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Ethics & Religion
Sept. 23. 2020
Column #2,041
Time To End Priestly Celibacy
By Mike McManus

It is time to end mandatory celibacy for Catholic priests. They should have the option to marry - denied for 2,000 years. Mandatory Catholic celibacy help spur the Protestant Reformation, -- such as the creation of Baptist, Methodist and Presbyterian denominations who allowed clergy to marry.

As of May 18, 2019 there were more than 7,000 Catholic priests who had been credibly accused of sexually abusing minors from 1950 through June, 2018. The 7,000 were 5.9% of the 118,000 priests who served in the American Catholic Church in those years. Among those who were charged were 151 bishops and 23 superiors of religious orders!

From 1950-2002 there were nearly 4,400 priests who were credibly charged with molesting 10,667 minors. Between 440 and 587 priests were identified each year.

By requiring celibacy, the Catholic Church is unwittingly attracting pedophiles to be ordained as Catholic priests! Good grief!

The Catholic Church has paid a high price for the ravishing of children. The nation's largest Catholic archdiocese in Los Angeles will settle its clergy sex abuse cases for at least $660 million, according to the Associated Press. That's the largest payout for any diocese. Each victim of priestly abuse will be paid between $1.2 million and $1.3 million per plaintiff!

The settlements push the total amount paid out by the U.S. church since 1950 to more than $2 billion, with about a quarter of that coming from Los Angeles. The largest payout in the past was in 2004 when the Diocese of Orange, CA paid $100 million.

The Los Angeles archdiocese and its insurers have paid more than $114 million to settle 86 claims. However, more than 500 other lawsuits against the archdiocese have remained unresolved despite years of legal wrangling.

LA Cardinal Roger Mahoney recently told parishioners in an open letter that the archdiocese was selling its high-rise administration building and considering the sale of about 50 other nonessential church properties to raise funds for a settlement.

The situation is quite different in other parts of the country.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Buffalo has taken legal action seeking to stop all outstanding clergy abuse lawsuits. About 250 lawsuits have been filed against the diocese since August when the New York Child Victims Act gave victims one year to pursue even decades-old allegations of abuse.

Lawsuits were moved to the bankruptcy court in February and permanently frozen. "Pausing litigation will allow for all parties to engage in settlement negotiations in the context of the diocese's Chapter 11 case and to attempt to reach a global resolution of all claims (including claims against parishes and schools) without the distraction of piecemeal litigation," the diocese said in a statement.

But lawyers representing abuse survivors said the injunction is designed to keep their clients from having their day in court.

A Bloomberg Businessweek review of court filings by lawyers for churches and victims in the past 18 years shows the Catholic Church has shielded more than $2 billion in assets from abuse victims in the diocesan bankruptcies. "The survivors should have gotten that money and they didn't," says Terry McKiernan, President of BishopAccountability.org.

The Chapter 11 filing of the Santa Fe Archdiocese shows how easy and routine it is to reconfigure a balance sheet. The archdiocese was facing a few dozen clergy abuse suits when it filed in December 2018, saying that it was too poor to defend itself. The number rose to about 375 cases by the June, 2019 deadline that the bankruptcy court had set for victims to file claims. The archdiocese reported owning $49 million in real estate, cash and investments. By contrast, the church's 1951 incorporation puts its assets at about $40 million - or $396 million in today's dollars.

The archdiocese released a list of more than 50 clergy who were removed from ministry due to "credible accusations" of sexual abuse.

Three important bits of good news involving Pope Francis: He issued a church law requiring priests and nuns to report sex abuse cases. Second, the Pope also stripped 88-year-ol Cardinal Theodore McCarrick of his title for years of sexual abuse of boys.

Yet my question remains: why not end Catholic celibacy?

As a matter of fact, there are about 120 former Episcopal priests who converted and are now married Catholic priests! Finally, Pope Francis made headlines recently when he said he was open to the idea of ordaining married men!

There is hope!

_________________________

Copyright (c) 2020 Michael J. McManus, President of Marriage Savers and a syndicated columnist. To read past columns, go to www.ethicsandreligion.commm. Hit Search for any topic.

 

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