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Title: Priestly Celibacy and Child Sexual Abuse
Authors: Scheper-Hughes, Nancy 1944-; DeVine, John
Date: 2003
Source: Sexualities 6(1): 15-39
Abstract: At the heart of the current child sex abuse scandal in the United States is the ugly spectacle of hundreds of consecrated ‘men of God’ committing, with impunity, repeated acts of sexual violence against children and adolescents, the bodies and minds of whom they had extraordinarily privileged access to. Adding insult to injury, these same sexual predators received sympathy from the Pope and protection from their bishops and religious orders, whose main concern was damage control packaged in the pious language of ‘preventing scandal’. In his annual pre-Easter message to ‘priests around the world’ in the spring of 2002, Pope John Paul II acknowledged the American clerical sex abuse scandal in three brief phrases in which he expressed his sympathy with all the Roman Catholic priests who were ‘personally and profoundly afflicted’ by the unnamed sins of the few priests who had succumbed ‘to the most grievous form of the mysterium iniquitatis — the mystery of evil — at work in the world’. The real problem, as analyzed by John Paul II, was that a ‘dark shadow of suspicion is cast over all the fine priests who perform their ministry with honesty and integrity and often with heroic sacrifice’ (from the Letter of His Holiness John Paul II to Priests for Holy Thursday 2002, provided by the Vatican, The New York Times, March 11, 2002: A18). This evident failure to empathize with the primary victims of clerical abuse points to the institutional and structural violence that is largely responsible for the problem, an area that has yet to be adequately recognized, let alone addressed, by the Church.1
Format: article
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1363460703006001003
Online: View Article
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