POLL ALERT: WSJ on clerical celibacy and abuse of children

For your opportune knowledge, the Wall Street Journal is running an online poll today.

At the time of this writing these are the results:


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. JayneK says:

    Clerical sexual abuse of children occurs at a similar rate in religions that do not have a celibacy requirement for their clergy. This makes it highly unlikely to be a factor.

  2. Dr. Eric says:

    School teachers are ten times as likely to molest children, if only they’d let teachers get married…

  3. JayneK says:

    There are many more school teachers than there are Catholic priests, so in that sense teachers are far more likely to molest children. If we compare the percentage of teachers to the percentage of priests committing this crime, the numbers are similar. Either way, this is not what we would see if priestly celibacy were a major causal factor.

  4. Bob says:

    The poll is now running about 90% no. In the comments section, however, it seems that most disapprove of clerical celibacy. One commenter is claiming that celibacy causes sexual immaturity. It’s the world we live in, that promotes sexual activity as the highest good; on the other hand, one could think that the practice of sexual restraint might actually lead to sexual maturity.

  5. Jim of Bowie says:

    What a ridiculous question. Would a priest who would sexually abuse a child think twice about breaking his vow of celibacy?

  6. Mickey says:

    Father…thank you for being eagle-eyed about these things. I know you know this, but public opinion often follows the herd mentality, and these polls certainly contribute…

  7. It was up to 90% No when I voted.

    It IS a ridiculous question: Anyone inclined to pederasty and pedophilia would easily overcome a vow of celibacy. I remember reading somewhere, during the height of the scandal and when books like Goodbye Good Men were fresh, that (some) homosexuals in the priesthood reasoned thus: Since celibacy is about not getting married, and “I” as a homosexual have no intention of doing that with my friends, then pursuing homosexual activities does not break the vow of celibacy. It’s not celibacy but chastity that is the issue, it seems.

  8. revueltos67 says:

    The way the question is posed, I had to vote yes and for the reason cited in the article.

    As has been noted often, the problem is primarily one of predatory homosexual priests with a penchant for post-pubescent boys. It seems to me that celibacy does limit the pool of candidates for the priesthood resulting, in the past, in lowered standards and acceptance of exactly the kind of men at the root of the problem.

    That said, I do not think that the Church should end priestly celibacy, but should instead address the problem exactly as it has, by restoring standards for the type of men admitted too the priesthood.

    Does someone want to talk me out of this opinion?

  9. Andrew says:

    Quasi majora sint Imperatorum scita, quam Christi – leges timemus, Evangelia contemnimus.

  10. Just voted. “No” is now at 91.5 percent.

  11. Supertradmum says:

    revueltos67, I take on your challenge.
    Can we enlarge this discussion to include the fact that most seminaries do not have a class on celibacy, and that it could lead to immaturity, as one commentator noted on the poll site, if the issue is never addressed? Celibacy is not part of our mainstream culture and must be taught, explored, and prayed about before being accepted as part of the plan of God for His priests. There is not a predominance of homosexual priests, although, indeed, many of those who committed pedophilia were and are homosexuals. I can speak from first-hand knowledge in a diocese which has had the second largest settlement for abuse in the United States. The problem is and still is, the acceptance of homosexuals into the seminary system-This is still happening as we write, despite the disobedience to Rome this acceptance involves. And why is this still happening? First, for politically correct liberals who are presidents and rectors and even vocation directors to say “no” to a homosexual is outside of their comfort zone. And, second, they do not think that Rome has any right to make such guidelines.

    Celibacy is not the problem.

  12. LarryPGH says:

    most seminaries do not have a class on celibacy … I can speak from first-hand knowledge in a diocese which has had the second largest settlement for abuse in the United States.


    Is it possible that what you’re really saying is that your diocese is somewhat deficient in these areas, and their curricula (or your knowledge thereof) seems to reflect that deficiency?

    My experience is completely the opposite, by the way — today’s seminaries have quite a bit of focus on the notion of celibacy and affective maturity. Given that this is one of the pillars of formation, it is quite obviously the case that they’re focusing on this issue!

  13. RichR says:

    Last I looked, 92.5% No (& over 1300 votes)

  14. sejoga says:

    Actually, I do think it’s a factor, among many other, more relevant, factors. So I just didn’t answer the poll because even though I think the answer should be “yes”, it’s a question that clearly designed to “lead the jury”, so to speak, toward reaching a verdict that isn’t tenable about the discipline of celibacy.

Comments are closed.