Sat, Dec 13, 2014 - Page 6 News List

Catholic Church in Australia links celibacy to abuse


The Catholic Church in Australia yesterday said that obligatory celibacy might have contributed to priests abusing children and said clergy should be given “psychosexual” training.

In a landmark report, an Australian Catholic Church body dealing with child sex abuse said that some church institutions and their leaders turned a blind eye to what was going on for years.

The Truth, Justice and Healing Council also said there was often more concern with protecting the institution than the child, and criticized a culture “geared to power over others” rather than service.

Under one section it said that: “Obligatory celibacy may also have contributed to abuse in some circumstances.”

The Catholic Church has come under pressure to reconsider the tradition of clerical celibacy, which — although practiced for hundreds of years — is not in the Bible.

The council is helping the Catholic Church respond to Australia’s Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse and recommended better training for priests.

Council chief executive Francis Sullivan said even the most sacred church traditions, including celibacy, must be up for discussion, although he was not recommending the no-sex vow be changed.

“What our council’s report says is that we recognize that celibacy can be a contributing factor,” he told ABC radio. “We do not know the extent of that, we do not know the degree to which it was a dominant factor, but we are not putting our head in the sand and ignoring the issue.”

He said the way priests were trained should be addressed.

“When we have a public inquiry into the sex crimes in the Catholic Church, you need to address how sexuality is understood and acted out by members of the clergy,” he said. “You need a very clear understanding about your own sexuality, your own sexual development, your own way of relating as a person to others.”

“That’s called psychosexual education,” Sullivan added. “Certainly in the past, there was none.”

The Australian Royal Commission, set up last year, is investigating widespread allegations of pedophilia in religious organizations, schools and state care.

Its hearings have covered harrowing allegations of child abuse dating back decades involving places of worship, orphanages, community groups and schools.

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