Why Celibacy is a Major Contributory Factor to Catholic Clerical Sexual Abuse

man in thobe standing on gray concrete pavement
Photo by Jan Kroon on Pexels.com

The current popular view on the persistence of Clerical sexual abuse (CSA) in the Roman Catholic Church (RCC) puts emphasis on the moral and psychological weaknesses of the individual priests rather than on the structural loopholes of the Church’s social network and control systems as a result of the imposition of celibacy to priestly life. What surfaced in many lawsuits against predator priests is the admission of many bishops think of CSA solely in terms of moral fault and sin (Doyle 2006).

Despite the growing scandals of CSA abuse involving priests and bishops around the world, the Catholic hierarchy still refuses to view the mandatory clerical celibacy as a disorganizing factor in the diocesan priestly life which deprives the secular clergy of social support and direct social control of their behavior which can resist CSA. Church authorities continue to understand clerical sexual abuse as mere moral and psychological aberrations of some problematic priests and bishops that need clinical treatment and spiritual direction.

priest using microphone
Photo by Marcelo Chagas on Pexels.com

Some prominent writers on CSA do not view the mandatory celibacy as connected to sexual misconduct by priests. Father Stephen Rosetti (2002), Father James Martin (2017), and Andrew Greely (2004), for instance, argued that celibacy is not the cause of the current CSA, especially child clerical sexual abuse (cCSA). Responding to the views that priests are more likely to be child molesters than others because they are celibate and that a celibate priesthood attracts a larger proportion of men with sexual problems, the priest-research professor and consultant to the papal Commission on the Protection of Minors Father Stephen Rosetti did not see mandatory celibacy as the cause of CSA and cCSA. He argued that researchers and clinicians have generally accepted the fact that celibacy does not cause child sexual abuse because the sexual difficulties and inner psychological problems that give rise to cCSA are largely in place long before a person enters into the formation process for a celibate priesthood.

man sitting near the window
Photo by Ali Arapoğlu on Pexels.com

Father Martin too argued, celibacy is not the cause of CSA since celibacy does not cause pedophilia. To him, blaming celibacy is an enormous simplification that leaves out many important causes. He then enumerated some major causes of the Clerical sexual abuse: First, improper screening of candidates for seminaries led to some psychologically sick men being ordained as priests. When some bishops received reports of sexual abuse, the reports were tragically downplayed, dismissed or ignored. Second, the crimes of sexual abuse often went unreported to civil authorities, out of a misguided concern among church officials for “avoiding scandal,” the fear of litigation, or an unwillingness to confront the abusive priest. Third, grossly misunderstanding the severity of the effects of abuse, overly relying on advice from psychologists regarding rehabilitation, and privileging the concerns of priests over the pastoral care for victims, some bishops moved abusive priests from one parish to another where they repeatedly offended (Martin, 2017).

closed eyed man holding his face using both of his hands
Photo by Ric Rodrigues on Pexels.com

Finally, the sociologist-priest Andrew Greely (2004) also dismissed the view that celibacy is to be blamed for the current CSA and cCSA in the RCC. This is his reaction to the argument to what he considered a simplistic view: “4 percent of Catholic priests are abusers. Priests are committed to celibacy. Therefore, the frustrations of celibate life led to abuse. Therefore, celibacy must be abolished.” He argued that most experts in sexual abuse of minors and children attribute CSA to a deep and incurable syndrome acquired early in life. Married priesthood won’t cure it. An abuser who marries is a married abuser (Greely, 2003).

These three clerical authors have rightly argued that clerical celibacy is not the direct cause of CSA in the RCC. Thus, abolishing celibacy for priests won’t stop the current clerical sexual misconduct. The obligatory celibacy is not the immediate cause of the CSA. They are right to say that celibacy does not produce pedophilia. But these authors were just responding to the view that simplifies a complex issue. This post argues that clerical celibacy is not the proximate and immediate cause of CSA but its main contributory factor for the persistence of CSA in the RCC, whether it involves minors or adolescents and adults both male and female. Celibacy provides diocesan clerics absolute privacy and deprives them of direct social control by family members if married priesthood is allowed in the Church which can greatly regulate priestly behavior and minimize opportunities for CSA. Pedophilia and child clerical sexual abuse could not be resolved by married priesthood but by a strict screening of candidates to the priesthood in the seminary and immediate dismissal from the clerical state for those guilty of cCSA.

