August 18, 2017
“In a 2002 series of articles, Michael Rezendes and his colleagues on “The Boston Globe’s Spotlight’” team did the Catholic Church—and, by extension, society at large—a great service in bringing greater light to the problem of sexual abuse by some priests in the Church,” says Thomas Nash, an acclaimed journalist, apologist and author of the new book, “What DID Jesus Do?: The Biblical Roots of the Catholic Church.”
“In Spotlight’s new report, Rezendes brings important attention to the scandal of priests’ fathering children,” says Nash. “Yet,” Nash adds, “he makes several important missteps, including not correcting a “CBS This Morning” report that labels such children ‘illegitimate’ (1:15ff.). The Church doesn’t teach these children are illegitimate, nor should anyone else label them as such. All children are created in the image and likeness of God. What is truly illegitimate—and indeed scandalous (cf. CCC 2284-87)—is when errant priests betray their obligation to ‘observe perfect and perpetual continence for the sake of the kingdom of heaven,’ father children and don’t take responsibility for them” (CIC, canon 277.1).
“In this light, we see that Rezendes does something unfortunately common among journalists: Failing to note that not simply celibacy (refraining from marriage) but also continence (abstaining from sex) are required of priests throughout the world,” says Nash. “And these norms are well-known among priests and priestly candidates, contrary to what Rezendes conveys (4:42ff.), the cultural aberrations in some locales notwithstanding.”
“The only exceptions,” Nash adds, “regard some married Protestant ministers who have become Catholic and seek to become priests, and also Eastern-Rite Catholic priests who are permitted to marry before their ordination.
“And both Rezendes in his Spotlight coverage, and both he and the CBS This Morning team in their exclusive interview with him, fail to explain—even briefly—that the Church’s discipline of clerical celibacy calls men to be “spiritual fathers” of many children (young and old), that this discipline was and is encouraged by both Jesus Christ (cf. Matthew 19:10-12) and St. Paul (1 Corinthians 7:25-40), and that, with God’s…