Jump to content

Child sex abuse link to celibacy
Inquiry into Church's handling of sex abuse


  • Please log in to reply
29 replies to this topic

#1 Lucrezia Borgia

Posted 24 January 2013 - 06:18 PM

I thought this was an interesting article in today's smh.....

I know in one of the previous threads here regarding the whole child sex abuse issue within the church the issue of celibacy was raised, but many felt it was not a factor in why sex abuse occurred within the church at the high levels which has been reported.

this article is reporting that a former priest has told the state inquiry into child sex abuse that "theres a tolerance for imperfection about celibacy, and that may have led to a lessening of outrage at sex with children"

responding to a question as to whether "priests believed only sex with women counted as real sex (breaking celibacy vows) and that homosexual sex and child sex did not" the former priest responded "sometimes".

I think this is interesting. Sure, it's one man's opinion, but he's a former priest, and he's giving evidence at an inquiry, so I think that lends some weight to his testimony.

#2 Ymarferol angel

Posted 24 January 2013 - 10:08 PM

I've done a lot of reading and thinking about this.

My theory is that with celibacy, it's not the absence of sex in itself, but the isolation, the dysfunctional power dynamics and other conditions which can put clergy under prolonged and unrelieved stress, a stress which it is often taboo for them to acknowledge.  This then plays out in highly dysfunctional patterns of behaviour; it's not just abuse (and it's not just sexual abuse), but high levels of anxiety, depression, burnout...there are a whole range of symptoms.

Living a truly healthy life as a celibate priest is really tough, and a very delicate balancing act, and the church is not good at acknowledging that or providing appropriate supports.

#3 Lucrezia Borgia

Posted 25 January 2013 - 08:32 AM

QUOTE (Ange Vert @ 24/01/2013, 11:08 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Living a truly healthy life as a celibate priest is really tough, and a very delicate balancing act, and the church is not good at acknowledging that or providing appropriate supports.

Indeed, I thought it was interesting in the article where he said he was not given any training about celibacy in the seminary and that many priests were ill- equipped.

of course he is older, perhaps training has now been introduced.....

#4 ComradeBob

Posted 25 January 2013 - 08:41 AM

Plus, and I will stress I am talking from an Irish perspective here, so many men went into the priesthood, not because they felt they had a vocation, but because they didn't want to acknowledge their homosexuality, because their families didn't want to split the small family landholding, because there was a lot of prestige attached to having a priest in the family and for a whole lot of reasons that had little, if anything to do with religion and serving god.

Add celibacy into that mix, and it's no wonder there were problems.

#5 noi'mnot

Posted 25 January 2013 - 08:47 AM

I think a combination of Ange Vert's and HappyNewBob!'s answers are a good analysis of the situation. Overstressed, overworked, undersupported and undertrained priests/clergy who perhaps took on this vocation under pressure or for the wrong reasons or just when they were too young to make such a huge decision.

I also think, though, that the "it's not considered real sex" excuse is a pretty poor one. I'm not Christian so I'm not pretending to be an expert here, but I'm pretty sure that the bible is pretty categorically against men having sex with men or adults having sex with children.

#6 Ymarferol angel

Posted 25 January 2013 - 09:01 AM

QUOTE (noi'mnot @ 25/01/2013, 09:47 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I also think, though, that the "it's not considered real sex" excuse is a pretty poor one. I'm not Christian so I'm not pretending to be an expert here, but I'm pretty sure that the bible is pretty categorically against men having sex with men or adults having sex with children.


No, it's not that simple.  I think what that guy was getting at, in a way, is that in order for some men to cope with celibacy, they make women out to be evil or undesirable.  They deal with the tension of frustrated desire by a sleight-of-mind in which women come to represent temptation, fallenness, evil.  They manufacture revulsion as a self-protective mechanism.  And then as they fall victim to their own double-mindedness, sex with another man doesn't seem to have the same taint to it.

At that point it's waaaay beyond what the Bible says (or even what the church says) and in the depths of subconscious coping mechanisms.