abbey aisle altar arches
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

The causes mentioned above by Fr. Martin only underscores the lack of lay participation in the internal affairs of the Church. The screening of candidates, downplaying, dismissal, or ignoring of clerical sexual crimes are not done by the laity but bishops who have the sole authority to discipline erring priests in the Church. Furthermore, the avoidance of scandal by covering up CSA cases as well as reliance on psychologists and psychiatrists are common patterns done by bishops and clerics and not by the laity who have no authority to deal with abusive priests.

Celibacy is not the proximate cause of sexual abuse but can be considered as its ultimate cause. But from the point of view law enforcement or behavioral control, celibacy hinders the wider regulation of clerical behavior by the laity which can minimize opportunities for sexual deviance. It ultimately prevents effective clerical behavior as it disables the laity to participate in the internal management of the Church and monitor clerical behavior to prevent sexual misconduct in the Christian community.

people in front of the cathedral
Photo by Kai Pilger on Pexels.com

The Catholic Church requires ordination which is inseparable to celibacy to participate in ecclesiastical governance. This celibacy requirement obstructs the genuine lay empowerment in the Church which can greatly minimize CSA. Celibacy is the main stumbling block to the laity’s capability, as Vatican II recognized the realm of “secular world” such as surveillance of behavior, as experts in secular affairs who can effectively supervise priestly behavior and sanction sexual abuse. It also facilitates absolute privacy for clerical life and, thus, prone to clerical deviance with the lack of active regulation of priestly behavior by the laity which constitutes 99.9 percent of the total Catholic population.

grayscale photo of people raising their hands
Photo by Shelagh Murphy on Pexels.com

CSA is usually done in absolute privacy with priests who are usually alone with their victims. Compared to the religious priesthood, diocesan priesthood lacks an immediate clerical community which can provide mutual support and direct monitoring of clerical behavior. Child sexual abuse by pedophile priests is only a small percentage of the total cases of clerical sexual abuses in which the most common type is sexual abuse is done heterosexual or homosexual priests against adolescents and adults, such as rapes of nuns by priests which is not the focus of the current clerical sexual abuse investigations and media reports. Thus, a married priesthood is the appropriate response to this type of sexual abuse as family life can provide direct supervision or behavioral control of clerical behavior.

Thank you for reading this blog. Follow this site for more updates.

6 Most Misunderstood Beliefs and Practices in the Catholic Church

confused GIFjesus church GIF

1. Venerating the Saints is Idolatry.

catholic GIF

Venerating the saints is not idolatry. Catholics are not actually praying to the saints but only honoring them as heroes of the Catholic faith and asking them to intercede for them to Christ. Catholics only worship God and not the saints according to official Church teachings. It’s true that worshiping material things is idolatry and a serious sin against God. But the statues inside the Church are mere symbols and representations of their personhood of the saints as true disciples of Christ, worthy of emulation. They help Catholics to recall their heroic deeds for God. A symbol, such as the statue, only points to the reality. The piece of wood or cement of the statue is not being worshiped by Catholics but only served as a visual aid to remind Catholics to imitate their extraordinary faith in Christ..

2. The Sacred Host in the Mass is only a Symbol.

amor GIF

For some Protestant Churches which use the sacred host in their public rituals, the consecrated host is only a symbol but not the reality itself. This is not the Catholic Church’s official teaching. For the Church, the consecrated host during the Mass is not just a symbol but the reality itself. Under the Doctrine of Transubstantiation, the ordinary unleavened bread is transformed into the real Body of Christ after the consecration in the Eucharist.

catholic the exorcist GIF

“Transubstantiation is the process by which the bread and wine of the Eucharist is transformed into the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. Catholics believe that through transubstantiation, the risen Jesus becomes truly present in the Eucharist. The word transubstantiation is made up of two parts: ‘trans’ and ‘substantiation.’ The first part is a prefix that means ‘across’, ‘beyond’, or ‘through’. It suggests that some kind of change has taken place. The second part of the word, ‘substantiation,’ refers to the philosophical term substance. According to the Greek philosopher Aristotle, substance is a thing’s deepest being, what it is, in and of itself. The substance of a thing is what it really and truly is beyond all appearances” (Troolin). After the consecration of the priest, the substance of the bread and wine is transformed into the Body and Blood of Christ.

