When I converted to Catholicism from Protestantism, one of the main reasons was Apostolic Authority. For a Protestant this is a bigger concession than a cradle Catholic might realize.  Protestantism, despite claims to the contrary, is a radically individualist approach to faith.  The two pillars of the Protestant Revolt were “Scripture Alone” and “Faith Alone,” meaning that the Bible is the highest and only authority for the Christian and faith is the only requirement for salvation.  In practice, especially in America, this means that “me and my Bible are infallible and my personal relationship with Jesus is my business.” The Protestants that I knew and know are deeply sincere and committed to Christ, but they, as individuals, have the final say in matters of faith and morals.

The Catholic, on the other hand, submits to the authority of the Church as exercised by the Pope and the Bishops in union with him.  If I don’t like what’s going on I can’t just go somewhere else.  This is the Body founded by Christ from which I separate at the risk of damnation (as in the case of excommunication and mortal sin). It can get bumpy, but I’m all in.

Today, in the light of the seemingly never-ending era of sex abuse scandals in the clergy and episcopate, perhaps this submission to men might appear to be more, shall we say, embarrassing?  Why give so much credit to sinful and fallible men?  Have they not lost the right to speak?  Have we not lost the stomach to listen?  They actually seem surprised that serious Catholics are not immediately jumping ship when the latest scandal drops.  I’m not surprised, because these scandals do reveal and tell us some things, but it is important to know what it does and does not say and to not allow interlocutors to have free reign over the narrative of what scandals mean.

One of the main charges that shows up repeatedly in comments and commentary is that the pedophile and predatory actions of many clergymen is proof that celibacy is a problem. But, there are hundreds of thousands of celibate men in the world, and it does not follow that because some are predators that all of them are.  As Christ said, some are eunuchs from birth and some are so for the sake of the Kingdom of God – like Jesus and St. Paul.

There is not an inherent reason for celibacy to lead to predatory behavior.  This charge gets repeated frequently, but this assumes human sexuality is an expression of an inner beast that must be appeased by more tolerable sexual expression so that it doesn’t explode into what we see in the headlines, as if every married man is really a tamed monster – think of an ancient volcano god that requires a few kids thrown in to keep from erupting. The biggest pedophile rings that get busted here and there (like this one) are not made up of celibate men denied sex, but of men that seem to get lured down the world of promiscuity and pornography to, one day, find themselves as certifiable (and certified) perverts.  In short, it is not less encounter with ordered sexuality in marriage that causes trouble, but more encounter with disordered sexuality that causes trouble. What the media and talking heads refuse to admit is that these men have been ushered down that path by the Sexual Revolution itself, because perversion begins in separating procreation from human sexuality – from there its just degrees of perversion; the heat just gets hotter.

In fact, many of the scandals reveal what many people considered “fringe” theories to be correct – that there is a “lavender mafia,” a network of homosexuals within the clergy and episcopate that protect and promote their own.  Rod Dreher has been on a tear about how “everyone knows” but no one does anything about these sorts of networks.  Ross Douhat recently talked about dismissing a crazy “traditionalist” guy that was railing against networks of homosexual clergy, only to find out later he was spot on.  One of the men the crazy guy barked about was Cardinal McCarrick, who was just revealed to have been a sort of king pin in this regard – or a sick uncle.  I have no reason to not believe this network exists, since I have had it confirmed by friends in seminary, the priesthood, and even monasteries.  Pope Benedict is reported to have been exacerbated by this “lobbying” group. This, however, does not prove that celibacy is a driving cause of the sexual abuse scandals, but homosexuality is, which the infamous John Jay report clearly showed.  Again, it is the infiltration of the Sexual Revolution that causes problems, not the non-embrace that celibacy proclaims.

So, is this all embarrassing?  I guess. The most basic understanding of the doctrines of the Church, however, attests that we do not believe that men are sinless because they are bishops.  The Sexual Revolution is dismembering families much faster than the the lives of those that are unfaithful to their priestly vocations. And in both cases the role and vocation to fatherhood – natural and supernatural – is intact even if many men fail or pervert it.  I think I speak well for many red-blooded Catholic men that would simply say, “Clean up your house, kick out the perverts, and get back to work.”