#7 ShamelesslyPooks

Posted 25 January 2013 - 09:13 AM

I agree with a lot of what has been said. I have a friend who was sent to a school geared towards joining the priesthood as a teenager back in the day (minor seminary? Forgive me, I am not Catholic and am not sure how these things work, I am not sure such places exist here anymore), and he told me is was a very dysfunctional place for a teenage boy, that he wasn't able to have the normal experiences of adolescence and he thinks this is relevant also. All of the normal teenage boy stuff going on, hormonally, emotionally, whatever- in an environment where sexuality is ├╝ber suppressed and you're around men and, mostly, boys only... He is aware that some of his peers went on to be abusers, and was aware at the time of some of the priests having "unusual relationships" with some of the boys.

Efs

Edited by Pooks_, 25 January 2013 - 09:14 AM.


#8 seayork2002

Posted 25 January 2013 - 09:15 AM

So it has nothing to do with choosing a profession where it holds easier access to children??? they can blame what they like but they choose to do it.

#9 Lokum

Posted 25 January 2013 - 09:21 AM

Loke Pooks said, many went into very odd or artificial environments in the seminary from a young age, and so their personal, sexual, psychological development as an adult was stunted in a way.
They then went out to minister in the community, and their own sexual identity was stuck in their late teens. Someone has produced a sort of bio of interviews with priests on the issue of celibacy recently, and one priest admitted that he found teaching high school girls difficult as they are at a sexualised, highly attractive stage in their lives, and he had e er had a relationship with an actual adut woman so he was definitely hot for them.
Plus the structural way the Catholic church does consider women to be an inferior animal ... It seems obvious that this weird, stunted oppression of enforced celibacy will lead to aberrant behaviour.

#10 matt1972

Posted 25 January 2013 - 09:27 AM

Are there other religions with an adherence to celibacy with such major problems regarding child sexual abuse?

#11 Oriental lily

Posted 25 January 2013 - 09:39 AM

I personally think forced celibacy in the catholic church is inhumane.
It's not normal for priests or nuns to live a life like that.

And I agree with Ange Vert that the enviroment and lifestyle is a perfect breeding ground to create sexual dysfunctions and mental illnesses.

Yes we all have free choice.

But there  are factors and influences that lead to particular choices.


Celibacy is  probably is just one of various reasons why there is so much sexual abuse in the catholic church.

I think their would be others who are attracted to it priesthood due to already having a sexual dysfunction or sexual leanings that are not approved by the catholic church.

A celibate life that avoids having to get married and have a catholic approved 'normal' sexual reationship with a woman might be appealing.

I think many priests would join the order for many unhealthy reasons other than a spiritual 'calling'.
And these would be the ones more of rsks of developing a dysfunctional mental and sexual state.

#12 seayork2002

Posted 25 January 2013 - 09:41 AM

So being able to have 'normal ' sex with a Man or Woman would stop abuse??? what about all the abusers in 'normal' relationships?

#13 Lucrezia Borgia

Posted 25 January 2013 - 09:46 AM

QUOTE (matt1972 @ 25/01/2013, 10:27 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Are there other religions with an adherence to celibacy with such major problems regarding child sexual abuse?

I don't know the answer to this, it's an interesting question and one worthwhile exploring. I have a feeling Buddhist priests might be celibate...? I could be completely wrong on this though .....

#14 steppy

Posted 25 January 2013 - 09:51 AM

I thought respectable vocation that advocate celibacy just might be more attractive to people who realise their sexual leanings are not welcome in the community.

#15 Bec .

Posted 25 January 2013 - 09:52 AM

QUOTE
So being able to have 'normal ' sex with a Man or Woman would stop abuse??? what about all the abusers in 'normal' relationships?


Absolutely agree.

In addition though, those in priesthood have greater access to more children than those within a home. I don't think celibacy is the only factor but definitely is one. Great discussion so far.

#16 matt1972

Posted 25 January 2013 - 09:53 AM

QUOTE (Lucretia Borgia @ 25/01/2013, 10:46 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I don't know the answer to this, it's an interesting question and one worthwhile exploring. I have a feeling Buddhist priests might be celibate...? I could be completely wrong on this though .....

Yeah that was my first thought too.
Wiki says some Buddhist Monks and Nuns are required to be celibate but can leave and come back if they choose to explore other options

#17 Oriental lily

Posted 25 January 2013 - 10:00 AM

Seayorks2002 I guess it comes down to th billion dollar question of how an abuser is created
Born that way?
Made that way?
Mental illness?
Simply evil?

