Clergy & Congregations Opinion Thomas Reese: Signs of the Times

Abandoning celibacy won’t stop sexual abuse by priests

In this photo provided by the Australian Government Royal Commission, Commissioner Justice Peter McClellan, seated left, watches as Governor-General of Australia Peter Cosgrove, seated right, signs a document after receiving the final report of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse at Government House, in Canberra, Dec. 15, 2017. The commission delivered its final 17-volume report and 189 recommendations after a wide-ranging investigation. (Jeremy Piper/Australian Government Royal Commission via AP) (Caption amended by RNS)

(RNS) — Anyone committed to the protection of children should carefully study the important report by the Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

But not the recommendations to the Catholic Church on celibacy and sacramental confession, which media attention has principally been focused on.

The commission said the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference should press the Holy See “to consider introducing voluntary celibacy for diocesan clergy” and argued that “compulsory celibacy (for clergy) and vowed chastity (for members of religious institutes) have contributed to the occurrence of child sexual abuse, especially when combined with other risk factors.”

The report also says that “compulsory celibacy may also have contributed to various forms of psychosexual dysfunction, including psychosexual immaturity, which pose an ongoing risk to the safety of children.”


RELATED: Australian probe into child abuse attacks Catholic celibacy


I actually support voluntary celibacy for diocesan clergy, but not as a solution to the sexual abuse crisis. The impact of celibacy on sexual abuse has not been proved. The commission reports that 7 percent of the Australian Catholic clergy were abusers. That means 93 percent were not. What are the comparable numbers for other groups of men such as noncelibate religious leaders, coaches, teachers, day care workers, scout leaders and staff of residential institutions?

Unless there is a significantly greater percentage of priests involved in abuse than there is for other groups of men, evidence is lacking to support the commission’s recommendation.

We know for a fact that noncelibate men, including married men, also abuse children. Letting priests have sex will not magically eliminate sexual abuse of minors. This recommendation simply distracts from the many important findings and recommendations of the commission.

There are other reasons why I support the ordination of married men, most especially because the church has a shortage of clergy that cannot be solved with celibate clergy. The people of God are not receiving the sacraments they have a right to, let alone the pastoral care they need. In addition, married men are hearing the call from God to the priesthood. The church should not deny these vocations that are the working of the Holy Spirit.

Celibacy did have an indirect impact on the sex abuse crisis. Because it resulted in a shortage of clergy, bishops were initially reluctant to pull a priest from ministry because they had no one to replace him. Bishops were also encouraged to admit candidates who otherwise would have been rejected for psychological reasons. In addition, because clergy did not have children, they never asked the question, “How would I feel if this happened to my child?” While it is unclear that celibacy contributed to the abuse of children, I think a case can be made that it contributed to the failure of the church to respond appropriately.

The other controversial recommendation deals with the secrecy of the confessional. The commission report says people in religious ministry should not be exempt from laws that would require them “to report knowledge or suspicions formed, in whole or in part, on the basis of information disclosed in or in connection with a religious confession.”

The new confessional at St. Mary the Immaculate Conception Church in Derby, Conn. RNS photo by Ann Marie Somma/Hartford Faith & Values

Two groups of people have traditionally been forbidden to testify in court: priests, about what they hear from penitents in confession, and lawyers, about what they hear from their clients.

It’s hard to believe there are many abusers whose consciences are so sensitive that they feel the need to go to confession. Serial killers do not go; neither do serial abusers. At the same time, in most cases the priest does not know the identity of the penitent.

Lawyers, on the other hand, know a lot about their clients. Testimony from lawyers about their clients would provide the courts with much more information about child abuse than would testimony from priests, but no one is willing to make lawyers report on their clients, for obvious reasons.

Clergy do need better training on how to deal with such penitents — on how to persuade them to turn themselves in and under what circumstances absolution should be withheld. But mandating that abusive penitents be reported would simply ensure that they never come to confession, where a priest could attempt to persuade them to do the right thing.

