- Published on Wednesday, 14 September 2011 07:06
- Written by John Draper
- Hits: 1645
A complaint has been filed with the International Criminal Court in The Hague (Holland) against Pope Benedict and three senior Cardinals. This is despite the fact that it is not recognized by the Vatican or the U.S. The complaint was filed by Center for Constitutional Rights and the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests - U.S. based groups trying to get the Catholic Church to stop the continuing abuse of minors. A report in the NY Times quotes the 80 page complaint as saying that "The high-level officials of the Catholic church who failed to prevent and punish these criminal actions have, to date, enjoyed absolute impunity." The I.C.C. has a mandate to prosecute war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide but most lawyers think the case will not go anywhere except maybe get some needed focus on the problem. The recent criticism by Ireland's prime Minister brought a defensive response but no new action nor punishment for offenders and it's good to see the pressure on the Vatican continue.
The filing cites five cases in which priests have been accused of abuse in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the United States; the priests in these cases are from Belgium, India and the United States.
Meanwhile, a former Bishop from Northern Ireland has come out in favour of eliminating the celibacy of priests. His main interest in the idea of married priests is to help recruit priests since many are turned off by celibacy (surprise!). (Former) Bishop Edward Daly of Derry says that there could be both married and celibate clergy and that "major decisions must be made".
A news item in the U.K. Guardian says that:
Catholic priests have been unable to marry since the Gregorian reforms in the 11th century made celibacy compulsory. Historians have contended that the move was partly for spiritual reasons, but was mainly to ensure estates held by clerics would pass back to the church upon their deaths rather than to offspring.
I have always felt that celibacy was to do with power and not a spiritual thing - looks like others agree with my analysis.
But according to the Belfast Telegraph it comes too late for Colin Parkhill, who was forced to quit the priesthood after six years of studying and just months away from being ordained. Mr Parkhill - now married to Orlaith and living in Derry with their three children - says he still considers himself a priest and is angry the church he loves is happy to let good men walk away because they are "normal". "While I am glad Bishop Daly has spoken out now, I would far rather he did it when he was still in ministry and was in a position where he would have to be listened to," said Mr Parkhill.
Is he implying that celibate priests are not "normal"? I think he is.
The Guardian goes on to say:
Last year, when the scandal over clerical sex abuse was at its height, the archbishop of Vienna, Christoph Schönborn, suggested part of the problem might be priestly celibacy. His comment was all the more interesting, coming as it did from a conservative theologian and former star pupil of Pope Benedict. But in case anyone thought his musings had Vatican backing, the pope went out of his way a few days later to praise celibacy as an "expression of the gift of oneself to God and others". Three months later, he reinforced his defence of the status quo, describing celibacy as a "great sign of faith".
Many critics of the Church think that celibacy will be a major help in curbing abuse - it may not solve the problem but it would help. But I don't see how making it easier to recruit priests will make much of a dent in the continuing exodus of Catholics from their Church - especially in countries with a high average level of education like Ireland and other western countries.
I can't help but think that the Catholic Church is hurting because of the free flow of information in the internet age. We all now know what used to be kept hidden and Bishops know what their congregations are thinking. It's good to see some respected bishops like Daly come out in favour of real reform - even if it's minor and for the wrong reason. I'd guess he would get disciplined by the Pope if he spoke against celibacy.
Fr Shay Cullen has earned three Nobel Peace Prize nominations for his work saving hundreds of children from a life of sexual abuse in the Philippines. He recently spoke to Irish broadcaster Gay Byrne on state television station RTE, and said:
"Celibacy is only a practice mostly to keep property out of the hands of married couples, it's more sort of a business type of arrangement,"
"All of the other Christian churches manage very well and many Anglicans who were married and had family and children and came over to the Catholics and were warmly accepted.
"Now we have many married priests in the Catholic Church and it is working, so why not?
"It is only another step to abolishing this celibate thing and getting on with life."