I think the idea is being a celibate priest within the catholic church creates the 'perfect storm' for them to become an abuser.

I have no doubt as well that their of thousands and thousands of people in society right now who are attracted to children and perhaps have fantasies of having sex with children.

But will never do it because of a good strong will and knowing the pain they would cause their victims.
Of course we will never know about these people.
But they could be loving members of families and good contributers to society.

#18 opethmum

Posted 25 January 2013 - 10:21 AM

I think that there needs to be a major shake up of the priesthood. I think that celibacy whilst an honourable sacrifice can lead to a whole host of problems and can lead to major temptations. I think that too many men and women go into the ministry with blinders on and think overwhelmingly the celibacy won't affect them and all too often the complexity of the sacrifice can lead them heart broken and desolate.
We need to support these men and women and offer as much help as possible if the temptation is too much to bear and set up ministry options where their spiritual vocations can be met and that they can feel secure in the knowledge that they are not going to be viewed as some deserter.
I feel genuinely for them and I think too many men and women were pressured into this type of ministry too early in their lives e.g poverty, family situation, institutionalisation etc and due to them not being "allowed" to explore a healthy life outside the church and therefore celibacy was fraught and was too much to bear and unfortunately they committed acts of abuse to silence the demons. Now I acknowledge that this is not an excuse and they had choices to not commit these horrible acts but it certainly did weigh heavily on their decision making process.
I think that priests and nuns should be allowed to marry and be able to maintain their spiritual vocations and allowed to return to their ministry within the church when it is conducive to do so.

#19 Ymarferol angel

Posted 25 January 2013 - 10:40 AM

QUOTE (seayork2002 @ 25/01/2013, 10:15 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
So it has nothing to do with choosing a profession where it holds easier access to children??? they can blame what they like but they choose to do it.


I don't think so.  I mean, good grief, if you wanted to abuse children, and you were choosing a profession on that basis, you wouldn't choose the priesthood.  Quite apart from anything else, there are so many priests whose work brings them into limited or almost no contact with kids - and in the Catholic system, it's not like you get to pick and choose where you're going to work.

(And that's aside from the poverty thing, the obedience thing, the enormously hard work and the many other sacrifices).  There would be easier ways to get access to kids, if that's what you were after.

Also, that way of talking about it treats it as if one just becomes a priest because one decides to.  It's actually not easy to get accepted, far more people get told no, or simply drop out of the training, than ever actually get ordained.  In that regard it's not like any other profession.

I'm not in favour of maintaining compulsory celibacy for priests, but I think the question of monks and nuns is separate.  The monastic life is a completely different kettle of fish again.

#20 noi'mnot

Posted 25 January 2013 - 10:46 AM

QUOTE (Ange Vert @ 25/01/2013, 10:01 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
No, it's not that simple.  I think what that guy was getting at, in a way, is that in order for some men to cope with celibacy, they make women out to be evil or undesirable.  They deal with the tension of frustrated desire by a sleight-of-mind in which women come to represent temptation, fallenness, evil.  They manufacture revulsion as a self-protective mechanism.  And then as they fall victim to their own double-mindedness, sex with another man doesn't seem to have the same taint to it.

At that point it's waaaay beyond what the Bible says (or even what the church says) and in the depths of subconscious coping mechanisms.



That's a pretty fascinating interpretation. So the taint that exists in some interpretations of the Bible regarding homosexual sex is out-tainted by this revulsion of women? Yes, that is way beyond what the bible says (in my understanding of it).

How do you think they then reconcile those teachings of the bible that are respectful and celebrating of women? How do they go about marrying people and such (marriage being, in my understanding, a sacred thing) when they are so disdainful of women? I guess what I'm getting to is, is it just a personal thing for them that they don't project onto others?

Sorry, I'm not meaning to be obtuse or anything, and I'm not trying to ask you to rationalise something as irrational as paedophilia. I'm just trying to understand how men who are meant to be so uber-religious are reconciling something that's so wrong in their bible with what they're doing. Maybe you can't answer that, but I'd like to see what you have to say in regards to your above interpretation.

