05 September 2018, The Tablet

There is still an argument for celibacy as a sacrifice made for the sake of others

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In the light of the continuing furore in the Catholic Church over child abuse by priests, urgent questions have to be asked about clerical celibacy. Does it lead to abuse? One recent writer in the American Jesuit magazine America summarised the case thus, before dismissing it as pseudo-Freudian nonsense: “Celibacy is an unliveable demand. Any human being asked to make promises of celibacy is driven to moral hypocrisy by the irrepressible nature of the sexual libido.”

There is another layer to this, however. There is solid evidence that most convicted paedophile priests are homosexual. So is there a causal connection between the two – does that “irrepressible nature of the sexual libido” apply particularly to them? If so, the quickest way to reduce the incidence of child abuse by priests would be to exclude gay men from the priesthood.

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