Right to celibacy of priests stressed
Pilot also cites abuse charges
By Kay Longcope, Globe Staff, 5/15/1992
In separate editorials, The Pilot -- noting that "it has been a terrible week for the Church" -- focuses on broad charges of sexual abuse involving a former southeastern Massachusetts priest, and the admission of an Irish bishop that he fathered a Connecticut woman's 17-year-old son.
Since last week, 45 women and men, all children when Rev. James R. Porter served North Attleborough and New Bedford parishes in the 1960s, have alleged sexual abuse by the priest. Porter left the priesthood and the state in 1967, married, and has four children. He lives in Oakdale, Minn.
Last week, Bishop Eamonn Casey of Galway resigned for undisclosed personal reasons. On Monday, he publicly acknowledged fathering the son of Annie Murphy, 44, of Ridgefield, Conn., with whom he had an affair in 1973.
In Massachusetts, five other clergymen -- some Catholic priests and others clergy of other faiths -- have been arrested on sexual charges over the last year, with a Catholic priest alleged to have sexually molested five boys in his Shelburne Falls parish and another charged with raping a woman worker in a Holyoke rectory.
In the case of Murphy and Father Casey, The Pilot editorializes that the involvement of two adults "differs in kind" from sexual abuse of children, "a heinous situation."
The newspaper calls for compassion to be extended to the children, but suggests that compassion for the perpetrator "be put on an emotional 'hold' until later -- after the fury that demands corrective surgery is addressed."
The Pilot says that "when the allegation is made that a Catholic priest has committed such a transgression, the sickening revulsion takes on another frightening dimension. The priest, who publicly -- and before God -- vows himself to the virtue of chastity, is never exempt."
According to John Walsh, archdiocesan spokesman, the Catholic Encyclopedia defines celibacy as "the practice of perfect continence by priests and bishops meant to foster single-minded devotion to God and service in the ministry, according to longstanding discipline of the Latin Church."
The definition states that "the rule of celibacy forbids marriage by priests and bishops and normally excludes married persons from ordination."
Yesterday, in an interview, Kathleen Sands, 37, assistant professor of religious studies at the University of Massachusetts at Boston, said that "the least of Porter's crimes is that he broke the vow of celibacy."
Sands, a former teaching fellow at Boston College and a former Boston University chaplain, said that she has interviewed at least 100 Catholics who say they have had relationships with priests or have been sexually abused by them.
Of celibacy, the vow priests take at ordination, "the laity, religious and his brother priests have every right to expect this virtue in his conduct," said The Pilot. "It was not forced upon him. He freely embraced its demands."
This story ran in the Boston Globe on 5/15/1992.