Given how many married laymen are living destructively in regards to human sexuality, I have no reason to think that celibacy has a special role in causing perversion.  In fact, the vibrant zeal of orthodox and ordered priests today is a witness to men in their marriages.  Their total gift of self is an image of masculinity that we men need today, to remind us that we are not beasts that use our wives to sooth our impulses.  We are all men called to give sacrificially to our brides, to order ourselves toward that end, and to defend and display the power of love.  Living a higher form of that love in celibacy is a witness the Sexual Revolutionaries are irritated by.  That’s a good thing.

  • Cynthia Perkins

    Celibacy in the Catholic church probably dissuades a lot of straight men from entering. Making the percentages higher for predators who aren’t concerned with normal relationships.Celibacy is unnatural if forced.

    • Gidget

      Celibacy is NOT the problem. Secularism and the lures of the world has diminished the priesthood. Fewer also enter Protestant seminaries and there is a shortage of MARRIED pastors as well. The Church loved ALL and as a result, allowed men with homosexual tendencies to enter the Church on the promise of celibacy. It is likely that many of these men were not even sincere, but were rather USING the Church for their own purpose. Now, some of these homosexuals have risen in the ranks and are actively promoting homosexual relationships in the Church. It will not destroy the Church, but if not cleaned out (there is a reluctance and a PC today that makes the Church reluctant to speak BOLDLY against homosexuality in the priesthood) it will result in a schism, dividing those who are willing to be persecuted to follow the teachings of Christ vs. those who want to change the Word.

  • jle
  • jle

    What about the victims? What about the abuse of power? What about the fact that deacons, priests and bishops are supposed to be held accountable to a higher standard? Something has gone wrong, very wrong, and it needs to be addressed, not yawned about! http://www.awrsipe.com/Doyle/2012/Santa%20Clara%20-%20May%2015,%202012c%5B5%5D.pdf

    • sparks1093

      I don’t think anything in the article suggested otherwise. This is something that absolutely needs to be addressed.

  • Kevin Vail

    The whole argument never made any sense to me.
    So adult man assaults teen age boy (like 80% of the cases in the US) but the solution is to give him access to adult women?? Who does this make sense to?
    Perverts that assault young boys DON’T WANT ADULT WOMEN THEY WANT YOUNG BOYS.

    • Gidget

      It is MORE than 80%. More like 92%. Homosexuals in the clergy and hierarchy is a HUGE issue that MUST be addressed.

      • Kevin Vail

        It’s apparent the hierarchy will never admit that, Francis is not going to ride to the rescue, he’s as dirty as a they come. They will talk about “clericalism” and the (rare) sexual abuse of small children. They will not admit that large numbers of clergy are involved in the sexual harassment and abuse of young adults and older children.

      • alcarrie

        If they do not, it will result in a 2nd schism.

      • Kevin Vail

        That may be a done deal anyways. The sexual behavior problem is a symptom of the fact that large numbers of Catholic priests and bishops do not hold or teach the faith and haven’t for a long time. Now they have a pope so “unchangeable” doctrines will start changing – like the death penalty. The institutional RCC is no different than any other American mainline denomination. If they could permit open homosexuality, homo marriage, abortion, women priests and the whole “progressive” package, they would do it tomorrow. Meanwhile there are plenty of Catholic laity that increasingly look at the institutional church as the problem and wonder if they are just nuts.
        Corruption like this though tends to make the papers, so to speak, so it could set off another reformation like event / schism.

  • Taylor D Barrett

    No, celibacy does not cause clergy scandals. Disobedience does. That being said, this isn’t a valid argument for celibacy. “It does not cause scandals” does not prove “we should still mandate this for clergy.” There are many good reasons for celibacy. There are also some reasons for considering the idea of making it optional.

  • Pueblo Southwest

    Of course celibacy does not cause clergy scandals. Anyone with a knowledge of first semester Logic would laugh at such a proposition. However, the introduction of married clergy into Church practices would also insert a different element into the experience universe that may well prove beneficial and simply crowd out the undesirable factions. There are no guarantees in human behavior but there seems little reason, based on the experiences of other religious denominations and Churches, to exclude serious consideration of the option.