#21 Lokum

Posted 25 January 2013 - 10:52 AM

QUOTE (seayork2002 @ 25/01/2013, 10:41 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
So being able to have 'normal ' sex with a Man or Woman would stop abuse??? what about all the abusers in 'normal' relationships?


Catholic priests in Victoria are estimated (based on known/alleged abuse, excl those never reported) to sexually offend against children at a rate 6 times that of other men in the community.

So there is definitely an issue going on with Catholic priests beyond what's just "out there" in the world. Whether it's chicken or egg, celibacy or access to children, -  warrants exploration. You can't write off sexual predation by priests as the same as predation by non-priests because of the sheer numbers, and because of the institutional cloak of protection which has been thrown over abusers AND because of the trusted nature of their positions.

Edited to make sense

Edited by Lokum, 25 January 2013 - 10:53 AM.


#22 Z-girls rock

Posted 25 January 2013 - 10:55 AM

QUOTE (Lucretia Borgia @ 25/01/2013, 10:46 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I don't know the answer to this, it's an interesting question and one worthwhile exploring. I have a feeling Buddhist priests might be celibate...? I could be completely wrong on this though .....



Buddhist monks and nuns are celibate yes.

I dont have a lot to add as I have mostly been outside a religious community (being raised agnostic and having become a Buddhist as an adult).

But I thought it was interesting that there were submissions to the sex abuse inquiry coming from the Jewish community involving cover-ups and Rabbi's. Since Rabbi's are not celibate http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/jewry-ac...1210-2b5o7.html

Also I lived in the Phillipines for a while as an adult. The Phillipines is very Catholic, but most of my friends talked about wanting to sleep with priests. And there were lots of stories about people sleeping with priests etc.
I was shocked as I thought they had to be celebate - but there seems to be some understanding that Celebacy means 'not getting married' rather then 'abstaining from sex'....
hhhhmmmm I think someone is taking liberties!

#23 Bart.

Posted 25 January 2013 - 10:56 AM

I agree with most in this thread.  Celibacy is not a natural state for most people and to restrict it to an entire group has been a grievous mistake by the Catholic ministry.  

In the first five hundred years of Christianity, those who managed to overcome a human's most primitive urges were held in esteem.  In the 4rd C AD, St Anthony hid in a cave to avoid persecution by the decrees of the Emperor Decius and he undertook a vow of asceticism, which meant he gave up everything, including only the most basic of food, in order to fully concentrate on prayer.  It was decided that Anthony was  proving his total dedication to God and others followed.  Anthony wrote about his Famous Temptations:

"The enemy would suggest filthy thoughts, but Anthony would dissipate them by his prayers. The wretched devil even dared to masquerade as a woman by night."

In the latter part of his life, Anthony began to gather other ascetics around him on Sundays for a meal and worship.  Another Christian hermit, Pachomius, also of the 4th century, starts a few small communes where each person has their own lodgings but come together to eat and worship.  Thus, the monastery and celibacy is born.

However, in those days, it was a choice for these celebates to live together, they were supported in their celibacy and helped each other through the struggles of it.  In the intervening centuries, monks, nuns and priests were just told it was evil and weakness of character and hence, the issues related above by PPs.

#24 Ymarferol angel

Posted 25 January 2013 - 11:23 AM

QUOTE (noi'mnot @ 25/01/2013, 11:46 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
How do you think they then reconcile those teachings of the bible that are respectful and celebrating of women? How do they go about marrying people and such (marriage being, in my understanding, a sacred thing) when they are so disdainful of women? I guess what I'm getting to is, is it just a personal thing for them that they don't project onto others?

Sorry, I'm not meaning to be obtuse or anything, and I'm not trying to ask you to rationalise something as irrational as paedophilia. I'm just trying to understand how men who are meant to be so uber-religious are reconciling something that's so wrong in their bible with what they're doing. Maybe you can't answer that, but I'd like to see what you have to say in regards to your above interpretation.


Ok, bearing in mind that I'm talking about a mindset for some guys, who have committed to celibacy and struggle with it.  This is not a universal, although I suspect at times it has run quite wide and deep in clerical culture.

