The remedy for clerical sex abuse is prayer and good formation – not ending celibacy
Editor's note: An international group of lay Catholics held a public demonstration in Rome yesterday just outside the Vatican, demanding that Pope Francis and the world’s bishops address homosexuality during the upcoming abuse summit as the major cause of the sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church. The following statement was given by Julio Loredo during a press conference at the event. Read all statements here.
ROME, February 20, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Pope Pius XII defined the evangelisation of the Americas [as] “the greatest missionary epic after the foundation of the Church”. In fact, in less than a hundred years, the entire continent was lovingly conducted towards the Catholic faith, at the hands of valiant Spaniard and Portuguese missionaries, many of whom [are] canonized.
This epic was possible because the purpose of their mission was clear: to proclaim to these peoples the Good News of Jesus Christ, baptizing them in the name of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, thus leading them into the fold of the Holy Roman Church, within that immense spiritual family we call Christian Civilisation.
These missionaries did not cheapen their mission; they did not enter into any compromise with the pagan customs then current among the Indians, including infanticide, cannibalism, genocide, ritual rape, polygamy, and homosexuality. Any concession would have impoverished the Christian message, thus also compromising their mission. Against widespread sexual abuse, the missionaries presented the Catholic ideal in its integrity, confident that divine grace would do the rest.
Apart from the theological, moral or canonical considerations that can be elaborated, this approach proved to be historically successful. I would say, pastorally successful.
This approach was re-proposed, more recently, by Pope John Paul II when, on the occasion of the five hundred years since the discovery of America, he convened the XXV General Congregation of the Special Assembly for America of the Synod of Bishops. In the post-synodal exhortation Ecclesia in America, Pope Wojtyla was very clear: “Those responsible for formation should carefully supervise and guide the seminarians towards emotional maturity so that they may be fit to embrace priestly celibacy and be prepared to live in communion with their brother priests” [Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in America, January 22, 1999, No. 40].
I do not believe at all that the abolition of priestly celibacy is the most effective remedy against sexual abuse. The most effective remedy is prayer and good priestly formation, thus reversing the moral, liturgical and doctrinal laxity that spread in the seminars since the 1960s. The rest will be done by divine grace, in which we must trust.
As a grateful son of the evangelizing epic in the New Continent, this is my firm conviction, supported by the testimony of history.