Bishop: Priests think child abuse ‘doesn’t break celibacy’

This article originally appeared on True/Slant. Written by Allison Kilkenny. You can follow Allison on facebook.

A few days ago, I revisited the definition of the word “terrorism” after Dr. Tiller’s killer, Scott Roeder, threw a public fit and accused prosecutors of besmirching his good name when they described his crimes as terrorism. Well, it looks like it’s time for another dictionary perusal.

Some pedophile priests believe molesting children does not breach their vow of celibacy, a retired Australian Catholic bishop said in a magazine interview.

Geoffrey Robinson, former auxiliary bishop of Sydney, told The Australian Women’s Weekly he had made the observation during years of work with victims of child abuse within the church.

“We’ve met it often enough to see it as a factor. That’s what the vow of celibacy refers to, being married. If it’s not an adult woman, then somehow they’re not breaking their vow,” the 72-year-old said.


1. Abstinence from sexual intercourse, especially by reason of religious vows.

2. The condition of being unmarried.

I don’t see any mention of “adult” or “woman” in this definition.

The idea that the church needs to force priests to attend mandatory seminars that explain screwing kiddies breaks their celibacy — oh, and also, is completely disgusting, immoral, and illegal — seems absurd. Yet, it is now undeniable that the church is — and has been for quite some time – experiencing a child rape pandemic. Either the clergy attracts a vicious type of predatory monster, or forced celibacy mentally cripples men, and they begin to act out sexually unto the nearest targets, who are generally, but not always, young boys.

Robinson has criticized the church’s handling of the pedophilia cases, and also the compulsory celibacy. And as much as I believe the church is a silly shrine to dogmatic dribble, I do think Robinson has some good ideas for reform. Children must be protected, the church isn’t going anywhere, and so it’s time for the church to adopt some radical reforms.

Bishop Pat Power, the auxiliary bishop for the Diocese of Canberra-Goulburn, lays out some suggestions:

The reform needed by the Church today will involve much more than just “tinkering around the edges”. Issues such as the authoritarian nature of the Church, compulsory celibacy for the clergy, the participation of women in the Church, the teaching on sexuality in all aspects cannot be brushed aside. Listening must be a key component of reform and at times that will involve listening to unpalatable truths. It needs to be recognised that all wisdom does not reside exclusively in the present all male leadership of the Church and that the voices of the faithful must be heard.

Clearly explaining that, yes, molesting children is a breach of celibacy won’t stop the molestation epidemic. However, as during nation-building, empowering women is an essential first step in the quest for egalitarianism and justice. Additionally, celibacy is an unnatural, emotionally crippling form of torture that must be nixed.

Finally, child molesters, and those who shelter them, should go to jail if the church ever hopes to regain its credibility. Otherwise, the church will continue to look like a safe haven for child rapists. No amount of apologizing is going to make this go away. The church might consider its clergy above man’s law, but if they expect citizens to entrust their children with priests, leadership must show a willingness to protect children from predators.

Otherwise, young people witnessing this shameful display will grow up understanding the church is predicated on denial, repression, and unaccountability.

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