizing lots of people for the rest of their lives?

If you really want to cut down on priests molesting children, how about making sure they’re never alone with children behind closed doors? How about not allowing priests who have molested children to simply be transferred to another parish? How about just convicting molesting priests and sending them to prison? Stop blaming celibacy. Celibacy isn’t for everyone. I’m certainly a proponent of ridding the celibacy requirement for priests, but please stop pretending celibacy has anything to do with pedophilia.

2 replies on “Celibacy doesn’t lead to pedophilia”

Professor Klaus Beier, head of the Institute of Sexology and Sexual Medicine at Berlin’s Charite Hospital, agrees with you. He was quoted (in Reuters) as saying that pedophile tendencies develop at puberty and are not influenced by celibacy.

Yet there’s another scenario, being reported: Hamburg Auxiliary Bishop Hans-Jochen Jaschk said celibacy was not the reason for sexual abuse [in the Catholic Church] but added, “The celibate lifestyle can attract people who have an abnormal sexuality and cannot integrate sexuality into their lives. That’s when a dangerous situation can arise.”

Beier added, “Celibacy attracts pedophiles into the service of the Catholic Church.”

Why would that be? One explanation might be that a pedophile could consciously view the Catholic Church’s position on celibacy as “cover” to explain his disinterest in adult men & women. And even further, use that cover (and its authority) to engender trust and foster disbelief in his pedophilic tendencies (and activities) — and thereby gain opportunities.

That may be viewed as ‘too pre-meditated’ for most people… But another explanation would be that the church is viewed as a way to successfully suppress one’s pedophilic tendencies and gain control to live an acceptable life. After all, priests do succeed in living lifestyles that are absent of all sexual activity, and if one’s pedophilia cannot be tolerated in society, then the only alternative is no sex at all. In this view, the Catholic Church has presumably shown the way to succeed there — so join, learn, & follow the example and “be happy”. Later, temptations may present themselves, then human nature takes it course (aided, no doubt, by the trust & authority given to priests)…

But in neither case does celibacy lead to pedophilia. It would seem much more likely that it’s pedophilia that leads to seeking the image of a celibate life instead. How could you (reliably) screen for that? Deception is involved from the get-go, not later after “pedophilia develops” from celibacy (which doesn’t happen).

The problem would seem to be not that the Catholic Church’s position on celibacy is creating pedophiles, but that it’s unwittingly attracting them and providing them with ‘a cover’. Would ending the practice help this?

This is probably one of the best thought out and written diatribes I have read on the subject. I do believe that some people take the cloth for the wrong reasons, but as Ted stated I don’t see it as a pre-meditated reason.

I do think that the whole clergy celibacy thing is a little antediluvian, as the Catholic Church is the only church that I am aware of, that practises this.

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