This mindset flourishes with clericalism; the view that priests are special, holy, closer to God, on a pedestal, basically, over the ordinary believers.  So it might be fine for laity to marry, but that's already a bit second-best in the Christian life.  Bear in mind that for Catholics, the distinction between priest and laity is really sharp; a lay person can't even preach.  It's only relatively recent that seminarians have started studying their theology alongside lay people and even (gasp!) women or people who aren't Catholic.  This kind of move is viewed with deep distrust by some, too.  Priests have tended to live in a world apart.

I don't know if I can explain it well.  I look at it from the outside and I see how pathologies can flourish in loneliness and isolation.  The reading that I've done suggests that abuse is not unrelated to the impulse to self-harm; it's a dysfunctional coping mechanism for deep distress.  So these guys wouldn't be able to give you a calm, reasoned argument as to how the Bible condones what they're doing, because not only don't they have one, they are so far from being able to confront that cognitive dissonance that they've compartmentalised the two things, sealed them away from one another.

One single thing is never the whole answer, though.  As a piece of anecdata, the one priest I personally know who has been accused of child sex offences is an Anglican, married with two children of his own.  What was going on for him, I have no idea (actually I'm not certain he's guilty, I believe it's still being investigated), but it was obviously very different to the picture I've painted above.

#25 noi'mnot

Posted 25 January 2013 - 12:04 PM

Thanks for that, Ange Vert. Yes, I absolutely understand that you're only talking about that proportion who are abusers.

Your answer actually clearly up the next question I had as well, which was how it all relates to power. I guess if Catholic priests (specifically those with these pathological behaviours) really see themselves as so far above others then that answers that. I understand what you're saying and you've explained it really well, thank you.

It really is a sad state of affairs.




0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users

 

11 things that will happen when you're breastfeeding

After having three children and various degrees of success feeding them all, there's one thing I can tell you: virtually nothing will go as planned.

Surgery for baby born with a tail

A baby born with a tail has had it removed after doctors feared the birth defect might cause long term damage to his lower body.

When 'skin to skin' becomes a family affair

An adorable photo of a little boy and his dad enjoying skin to skin contact with newborn twins is melting hearts everywhere.

35 hilariously weird 'top tips'

Who would have thunk it? We never knew there were so many uses for feminine hygiene products. 

Pregnancy skin woes: acne, dry skin, itchy skin

Here are some of the most common skin complaints in pregnancy and how to tackle them, face on.

Watch this fun dance class for babywearing dads

Is there anything sexier than a babywearing dad?

Parents, this is how to cut grapes to avoid choking

One mum has learnt a harrowing lesson about the best way to cut grapes to make it safe for toddlers and little kids to eat.

When your kids have totally different temperaments

Sometimes it has felt like whiplash parenting. She perches watchfully while I vacuum; he tries to climb on and go for a ride.

How do our stress levels influence our baby?

Since having my second baby a number of people have commented on how placid, content and settled he is and, similarly, many have commented on how this is a reflection of how I am with him.

Separation anxiety isn't just for kids

Despite its prevalence, most doctors tend to be reluctant to diagnose adult patients with separation anxiety.

A charm bracelet, a boy, and my beliefs questioned

I was staring at the face of my son, realising that my once steadfast decision to be open minded was quickly unravelling at the seams.

Why I'm so grateful for Hayden Panettiere's PND honesty

There are baby steps and giant leaps forward. But there are steps backwards, too. And, oh, how they can hurt your heart.

The heartbreaking story of little Moko

The mother of 3-year-old Moko Rangitoheriri said she should have picked up on the signs. {Warning: distressing content}

Kate Beckinsale and teen daughter recreate birth photo

Kate Beckinsale has recreated her daughter Lily's birth photo, 17 years after she was born.

The adult-size stroller you'll want to test drive

It's one of the biggest baby related purchases they will make, so it makes sense that parents-to-be get a chance to road test a stroller.

Pregnancy announcement shows the reality of IVF

It's a long way from baby booties or bump shots people have become accustomed to in social media pregnancy announcements.  

Soleil Moon Frye welcomes fourth baby

"Punky Brewster" is a mom again, for the fourth time. Soleil Moon Frye announced the birth of her baby boy, Story, on Instagram Wednesday.