But the commission is really more concerned about children who in the confessional tell a priest about abuse. Here the commission would prosecute priests who did not report it. Again, the priest does not usually know the names of the children going to confession. And if children know that the priest must reveal such knowledge, they will not speak of it in confession, where the priest might otherwise be able to help.

Granted the church’s past bad history of not reporting abuse under any circumstances, it is not surprising that the commission made this recommendation, but it would in fact be counterproductive.

On the other hand, priests need better training on how to deal with child penitents so that they can convince them of the need to come forward and get help. The church must also be emphatic about the responsibility of the priest to try to persuade the child to tell a parent, teacher, police officer or other appropriate adult about the abuse.

The commission worked for five years with extensive input from experts and the public. It issued a 17-volume report with 115 pages of recommendations to state and national governments, churches and other institutions.

The report was not solely focused on the Catholic Church but included schools, residential facilities and sports, recreation, arts, culture, community and hobby groups.

It noted the need for widespread education on sexual abuse, with special training and screening for those who interact with children and with transparent processes for handling complaints of abuse.

The comprehensive report and its detailed recommendations will provide a standard for all future examinations of the subject. But we should not get distracted by the two recommendations that are questionable and might be counterproductive if implemented. There is lots more in the report that needs implementing as soon as possible.

About the author

Thomas Reese

The Rev. Thomas J. Reese, a Jesuit priest, is a Senior Analyst at RNS. Previously he was a columnist at the National Catholic Reporter (2015-17) and an associate editor (1978-85) and editor in chief (1998-2005) at America magazine. He was also a senior fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University (1985-98 & 2006-15) where he wrote Archbishop, A Flock of Shepherds, and Inside the Vatican. Earlier he worked as a lobbyist for tax reform. He has a doctorate in political science from the University of California Berkeley. He entered the Jesuits in 1962 and was ordained a priest in 1974 after receiving a M.Div from the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley.

59 Comments

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  • Yes I totally agree that celibacy does not contribute (entirely) to sexual abuse. That is a male dysfunction, a power dynamic, a grave sexual disorder, that has to change. While on the surface, ending the celibacy mandate or even making it optional would seem logical, but we are not talking about healthy sexuality to begin with here. Men need to be retaught their own sexuality, what it means, how it is expressed, what is healthy, how to not allow it to control ones life. The sexual abuses from priests were from predators, no matter how “kind, benevolent, caring” they seemed it was all about predation of groups that they knew could not touch their content of their character because the laity was so brainwashed to begin with.

  • As Jesus himself said:

    “A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore, by their fruits ye shall know them” (Matthew 7:18-20, King James Version).

    The fruitage is quite obvious here.

  • 100% bang on.

    I worked in the sexual abuse field for a couple of years, and have long studied human sexuality. The celibacy requirement isn’t the cause of sexual abuse, but might be considered (in alcoholism terms) both the enabler and the patsy

  • I think the writer of this article has missed a couple of points:

    1 There was a disproportionate amount of sexual abuse among Catholic priests and brothers. Yes, sexual abuse did occur in other religious and secular organisations, but the rate of abuse is less.

    2 Because the church insists on celibacy for its clergy and religious, it eliminates men who want marriage and a family. Those who remain are much less likely to be of the marrying kind. Opening up the priesthood to men who marry won’t eliminate the problem of sexual abuse but it may help to reduce the incidence of sexual abuse to the level observed in other institutions.

    3 Maronite priest can marry, and they are part of the Catholic Church. There is therefore no reason why this could not apply to other Catholic priests.

  • Celibacy does not cause pedophilia or ephebophilia, but I recall my aunts and grandmothers alluding to the idea that one sent one’s sexually “off” sons to the priesthood. I think the celibate, closed, power-unto-themselves structure of the priesthood combined with easy access to children was a draw for pedophiles and ephebophiles.

    The dearth of fathers and mothers — especially mothers — certainly allowed bad priests to go unnoticed or even to cause fellow priests to turn a blind eye and let the higher-ups deal with the problem.

