Celibacy and Child Sexual Abuse By Peter West
My grandmother was an orphan and her mother left her at a Catholic orphanage to be brought up by the nuns, until foster parents claimed her. In fact, grandmother had a twin sister, who the nuns separated. Nanna told me that the nuns were viciously cruel, burning naughty girls with hot water, and whipping them. She thought that they derived sadistic enjoyment from it. In school, for the slightest infringement, or even not getting sums right, the girls would be caned on the hands. During piano lessons, to fluff a note would lead to a cane strike on the hands, which would lead to the next cane stick, and finally to some full body torture.
I do not know exactly when these events took place, but it was probably 100 years ago. The world has changed a lot since then, for the better, hasn’t it?
The final Report of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, has stated that tens of thousands of children and teens have been sexually abused in many Australian institutions. This refers not only to religious institutions, but also schools, health services and even childcare centres. Thousands of people spoke of having their lives destroyed by this trauma.
Much attention has focused on abuse in the Catholic Church, and here, given my own personal issue, detailed above, I am somewhat less than coldly objective. But, the statistics are that around 60 percent of the abuse cases heard by the Commission were in religious organisations, and of that, over 60 percent were in organisations run by the Catholic church. Certainly, there would also be larger numbers of children in their care to start with. As well, many of the crimes are historical: The Weekend Australian, December 16-17, 2017, p. 20, but not all.
The proposal of abandoning celibacy for priests would not do much about homosexual offenses, involving the molestation of young boys. The Commission has shown that child sexual abuse is a major issue in Australia, that is widespread, and will require a complete spring cleaning of the institutions which have failed terribly young Australians.