The Catholic Church has conceded that its vow of celibacy may have led to the abuse of children at the hands of the clergy.
The church's Truth, Justice and Healing Council to respond to Australia's Royal Commission into child sexual abuse today released an activity report conceding that "obligatory celibacy" may have contributed to decades of child abuse involving the clergy, and that ongoing training was necessary for priests.
The council's chief executive officer Francis Sullivan said the training should include "psychosexual development".
"The proper training, formation, the proper understanding of psychosexual issues for individuals has been raised, and it's a no-brainer," Mr Sullivan said. For some Catholic priests, no-brainers is the only way to go.
He said in the wake of the report even the most sacred traditions were up for discussion, but was not recommending that celibacy no longer be a requirement for priests.
"You need a very clear understanding about your own sexuality, your own sexual development, your own way of relating as a person to others.
"That's called psychosexual education. Certainly in the past, there was none."
The report also stated the church turned a blind eye to abuse for decades, and that in the past, some of its leaders did not understand that the abuse of a child was a crime.
'Report does not go far enough'
Victims of child sexual abuse have said the report does not go far enough to address the problem.
Nicky Davis from the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests said the Church should simply admit it had not handled complaints appropriately.
"The redress in a lot of cases was absolutely disgraceful and very very devious, and done in such a way to exploit the vulnerability and the damage that survivors had already suffered," Ms Davis said.
So the priests abuse a child until they are unable to cope in society, then the Bishops come along and take advantage of that inability to cope to diminish the redress, thereby abusing the survivors again. Good job, Catholic Church - nothing like knocking a kid down then kicking him. Is that in the Bible, somewhere?
"Every case that I'm aware of involves church officials manipulating and deceiving survivors and putting them in a position where they have no choice but to accept a pittance.
"And the Church officials are aiming to provide as little redress as they can get away with."
|Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse|
The suggestion of a link between a priest's vow of celibacy and child sexual abuse has previously divided Australia's senior Catholic clergy.
Cardinal George Pell acknowledged there may be a connection in his evidence to the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry last year.
But Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne Denis Hart vehemently denied any connection before the royal commission this year.
I can hardly stand myself for being in agreement with George Pell, but clearly he is right on this matter. Sexual abstinence is for exceptional people. Some priests are just that, and then there are those who aren't, far too many of them.
I believe the priesthood is structured in such a way as to draw pedophiles in. The church should research how many pedophile priests were pedophiles when they joined the priesthood and how many became pedophiles after joining. To me, that is critical information for planning a solution to this problem of priesthood pedophilia.