Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Celibacy is not the issue

Stoning the Catholic Church for Child Abuse Anyone?
Opinion Editorials.com

Kevin Roeten

If you’re convinced that the Catholic Church is THE player in child pedophilia, it’s time to get an informational overhaul. ‘AP’(2/4) “Chicago priest abuse scandal raises doubts about reforms”, unearthed deeply embedded feelings that need to be changed.

It charges new doubts about Catholic bishops to eliminate cleric abuse. Let’s make it crystal clear--anyone, including a Catholic priest, should be arrested and prosecuted to the full extent of the law for the heinous crime of molestation.

[Kevin Roeten paraphrases the surveyor Jenkins] Literally, every religion has its share of abuse cases, and some of the worst involve ‘non-Catholics’. Yet Catholics continue to be the ‘whipping boy’ of most media. Every mainline Protestant denomination has had numerous scandals, as have Pentecostals, Mormons, Jews, etc., etc… One Canadian Anglican diocese is on the verge of bankruptcy resulting from numerous lawsuits from years of systematic abuse, yet the ‘Episcopal’ Church does not demand celibacy of its clerics.

In 1994, an Ad Hoc Committee issued guidelines for the nation’s 191 Catholic dioceses to develop policies against sexual abuse of minors. As a Religious Education teacher, I have been part of special projects eliminating child abuse, have a female partner in class continuously, and have had background checks for any possible past incidents. Our pastor was checked the same way.

Why has justified anger over a few appalling cases been turned into ill-focused attacks on innocent clergy by the media? Despite discrimination, hate, and prosecution the Catholic Church was around in 33 AD, and will be around in the ‘end’. Anyone wonder why?

The removed portion is the analysis of the survey by Philip Jenkins of the priests of the Archdiocese of Chicago. Jenkins' own explanation of the survey offers more details.

My research of cases over the past 20 years indicates no evidence whatever that Catholic or other celibate clergy are any more likely to be involved in misconduct or abuse than clergy of any other denomination -- or indeed, than nonclergy. However determined news media may be to see this affair as a crisis of celibacy, the charge is just unsupported.

Professor Jenkins is the Distinguished Professor of History and Religious Studies at Penn State. His work includes "Pedophiles and Priests: Anatomy of a Contemporary Crisis", which was published by Oxford University Press in 1996.

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