It’s Not About Celibacy

Deal W. Hudson

The recent pedophile problems in various U.S. Catholic dioceses, especially Boston, have led – predictably – to a new wave of questions about priestly celibacy. Let us be clear: There is no relation between the vow of priestly celibacy and the incidence of pedophilia among Catholic priests.

How do I know this? There is less likelihood that a Catholic priest will be a pedophile (0.3 %) than a married man.

This statistic comes from the best and most current study of this issue, Pedophiles, and Priests by Philip Jenkins (Oxford University Press, 1996). Jenkins shows that true pedophilia, that is, sexual contact between an adult and pre-pubescent child is very rare in the Catholic priesthood.

Jenkins also explains how the media artificially exaggerates these numbers in their reporting. One U.S. Cardinal told me recently that many of the reported incidents of “child abuse” are actually complaints going back many years about the forms of corporal punishments administered by clergy in days-gone-by. Data about actual sexual contact and routine spanking or paddling are being thrown together.

The whole argument against a celibate, male clergy based on the pedophilia problem is, at best, impressionistic and, at worse, totally disingenuous.

Catholic dissidents who advocate married clergy and women priests are trying to take full advantage of this present situation. Never once do they mention that if a priest is faithful to his vows sexual relations of any kind will simply never occur. Just how allowing clergy to marry, presumably members of the opposite sex, will reduce pedophilia, is never explained.

The media is scrutinizing the Catholic Church on this issue in a way they have never looked at other institutional leaders, such as public elementary schools teachers, for example. The mere fact that the statistical incidence of pedophilia is the less than married men with children should give the media pause, but it does not and will not.

I can’t think of a single mainstream media outlet, with the possible exception of Fox News, that does not demonstrate a consistent bias against the Catholic Church. This is not to point a finger at every reporter and editor, but to underline the constant tone and drift of their reporting.

Why, for example, would MSNBC spend an evening inviting people to call in and vote on whether Catholic priests should be allowed to marry? Would MSNBC do a poll on whether Jews should be allowed to eat pork on their holy days?

As Bill Donohue of the Catholic League has shown for years, the media has no fear of offending Catholics because Catholics evidently don’t care if their faith is put up for a vote.

A statistical defense of the Catholic clergy, however, is not enough to address the present crisis. There must be serious rethinking of how to identify potential pedophiles before they enter the priesthood, and how to deal with them once an incident occurs. It is clear such a priest can never again to be assigned to duties that put children at risk.

The Church will get its house in order without the help of those who want to knock it down and start again.

By Deal Hudson

Deal W. Hudson was born November 20, 1949 in Denver, CO, to Emmie and Jack Hudson, both native Texans. Dr. Hudson had an older sister Ruth, and eventually, a younger sister, Elizabeth. Emmie Hudson, Ruth Hudson and Elizabeth Hudson now live in Houston, TX; Jack Hudson passed away some years ago. The late Jack Hudson was a captain for Braniff Airlines in Denver at the time of Dr. Hudson’s birth. Later the family moved to Kansas City when his father joined the Federal Aviation Agency. From Kansas City, the Hudson family moved to Minneapolis, then to Massapequa, NY, and finally to Alexandria, VA, where they first occupied a home overlooking the Potomac River adjacent to the Mount Vernon estate. After a year, the family moved to a home on Tarpon Lane a few houses up the street from the Yacht Haven boat docks. Dr. Hudson attended Mt. Vernon Elementary School from grades 4 to 6 and has a special gratitude for the teaching of Mr. Hoppe who first told him was a ‘smart lad.’ Having moved with his family to Fort Worth, TX in 1960, Dr. Hudson attended William Monnig Junior High and Arlington Heights HS. In high school, Dr. Hudson was captain of the golf team, editor of the literary magazine (Guerdon), and performed the role of Peter in the ‘The Diary of Anne Frank’ during his senior year. Dr. Hudson graduated cum laude with a major in philosophy from the University of Texas-Austin in 1971 where his undergraduate advisor was Prof. John Silber. His teachers at the University of Texas included Prof. Louis Mackey and Prof. Larry Caroline. Dr. Hudson minored in both classics and English literature. Dr. Hudson lived in Atlanta from 1974-1989, where he attended Emory University, receiving a Phd from the Graduate Institute for the LIberal Arts. He also taught philosophy at Mercer University in Atlanta from 1980-89. In 1989 Dr. Hudson and his family left Atlanta when he was hired to teach philosophy at Fordham University in the Bronx. Dr. Hudson taught at Fordham, and also part-time at New York University, from 1989 to 1994. Dr. Hudson first came to Atlanta in after graduation from Princeton Theological Seminary (PTS) with an M.Div. While at PTS, Dr. Hudson managed the Baptist Student Union at Princeton University and became its first director. Dr. Hudson also was licensed at a minister in the Southern Baptist Convention at Madison Baptist Church in Madison, NJ. Dr. Hudson’s primary area of study at PTS was the history of Christian doctrine which he pursued with Dr. Karlfried Froelich. In 1984 Dr. Hudson was received in the Catholic Church by Msgr. Richard Lopez, with the special permission of Archbishop Thomas A. Donnellan, at the chapel of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Cancer Home in Atlanta. Dr. Hudson has been married twenty-five years to Theresa Carver Hudson and they have two children, Hannah Clare, 23, and Cyprian Joseph (Chip), 15, adopted from Romania when he was three years old. The Hudson family has lived in Fairfax, VA for more than fifteen years, after having lived five years in Bronxville, NY and a year in Atlanta, GA, where Theresa and Deal were married.

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