Thursday, April 29, 2010

Bishop Geoffrey Robinson's perspective.

"Priests think abuse 'doesn't break celibacy'"
Unfortunately a headline or a newspaper article doesn't tell the whole story and often times quotes are taken out of context - we all know that by now.  This morning I had an email waiting for me from a friend who is something of a roving journalist at large, concerning statements by retired Australian Bishop Geoffrey Robinson regarding priests who molested young people.  Here is the substance of Bishop Robinson's statement:
Some pedophile priests believe molesting children does not breach their vow of celibacy, a retired Australian Catholic bishop said in a magazine interview.
Geoffrey Robinson, former auxiliary bishop of Sydney, told The Australian Women's Weekly he had made the observation during years of work with victims of child abuse within the church.
"We've met it often enough to see it as a factor. That's what the vow of celibacy refers to, being married. If it's not an adult woman, then somehow they're not breaking their vow," the 72-year-old said. - Source

Dogs don't know it's not bacon.
I think the tag line from the Beggin' Strips ad (Bacon-like dog food for our non-American readers) just may apply to the statement, "priests think abuse 'doesn't break celibacy'".  I'm sure some theologians or psych-nurse will say the Bishop's statement is nonsense and he is simply advocating for the elimination of compulsory celibacy for Latin rite priests.  That may or may not be his motive for saying such things, but that isn't my point here.
On some level I think Robinson is right on the money. It's like the guy who goes to a prostitute - in his mind he's not really cheating on his wife or girl friend because he doesn't love the prostitute - he's just having sex, so he's not really being unfaithful. Same with married men who go to parks and restrooms to have anonymous sex - it has nothing to do with love, commitment, etc - it's like private auto-eroticism, or even taking a whiz outdoors. There is little or no emotional involvement.  Slam, bam, thank you m'am.  If he is religious, he may know it is sinful, but in his mind it's not breaking his vows.
So at least Bishop Robinson is thinking like a guy here.  It may explain one dimension of the problem, the why, how, and wherefore, but it doesn't resolve anything.  If celibacy had been eliminated and priests had been free to marry, I doubt that would have changed anything.  Married men (not all of course) have always fooled around:  "Honey, it doesn't mean anything - I still love you."  Ask Larry Craig, or Fr. - oops!
Yes, we're animals.
Thanks to PML for the news article.


  1. Oh, men are such animals--LOL! It's hard to believe they can "justify" that they are still celebate.

  2. Kind of like the guy who believes having oral sex with another woman isn't cheating on his wife, because, you know, they aren't really "doing it" ... pathetic.

  3. Unfortunately, in the '70s and '80s this message was given, either implicitly or explicitly...from first hand knowledge and from those who lived through it.
    Celibacy was being "unmarried".
    If you didn't violate that, you were "expressing yourself", "growing in your sexuality", "finding yourself",
    "expressing your affection."
    Yeah, celibacy is unmarried. But the unmarried are called to chastity, which means no sex and all that leads up to it.
    A diocesan priest makes a promise to remain celibate "for the sake of the Kingdom of God" which means he remains chaste, as well.
    A religious professes the vow of chastity which includes celibacy but is much is a complete gift of self in a "holocaust" (which is why the vow formulae are signed on the altar to unite it to the Sacrifice of the Mass).
    No sex for either. None.
    This goofy and destructive attitude came from the "Third Way" which was popularized in the ' can have your cake and eat it, too...I mean, you can have "meaningful" relationships, express affection, be fully human...and commit mortal sin and probably a crime now and again.
    Thank God these days are over.
    No decent seminary will allow even a hint of this kind of may go on, but it certainly is NOT condoned or encouraged. And if you are "outed" in the sense of others knowing it is going on, you're OUT.

  4. Fr. - I honestly did not know that one - that celibacy simply meant being unmarried.

  5. Terry: Your final comment in your blog is so true and so foundational:
    It's chastity that is the issue; not marriage or celibacy.
    Fondling and sodomizing boys/young men is an absolute travesty; but it is a violation of chastity.
    That's what got lost; chaste love is, like St. Paul says in the Letter to the Romans, "never selfish, self-seeking" or something to that effect.
    Consecrated celibacy includes chastity; somehow, it got lost in the psychedelic world of the '60s.
    Although, it DID happen long before then (as we have so painfully seen)...these guys were either psychopaths or really good at rationalization (some of them went to confession, with their victims, right after their victimization to another priest, pace: Fr. James Porter)...some even gave absolution to their victims right after (which incurred a 'latae sententia' canonical penalty of suspension--Fr. Maciel of LC fame comes to mind--which only the Vatican could absolve...another post...)
    Jesus, mercy on us all!


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