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In 1990 I published A SECRET WORLD: SEXUALITY & THE SEARCH FOR CELIBACY the results of my 25-year ethnographic study of celibacy and sex in the American priesthood. One of my conclusions was that at any one time 50 percent of American clergy were sexually active; 6 percent get involved sexually with minors, and between 20 and 30 percent have a homosexual orientation and yet maintained their celibacy in an equal proportion with heterosexually oriented clergy. 

During the early 1990s Father Victor Kotze, a sociologist in South Africa studied clerical stress there in a controlled, random sample of priests and found the frequency of sexual activity during a 2-year period was over 40 percent. 

Psychologist Shelia Murphy in her 1992 study on intimacy among vowed religious found that 62 percent of male respondents reported being sexually active. One-third of their partners were exclusively male, and nearly 60 percent were exclusively female. 

Pepe Rodriguez, a Spanish journalist, wrote La vida sexual del clero (The Sexual Life of the Clergy) in 1995. His conclusions included: that of the Spanish priests studied 95 percent masturbate and 60 percent have sexual relationships. Although his record shows that 20 percent of the clergy get involved in homosexual practices, only 12 percent are exclusively homosexual. His figures of sexual abuse of minors are close to the numbers now demonstrated in the United States at 7 percent. He did, however, make a refinement that no other study has. Namely that 26 percent of practicing priests “have attachments to minors” (ont des attouchements avec des mineurs). Given the evidence that 60 percent of Catholic priests in America have a deficient psychosexual development and high rates of recorded abuse of minors in some localities (11.4 percent in Los Angeles in 1983), the question of attachment to minors deserves greater attention. 

In 2003 a survey of Catholic clergy in Switzerland concluded that 50 percent of priests there had mistresses or sexual activity with women, some even resulting with the birth of children or abortions. 

Magdala is a Foundation in the Netherlands dedicated to the study of sex and celibacy in that country. They issued a report that said that 200 of 1000 priests in their nation are not practicing celibacy. The 110 women members of their organization report that many of the sexual relationships continue for decades. This is not dissimilar to the situation in the United States. Two members of the Foundation recently became pregnant unexpectedly and terminated their pregnancy by abortionalso a situation familiar in the United States where the priest-father encourages this alternative to save his place in the ministry.

But already in 1993 a BBC television reporter asked Cardinal Jose Sanchez, then head of the Congregation for Clergy, what he thought of the estimates and reports that between 40 and 50 percent of Catholic clergy were sexually active. He said on the television special, later seen by 90 million viewers, “I have no reason to doubt the accuracy of those figures.” 

The following article from the London Tablet on the church in Brazil should be read against the background of the past decade and a half of published studies:

Brazil abuse findings denied. "OFFICIALS FROM the Vatican and Brazil’s bishops’ conference have denied any knowledge of a “Vatican commission” that has reportedly found evidence of more than 1,700 cases of sexual abuse by priests, involving about 10 per cent of the total number of ordained clergy in South America’s largest country.

In response to widespread coverage in the Italian and Brazilian press, a Vatican spokesman last week told the National Catholic Reporter that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which has responsibility for cases of sexual abuse of minors by priests, was not aware of any commission going to Brazil. The Brazilian bishops’ conference (CBB) also told the NCR that it had no information about any such commission.

However, the Brazilian news magazine Istoé and the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera claim to have had access to the commission’s findings. Criminal charges of child abuse have been brought against four Brazilian priests in recent months, with three of them resulting in convictions. There are 10 priests already in prison after being convicted of child sexual abuse, and Istoé reported a further 40 were on the run from the authorities.
The magazine also claimed that, in at least two instances, priests eventually convicted of sexual abuse had previously been moved from one parish to another after complaints had been made about them. According to the same report, one emeritus bishop has been accused of sexual misconduct by a young priest whom he ordained. Perhaps even more alarmingly, the magazine claims that the alleged Vatican commission found that half of all Brazilian priests were failing to observe their vows of chastity, and 200 of them had been referred to psychiatrists for “re-education”.

Most shocking are extracts from the diary kept by one of the convicted priests, Fr Tarcísio Tadeu Spricigo. The magazine alleges that the diary set out 10 guidelines for identifying potential victims, specifying that they should be between seven and 10 years of age, male, from a poor background and preferably fatherless. The way to ensnare them, the magazine claims the diary said, was to offer guitar lessons, or service as an altar boy, and to present a serious, dominating, father-like image.  --  Colin Harding

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