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Calls in US for re-evaluation of celibacy

Some opinion leaders in the Catholic Church in the US are suggesting an end to the celibacy requirement for priests, in the wake of the fever that has gripped the country following recent revelations of widespread clergy sexual abuse.

More than 100,000 copies of The Pilot, Boston Archdiocese's official Church newspaper, were distributed after Mass in the archdiocese of Boston Sunday. In it, an editorial asked whether ending the abstinence requirement would prevent future sexual abuse.

"If celibacy were optional, would there be fewer paedophile scandals in the priesthood? Does priesthood, in fact, attract a disproportionate number of men with a homosexual orientation?"

The editorial said the New Testament "clearly prizes" priestly celibacy but that most Americans did not understand it.

Citing the divorce rate, it added that allowing priests to marry would not be a "panacea".

Cardinal Bernard Law, Boston's archbishop, said the editorial was repeating questions raised by others.

Since January, at least 55 priests facing abuse allegations in 17 American dioceses have been removed, suspended, placed on administrative leave or forced to resign or retire. Financial settlements with victims could total more than $A2 billion.


The Pilot

Questions that must be faced (The Pilot editorial, 15/3/02)


Telegraph (London)

19 Mar 2002