    • Noel Voos

      “however, the introduction of married clergy”….this is precisely the “Scripture Alone” and “Faith Alone,” mindset at work. Where does scripture tell us where Jesus suggests or teaches “Well, if you have ears and have listened to my words, those with eyes who have seen my actions – and you don’t feel or believe them to be right and correct and holy, then well, go ahead and “introduce” your own teachings and

      standards. And by the way…good luck with that!”

      • Carola Sosa

        Celibacy was “introduced” a few hundred years after Jesus.
        IN Jesus time was optional…some
        We’re married some has the gift of celibacy.

  • James

    In denominations with married clergy, the clergy are far less likely to molest boys and engage in homosexual behavior—and far more likely to molest girls and cheat on their wives. Take that as you will.

    The rule prohibiting the ordination of married men makes it more likely that homosexuals will join the priesthood. This should be obvious. A priesthood full of closeted gay men is not good for anyone. Yet neither liberals nor conservatives want to talk about the problem—liberals out of fear of being anti-gay; conservatives because they don’t want to question tradition.

    • Clifton Webb

      Hello James. If you read up on sexual abuse cases one finds that most cases occur with a family member. And that pedophiles can represent upwards of 6% of any particular trade, be it lawyers, law enforcement or clergy. Clinically pedophilia is the attraction to prepubescent children; 12 – 13 years and younger. More than half of all abuse case victims in the church have been 15 and older. They are the target of the notorious homosexuals, and who are also in every walk of life. But the secularists in their effort to glorify the sodomites refer to them as pedophiles so as not to draw attention to the abhorrent attraction. They should be barred from having anything to do with young men.
      As of 2009, the church has allowed married Anglican priests to become Catholic priests. And speaking with them you hear the great stress being married places on the relationship between family and their sacramental responsibilities. And a few who have spoken to me about it understand fully as to why celibacy has been the tradition.
      I find it baffling as to why we tend to want to change something as opposed to changing ourselves. Or, if I don’t agree with the charter of an organization like the Free Masons, why I would tell them to change it to suit my likes.

      It is believed Celibacy is an identification with Christ, who Himself was celibate; an act of sacrificial love whereby a priest gives of himself totally to the service of God and His Church; and a sign of the coming Kingdom of God, where Our Lord said, “In the resurrection, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven” (Mt 22:30).
      Peace be with James.

      • Phil Alcoceli

        Mr. Clifton Webb, how many gallons of cyanide are necessary to kill a person? Ten? One? Or just the tiniest, tiniest of drops? Hold on to that and bear with me for a moment. You have written a beauty of a comment and I recognize as such 99.9% of it. Really. What with the other .01%? That’s your very casual (or is it?) mentioning of the Free Masons as an organization you’d rather leave than ask for internal changes. I’ll assume your total innocence for now. I have friends, some of them military ones, that are Free Masons.

        It was through them that I first caught a glimpse that modern 21st century Free Masons are not exactly right by True Authentic Catholicism standards. It’s really bad and one does not need to get all wired up, googled eyed, self-righteous, or narrow minded to reject this group (which has greatly expanded and multiplied immensely under other names, faces, causes, etc.). Indeed, it was my being open-minded (not enough for my brains to fall out) that caught this. For you all (and you Clifton) read the great article: “The Real Reason Catholics Can’t Be Freemasons” in the website of the Catholic Herald in the UK. It clears the fact that Free Masons of the 21st century are not “new and improved”, but the same and worse, just more devious. One tiny drop will do ya’.

    • Phil Alcoceli

      Really? You obviously pontificate on false “truths” that are really on very shaky ground. Why do both Protestantism and Liberalism (and you) both agree on the motto: “Sex is everything and the solution to all problems”? Why do both Protestantism and Liberalism increasingly agree on the acceptance and imposition of homosexuality, ordaining gay clergy and pushing the acceptance of its sinful, distorted, poisonous approach to everything in life? Why are the attack techniques of both Protestants and Liberals so exactly, intensely and precisely identical when they attack the Catholic Church? Because the ancestry of the so-called Sexual Revolution goes like this: Protestantism-Individualism-Liberalism-Sexual Revolution. As soon as the individual became the supreme standard and not God, sex became the supreme solution and not holiness, celibacy or married chastity. Indeed, the vicious atheism of today is but an excuse for sexual corruption, so it must be included in that lineage.

