Cleansing the Church of Clerical Sacrilege | Dominic Legge, O.P. | First Things

Third, American bishops should enact, as “particular law,” the canonical norms from the 1917 Code of Canon Law (they were mostly dropped from the current Code of Canon Law when it was revised in 1983) dealing with the sexual acts of clerics (whether homosexual or heterosexual, and whether with minors or with adults). Those provisions made sexual activity by clerics, even with other adults, a canonical crime. The punishments included “being deprived of office, benefice, dignity, responsibility, if they have such, whatsoever, and in more serious cases, they are to be deposed.”

Fourth, there should be an apostolic visitation of all provinces of religious orders, diocesan chanceries, seminaries, the offices of vocation directors, and of the USCCB, to investigate whether they have networks of active homosexual priests, structures of manipulation, or other such misconduct.

Fifth, there needs to be a system for reporting clerical sexual infidelity—even infidelity with “consenting adults”—akin to the system that currently exists for reporting clerical abuse of minors. The reports should not just go to the bishop or religious superior; they need to involve a review board and other lay outsiders.  Allegations should be investigated, using fair and just procedures, and should be concluded with a report of findings recommending canonical charges where warranted. This process needs to be instituted for both religious orders and dioceses alike.

via Cleansing the Church of Clerical Sacrilege | Dominic Legge, O.P. | First Things


  1. Of course, the elephant in the room is allowing married priests. Why? This will serve a two-fold purpose: 1. this will drive homosexuals from a priesthood that will no longer be an all single male club (which attracts homosexuals), and 2. allowing married priests will end the priest shortage.

    Some Church history is in order for a proper understanding. In 1141, at the Second Lateran Council, priests were forbidden from marrying. 4 centuries later, at the Council of Trent (a reaction to the Protestant Rebellion), married men were forbidden from becoming priests.


    1. I don’t think anyone is going to disagree with you in the aspect that Priests are currently in the Latin rite for he most part forbidden to marry. So the Church history lesson is already addressed. However, theologians will make the distinction between what constitutes as a doctrinal issue and what the Church considers a discipline with the Latin Rite. Eastern Rites and Anglican Ordinates already have married priests in communion with Rome.


      1. We may opine that a larger issue to ponder is the true purpose of sexual morality. Personally, I reject the 2 extremes that I see today (and, I say this as a Catholic). The grotesque and harmful demoralising excesses of the so-called sexual revolution must be rejected and condemned. But, also, the sexual repression and sexual pessimism that entered Catholicism with Augustine and that stems from ancient pagan schools of thought (and is thus not authentically Christian) also needs to be rejected. We do not need to adopt an ascetic suppression of our sexuality. (Christ, in the Gospels called us to live moral, human lives, not ascetic lives of total renunciation.) Married persons ought to be encouraged to find mutual sexual fulfillment within their marriages, and the Church ought to encourage this.

        Upon review of all the Church’s positions on sex and sexuality, we have come to the conclusion that the Catholic Church controls its members (both the religious, and the laity, both married and single) through controlling their sexuality. (As well, as we now know how human reproduction truly works, we also know that the non-seasonal sex drive in humans means that sex for humans is about more than just procreation. The biological basis for the long-term monogamous pairing of men and women found in cultures throughout history and prehistory around the globe is this non-seasonal sexual interest of the male for the female. Anthropology instructs us that the biological basis for the nuclear family is this non-seasonal sex drive. The Church ought to tread lightly here and do justice to the dignity of married persons.)


      2. “we also know that the non-seasonal sex drive in humans means that sex for humans is about more than just procreation.”

        I think women who have tried NFP and tell you that their sex drive is out zero during these non-seasonal times and very active when they are fertile would disagree with your assessment here. Of course, what you mean by non-seasonal sex drives is vague at best, I would only imagine to be some pseudo concept of the last century.

        Furthermore, if this be the case the nature of biology would disagree as well. Furthermore, in regards to appealing to Anthropology,

        Also Christ illustrates that in Mt. 19 that not all are called for marriage.

        Matthew 19:12 Some are incapable of marriage because they were born so; some, because they were made so by others; some, because they have renounced marriage for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Whoever can accept this ought to accept it.”

        For the most part, although I am not against a married clergy, I do disagree with your assessment overall with sexuality and the Church.


      3. Philip,

        When I read a Church approved English translation of Humanae Vitae some years back, I did not see a single reference to a female libido. The Catholic Church has largely de-sexualized women, at least it has in Church teaching. The collective experience of humans over the millennia supports the idea that women do indeed have a sex drive. If you doubt this, how do you account for what we have seen in the past 50 years with the so-called sexual revolution? (Women lie about the numbers of sexual partners they have had, they decrease the numbers they admit to.)

        It is your blog, and you ought to have the last word, I wish that Church would correct some of its positions for 2 reasons. First, the Church would become a more credible and effective source of good in the world and be more effective at spreading the Gospel. Second, by correcting some of its problematic positions, the Church would cease from the harm it causes to individuals. Let me leave you with this observation. As regards the Catholic Church allowing Natural Birth Regulation (NBR), why does the Church take away with its left hand what it gives with its right hand? What I mean is that the Church claims it allows the use of NBR (to wean Catholics away from artificial means of birth control (many of which are abortifacient in nature)), but the first thing the Church does when a small percentage of couples actually make use of NBR is to burden them with guilt (or at least anxiety) in warning these married couples that they cannot use it for “selfish” reasons, but only for “serious” reasons. In Familias Consortio, JP II was trying to protect wives from their husbands’ animal sexual drives, but he failed to take account that in many marriages, it is the wife who wants to use birth control so that she can enjoy the marital act with her husband and not become pregnant every other year.


      4. You strawmanned man! Where did I object to women having any sex drive? Go back and read my comment! What I said was during months they are not ovulating they have minimal to no sex drive. When they are ovulating their sex drive is high; it’s basic biology. And JP II’s theology of the body hardly de-sexualizes anyone little alone women but properly orders the teleology of the sexual act.


  2. What I see are good, young men that are called to ministry but who do not feel called to celibacy leaving the Catholic Church to become Protestant ministers and pastors.


    1. Larry, I’d like to be a priest in many respects and think I may be good at it. I’m married and to a Lutheran, so if I wanted to be a Lutheran pastor it’s within my reach, but I instead defer to the Magisterium.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s