THIS STORY HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING
REPORT EXPLORES CHURCH ABUSE CRISIS

Vow of celibacy is at the heart of the problem

May 20, 2011

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I CAN only imagine that the John Jay College of Criminal Justice report on the so-called causes of the priest sex abuse scandal will serve to further disaffect many church members (“Study blames culture of era for church’s abuse crisis: Priests poorly trained, report to bishops says,’’ Page A1, May 18). As a family physician, I have heard countless stories from generations of Catholics as to how their parents knew better than to have them spend potential “alone time’’ with a priest.

It does not take medical training to recognize that most people are sexual beings, and that to ask people to forgo sexual activity for their remaining adult life would attract a subgroup of people to the priesthood. That subgroup will include men and women of the highest order who can and do put aside their personal needs in order to serve. But it will also include people who will be forever struggling against or in denial of their natural sexual instincts.

I have had a patient from this latter group who entered the priesthood in the 1990s — not the “deviant’’ 1960s and ’70s cited in the study — and he was told, “Your feelings are your feelings — just don’t act on them.’’

How many more children’s lives will be destroyed before the church stops this unseemly campaign of obfuscation in order to continue the unnatural requirement of celibacy?

Dr. Deborah Bershel
Somerville