Predatory Priests, Silenced Victims: The Sexual Abuse Crisis and the Catholic Church

By Mary Gail Frawley-O’Dea; Virginia Goldner | Go to book overview

16
Celibacy and Misogyny

Gillian Walker

The sexual transgressions of Catholic clergy are not necessarily worse than those in other religious or secular institutions, but they fascinate the laity and non-Catholic observers because they violate the Catholic clergy’s public commitment to celibacy and to the promulgation of a restrictive sexual moral code.

The contemporary sexual abuse scandal in the Church exposes the failure of mandatory celibacy and throws into question the complex body of traditional Catholic teaching about sexuality and gender upon which mandatory celibacy is based and upon which misogyny is institutionalized. This chapter looks at the interconnection between the church’s sexual teachings and its abusive power transactions which have provided the scaffolding for a hierarchical system that feminist theologian Elisabeth Schussler-Fiorenza (1999) has termed “kyriarchy,” or “the rule of the emperor/master/lord/ father/husband over his subordinates (p. 114). Stressors generated by this sexually repressive and “kyriarchical” system have resulted in the eruption of sexual abuse of Catholic minors by the priestly caste

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