In an effort to protect children from sexual abuse, Australia has put forth an interesting proposal: Catholic priests should no longer be forced into involuntary celibacy.
BBC reported that the Australian Royal Commission on Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse, a public inquiry panel convened to examine how children are exploited and abused within society frameworks like churches and schools, published that recommendation Friday as part of its final report after a five-year study. The panel claimed involuntary celibacy could contribute to "psychosexual immaturity" in Catholic clergy, which could in turn put children at risk.
Although the commission is careful not to claim that Church-sanctioned virility is the ultimate solution to ending child sex abuse, the report does note that celibacy "contributed to the occurrence of child sexual abuse, especially when combined with other risk factors." The commission also recommended mandatory reporting of abuse by those who work as early childhood workers, registered psychologists, and religious ministers.
The commission received over 40,000 phone calls and 1,300 written accounts of child sexual abuse from the public, as well as reviewed more than 8,000 cases since 2013. The commission found schoolteachers and religious ministers were the most common perpetrators of child sex abuse, and that Catholic priests accounted for over 60 percent of reported abusers in the religious community.
The president of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, Archbishop Denis Hart, said in a statement that child abuse was part of "a shameful past, in which a prevailing culture of secrecy and self-protection led to unnecessary suffering for many victims and their families."