Mum breastfeeds baby found abandoned on the street

A woman has been praised as a "beautiful mother" after breastfeeding a baby which had been abandoned at the side of a street. 

A birth with a difference: the 'natural caesarean'

We've shared stories of gentle caesareans before, but a new video shows a new option called a 'natural caesarean'.

Baby name inspiration by music genre

If you're all about the music, then you'll need a musical name for that baby. We've got all the lists for you by music genre.

Giving effective instructions to toddlers

One of the most common errors made by parents is in how they give instructions to their children.

 
Advertisement
 

Top 5 Articles

Advertisement
 
 
 

What's hot on EB

The babies who are one in 70 million

Bethani Webb was excited to find out she was pregnant, but the first time mum did not realise she was carrying four babies not one.

Cafe offers breastfeeding mums a free cup of tea

A Sydney cafe is offering breastfeeding mums free cups of tea in a bid to show support for the right of women to nurse their babies wherever they choose.

To snip or not to snip? When the decision is not clear cut

Jamie Oliver, who considered a vasectomy, is to be a father again. A fellow dad reflects on his own decision 11 years ago

Doctors stunned by rare twins born almost six weeks apart

To everyone's surprise, Kristen Miller "kept doing better each day", keeping her second baby safe.

Baby book ideas for modern parents

Before my son was born I was given a lovely baby book full of blank pages waiting to be filled with weights and heights and first words.

The adorable smile of a baby seeing his mum clearly for the first time

There is no doubt seeing their child smile for the first time is an unforgettable moment for parents everywhere.

Mum tells how toddler 'nearly hung himself' in cot mishap

When Alison Johnson put her 18-month-old Caleb down for a nap, she had no reason to believe her son was in any danger.

Babies are still switched at birth? Yes, it can happen

All my panic and tears aside, my biggest question looking back is about the kind of security measures used in the maternity ward.

Doctors slammed for taking selfie with newborn

Everyone who visits a mum in hospital in the days following childbirth wants to get a photo with the new baby.

ergoPouch Twosie Sleepsuit for winter breastfeeding

Finally, there's a way to keep warm while breastfeeding through winter.

Health check: How long does sex 'normally' last?

What to do with this information? My advice would be to try not to think about it during the throes of passion.

When breastfeeding sucks: fixing common problems

From niplash to tight boobs, biting to milk supply issues, Pinky McKay looks at common breastfeeding issues and how to solve them.

10 things I've learnt in my first six months with twins

Six months on we're all still alive, and the more we get to know each other the easier the days become.

Mum's loving kiss leaves baby fighting for life

Kirsty Carrington thought nothing of giving her newborn son a kiss, little did she know it would leave the baby fighting for life.

When doing chores is your new 'me time'

After children, 'me time' looks a little different.

Get going: 14 travel strollers for families on the move

A stroller can make or break travelling with a baby or toddler. Here are 15 great single travel stroller options.

10 ways toddlers are terrific

It always pays to remind yourself of how terrific toddlers can be - they're little like this for such a short time

 

Vintage Toys

The toys of your childhood

Take a trip down memory lane with these vinage and retro toys that you may have had in your childhood or your parent's childhood.

 
Advertisement
 
 
Essential Baby and Essential Kids is the place to find parenting information and parenting support relating to conception, pregnancy, birth, babies, toddlers, kids, maternity, family budgeting, family travel, nutrition and wellbeing, family entertainment, kids entertainment, tips for the family home, child-friendly recipes and parenting. Try our pregnancy due date calculator to determine your due date, or our ovulation calculator to predict ovulation and your fertile period. Our pregnancy week by week guide shows your baby's stages of development. Access our very active mum's discussion groups in the Essential Baby forums or the Essential Kids forums to talk to mums about conception, pregnancy, birth, babies, toddlers, kids and parenting lifestyle. Essential Baby also offers a baby names database of more than 22,000 baby names, popular baby names, boys' names, girls' names and baby names advice in our baby names forum. Essential Kids features a range of free printable worksheets for kids from preschool years through to primary school years. For the latest baby clothes, maternity clothes, maternity accessories, toddler products, kids toys and kids clothing, breastfeeding and other parenting resources, check out Essential Baby and Essential Kids.