The headline is taken from a quote from Professor Philip Jenkins who re-iterates what he has being saying for years based on his own extensive studies in the area: there is
no evidence whatever that Catholic or other celibate clergy are any more or less likely to be involved in misconduct or abuse than clergy of any other denomination - or indeed non-clergy or secular professionals dealing with children
This is from a specialist in history, criminology and religious studies, whose CV might be seen here and who has published a number of studies in the area.
Consider this is the light of one of Ireland's most vocal "silenced" priests, Rev Anthony Flannery CSsR (yes, it's Tony Flannery again), who seems to think
nobody within the official Church has looked at the deeper issues and seriously asked the question why so many priests and religious did these things, because it raises fundamental questions about the lifestyles of priests.
Can they say with any degree of definiteness that the fact that so many priests abused children is not connected to celibacy and clericalism and the whole style of life that a priest is forced to live today? I don't think they can and until such time as the Church authorities face up to that and seriously discuss it and investigate it, the problem will not go away.
This may look ok to the naked eye, but Professor Jenkins would ask for
the evidence on which they base that opinion. "Everybody knows" does not constitute social scientific evidence.
In other words, Father Flannery may be throwing out a catchy sound byte, but he doesn't know what he's talking about. I've been down this road before. Father Flannery's confrere and fellow "silenced" priest, Father Gerard Moloney CSsR published an editorial in the Irish Redemptorist magazine Reality making the connexion between celibacy and child abuse, and also using the crisis to attack Benedict XVI's liturgical reform. I and a good number of other people wrote to Father Moloney about this and I enclosed a copy of an article I wrote on the topic in an earlier Brandsma Review based on research in the area. To be fair to Father Moloney, we received courteous replies. However, given the amount of research there is on paedophilia by clergy of all denominations and of secular professionals dealing with children and I will cite Philip Jenkins and Leon Podles as particular authorities who have studied several churches and several cultures over many years. Neither these nor any other scholar in this area I have read would back up Father Flannery's assertions. This is area is fraught with controversy. To take a look at the struggle a support group has in a different denominational context, visit the Awareness Center website.
As a parent, it pains me to say this, but the most significant factor in where paedophiles are found is easy access to children. As a Catholic it pains me to say the conduct of Catholic Church authorities in this regard across several countries and continents has been appalling and has done immense damage to the Church's mission. That this happens in other denominations is quite irrelevant as I expect more from what I believe to be the Church of Christ and from a priesthood I believe to be instituted by Christ Himself, which is an area Father Flannery has a problem with and which is why he has restrictions on his ministry. But to make, as many dissenting clergy do, a political point out of the pain of the victims and their families through unqualified linkage of paedophilia and celibacy adds to the pain. If he's not prepared to read up on the subject, he should close his mouth.