Should Catholic priests remain celibate?

The German Catholic church discusses the latest report containing evidence of 3,677 cases of child sexual abuse by its priests.

Daria Sukharchuk
Daria Sukharchuk NewsMavens, Central & Eastern Europe
Should Catholic priests remain celibate? - NewsMavens
Cardinal Reinhard Marx at funeral procession, Wikimedia Commons

Why this story matters:

On Tuesday September 25, over 70 high-ranking German Catholic priests at a Bishops Conference in the city of Fulda met to discuss the  "Study on the Sexual Abuse of Minors by Clergy", a report they commissioned that provides evidence of 3,677 cases of pedophilia over 70 years (the real number of victims is probably several times higher, research suggests -- but it is often difficult to collect hard facts).

This report, commissioned by the Catholic church itself in 2014, is the first of its kind in Germany -- and it doesn't cover all its institutions -- religious orders and children's homes and schools run by the church are not included. Evidence in other cases, such as in  Ireland (and Germany), indicate that abuse occured in these places as well. 

Overall, the findings of this report are so disturbing that it seems the German bishops are considering a range of drastic measures -- up to the abolition of celibacy -- if this is what is needed to stop child abuse.

It seems that the Catholic church must seriously consider reforms -- that is if they want to keep their influence and their congregations and remain on the right side of the law. It is debatable if abolishing celibacy will be enough to stop sexual abuse -- as we know from other cases of sexual abuse uncovered by the #metoo discussion, a married man and a father can be sexual predator as well.

Details from the story:

  • A report commissioned by the Geman Catholic church contains evidence of 3,677 cases of child sexual abuse between 1946 and 2014, with over 1,600 men (mostly priests) named guilty.
  • Parts of the report were leaked to the press last week, adding heat to the scandals the Catholic church has been embroiled in for the last months.
  • According to German Cardinal Reinhard Marx: "I feel we have reached a turning point about the issues such as prevention and the treatment of victims, but also about how the Church will deal with its own future". 
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