Bill Keller hates religion. The former New York Times Editor and current op-ed columnist never misses a chance to sneer at the benighted rubes in the pews. Especially the Catholic ones.
On Dec. 1 he was at it again, claiming celibacy leads to pedophilia. “Celibacy — by breeding a culture of sexual exceptionalism and denial — surely played some role in the church’s shameful record of pedophilia and cover-up.” Surely.
His statement appeared in a NYT piece, “Sex and the Single Priest,” which argued against celibacy for Catholic priests.
Keller began his piece with a love story – that of a priest and nun, John and Roberta Hydar, who left their respective orders to marry and enter “one of the many small communities of disaffected Catholics where women are ordained, same-sex marriages are blessed, and members of the clergy are not required to endure the loneliness of celibacy.”
Wow, sounds like Heaven! (If anyone at the Times, ya know, believed in Heaven.)
After Keller detailed how John “baptized children and presided over weddings and funerals” and “fill[ed] in at short-handed mainstream Catholic parishes, with a wink from the archdiocese” as one of the “married priests” he turned his attention to Roberta. “My husband and I may not live to see the fruits of our labors,” Roberta explained to Keller, “but in the meantime we find new ways to be Catholic, believing that the Spirit is on the move and there is no stopping Her by the institutional church.”
Keller smirked, “That ‘Her’ made me smile.” Of course it did, Bill. Too bad that if you’re looking for “new ways to be Catholic” you’re actively not Catholic.
Keller then quoted Thomas Groome, Boston College’s department head of religious education and pastoral ministry. Groome explained, “Lots of people don’t see [celibacy] as some extraordinary act of witness. They see it as just a peculiar lifestyle, and one not to be trusted.” He continued with pessimism, “I don’t know too many diocesan priests, maybe three or four, who have lived a rich, life-giving, celibate lifestyle.” Of course, Groome, a former priest-turned-married man, would know best.
Even Pope Francis, Groome noted, expressed hope for married priests by announcing that celibacy “is not a church dogma and it can be discussed because it is a church tradition.” He concluded by recognizing how John, “said he can even imagine that Francis, given 10 or 15 years of good health, might change the church sufficiently.”
Maybe, but in the meantime, does celibacy “surely” cause priestly pedophilia? Some smart people that [gasp!] know more than Bill Keller about the subject say no. As Rev. James Martin has written in the liberal Jesuit magazine America and at liberal site The Huffington Post, “celibacy does not cause pedophilia.” Writing in HuffPo in 2010, Martin demolished the idea: “(Bluntly put: if celibacy causes abuse, why aren't the other 96 percent of priests pedophiles?) For another, 30 percent of abuse takes place within families, yet few sane people point to marriage as a cause of child abuse.”
Martin should pay more attention to the Times. Sane or insane,“The Gray Lady” takes a pretty dim view of traditional marriage and families.
— Katie Yoder is Staff Writer, Joe and Betty Anderlik Fellow in Culture and Media at the Media Research Center. Follow Katie Yoder on Twitter.