Catholic Culture Dedication
Catholic Culture Dedication

Caught: one red herring

By Phil Lawler ( bio - articles - email ) | Feb 22, 2022

A report in the Buenos Aires Times on the trial of Bishops Zanchetta concludes this way:

The Catholic Church, which forbids priests from marrying, has been repeatedly rocked by child sex abuse scandals around the world over the last three decades.

Notice anything peculiar about that sentence? We are all sadly aware of the scandals. But suppose I were to rewrite the conclusion slightly, so that it read:

The Catholic Church, which sometimes uses incense in liturgical ceremonies, has been repeatedly rocked by child sex abuse scandals around the world over the last three decades.

Or maybe:

The Catholic Church, which operates thousands of hospitals, has been repeatedly rocked by child sex abuse scandals around the world over the last three decades.

The Buenos Aires Times does not actually say that priestly celibacy is a factor in sexual abuse. That argument is difficult to defend, since plenty of non-clerical abusers are married. But by casually mentioning celibacy, in a sentence where it does not belong, the paper can plant the idea without any need to defend it.

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at CatholicCulture.org. See full bio.

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