AN AMERICAN church board examining cases of clergy sex abuse of children has recommended that programmes should be improved to prevent sexual abuse of adults by priests.
“We have seen instances where priests abused their authority and caused harm by engaging in sexual relations with adults,” said a report by the Seattle Archdiocesan Case Review Board. Curbing sex abuse of adults “is essential to the credibility of the Church,” it said.
The report follows a study of the cases of 13 priests accused of sexually abusing minors.
It said celibacy could have been a contributing factor in some of the cases. “The Church set the stage for the deviant and illegal behaviour of a few that has been the focus of our work,” the report said.
“When all sexual behaviour, even that which is a normal aspect of the human experience, is barred for individuals who are not prepared to handle this, the distinctions between deviant or exploitive behaviour and normal but unacceptable behaviour can become blurred.” The report added: “For many years the Vatican had been unwilling to acknowledge and address the problem of sexual abuse of minors and the violation of the celibacy vows, including priests having sexual relations with adults.”