  • a theory has been postulated that because traditionally priests were recruited as adolescents, sexual maturity has been stunted as immature males. they are thus attracted to adolescents to form relationships . more mature candidates who spent time with both sexes might result in more mature priests

  • Um, marriage equality is between two consenting adults. It has zero to do with sexual abuse. The only ones who are normalizing perversion are the hierarchy of the Catholic Church with their avoidance and defense of sexual predators in their midst.

    Something you clearly wish to enable by blaming people who do not engage in sexual abuse of minors, in a defamatory scapegoat fashion.

    Blaming gays and attacking them has never led to a decline in sexual abuse by religious authority figures.

    When have you stopped enabling sexual abuse of minors?

  • Mature attitudes towards sex and gender relations is generally out of the wheelhouse of religious extremism. Tight control of relations means more fanatical support.

  • Many commenters focus on the individual, but few talk about the secret authoritarian administration of the Roman Church which compounds the scandal of sexual abuse. An open transparent democratic governing system with multiple eyes of lay people both male and female reviewing a cleric for a congregation along with a thorough background check is more likely to limit bad candidates. The current system of government is a relic of dark ages and feudalism.

  • You know about the Anglican Church of Australia, right? Thats the proof that optional celibacy doesn`t mean necessarely the end to paedophilia scandals.

  • Of all the sexual perversions you can imagine, there are at least some psychologists who view “celibacy” as the biggest one.

    Sex is an incredibly powerful drive, perhaps *the* most powerful. Why on earth would anyone voluntary give that up? Isn’t the desire to give up sex a cause for high suspicion of such an individual?

    And if individuals seek to enter the priesthood to “carry out god’s will” or similar nonsense, there are plenty of ways to do that without giving up sex.

  • I agree with everything you say. However, any religious institution that was committed to democracy in every way, would not be a religious institution! Isn’t authoritarian-ness, contempt for the member,s etc., a key part of almost all religiions?

  • Here’s some info that I think is especially important in this matter:

    Circa 1990 the RCC hired a monk-turned-psychologist named A. W. Richard Sipe to survey sex among clergy in the RCC. He published his results in 1992. He found that 50% of all priests were non-celibate; of those, 50% were non-celibate with males, 50% with females. The RCC did not contest Sipe’s findings, thanked him–and did nothing about it. Sipe’s work is a matter of public record.

  • Nope. Child sex abuse knows no orientation. Only opportunity.

    But your continued defamation of those in consenting adult relations is great for enabling sexual predators. Why do you support child predators so much?

  • But we can easily abandon Christianity:

    To get you started:

    The Apostles’ Creed 2017: (updated by yours truly and based on the studies of historians and theologians of the past 200 years)

    Should I believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven
    and said god if he/she/it exists resides in an unproven,
    human-created, spirit state of bliss called heaven??

    I believe there was a 1st century CE, Jewish, simple,
    preacher-man who was conceived by a Jewish carpenter
    named Joseph living in Nazareth and born of a young Jewish
    girl named Mary. (Some say he was a mamzer.)

    Jesus was summarily crucified for being a temple rabble-rouser by
    the Roman troops in Jerusalem serving under Pontius Pilate,

    He was buried in an unmarked grave and still lies
    a-mouldering in the ground somewhere outside of
    Jerusalem.

    Said Jesus’ story was embellished and “mythicized” by
    many semi-fiction writers. A descent into Hell, a bodily resurrection
    and ascension stories were promulgated to compete with the
    Caesar myths. Said stories were so popular that they
    grew into a religion known today as Catholicism/Christianity
    and featuring dark-age, daily wine to blood and bread to body rituals
    called the eucharistic sacrifice of the non-atoning Jesus.

    Amen
    (references used are available upon request)

  • The author’s contention, about celibacy not being the issue in relation to sexual abuse perpetrated by clergy, is an important one. It is dangerous to suggest a necessary or causal correlation between celibacy and sexual abuse when no such connection has been demonstrated. Indeed, many members of the clergy who are not required to be celibate–who are, in fact, married and have children–have been and are guilty of sexual offences against children, youth, and other adults.

