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Review This Product No reviews yet - be the first to create one! Need help? Partners MySchool Discovery. Subscribe to our newsletter Some error text Name. Email address subscribed successfully. A activation email has been sent to you. Please click the link in that email to activate your subscription. Sitemap Index. The moral teaching concerning human sexuality, promulgated by the Church, is clear and unequivocal.

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Catholic bishops and priests under the aegis of the pope hold themselves up as the teachers and arbiters of human sexual morality. Human failure is more remarkable in commanders and not as easily forgiven as transgressions among the troops. The history of sexual violations of Roman Catholic clergy sodomia and church response has been well preserved in church documents from the Council of Ancyra in CE to the document De delictis gravioribus authored by Cardinal Ratzinger.

The Council of Ancyra demanded strict penalties: solitary confinement, fasts, isolation and supervision spiting in his face for any cleric caught having sex with a minor. The complete historical record of knowledge of clerical sex provides an impressive body of evidence about transgressions.


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He taught that any priest having sex with a minor mostly boys and young clerics at the time should be stripped of his clerical office. All of his documents are explicit in their description of various sexual acts from sensual kisses on the mouth and mutual masturbation to anal penetration. Celibacy was a voluntary ascetic practice of early Christian monks and some clerics, but not universally required of Roman Catholic priests until CE.

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Roman Catholic priests now are mandated to make a promise or vow of celibacy before they can be ordained. Clerical celibacy precludes absolutely any willful sexual release. Questions about mandated clerical celibacy have bombarded general consciousness in light of the onslaught of reports of clerical abuse and their cover up by church authority. It is fair to ask, what is the connection between the demand for cultic purity and abuse of minors? The current crisis poses a serious challenge for church authority to answer that question.

To the average person this demand of canon law [ii ] imposes a seemingly impossible task, perfect and perpetual continence. Although the church propagates the myth that bishops and priests are celibate this is not based on fact.

A Secret World: Sexuality And The Search For Celibacy

Several modern studies have used various methods to measure the degree of celibate observance. Sexual abuse of minors is only one type of clerical sexual activity. Questions about clerical celibacy have become prominent in discussions about the Catholic clergy sex abuse crisis for obvious reasons. Sipe was ever sensitive to the survivors, but his fixation was on the clerical culture, whose secrets he reported without sensationalism in A Secret World and later books.

He wanted radical reform of the clerical culture. I had several meals at the Sipes' house in a Baltimore suburb, enjoying new friends.


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Tweet this. In working on my book, I was struck by one of Greeley's articles, protesting the culture of gay priests, a topic that also vexed University of Notre Dame theologian Fr. Richard McBrien. In a Commonweal piece, McBrien stockpiled question after unanswered question on the scope and meaning of the gay priest culture. As lawsuits escalated in the late s, most of the victims willing to talk had been abused as teenage boys, not prepubescent children — the targets of pedophiles. To write about this, one had to reckon with the gay priest movement, a doubly difficult task given the homophobia in society and dark specter of the AIDS epidemic, at this time before the life-saving drugs.

Sipe insisted that homosexuality, as a normal sexual orientation, stood apart from "ephebophilia," which meant adults who abused teenagers.

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He viewed the delayed psychosexual maturity that drove some priests to prey on adolescents as a symptom of seminary training, flawed at best, warped at worst. In that, he was well ahead of Greeley and McBrien, prominent intellectuals, products of seminaries of rigid Irish discipline who struggled to understand a gay movement in clerical culture that blindsided them. I contacted Greeley after reading one of his pieces. Before email, we had several conversations by phone. In exchanging letters, he offered to read my work in progress which Sipe was already reading. My previous book was a history of rhythm and blues.

I was on such strange terrain with this one that Greeley's offer intimidated me. What if he hated it? Taking the risk, I sent it to Chicago. I was elated when he read it quickly, and offered to write an introduction, which proved a great help in landing a contract. We met over breakfast in Chicago in Greeley had a quicksilver mind.

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I asked if he thought my delineation of predatory clerics and gay priests ran the risk of being criticized for homophobia. What should the church do about gay priests? He looked up from his bowl of raspberries. Mindful of his attack on A Secret World, I mentioned how hard it was to find reliable data and, gingerly, mentioned Sipe's book. That triggered a mini-discourse on faulty data. Greeley's eyes flared: "He also questioned my celibacy! Sipe got under Greeley's skin with a phrase Sipe had found seminarians using in the s and wrote about in A Secret World.

Sipe used examples from Greeley's early novels, like The Cardinal Sins and Thy Brother's Wife , to illustrate what he had labeled "The Prove-Myself Experience," in which a priest has a relationship with a woman that either helps him grow up or leads to a rededication to his vocation.

She is used," Sipe wrote. Sipe then added that he had found seminarians had coined a phrase, "The Greeley Syndrome," which meant that one needed "to have sex with a woman, be conflicted, and then reject her Although critics wondered how a priest could write about sex in his novels, Greeley had never been touched by scandal.

A workaholic who wore the collar in public and said Mass often, Greeley was proud of being a priest, even as he attacked bishops in print. Sipe attacked the celibate culture as systemically flawed. To my knowledge, they met once, at the survivors' conference, for a group photograph.

Catholic priests and their experience of celibacy

An overly courteous Sipe called him "Father. In , Greeley wrote a piece in America that used available data from the Chicago Archdiocese on priests accused of sexual abuse to extrapolate a national figure of 5 percent of American clergy having been sexually abusive, and , victims — striking figures for religion reporters. Sipe had estimated 6 percent, which put them close. I kept in touch with both men while moving on to a documentary project on jazz funerals. The Sipes left Baltimore for sunnier La Jolla.

I noticed that lawyers were calling him "Richard. When I published a piece that cited Greeley's data from America, Sipe sent an email, complaining that his data should have been my source. Journalists typically seek fresh figures, updated findings in any field, as I explained in a return note — Greeley's estimate was more recent, I would cite Sipe's in the future, I told him. He fired back a testy objection. I did not respond.