A new five-year research study has analyzed the systemic reasons why the abuse of children has plagued the Catholic Church worldwide. The report called “Child Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church: An Interpretive Review of the Literature and Public Inquiry Reports” was published by the Centre for Global Research at RMIT University in Australia.
Researchers, Professor Des Cahill and Dr Peter Wilkinson are both ordained priests who resigned from church ministry in the 1970s. They came to the conclusion that the church’s policy on mandatory celibacy “has been and remains the major precipitating risk factor for child sexual abuse.”
Wilkinson is a founding member of Catholics for Renewal, a Melbourne-based group advocating for a renewed Catholic Church for the 21st century. Cahill, who assisted the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in 2015, said: “Many thousands of lives across the world have been badly damaged, if not destroyed, in the continuing and tragic saga of the sexual abuse of children, which can be traced back to New Testament times in the first century.” ”Peter Wilkinson and I set out to try to answer the question: Why has the Catholic Church and its priests and religious brothers, more than any other religious denomination, become synonymous with the sexual mistreatment of children?”
The authors outline a matrix of factors that have contributed to the tragedy – cultural, historical, organizational, social, psychological and theological. Among the report’s main findings is that — though homosexuality is not a direct cause of abuse — the deeply homophobic environment within the Church and its seminaries, based on the teaching that homosexuality is an intrinsically disordered state and that all gays must lead a celibate life, contributes to psychosexual immaturity.
Young and vulnerable Catholic children, especially boys, were and remain at risk from psychosexually immature, sexually deprived and deeply frustrated priests and religious brothers lacking intimacy, particularly those who have not resolved their own sexual identity and whose thinking is deeply distorted and mutated towards children.
Also, priest and religious predators have benefited from easy access to children in parishes and schools, particularly those living in one-priest presbyteries and with access to a car. The risk was especially high in countries like Australia and Ireland which historically had a large number of orphanages and residential schools.
After all, a study states that popes and bishops created a culture of secrecy, leading to a series of gross failures in transparency, accountability, openness and trust as they endeavored to protect the Church’s reputation as an all-holy institution above all else, even at the expense of children’s safety.
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