      The constant eruption of sexual scandals in Protestant Churches gets quickly buried by mainstream media who is after much more authentic, bigger fish: the Catholic Church. Yes, there are some token attacks to Protestants, especially against Pastors that don’t bother to attack the Catholic Church (seen as traitors) and that busy themselves on resisting the encroaching liberalism, sexualism and homosexuality in their churches (I highly recommend you read and listen to anything from late Pastor D. James Kennedy). True Authentic Catholicism does not make a good breeding ground at all for sexual liberalism. Therefore, today’s problems in the Catholic Church are from the increasing Protestantization and increasing Infiltration and Sabotage birthed from the individualism that Luther gave birth to. Whoever doubts any of this this must look at the Catholic high clergy that recently put a large statue of Martin Luther in the Vatican. A picture is worth a gazillion words and the life of millions of souls. Time to wake up to The Real Jesus!!

      • James

        Either you didn’t read my entire comment or you don’t think that molesting girls and adultery is as much of a problem as molesting boys and homosexual behavior.

      • Phil Alcoceli

        No, it’s you who did not read my entire comment (I read your every word). There’s no one more blind than the one who refuses to see (Mark 8:18). You are so ego-invested in your false narrative, indoctrination and attacks against the Catholic Church that you refuse to see the Whole Truth. Indeed, you literally said (copy and paste): “… that molesting girls and adultery is as much of a problem as molesting boys and homosexual behavior”. Whoa!!! Your dark self-righteousness has totally blinded you or you literally made a public sinful confession!! A big Freudian slip of the Truth! Yes, I was a fanatical Protestant like you years ago before Jesus opened my eyes to the Whole Truth.

        I personaly protested and reported the sexual abuse of some Pastors toward women and girls treated as sexual cattle in some Protestant churches, cults and “non-denominational” groups. Sin is sin, unles you are a liar. The biggest, worst Protestant sinners are always the best anti-Catholic attack dogs in order to hide their sin. The hypocrisy of the alleged “Masters of The Bible” is intolerable and despicable. Thanks, James for that great clarification. As Matthew 7:3-5 says: “Remove the plank from your eye…”

  • Phil Alcoceli

    Wow! Best article I have ever found on this very important matter. The only things I can add are 1) some very important observations as to the actual ancestry of the Sexual Revolution and Humanism in general, and which were noted by Plinio Correa de Oliveira in his book (which I very highly recommend) “Revolution and Counter-Revolution” as far back as 1959. It’s a short book at 174 pages but with explosive content. Have you ever noticed what many people, and myself included, have been noticing about the very identical parallel of the techniques, strategies, and methods of attack of both the so-called liberals (or any Church enemies) and many of the Protestant Denominations against one single, only target: the Catholic Church? That’s no coincidence or opportunism, there’s a very direct family relationship. Therefore, a big part of the scandals are due to the increasing Protestantization of the Church. Protestantization (and humanism) are entropy: 25,000 denominations and counting, by 10 more every week (Barna Group). Their own much larger sexual scandals remain largely hidden. Read the book!

    2) It’s no military secret that the Catholic Church is under a gigantic assault from all sides specially through infiltration of “devoted”, “holy”, highly trained Catholic impostors. With God I discerned that seminary wasn’t for me but a dear friend of mine continued and rose quickly through the ranks. He was going to be bishop of our diocese and, because of his very high catholicity and integrity, became a target. A woman pursued him relentlessly and he rejected her advances until she basically “jumped” on him in front of other parishioners. He was accused of initiating it, of course, and was demoted by the bishop of the time, a rabid compromiser. The woman was a Protestant and happy for her “hit”. Even more, much of the flames of the scandal were fanned by psychologists, therapists and others hired by the Church and who told the bishops to continue being flexible with priests suspected of molestation. The bishops, of course, were responsible and could not afford to expose this intentional sabotage and treason. Help all in the Church to be aware of this heinous infestation even if you are accused of alarmist, paranoid, etc., etc. Those accusing you of that are most probably Satan’s chosen, well disguised trolls. Act accordingly for the Glory and Honor of God and his Holy Church. Celibacy and married chastity are powerful sanctifiers and must be defended, come what may. Darn the torpedoes!!!