Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Mahony Should Resign, Yes, But The Church Should Also Do Away With Celibacy

That Cardinal Roger Mahony has behaved disgracefully in the scandal over pedophile priests should go without saying. As in the case of Boston's Cardinal Bernard Law, he has forfeited any right to public respect by trying to keep records secret and for his own salvation and the good of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, he should resign.

But beyond that the Roman Catholic Church needs to abandon celibacy in the priesthood and put its own practices in accord with human nature.

I realize this is asking a lot of a Church which has had celibacy as a principle, sometimes ignored, for many centuries.

But now, in the 21st century, it has become clear as never before that celibacy simply does not work out to the benefit of anyone, be they priests or lay men and women.

The consequence is the very kind of pedophile conduct which has besmirched the Church and ruined the lives of countless young people who fell victim to it.

It is one thing to say these victims should be compensated for the outrages conducted against them, partially at least to increase the chances they can recover peace of mind and go on to better lives. That is clearly necessary, even should it put the Church in financial straits for the time being.

But it is another to thoughtlessly continue the practices that have allowed pedophilia to positively prosper.

We have to recognize at long last that it is not natural to tell priests or nuns that they must wall themselves of from sexual desires, not enjoy matrimony and not succumb, in short, to normal lives. Requiring such of many, many men and women sets up temptations they cannot overcome. Yes, there have been perfect celibates, but, I suspect, very few.

Mahony, of course, has sinned beyond pedophilia, by protecting the pedophiles (and, of course, trying to protect his own reputation). He must go.

But the Church itself, for its own good, must reform. The outside world can be no more tolerant of its excesses than it should be of the violence which seems endemic in the Muslim religion.

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