3. The Personal and Moral Life of the Priest can Affect the Sacredness of the Mass He is Celebrating!

filipino GIF

It is true that persons who are ordained by Catholic bishops as priests remain human beings and sinners. But the sacrament of ordination has transformed them into ministers of Christ and the Church. What they are administering in the Church, such as the Eucharist and the sacraments, are not affected by their personal and immoral life as sinners. These public rituals are done by priests in the name of the Church of Christ and not in their own name and power. As ministers, they are only instruments, the real dispensers of divine grace in the sacraments is Christ Himself. Of course, it is ideal that the priest who administers the sacraments is also a holy person and a worthy human instrument of grace.

4. Direct Confession to God is Better than Confessing to the Priest.

confess hands up GIF by Andrew and Pete

Direct confession to God is usually done by Protestant and Christian churches. But the Catholic Church only allows direct confession for venial or minor sins. Grave or serious sins must be confessed to the priest in the sacrament of reconciliation. In the Gospels, following his resurrection, Jesus appears to his disciples. After breathing upon them, he said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained” (Jn 20:22-23; see also Mt 18:18). The sacrament of reconciliation encourages us to go and to try to sin no more. This teaching is found also in Ephesians 4:25-32 and 1 John 1:5-10. By virtue of his ordination, the priest is authorized by the Church to forgive sins in the name of Christ.

5. Unbaptized Babies will go to Limbo!

hip hop happy dance GIF

“It is clear that the traditional teaching on this topic has concentrated on the theory of limbo, understood as a state which includes the souls of infants who die subject to original sin and without baptism, and who, therefore, neither merit the beatific vision, nor yet are subjected to any punishment, because they are not guilty of any personal sin. This theory, elaborated by theologians beginning in the Middle Ages, never entered into the dogmatic definitions of the Magisterium….” (ITC).

“However, in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (1992), the theory of limbo is not mentioned. Rather, the Catechism teaches that infants who die without baptism are entrusted by the Church to the mercy of God, as is shown in the specific funeral rite for such children. The principle that God desires the salvation of all people gives rise to the hope that there is a path to salvation for infants who die without baptism (cf. CCC, 1261) (Ibid).”.

6. Praying is Asking God’s Favor!

pray praying hands GIF by LL Cool J

Prayer is God’s gift. It has different forms. It is not always asking God’s favor. Not all prayers are petition or intercessory prayers. The Universal Catechism of the Catholic Church (#2259) describes the Church’s teaching on prayer as follows:

“Prayer is the raising of one’s mind and heart to God or the requesting of good things from God.”2 But when we pray, do we speak from the height of our pride and will, or “out of the depths” of a humble and contrite heart?3 He who humbles himself will be exalted;4 humility is the foundation of prayer, Only when we humbly acknowledge that “we do not know how to pray as we ought,”5 are we ready to receive freely the gift of prayer. “Man is a beggar before God.”6

GIF Credits: Giphy.com

References

Troolin, A. (n.d.). Catholic Doctrine of Transubstantiation: Definition & Overview. Retrieved from https://study.com/academy/lesson/catholic-doctrine-of-transubstantiation-definition-lesson-quiz.html.

International Theological Commission (ITC) (n.d.). “The Hope of Salvation for Infants Who Die Without Being Baptized”. Retrieved from http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/cti_documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_20070419_un-baptised-infants_en.html.

Thank you for reading this post. Subscribe or follow this blog for more updates. God bless!

Who is the Real Author of the Bible? How Did God Inspire the Human Writers?

bible GIF

Introduction

There seems to be a confusion among Christians and Catholics regarding the true author of the Old and New Testaments of the Bible. Some believe that these books are written by human authors and thus may contain errors. Other believe that the writers of the Bible were dictated by God what to write in the Sacred Scriptures. The human writers were mere instruments of God’s hand in describing the divine message to humanity.

