Saturday, January 14, 2017

It’s clear the priesthood as a celibate ‘profession’ is broken – how the bishops handle that will seal the vocation’s fate

The SAVI Report showed that, of those reporting being sexually assaulted or raped in adulthood, only 1pc of men and 8pc of women had reported the assault to the gardaí.

The Rape Crisis Centre suggests that this low level of reporting reflects victims' perception that court proceedings are insensitive and intimidating and that they will not be treated fairly.

While there is no legal obligation on a victim to report a sexual assault, they should always be encouraged to report a crime to the gardaí, otherwise the perpetrator gets away with it and could strike again. 

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin is this weekend trying to establish whether a sexual crime was committed on church property involving a member of the clergy and an adult man, who alleges he was sexually assaulted. 

Last summer, when the Grindr app and gay sex scandal among Maynooth's seminarians erupted, the Archbishop referred to "strange goings-on". 

These "strange goings-on" appear to have reared their ugly head once again, but this time with a very sinister twist - the "body hunting" of one trainee priest may have resulted in a crime. 

That a young cleric, vowed to celibacy and preaching abstinence to the rest of us, should so flagrantly be seeking out "no-strings-attached" sex is bad enough. That he should be seeking out gay sex, when the Church takes such a condemnatory and derogatory stand against gay people, is hypocritical. 

That he should allegedly sexually assault someone on church property is unconscionable. 

No matter what spin the bishops give their ad limina visit in Rome, the crisis of priesthood in the Irish Church is irrefutable.

This latest tawdry affair underlines the extent to which there is something deeply wrong with the calibre of young men currently attracted to the priesthood. 

It begs the question, does a dysfunctional system create dysfunctional people, or do dysfunctional people create a dysfunctional system?

Last August, Archbishop Martin sparked a debate about the nature of priestly formation in seminaries, indicating he favoured something less clerical, less like boarding school, less comfortable and more practically based. 

It is time now for Dr Martin to deliver on this and give leadership to his fellow bishops. 

Sending seminarians, who may be in the priesthood for the sexual opportunities it offers, to Rome doesn't stack up. 

Sending them to the shanties of Nairobi or the homeless hostels of inner city Dublin would make more sense. 

As to mandatory clerical celibacy, the bishops have already indicated that they will doggedly uphold this disciple despite all the indications that it is destroying the priesthood. 

But no doubt their blind loyalty will delight many curia officials in the Vatican (not a few of who have their own skeletons lurking in curial closets . . .).

The priesthood as a celibate male 'profession' is a broken model. 

Jesus called mainly married men when he chose the apostles. 

Can the bishops get their heads around that? 

If they can't, then they must take ownership of the Eucharistic famine that is coming down the tracks.

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