Friday, October 07, 2016

Celibacy and abortion

Here's an issue I've never seen discussed (which doesn't mean it hasn't been discussed). As is well-known, bishops have no compunction about engaging in elaborate schemes to conceal the sexual activity of priests. And the news coverage is focussed on homosexual priests.

However, you also have straight priests. I don't know if they're in the majority or minority. Of the total number of straight priests, a percentage have affairs with women. Or trysts with prostitutes. 

The question this raises is what bishops do when a priest impregnates a woman? A parallel question invokes a pregnant nun. How do you keep that a secret?

In the case of a nun, her superiors might instruct her to give the child up for adoption. 

In the case of a woman whom a priest impregnated, hush money is a possibility. Say a one-time lump sum payment to make her go away.

However, the safest and most cost-effective way to conceal an unwanted pregnancy would be an abortion referral. Does the policy of mandatory celibacy facilitate abortion? Do bishops avoid the scandal of pregnant nuns or women impregnated by priests by discreet abortion referrals?

I've never seen this discussed, but since there are undoubtedly children conceived in this situation, the question of what happens to them is inevitable. Clearly something happens to them. It's not that we don't hear about it because no such children are conceived. Rather, we don't hear about it because measures are taken to keep that under wraps. Do such measures include abortion? 


  1. The beginning of the change of opinion in Ireland towards the catholic church was the revelation in the early 1990s' that two very well known clerics, firstly a bishop called Eamonn Casey and then a priest called Michael Cleary both had children. The bishop used diocesan funds to pay for his son's childhood whilst the priest had his common law wife pretend to be his housekeeper and his sons were reared in his house.

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  3. According to Paul Johnson, in his "A History of Christianity" (pg 269), "probably as many as half the men in orders had 'wives' and families". This was ... "in its own way, the biggest single issue at the Reformation. It was a great social problem and, other factors being equal, it tended to tip the balance in favour of reform. As a rule, the only hope for the child of a priest was to go into the church himself, thus unwillingly or with no great enthusiasm, taking vows which he might subsequently regret: the evil tended to perpetuate itself".