Observations On the Contrary

Catholic priests: it is better to marry than to burn (and beat up)

BMJ 2009; 338 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.b2142 (Published 27 May 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;338:b2142
  1. Tony Delamothe, deputy editor, BMJ
  1. tdelamothe{at}bmj.com

    Regardless of the benefits it may bring, should celibacy ever be part of a job description?

    The Ryan commission’s revelations of the scale of physical, sexual, and emotional abuse in Irish schools and residential settings run by Catholic priests and nuns are staggering. More than 90% of the 1090 witnesses who gave evidence to the commission reported physical abuse:

    They frequently described casual, random physical abuse but many wished to report only the times when the frequency and severity were such that they were injured or in fear for their lives. In addition to being hit and beaten, witnesses described other forms of abuse such as being flogged, kicked, and otherwise physically assaulted, scalded, burned, and held under water.

    Half the witnesses reported some form of sexual abuse, including “vaginal and anal rape, molestation and voyeurism in both isolated assaults and on a regular basis over long periods of time.” In general, it was a far greater problem at boys’ schools than girls’ schools.

    About 30% of witnesses say they now …

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