    I am concerned, however, that the author seems to believe that only men sexually abuse children or youth or adults. This too is an illusion. Many teenage girls and women in the church–and outside of the church– have been and are guilty of sexual abuse of children, youth, and other adults. The research is finally beginning to tell this under-reported story, especially research into the abuse of people who are now incarcerated. Yet we continue to pretend that this doesn’t happen. What is it going to take before we acknowledge the reality and begin to help people who have been sexually abused by girls and women?

  • Oh, you are such a charmer.

    I would flag your comment for Being the vicious, lying, slandering, pedophile enabling ,piece of religious garbage that it is, contrary to every known fact about child molesters, and especially, their enabling superiors in the church.

    But I think I will just leave it as it is, a testament to what happens when hatred and fear hide behind religion, and proclaim themselves holy.

  • As I have been reliably informed by a high ranking priest at St, Patrick’s, you can’t just go down to the Holy Recruiter at the mall and declare your desire to be a priest. It doesn’t work that way.

    You have to have a vocation, which is a charisma, a gift from god— a literal calling from god to be a priest. The church has its means to confirm that the calling from god is a genuine one.

    So either god is calling pedophiles to its priesthood, or the church’s claims about it are completely bogus.

    But sure, continue to blame adult gay men in adult consensual relationships for the sins of those godly men. It’s what the church has done for centuries, and the toll on innocent people and innocent children is the result, In that, you enable the perverts and molesters just as surely as if your name were Bernard Law.

  • The trouble with the celibacy requirement is that men who are sexually normal would not go into the priesthood, leaving deviants as the only priests available.

  • The Catholic hierarchy acted much like university discipline panels act today regarding charges of sexual assault.

    The only entities that should be investigating and trying individuals accused of crimes are law enforcement agencies and the courts.

  • I have also read that and if you add to that the probability of these children being abused as well they have created monsters.

  • Spanish journalist Pepe Rodriguez has published two excellent books on this, one on The Sex Life of the Clergy and the other on the clerical pedophilia scandals, Too bad they are not available in English. (Es una lastima que estos libros no se pueden comprar an ingles.) — Edd Doerr

  • No. Mandatory celibacy does not necessarily or alone lead to child sex abuse. But, it is part of the problem of an out-of-touch priesthood and hierarchy that did not understand the repercussions of such abuse. A priesthood and hierarchy that does not understand women, parenting, married love and commitment, joyous expression of sexuality, family life now. After 1000 years of required celibacy, priests and Catholic hierarchy are absolutely out of touch with what motivates, enlivens, heartens men, women, and children and with what shames them and infuriates them. The “good ol’ boys” club of only celibate men is what needs to be broken up – oversight and power need to be shared with married men and, especially, single and women.

    As for confession, I think the issue needs study and is more nuanced that a flat “yes” or “never.” The 1983 Code of Canon Law, Canon 982, “… provides that anyone who confesses to making a false accusation (of solicitation of sex in confession) ‘is not to be absolved unless the person has first formally retracted the false denunciation, and is prepared to repair damages if there are any’.” In other words, the Code of Canon Law requires a priest to withhold absolution when it concerns the reputation of priests but not to protect the flesh of children. The quote is from here: https://www.ncronline.org/news/opinion/sex-abuse-and-seal-confessional

    One more point. An equal if not greater problem is the requirement of secrecy of any revelations of child sex abuse that is imposed in the motu proprio “Sacramentorum sanctitatis tutela” issued by the Vatican in 2001 and revised in 2010 (?) and in Canon Law with respect to handling child sex abuse. Even if a priest or bishop learns of child sex abuse outside of the confessional, he can’t report it unless local law requires that he report it. I have to wonder if it isn’t far more likely that a priest or bishop will learn of child sex abuse outside of the confessional, rather than inside the confessional. And if they do, they are severely limited by the Church laws and rules themselves in actually acting to protect the child already abused and the next one that will inevitably follow.

    Don’t lose sight of what the Catholic Church could do by focusing too narrowly on the issues of priestly celibacy and the secrecy of the confessional. They are elements of a larger problem of a Church structure/hierarchy and thinking that is seriously out-of-date and no longer effective in the mission of evangelizing the world.

