February 07, 2004

Celibate Priests and Pedophile Witch Hunts

I recently discovered Clayton Cramer's blog and generally liked what I read. He goes off the rails with his innuendo laden post on the recent papal call for fairness in suspected cases of child abuse. Cramer mischaracterizes the message which was that justice for the child should predominate but that we should not forget fairness to the accused. He makes it sound as if it were solely about the rights of the accused instead of a minor caution that a hunt for justice should not descend into witch hunt.

Cramer also unjustifiably criticizes Roman Catholic priestly celibacy. As a member in a part of the Catholic Church where celibacy is not mandatory, I have a bit more experience than most catholics in the pros and cons of married v. celibate priests. Both have their place and have both positives and negatives. In my church, the last time the balance tilted in favor of unmarried priests was in 1989, which was the year the last Romanian dictator fell.

Married priests can be threatened with damage to their spouses and children in an assault that is, by definition, unavailable against celibate priests. The rule of celibacy is a general rule adopted by rite and is a worldwide affair. If you want married priests, accept the headaches that go along with them, and swap over to a Catholic rite that has them. The idea that the celibate clergy is a useless anachronism is a horrible denial of the suffering going on among faithful celibate priests in the PRC and other countries where the Catholic Church is under active persecution. Married priests are often excused some trials as they have families to care for while celibate priests soldier on.

As for there being something peculiar to the Catholic faith and priestly organization that promotes or attracts or causes pedophilia, such statements would only be reasonable if priests were being convicted at higher rates than rabbis, ministers, or imams. As far as I know there are no such studies demonstrating this and there was certainly nothing cited in the article justifying it. It's all character assassination and innuendo. Who was the childhood priest when John Geoghan was a young boy? Was he a pedophile? Is there any evidence to back up this charge?

It looks like the papal admonition to avoid witch hunts is necessary after all.

Posted by TMLutas at February 7, 2004 12:46 PM