Celibacy and Child Rape

At the New York Review of Books Blog, controversial Catholic theologian Hans Küng blames the celibate priesthood for the epidemic of child rape in the Catholic Church. (The term "rape" is mine and it's carefully chosen. When adults force sex on children, that's rape.) He argues convincingly that the church would be a safer and healthier institution if priests were allowed to marry.


Küng argues that celibacy begets abuse because it sets priests apart from the rest of society and encourages them to think of themselves as a special caste that exists outside the secular law:

"Yet the rule of celibacy, together with papal absolutism and exaggerated clericalism, became one of the pillars of the "Roman system." Unlike priests in the Eastern churches, the celibate clergy of the West remain completely separated from the laity, primarily by abstaining from marriage. They constitute a dominant social class of their own, fundamentally superior to ordinary Christians, but completely subordinate to the pope in Rome"

Klung puts celibacy front and center in his indictment, but his argument acknowledges how celibacy and patriarchy reinforce each other.

The problem is deeper than celibacy; it's institutional complicity. If you create opportunities to rape with impunity, you'll attract a bunch of rapists--whether you're running a college campus or a religion or a day care center. Secular institutions usually have at least some checks and balances to keep these abuses in check and weed out as many predators as possible. But the Catholic Church makes a virtue out of being undemocratic and unaccountable.

Self-appointed guardian of decency Bill Donohue of the Catholic League went on CNN to reassure the rapist community that the Catholic Church is a safe space for them:

"DONOHUE: It's not pedophelia. Most of the victims are post- pubescent. You have to get your facts straight. I'm sorry. If I'm the only one who is dealing with facts tonight, that's it. The vast majority of the victims are post-pubescent. That's not pedophelia, buddy. That's homosexuality."

Donohue and his allies make it a point to defend rapists on general principle, and rapists know it. (Notice how Donohue tries to shift the blame to an entire sexual orientation, away from the individuals who committed the crimes or the institution that covered for them. Of course, there were also priests who raped pubescent girls. Does it follow that heterosexuality is to blame?)

Allowing priests to get married is probably a step in the right direction. At least the change would attract more healthy people to counterbalance the predators. However, the rape problem will persist as long as guys like Donohue make a career out of excusing it.

​There are two kinds of failure – but only one is honorable

Malcolm Gladwell teaches "Get over yourself and get to work" for Big Think Edge.

Big Think Edge
  • Learn to recognize failure and know the big difference between panicking and choking.
  • At Big Think Edge, Malcolm Gladwell teaches how to check your inner critic and get clear on what failure is.
  • Subscribe to Big Think Edge before we launch on March 30 to get 20% off monthly and annual memberships.
Keep reading Show less

For a long time, the West shaped the world. That time is over.

The 21st century is experiencing an Asianization of politics, business, and culture.

Videos
  • Our theories about the world, even about history or the geopolitics of the present, tend to be shaped by Anglo perspectives of the Western industrial democracies, particularly those in the United States and the United Kingdom.
  • The West, however, is not united. Canada, for instance, acts in many ways that are not in line with American or British policies, particularly in regard to populism. Even if it were united, though, it would not represent most of the world's population.
  • European ideas, such as parliamentary democracy and civil service, spread across the world in the 19th century. In the 20th century, American values such as entrepreneurialism went global. In the 21st century, however, what we're seeing now is an Asianization — an Asian confidence that they can determine their own political systems, their own models, and adapt to their own circumstances.
Keep reading Show less

Why modern men are losing their testosterone

Research has shown that men today have less testosterone than they used to. What's happening?

Flickr user Tom Simpson
Sex & Relationships
  • Several studies have confirmed that testosterone counts in men are lower than what they used to be just a few decades ago.
  • While most men still have perfectly healthy testosterone levels, its reduction puts men at risk for many negative health outcomes.
  • The cause of this drop in testosterone isn't entirely clear, but evidence suggests that it is a multifaceted result of modern, industrialized life.
Keep reading Show less

Why the ocean you know and love won’t exist in 50 years

Can sensitive coral reefs survive another human generation?

Videos
  • Coral reefs may not be able to survive another human decade because of the environmental stress we have placed on them, says author David Wallace-Wells. He posits that without meaningful changes to policies, the trend of them dying out, even in light of recent advances, will continue.
  • The World Wildlife Fund says that 60 percent of all vertebrate mammals have died since just 1970. On top of this, recent studies suggest that insect populations may have fallen by as much as 75 percent over the last few decades.
  • If it were not for our oceans, the planet would probably be already several degrees warmer than it is today due to the emissions we've expelled into the atmosphere.
Keep reading Show less