  • Mostly yes, about 80 percent. But the pro-gay folks knew that the homosexual movement of that time, honestly could NOT afford the resulting PR damage, if the national scandal became associated with said movement in the eyes of the public.

    So those folks worked hard to make sure the key “John Jay Report”, looked the other way in its conclusions. And they succeeded:

    http://www.crisismagazine.com/2012/clergy-sexual-abuse-the-unaddressed-question-of-same-sex-attraction

  • Mark 9:24 – English Standard Version

    “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea.”

    So, umm,,,,Bernie Law flees in the dead of night to Rome, and is given a plum job by the pope?

    Hmm….do the top perverts–excuse me, men–of the Vatican know their bible?

  • i.e. no Christianity, no priests and therefore no more threats from pedophiles in the ranks.

  • You’ll never miss a chance to attack gay people, will you?

    You’ll never miss a chance to claim that there is a vast gay conspiracy, violently opposed to all of you “normal” People, will you?

    You and your lying, slandering and reviling ilk have been trying to link gay people to this vicious priestly practice for centuries. Actually informed people know differently.

    BTW, I’m pretty sure every one of these men was a catholic priest?

  • Awwwww. Some deleted JT Liuzza’s nasty bit of Nazi slander.

    But not one so called christian called him on it.

  • The sex drive varies greatly from person to person. For some it is very high; others have little to no interest in it. To intimate that for all people it is the same is inaccurate.

  • No Maronite Priests CANNOT marry. Already married men can become Maronite Priests, but once ordained, they cannot marry. They are required to remain as they are. If ordained married, they remain married; if ordained celibate, they remain celibate. This is the common practice of Eastern Christianity, and applies to the Orthodox Church as well.

  • Hey, padre, I’m still waiting for your answers to some of the questions I asked in other topics and pages here.

    Interesting that you have the time to read newer topics, and reply to posts on them, but not to other questions that have been asked of you.

    You *do* know what people think when you decline to answer a question that’s honest, simple, and direct, don’t you?

    If you need me to repeat them and post them here, I’ll be happy to.

  • Wait a minute there! I ain’t done nary a nothing to nobody nohow!

    (I just love those quintuple negatives!)

  • I stand corrected. Yes, the priests can be married provided they marry before ordination. That, at least is better than the Western tradition of compulsory celibacy. However, the Protestant practice of allowing clergy to marry would be better.

  • The later responses have been pretty much off the top of my head, and did not require a great deal of thought. The dating of the Gospel of Matthew, requires a little more time to give you a halfway decent answer, so I have been putting it off.

    French, whom I tend to follow, notes that there are principally three main arguments put forward by those favoring a later date for Matthew.

    1. The belief that the setting reflects the period of the final separation of the church and the synagogue, ca 85 AD+

    2. It is written in light of the capture of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 AD.

    3. It is dependent on the Gospel of Mark.

    On point 1 French expresses serious scepticism. His argument is too detailed to simply summarize, but he raises serious questions about the received view of the history of early Jewish/Christian relations.

    On point 2 he notes that is it dependent on the assumption that neither Jesus nor Matthew could have forseen the events of the Jewish War. Therefore the mention of the destruction of the Temple could only have been written after the event. If one does not share that assumption, the conclusion does not follow.

    On point 3, French follows a more recent trend among scholars who have moved away from the simplistic two source hypothesis (Mark and Q) to a more nuanced and complex development.

    If you are interested in getting into this in more depth, I would invite you to access the bc link you provided. Clicking on footnote 3 will take you to French’s work; see esp. pages 15 thru 20 or thereabouts. He will do a better job of explaining it than I could ever do here.

    Have a Merry Christmas!

  • And what about my point about Matthew not being a first-hand account? I hope you will address that, because that is a crucial point.

  • “…opening up the priesthood to men who marry won’t eliminate the problem of sexual abuse but it may help to reduce the incidence of sexual abuse…” That’s a logical error. No correlation is established. It’s like saying pit bulls bight kids, so banning pit bulls reduces dog bighting of kids. In most cases dog bighting is the fault of negligent owners. Sexual abuse of kids is not eliminated by targeting any segment except the offenders.

