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.
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
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.
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
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 abortion—also a
situation familiar in the United States where the priest-father encourages
this alternative to save his place in the ministry.
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
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
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.
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.
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 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”.
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. --