"Let books be your dining table, / And you shall be full of delights. / Let them be your
And you shall sleep restful nights" (St. Ephraim the Syrian).

Friday, April 23, 2021

Married Priests and Sex Abuse

On my sabbatical in 2018, I put the finishing touches to my newest book, Married Priests in the Catholic Church

But before doing that, I had also used the time to write a second book from start to finish: Everything Hidden Shall Be Revealed: Ridding the Church of Abuses of Sex and Power. This latter book's final chapter focuses on the question of married clergy, including a married episcopate. Loathe though I was to include such a chapter, I felt I had to because of the grossly simplistic "thinking" one sometimes hears proffered to the effect that the sex abuse crisis in the Catholic Church today could be dramatically decreased by allowing priests to marry. The quickest way to disprove this claim is to look at every other Christian tradition with married clergy to see they too have problems with sexual abuse; so do married Jewish rabbis, Islamic imams, etc.

That said, what I did in the 2019 book was to look at how, in some limited and circumscribed ways, having a predominantly married presbyterate in the Catholic Church might help make it more difficult for abusive clergy to escape unnoticed (not least by their wives!) or to be shuffled around (shuffling married clergy can be a significantly more complicated task than with celibates, and requires wider discussion). I also noted, in raising the question of married bishops, that a man who has children of his own is, on average, going to be much more adverse to treating abused children in the bloodless, cold, ruthless way so many celibate bishops do today. In too many cases it seems an unspoken qualification for the episcopate is a complete lack of empathy for the most vulnerable human beings in the Church. Celibacy, then, can be deeply psychologically damaging to some people, especially when lived (as it should be) outside a monastic community of some depth. 

But a married clergy will not "solve" the abuse crisis, nor any other. It may help, but this has to be carefully considered. Thus the new book, Married Priests in the Catholic Church, aims in significant degree to de-romanticize, de-mythologize some of the idealistic notions people might have about this venerable tradition and its challenges. 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Anonymous comments are never approved. Use your real name and say something intelligent.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...