  • Sexual assault is a crime of violence and predation. One of my mentors, Nicholas Groth of University of Connecticut, once developed a taxonomy of “fixiated” and “regressed” offenders. Fixiateds tended to not marry except to gain access to victims. Regresseds, which outnumber fixiateds something like ten to one, most often offend against female children, but there are some individuals like the late evangelist Billy James Hargis who offended against both genders, and Jim Jones of People’s Temple who offended against adults and children of both genders. Bottom line, there’s no easy fix.

  • Excerpt from French, page 15, accessible from footnote 3 in the bc article you listed:

    “…much modern scholarship has too hastily assumed that the gospels circulated for a generation or more without attribution and that the names of proposed authors were rather arbitrarily attached to them sometime in the second century. Attribution of this gospel to Matthew the apostle goes back to our earliest surviving patristic testimonies, and there is no other evidence that any other author was ever proposed. As far back as we can trace it, and from the earliest manuscript attributions that have survived, it is always the gospel kata Matthaion. It often seems to be assumed that whatever the early church said about the origin of the NT books must be treated with suspicion unless it can be independently proved, but i do not share that assumption. Of course authorship cannot now be proved, and for practical purposes of exegesis it does not matter very much, but the contents and tone of the gospel (including its “love-hate relationship” with Judaism: see below) seems to me to make someone like the apostle Matthew as likely a candidate as any…”

    For more a more detailed explanation, read the relevant parts of the book in footnote 3 of the link you previously provided.

  • I suppose to you this is definitive, but a clear, thoughtful reading shows that it’s just more nonsense. It’s stunning that you do not realize this. Matthew clearly is NOT a first-person account; that throws it into serious doubt.

    I am gonna have to spend a few minutes researching French. (It’s not worth more of my time than that.) My guess is that French is not held in high regard by other scholars.

  • Do you know why these statistics has held true for the 45 years I’ve done research on the subject?

    “About 50% ofthe time, the perpetrator of molestation is the father, stepfather, or father surrogate.”

    “Another 25% of the time, the perpetrator is a family member orknown to the family.”

    Access is the answer.

    But it isn’t just altar boys and girls that get molested. And even if it is mostly boys that get abused, it doesn’t change the obvious: sexually confused men enter the priesthood.

    But I can see where you are really going it’s this. “Let’s lame gay people for this.” No, let’s not. In my entire life, I have known onlyone man whom I would describe as gay who had any interest in underaged boys.

  • I have never encountered any sound reasons that would preclude the Gospel of Matthew from being ultimately derived from the Hebrew (or Aramaic) logia which Papias refers to.

    Concerning French, I do not evaluate him on the basis of his popularity (or lack thereof) with other scholars (always a dubious standard), but rather on the cogency of his arguments themselves.

  • I note that although I have now asked you FIVE times, you STILL have not addressed a very simple I asked you: is GMatt written as an eye-witness account, or not? That seems like a simple question to me. Yes or no? First-hand account or not?

    Your apparent inability to answer this question suggests to me that you realize that it is not a first-hand account, but you are reluctant to admit it.

    AFAIK Bart Ehrman is a well-respected scholar. I will see if I can find something in any of his books that addresses this matter.

    As for “popularity with other scholars”, I disagree that that is dubious. To me, the opinions of serious, respected scholars are an excellent starting place.

  • “Your apparent inability” to read with discernment what I have been writing is discouraging.

    For example, in my previous post above I referred to the Gospel of Matthew ultimately deriving from the Hebrew/Aramaic logia witnessed to by Papias. Who was the source of the logia? MATTHEW. So the Gospel of Matthew is indeed founded on MATTHEW, an apostle and, obviously, an eyewitness and auditor of the logia he preserved. The logia of Matthew (in HebrewAramaic) would have been subsequently translated and shaped into its Greek form, either by Matthew himself, or a disciple. In either case, the voice behind the Gospel of Matthew would be that of the apostle Matthew, eyewitness and auditor of the Lord. I really can’t make it any plainer than that.

  • Reading Matthew, it is not obvious at all that he was an eyewitness, or claims to be; indeed, it certainly appears that he was not.

