Anyone familiar with criminal justice studies realizes how flawed many of them are, and the recently released "The Causes and Context of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Catholic Priests and Deacons in the United States 1950-2002" appears to be a prime example.
The study appears to suggest that clergy pedophilia increased drastically during the 1960s and 1970s, as this was a period in which there was an increase in other kinds of "deviant" behavior. We know that there was a significant increase in reported child abuse cases stemming from that period but we are unable to know how many cases of clergy child abuse prior to that period were not reported.
Some believe that the clerical culture allowed these actions to go unreported. We must also remember that the changing social mores of the period in question actually freed some victims to come to terms with the abuse they suffered. Most people would agree that there appears to be little connection between celibacy or homosexuality with pedophilia.
However, mandated celibacy definitely creates problems for the clergy as well for the whole church. Men who may have an interest in serving but not in a celibate life will not choose to enter the priesthood. Other men will be ordained but will leave the priesthood when they realize that they cannot sustain a celibate lifestyle.
Clearly, the priesthood needs to be fixed. The irony is that the methods for repairing the priesthood already exist. Marriage is permitted for Catholic priests outside the Latin Rite, and now we are seeing married former Anglican priests ordained in the Latin Rite. The church is unbelievably hypocritical in this area.
We know that we do not have enough celibate priests to meet the demand, yet we are unwilling to fix the problem. The American hierarchy including Baltimore Archbishop Edwin O'Brien should be taking the lead in advocating that married men be ordained to the priesthood. The current state of affairs is unacceptable. The clerical culture needs a major overhaul.
Edward McCarey McDonnell, BaltimoreCopyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun