Monday, July 23, 2012

Lies, Clerical Celibacy and Child Sexual Abuse

  Below is my response to Jamie Glazov's 2007 article "Forced Clerical Celibacy Violates Central Christian Tenet"  to show how Glazov deliberately misrepresented the work of Michael Rose to serve his own ends. Glazov's article can be found here:

May 15, 2007

I just finished reading "Forced Clerical Celibacy Violates Central Christian Tenet" by Jamie Glazov ( | May 30, 2002) in which Mr. Glazov so distorts the ideas of Michael Rose and clerical celibacy that one wonders if by calling himself a Catholic Mr. Glazov intends to call himself a cannibal.  

 In his article, Glazov uses  the book Goodbye, Good Men: How Catholic Seminaries Turned Away Two Generations of Vocations from the Priesthood by Michael Rose, to support his claim that clerical celibacy fosters “abnormal sexual behavior.”  In so doing, Glazov completely misrepresents what Rose argues in this book. Goodbye, Good Men never once suggests that celibacy fosters “abnormal sexual behavior.”  Instead it argues the opposite by demonstrating that sexual abuse within the church is the direct result of the lack of celibacy in the clergy, not because of it. For Rose, celibacy is  not the cancer that causes sexual abuse, but the cure. Yet Glazov portrays Rose as his ally in his campaign to end clerical celibacy, when in fact the two could not be more diametrically opposite. Rose wants to fortify the very thing Glazov seeks to destroy.

Where Glazov believes the “unrealistic expectation” of celibacy ultimately leads to child molestation, Rose argues attempts to abolish clerical celibacy for ‘being too orthodox’ have opened the doors to a subculture that is responsible for such crimes. The sexual abuse in the church, for Rose, is the direct result of this subculture, not clerical celibacy. Rose, in fact, believes the solution to what ails the Church is not to relax the rules of celibacy but to strengthen them. He demonstrates, for example, how the seminaries with the most vocations are not less orthodox but more. “Orthodoxy begets vocations” Rose says, while “dissent kills vocations.”  For Rose, this includes dissent over clerical celibacy. Yet Glazov misleads his readers to believe otherwise.  

It is only by some witchcraft of words that Mr. Glazov disingenuously suggests Good Bye, Good Men proves a vow is a virus that can change Dr. Jesuit into Mr. Hyde. This book suggests no such thing. What Rose does describe in his book, however, is how pedophiles covertly infiltrated the church when the requisite piety for the priesthood was relaxed in the pursuit of a greater 'diversity' of ecclesiastical views. The pursuit of that diversity created a paradigm shift that reduced ‘supplicants’ who sought the stewardship of Christ to merely ‘applicants’ looking to join a fraternal order. Thus, for Rose, pedophiles were not forged in a kiln of clerical celibacy but entered surreptitiously through the door of ‘diversity.’

To suggest that normal men become abnormal pedophiles by virtue of a voluntary vow  is to suggest that piousness grows into perversion whenever it tries to be chaste, and that any attempt at self control not only leads to no control at all, but to the creation of a host of unnatural desires a person never had before. I should have used this kind of reasoning when my mother denied me cookies before bedtime.

This attempt by Glazov to scapegoat celibacy as the source of  abuse in the Church is even more insulting if one considers the total lack of evidence to support his claim. As Professor Phillip Jenkins of Penn State University points out in his book “Pedophiles and Priests,” for example, child sexual abuse is statistically higher among Protestant clergy who are not celibate than it is among Catholic clergy who are. Likewise, the Christian Science Monitor reported in 2002 on the results of national surveys by Christian Ministry Resources. The conclusion: “Despite headlines focusing on the priest-pedophile problem in the Roman Catholic Church, most American churches being hit with child sexual-abuse allegations are Protestant, and most of the alleged abusers are not clergy or staff, but church volunteers.”

 Such examples illuminate what Glazov has failed to notice; the vast majority of child sexual abuse is not committed by celibate clergy. Instead, such abuse is far more likely to be committed by family members or even teachers. And the mishandling of such abuses on the part of the Church is only surpassed by similar mishandling on the part of the State. Charol Shakeshaft of Hofstra University, for example, studied 225 cases of educator sexual abuse in New York City in 1994 and found that “All of the accused admitted sexual abuse of a student, but none of the abusers were reported to the authorities, and only 1 percent lost their license to teach.  Only 35 percent suffered negative consequences of any kind, and 39 percent chose to leave their school district, most with positive recommendations.  Some were even given an early retirement package.”

 Glazov, it seems, is grinding his ax on the wrong issue, and he’s not alone. As stated in the 2004 report “Sexual Abuse in Social Context,” by the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights: “Too often, assumptions have been made that this problem is worse in the Catholic clergy than in other sectors of society.  But a number of studies have shown that family members are the most likely to sexually molest a child.”  Additionally, “the incidence of the sexual abuse of a minor is slightly higher among the Protestant clergy than among the Catholic clergy, and … it is significantly higher among public school teachers than among ministers and priests.”

 The truth of the matter is clerical celibacy does not cause child sexual abuse, and neither Michael Rose nor his book, Good Bye, Good Men in any way suggest that it does. Instead, if Mr. Glazov were not so busy gelding the work of Mr. Rose to his own ends, he would notice that much of the very sewage he wishes to remove from the priesthood has actually spilled over into the Church from the society in which it swims. And according to Rose, Glazov's attempts to remove it by abolishing clerical celibacy is like trying to drain the French Quarter in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina by knocking down a few more levees.

(Charol Shakeshaft and Audrey Cohan, In loco parentis: Sexual abuse of students in schools, (What administrators should know).  Report to the U.S. Department of Education, Field Initiated Grants.)

 (Mark Clayton, “Sex Abuse Spans Spectrum of Churches,” Christian Science Monitor, April 5, 2002, p. 1.)
 (Philip Jenkins, Pedophiles and Priests (New York: Oxford University Press), pp. 50 and 81.)

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