Child sex abuse link to celibacy

Many Catholic priests take a flexible approach to celibacy, tolerated by church leaders, and some believe sex with children or men does not count, a former Melbourne priest said on Wednesday.

An enormous number of priests struggle with celibacy, Philip O’Donnell told the state inquiry into how the churches handle child sex abuse.

There’s a tolerance for imperfection in celibacy, and that may have led to a lessening of outrage at sex with children.

He said he had no training about celibacy in the seminary and that many priests were ill-equipped. Chosen celibacy is a gift, but mandatory celibacy is for many priests a millstone, he said.

Mr O’Donnell declined to speculate on what percentage of Catholic priests, who must vow to be celibate, were sexually active, but another Melbourne priest has separately suggested it is about half — via

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