    Indeed, ttbomk, most serious scholars regard the Synoptic gospels as all deriving from an earlier gospel, “Q”, which of course would mean “not eyewitness”.

    I’ve been observing and interesting with “folks with strong religious views” for 30+ years. In that time, one of the things I’ve observed with high regularity is that when it comes to deciding which expert scholarship such folks like, almost invariably, they choose views or “experts” who are not held in particularly high esteem by colleagues. For ease of discussion, I’ll call those folks “AA-scholars”. And “high esteem” of course means, the extent to which other scholars think that “AA-scholars” do good work, are accurate, take all facts into account, are good at analysis, etc.

    My *guess* is that the work of the fellow you like, R. T. France, is not regarded especially well by other scholars. So now you’ve given me another matter to research. I always try to do my research as thoroughly and as objectively as possible, since I have no desire to mislead myself. Since you’re so committed to France, I won’t bother to annoy you with my findings; but for me, it will be a very interesting matter if what I learn re France is consistent with my other observations of “folks with strong religious views”.

    One reason I do this research is that one result it is that I always learn about the personalities, approaches, methods, etc of “strong religious believers”.

  • Nice deflection to avoid the fact that I had indeed answered your question about Matthew being an eyewitness (or not), but were unable to grasp that I had done so until I pointed that out and rubbed your nose in it.

    For my part, I have long been aware that “folks with strong secular/anti-religious views” choose to gravitate toward scholars with “”strong secular/anti-religious views”. My observations of many people, and my studies studies of writers like Crossan, etc., have borne this out.

    Merry Christmas to all!

  • ??? You think J.D. Crossan has “strong secular/anti-religious views”? I don’t know his current status, but I know he was a RC priest–I read at least some of his stuff (long ago) (not that I remember much of what I read).

    Oh, wait, that’s right, you’re Eastern Orthodox, aren’t you? Well, given the past history of relations betw the EO and RC churches, no one could blame you for having a negative view of the RCC. A negative view of the RCC is appropriate by anyone, but that should not unduly influence one’s view of scholarship by Catholics. (And of course, we all know what happens to scholars who happen to be RC and who come out with material of which the RCC disapproves!)

    As for me, tho I think almost all religion is nonsense–evil nonsense, non-empirical, aimed at controlling the thoughts and behavior of others–I nevertheless appreciate good scholarship–good analysis/fact-recovery/reasoning/etc–by anyone.

    A merry Xmas/winter solstice to you.

  • FYI, Crossan left the RC priesthood in the late 1960s, and is currently not a member of any church.

    I disagree with his claim that the Gospel of Peter is older than the synoptics, as do the majority of Biblical scholars today. See, there are times when I DO agree with the majority of scholars; all depends on the specific topic!

  • I was just reviewing a list of the books that Crossan wrote.

    You appear to regard Crossan as a scholar with “strong secular/anti-religious views”. If that understanding is correct, that reveals a tremendous amount of information about you–indeed, everything anyone needs to know about you.

  • And in what way is his mindset not secular? Discounting any possibility of the miraculous, prophetic foreknowledge, etc., are characteristic of the secular viewpoint, and these secular assumptions are fundamental to his work.

  • Another big problem is the fact that the Church has spend a fortune in Church money to defend paedophile priests in the Courts and with payoffs to the families of sexually abused children. How many these priests have actually gone to prison?

  • True, but the Royal Commission on Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse found a disproportionate amount of paedophilia in the Roman Catholic Church. Optional celibacy won’t solve the problem completely, but it would reduce the incidence of abuses in the church.

  • I agree that celibacy is not the problem. PATRIARCHY is the problem. It is more about power than it is about sex. The ordination of women to the priesthood and the episcopate would be the best corrective, to overcome the curse of Genesis 3:16 and show that all ministries should be gift-based, not gender-based. All ministries are about service, not power. Hierarchy is not the problem. PATRIARCHY is the problem. MATRIARCHY would not be any better. Gender balance, with full communion of men and women, is the way to go, as suggested in Galatians 3:28.

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