Celibacy-Abuse Hypothesis Receives French Support

As noted (with several links) in the Friday Roundup over at Religion News Service, the news keeps getting worse for the Catholic Church:

The molestation scandal in Pope Benedict XVI’s former diocese gets ever messier: the psychiatrist assigned to work with a predatory priest says he gave the archdiocese repeated warnings to keep the priest, the Rev. Peter Hullermann, away from children.  Hullermann wasn’t suspended until this week.  The top bishop of Bavaria said he’s ashamed by the revelations, and the pope’s former archdiocese is facing a “tsunami” of abuse claims. The scandal has now touched Switzerland, and in France, priests who kept lovers on the side are starting to speak out against mandatory celibacy, saying it only hurts the church.

In light of yesterday’s post in which I hypothesized a link between the celibacy requirement and abuse, I was particularly interested in the last sentence regarding French priests.  Here is the story and its lead:

Leon Laclau shared his life, and often, his bed, with Marga over 20 years-all while serving as a Catholic priest in a town in the French Pyrenees.

His clerical leadership eventually expelled him, prompting protests from his flock and inspiring other priests and their partners around France to speak out about long-hidden love lives, and to press the Church to abandon its insistence on celibacy.

They say the chastity rule has fed the persistent, profound decline in the numbers of European and American priests. More influential voices are joining them as scandals involving sexual abuse and pedophilia spread across parishes around Europe.

The Vatican rejects any link between celibacy and sex abuse and shows no sign it intends to loosen its rules.

If the Vatican’s condemnation of Galileo is any guide, we might expect the church to acknowledge the link between celibacy and sex abuse sometime in the next 100-300 years.

In the meantime, we have to live with these disturbing facts.  The German priest who has been sexually abusing children — with the knowledge of the church — for nearly four decades was just “suspended” this week.  The French priest who was living with an adult woman in a consensual and loving relationship was defrocked years ago.

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