A failure of clerical ascetical discipline

A failure of clerical ascetical discipline

Over the past five years, a lot of “experts” have proposed causes for the Scandal of clergy sex-abuse that have —to use the cliche—rocked the Church. Predictably the mainstream media have seized on the causes most prejudicial to traditional Catholic morality: celibacy is unnatural, clergy are power-mongers, religion itself is unnatural.

Some in the Church—including some bishops— have taken the opposite tack, insisting that the Scandal is a media creation and that there’s nothing to all the hype.

Many orthodox conservatives—quite rightly, I think—have pointed to a laxity of moral discipline, the problem of gay priests, and a greater concern among some with preserving a facade of institutional perfection over dealing with sin.

Along those lines, the Lineacre Institute has published a new book called “After Asceticism: Sex, Prayer and Deviant Priests” that identifies the root cause as a failure of clerical discipline, not just in the past thirty years, but reaching back decades further.

Catholic World News has published the Introduction to the book on its site, giving us a taste of what the Institute, an arm of the Catholic Medical Association, has concluded. This is a report that should have received much more attention than it has.

In what follows, we will show that the crisis is only secondarily related to the personality disorders of individual priests and to the faulty personnel management by the chanceries. More importantly, we will demonstrate that the discipline of celibacy is most definitely not a cause of the sexual abuse crisis. The truth is that the deficiencies that caused the scandal were not merely rooted in a few disturbed individuals, but rather, were common deficiencies and aberrations in the religious purpose and intellectual formation of priests dating back to at least the 1950s. The following chapters contain an in-depth analysis of the sexual problems that go well beyond pedophilia or pederasty. What is more important, this book outlines key elements in the solution to the problem.

If you’re a CWN subscriber, read the whole intro and then buy the book. If you’re not a CWN subscriber … you should be. They offer a few trial subscription, so sign up for it.

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