So, who is the real author of the Bible? How did God inspire the human writers to jot down His message to humankind if He is the real author?

time oc GIF

The following passages from the Catechism for Filipino Catholics (CFC, #85-87) constitute the Catholic Church’s teaching on divine inspiration. They explain how writers of the Old and New Testaments  were inspired by God to write the Sacred Scriptures:

The Church’s Teaching on Divine Inspiration

“The Sacred Scriptures are said to be “inspired” in a special sense — not just as some artist or author may be “inspired” to paint or compose.

ever after artist GIF

Rather, biblical inspiration means that the sacred and canonical books of the Old and New Testaments, whole and entire, were written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, so that we can call God their “author” and the Bible “the Word of God” (cf. DV 11; CCC 105-6).

doc sacred geometry GIF

God chose certain human authors, who as true authors made full use of their human powers and faculties, yet was so guided by the Holy Spirit who so enlightened their minds and moved their wills, that they put down in writing what God wanted to be written” (CFC #85).

worship love GIF by ladypat

Biblical inspiration, then, is a charism referring to the special divine activity, communicated to individual authors, editors, and compilers belonging to the community, for the sake of the community. It produced the sacred texts both of the Old Testament and the New. These texts ground the apostolic Church which remains uniquely authoritative for us and for all generations of Christians” (CFC, #86).

bible GIF

But the Holy Spirit’s work in Scripture touches more than its human authors: in some fashion, it also touches both the proclaimers and the hearers of the word. “In the sacred books the Father who is in heaven comes lovingly to meet His children, and talks with them” (DV 21). Scripture thus supports and invigorates the Church (cf. CCC 131-33). It strengthens our faith, offers food for our souls, and remains a pure and lasting fount for our spiritual lives.

my s GIF

Through the Spirit “God’s word is living and effective” (Heb 4:12). But we realize that what was written in the Spirit must be proclaimed and heard in the Spirit” (CFC #87).

GIF Credits: Giphy.com

Thank you for reading this post. Subscribe or follow this website for more updates.

 

 

 

Remembering a Great Jesuit: Fr. Romeo “Archie” Intengan, S.J.

0464c6042216e56a66ba179a2803c1d9

Last week, I had a dream with Fr. Romeo “Archie” Intengan, my former professor in Special Moral Theology and local superior while I was still a Jesuit scholastic in 1991. In that dream, we had a warm and serious talk. He listened to all my personal problems and frustrations in life and gave me some consoling advice on how to face them and follow Christ.

Life as a layperson after leaving a religious order can be very challenging and frustrating. I felt being suddenly deprived of all benefits and institutional security when I left the Jesuit and religious life. I felt alone in the world after I left the religious order in 1991.

During this lowest moment of my life, two Jesuits often entered into my mind–Fr. Thomas Green, S.J., my former spiritual director at San Jose Seminary, and Fr. Archie Intengan, S.J., my former Jesuit superior at the Loyola House of Studies. I really wanted to see them and share with them all my struggles in life after I left the congregation.

I did see Fr. Green for a spiritual direction two years after I left the religious order. But unfortunately, I wasn’t able to talk with Fr. Archie before his death. I later knew that he was appointed the overall head or the Provincial of the Jesuits in the Philippines. Knowing the workload of a provincial, I didn’t pursue my plan to have an appointment with him, just to talk to him about my new life as a layman. I knew that he would always be there to listen and to provide me with some advice.

Yes, I was able to see him again with my own family, this time not to talk to him on how I found my vocation outside the religious order but to see him for the last time at the Loyola House of Studies chapel during his wake! Although we may not have met again in person, I always felt he was there, happy for what I have done for my family and for the Church as a layman.

Who is Father Archie?

Father Romeo “Archie” Intengan is a former Surgery Professor of University of the Philippines-General Hospital (UP-PGH), Moral Theologian and Professor of the Loyola School of Theology, Ateneo de Manila University, Provincial or national leader of the Jesuit Order in the Philippines, chief ideologue of the Partido Demokratikong Sosyalista ng Pilipinas (PDSP), and a spiritual father and friend to the many people who knew him.

