Celibacy in Crisis: A Secret World Revisited

By A. W. Richard Sipe | Go to book overview

11

CAN CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE BE PREVENTED?

Celibate piety [can] hide the many sexual problems and unhappy adjustments that are the result of what can be understood…as an exercise of power by men over other men.

-Eugene Kennedy

The now legendary Doyle-Mouton-Peterson Report-usually referred to as THE REPORT-on the problems of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic clergy was presented to all the American bishops in 1985. In numerous depositions bishops have sworn they knew nothing about the problem prior to that date. However, the then president of the Bishops' Conference, Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk, wrote to Fr. Doyle in 1992: "…the fact remains that your report presented no new issue (of which the NCCB was unaware) or presented information that required some materially different response."

Denial and defensiveness is still alive and well in the halls of church power. It embraces a widespread, protean pattern that includes rationalization, avoidance, and shifting of blame. This ingrained response of the secret world impedes the development of an adequate program for prevention. More than that, it resists the reality that sexual corruption in the clergy proceeds from the top down. Bishops claim that better screening of candidates will eliminate the problem of abuse. This is false. The defenses that can be seen so clearly in reaction to child sexual abuse are operative across the board in keeping all sexual activity of priests covered.

The system of secrecy fails to examine the ecclesiogenic factors of sexual abuse. Those are elements of church teaching and practice that contribute to the development, preservation, and protection of

-245-

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Celibacy in Crisis: A Secret World Revisited
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Foreword ix
  • Acknowledgments xv
  • Part I - Background and Context 1
  • 1 - Why Study Celibacy? 3
  • 2 - What is It? 21
  • 3 - How Do Those Who Profess Celibacy Practice It? 43
  • Part II - Practice Versus Profession 55
  • 4 - The Masturbations 57
  • 5 - Priests and Women 81
  • 6 - When Priests Become Fathers 117
  • 7 - The Homosexualities 131
  • 8 - Sexual Compromises 171
  • Part III - The Heart of the Crisis 197
  • 9 - Priests and Minors 199
  • 10 - Who Abuses? 227
  • 11 - Can Clergy Sexual Abuse Be Prevented? 245
  • Part IV - Process and Attainment 269
  • 12 - Living with Celibacy 271
  • 13 - The Achievement of Celibacy 301
  • Epilogue Dlmensions of the Crisis 321
  • References 325
  • Index 341
  • About the Author 351
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