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Bishop Says Celibacy Not The Cause Of, Female Ordination Not The Answer To, Clerical Sex Abuse

Bishop Anthony Taylor
Bishop Anthony Taylor

The Catholic prelate for Arkansas says he isn’t aware of any recent allegations of clerical sex abuse in the state, at least since the Conference of Catholic Bishops' Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.

That's a set of procedures for addressing allegations of abuse against priests, and guidelines for reconciliation and prevention of future abuse written and adopted in 2002.

But this week Bishop Anthony Taylor and the Diocese of Little Rock which presides over the state's Catholics released an internal review with the names of 12 priests who’ve had credible allegations of sex abuse made against them within the last 70 years.

Only four of the 12 are still alive.

Taylor said, among other things, that neither celibacy nor female ordination is the proper answer to the charge that child sex abuse among Catholic priests is epidemic.

"Pedophilia is not because someone is not married," he said, and, "the Catholic church does not believe itself to be free to ordain women."

"In the Catholic church the priest is understood to configure Christ in a specific way, and of course, the church is understood to be the bride of Christ, and so, right from the very beginning, that has been our understanding of why the priesthood would be limited to males."

The Diocese is set to have an outside firm, Kinsale Management Consulting, review its investigation into abuse in Arkansas. It’s also reached out to the state Attorney General’s office, letting it know the church would cooperate fully with any investigation should one begin.

Copyright 2020 Arkansas Public Media. To see more, visit Arkansas Public Media.

Bobby Ampezzan is a native of Detroit who holds degrees from Dickinson College (Carlisle, PA) and the University of Arkansas (Fayetteville). He's written for The Guardian newspaper and Oxford American magazine and was a longtime staff writer for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. The best dimestore nugget he's lately discovered comes from James Altucher's Choose Yourself (actually, the Times' profile on Altucher, which quotes the book): "I lose at least 20 percent of my intelligence when I am resentful." Meanwhile, his faith in public radio and television stems from the unifying philosophy that not everything be serious, but curiosity should follow every thing, and that we be serious about curiosity.