It’s difficult to put Father Archie in one category as he is a person with many talents and abilities, performing various social roles while he was still alive. But to me, Fr. Archie is my spiritual father and true friend. He is also my former professor in Special Moral Theology and Juniorate superior at the Loyola House of Studies, Ateneo de Manila University, while I was still a Jesuit scholastic in 1990. Above all, he is my role model for scholarship, nationalism, and love for Christ.

As an Academic Scholar

DLwocwuUQAEtA_b

Fr. Archie managed to receive his licentiate in Moral Theology in Spain when he slipped out of the country to avoid an arrest that is ordered by the former President Ferdinand Marcos. After the EDSA Revolution in 1986 that ousted Pres. Marcos, Fr. Archie returned to the Philippines and started teaching Special Moral Theology II at the Loyola School of Theology (LST). I was fortunate to belong to the first batch of students he taught at the LST.

I could not have loved knowledge, research, and scholarship without the inspiration of some top Jesuit scholars led by Fr. Archie. Together with Fr. John Schumacher, S.J., and Fr. Joseph Smith, S.J., Fr. Archie is at the top of my list of role models for research and scholarship. I was always impressed by the degree of preparation, depth and high quality of his class notes and readings in our Special Moral Theology course. His conversational style of teaching was easy to understand. His lectures and class notes were very organized and comprehensive. These notes which were worthy of publication were all well-researched and complete with updated references despite his being a busy person. I knew that he always stayed late at night, doing his work as a scholar and teacher, aside from performing his duty as a local superior, medical doctor, and chief political strategist of his political party—the PDSP.

As a Nationalist

download

The nationalism of Fr. Archie is par excellence. To me, he is the reincarnated Jose Rizal and Ninoy Aquino. He endangered his life by fighting the Marcos dictatorship and by trying to reform the country and serve the Catholic Church.

In his Special Moral Theology class, I learned that loving one’s country or patriotism is a sublime expression of loving one’s neighbor as commanded by Christ in the Bible.

 

As a Friend

Fr. Archie may be strong and firm in his beliefs and actions against political malaise and any form of abuse of power in the government, but he remained a gentle friend. He reached out to people and made them comfortable. If you’re sick, you can always knock on his door for a free medical check-up. He would never reject anyone who needs his help.

As a Man on a Mission

Fr. Archie is a man on a mission, a true Jesuit, and soldier of Christ. He knew that all his battles are all meant for the greater glory of God. And He knew that his life would end soon. I was informed that Fr. Archie went to his barber after sensing that his life is about to end.  Knowing him as a very systematic and meticulous person, he probably thought that he should face his relatives, friends, and the public in his wake with a good haircut and grooming. He may be a very busy person but he cares for others, making sure that his presence is always pleasant and loving to them.

Living saints and great followers of Christ live their life with a sole purpose of serving God and His Church through their chosen vocation. And Fr. Archie is one of them. I’m truly grateful to God for giving me the grace and the chance to see a living saint in Fr. Archie!

 

Photo Credits: Reverts to the owner/publisher of Fr. Archie’s photos.

Thank you for reading this post. Subscribe or follow this blog via email for more updates.

 

 

6 Most Misunderstood Beliefs and Practices in the Catholic Church

confused GIFjesus church GIF

1. Venerating the Saints is Idolatry.

catholic GIF

Venerating the saints is not idolatry. Catholics are not actually praying to the saints but only honoring them as heroes of the Catholic faith and asking them to intercede for them to Christ. Catholics only worship God and not the saints according to official Church teachings. It’s true that worshiping material things is idolatry and a serious sin against God. But the statues inside the Church are mere symbols and representations of their personhood of the saints as true disciples of Christ, worthy of emulation. They help Catholics to recall their heroic deeds for God. A symbol, such as the statue, only points to the reality. The piece of wood or cement of the statue is not being worshiped by Catholics but only served as a visual aid to remind Catholics to imitate their extraordinary faith in Christ..

