There is a flaw in the Roman Catholic teaching that a vow of celibacy honors the life of Jesus and elevates the devotional status of the one who makes such a vow. The flaw is in the naïve, at best, and abusive, at worst, belief that such a vow can be imposed on men without harmful consequences.
The recent publication of priests accused of sexual abuse is evidence that imposed celibacy has hurt the church, her clergy and too many innocent victims. Whenever a life-changing event invites a participant to make a life-changing sacrifice, there will be consequences — for the participant and those who love him or her.
For example, my father (along with countless others) enlisted in the military at a time of war. His choice (and theirs) was honorable; yet, the consequence of that decision affected his life profoundly. The stress he endured as a soldier was medicated by alcohol. His addiction eventually took his life and affected the lives of those he loved most, his wife and children.
Asking a priest to be celibate is also a life-changing event. Too many priests have “medicated” their attempted abstinence through sexual abuse of innocent persons. Victims are powerless and, as such, submit to the sexual desires of someone they really love and admire. The consequence is long-term emotional and psychological harm, both for the abused and the abuser.
Imposed celibacy is wrong. The pope can change the requirement of celibacy for priests. May God give the Roman Catholic Church the “courage to change the things it can.” Jesus weeps for his victimized priests and their victims.