Readers in Council,
The Japan Times,
5-4, Shibaura 4-chome,
Minato-ku, Tokyo 108-0023
With each new accusation and revelation of sexual abuse by Catholic priests I grind my teeth and ask myself, “Where were the nuns while all of this was going on?” But we know from the Irish example that the sisters aren’t innocent. It is a confirmation of the comical accuracy of all those stereotypes of strict and neurotic Catholic schooling that we have seen in the movies for years. Crying about it seems more appropriate than laughing, but I don’t know ...
Hopefully there will come a time - after things get a lot worse than they currently are - when good order is established in the Catholic pastoral ministry. And perhaps these incidents will force a repeal of the priestly celibacy rule. But a married clergy will not extinguish the kinds of heinous episodes we now are hearing about with greater frequency. First, because celibacy alone is not directly causally related to child sex abuse. It only looks that way. And, second, because celibacy is not the bottom issue. The bottom issue is chastity. Confusing the two by implication is a common error.
The unraveling sex abuse scandal will not deter me from being a religious person, and I am strongly in favor of a celibate (male) priesthood as a symbol of persons devoted in body and mind to God and His work. At the same time I want to avoid talking about chastity out of simple good manners. In the long run the celibacy policy may unavoidably have to yield to a married Catholic clergy and I expect the effect will range from being negligible to being a definite improvement. Protestant, Eastern Orthodox and Jewish congregations demonstrate that perfectly adequate pastoral service is available through a married clergy.