2. The Sacred Host in the Mass is only a Symbol.

amor GIF

For some Protestant Churches which use the sacred host in their public rituals, the consecrated host is only a symbol but not the reality itself. This is not the Catholic Church’s official teaching. For the Church, the consecrated host during the Mass is not just a symbol but the reality itself. Under the Doctrine of Transubstantiation, the ordinary unleavened bread is transformed into the real Body of Christ after the consecration in the Eucharist.

catholic the exorcist GIF

“Transubstantiation is the process by which the bread and wine of the Eucharist is transformed into the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. Catholics believe that through transubstantiation, the risen Jesus becomes truly present in the Eucharist. The word transubstantiation is made up of two parts: ‘trans’ and ‘substantiation.’ The first part is a prefix that means ‘across’, ‘beyond’, or ‘through’. It suggests that some kind of change has taken place. The second part of the word, ‘substantiation,’ refers to the philosophical term substance. According to the Greek philosopher Aristotle, substance is a thing’s deepest being, what it is, in and of itself. The substance of a thing is what it really and truly is beyond all appearances” (Troolin). After the consecration of the priest, the substance of the bread and wine is transformed into the Body and Blood of Christ.

3. The Personal and Moral Life of the Priest can Affect the Sacredness of the Mass He is Celebrating!

filipino GIF

It is true that persons who are ordained by Catholic bishops as priests remain human beings and sinners. But the sacrament of ordination has transformed them into ministers of Christ and the Church. What they are administering in the Church, such as the Eucharist and the sacraments, are not affected by their personal and immoral life as sinners. These public rituals are done by priests in the name of the Church of Christ and not in their own name and power. As ministers, they are only instruments, the real dispensers of divine grace in the sacraments is Christ Himself. Of course, it is ideal that the priest who administers the sacraments is also a holy person and a worthy human instrument of grace.

4. Direct Confession to God is Better than Confessing to the Priest.

confess hands up GIF by Andrew and Pete

Direct confession to God is usually done by Protestant and Christian churches. But the Catholic Church only allows direct confession for venial or minor sins. Grave or serious sins must be confessed to the priest in the sacrament of reconciliation. In the Gospels, following his resurrection, Jesus appears to his disciples. After breathing upon them, he said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained” (Jn 20:22-23; see also Mt 18:18). The sacrament of reconciliation encourages us to go and to try to sin no more. This teaching is found also in Ephesians 4:25-32 and 1 John 1:5-10. By virtue of his ordination, the priest is authorized by the Church to forgive sins in the name of Christ.

5. Unbaptized Babies will go to Limbo!

hip hop happy dance GIF

“It is clear that the traditional teaching on this topic has concentrated on the theory of limbo, understood as a state which includes the souls of infants who die subject to original sin and without baptism, and who, therefore, neither merit the beatific vision, nor yet are subjected to any punishment, because they are not guilty of any personal sin. This theory, elaborated by theologians beginning in the Middle Ages, never entered into the dogmatic definitions of the Magisterium….” (ITC).

“However, in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (1992), the theory of limbo is not mentioned. Rather, the Catechism teaches that infants who die without baptism are entrusted by the Church to the mercy of God, as is shown in the specific funeral rite for such children. The principle that God desires the salvation of all people gives rise to the hope that there is a path to salvation for infants who die without baptism (cf. CCC, 1261) (Ibid).”.

6. Praying is Asking God’s Favor!

pray praying hands GIF by LL Cool J

Prayer is God’s gift. It has different forms. It is not always asking God’s favor. Not all prayers are petition or intercessory prayers. The Universal Catechism of the Catholic Church (#2259) describes the Church’s teaching on prayer as follows:

“Prayer is the raising of one’s mind and heart to God or the requesting of good things from God.”2 But when we pray, do we speak from the height of our pride and will, or “out of the depths” of a humble and contrite heart?3 He who humbles himself will be exalted;4 humility is the foundation of prayer, Only when we humbly acknowledge that “we do not know how to pray as we ought,”5 are we ready to receive freely the gift of prayer. “Man is a beggar before God.”6

GIF Credits: Giphy.com

References

Troolin, A. (n.d.). Catholic Doctrine of Transubstantiation: Definition & Overview. Retrieved from https://study.com/academy/lesson/catholic-doctrine-of-transubstantiation-definition-lesson-quiz.html.

International Theological Commission (ITC) (n.d.). “The Hope of Salvation for Infants Who Die Without Being Baptized”. Retrieved from http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/cti_documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_20070419_un-baptised-infants_en.html.

Thank you for reading this post. Subscribe or follow this blog for more updates. God bless!