DUBLIN (ICN): A prominent Irish priest has said it would do a ‘great disservice’ to the Church if ‘a blind eye’ were to be turned to the problems posed by compulsory celibacy.
Fr Gerard Moloney, who edits the Redemptorist monthly Reality, said the scandals convulsing the Church had prompted some, including leading bishops to wonder whether compulsory celibacy should be reviewed.
‘To ask questions about celibacy is not to suggest a link between celibacy and sexual abuse, nor is it to deny that celibacy is, for countless clergy, a wonderful and treasured gift,’ writes Fr Moloney in an editorial in the magazine’s latest issue.
‘It is simply to recognise that we cannot address the problems facing the Church without confronting the problems posed by compulsory celibacy.’
Firstly, he said the link between celibacy and clericalism was ‘not only unhealthy but had been a major factor in the failure of the Church authorities to address the problems of clerical sexual abuse’.
‘To be a priest is to be a member of an exclusive club, a privileged, all-male, hierarchical, celibate caste by its nature, which is secretive and authoritarian. The instinct is to protect the interests of the club even at the expense of those who have been abused by its members.’
To remove compulsory celibacy would ‘puncture a hole in the system to create more open healthy and accountable Church’, Fr Moloney argued.