A senior CDF official tasked with handling abuse allegation cases in Rome said there is “no logical connection” between abuse and clerical celibacy.
Father Jordi Bertomeu Farnós is a senior official at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, a member of the team that handles cases of allegations of clerical sexual abuse in Rome. In a nearly 3,000 word interview with Spanish magazine Palabra given last Tuesday, Farnós discussed celibacy in the context of the abuse crisis in the Church.
Farnós said “regardless of other circumstances and arguments that have emerged in the recent Synod for the Amazon,” when to it comes to celibacy, there is “no evidence” it is related to any instances of abuse or is related to “deviant sexual addiction.”
“This conclusion does not present any logical connection with the problem we are dealing with here: there is no scientific data that demonstrates that a married life would put an end to the deviant behavior of these few priests with this sexual disorder.”
Furthermore, he added that “celibacy has never been considered as a relevant parameter to identify abusers.”
“Rather, most abusers are married men. Priests, mostly celibate men are usually characterized precisely for their psychological balance, for their availability and selfless delivery to all, not only to the Catholic faithful.”
He debunked the theory of celibacy causing abuse with evidence: for example, the Unity Church of Australia has 240,000 members, no hierarchy, and “married male and female clergy.” It is currently dealing with some 2,500 cases of child abuse.
“Such data contrasts with those of the Catholic Church, with 466,000 priests and 6,000 cases reported to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.”
He added that just because a majority of sexual abuse cases occur in the family, no one says family members are prone to abuse.
“If 73% of sexual abuse of minors seems to occur in the family environment, it cannot be affirmed that ‘being a father or being a mother predisposes to abuse.'”
Farnós argued that because of the high-profile nature of such cases, Catholic priests are unfairly made out to be the cause of abuse compared to others. The high-profile nature led to “certain statements destined to provoke the social panic and discredit of the Church, unfairly stigmatizing the social group of the clergy.”
“Although unfortunately, in all social classes, professions, ethnic groups and, of course, religions, there is the phenomenon of child abuse, Catholic priests are seen or even increasingly treated as ‘suspects’ of having committed this horrible crime.”
He said there is “irresponsible” media coverage of clerical abuse by media, as priests account for only 3% of abuse cases reported to authorities, much less than others.
“In the last two decades, we have attended with pain, particularly in some regions of the Catholic world, to an unworthy, improper, inconsiderate and even vexatious treatment of priests for the mere fact of their being priests.”