Fr John Dobson OAM.
Fr John Dobson OAM. Inga Williams

Why Catholic priests should be allowed to marry

A FORMER senior Catholic Church priest on the Sunshine Coast says mandatory celibacy was a contributing factor to what the Royal Commission had found had been at least 4444 instances Australia-wide of sexual abuse against children by priests, religious brothers and sisters and employees between 1980 and 2015.

However Father John Dobson said the real issue was the complete inability of the church to accept and deal with complaints.

Father Dobson said it was flaw whose roots could be found in the way the church had structured itself in the likeness of the failing Roman Empire in which the Emperor was always right and no dialogue was entered into.

"Celibacy is part of it," he said. "When you close down an 18-19 year-old's sexuality you are setting them up for problems."

Father Dobson said the church did not accept that, but similar examples of the consequence of repressed sexuality could be found in prisons and the military.

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He said the church could not on one hand talk about the importance of marriage and then ban from any involvement those that stood at the front of the church.

"What's wrong with marriage that says a priest can't get married," Father Dobson asked.

He said the church would need to be dragged kicking and screaming to change as attendances for Sunday services went through the floor.

Father Dobson said the issue was essentially a governance problem but that like all empires it would collapse with cracks in the facade already visible.

If the Catholic Church was ultimately to prove itself to be incapable of reform all that would eventually be left would be lonely priests sitting in empty churches.

"The church needs to move away from its monarchical imperialism and give power to the people," he said.

"The Pope is surrounded by too many people with other agendas. The poor Pope is trying his best but he's up against experts whose main concern is their own entitlement and place in the pecking order."

Maroochydore Parish Priest, Father Joe Duffy, said he was already losing members of his congregation estimating there were 30-40 parishioners he knew of missing from Sunday services and that there would be more he didn't know.

Father Duffy said he had closely followed the public hearings conducted by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse so was not surprised by its findings.

He said there had been difficult for Bishops dealing with what was essentially a criminal element.

It had been difficult to challenge and stop them.

"Moving clergy from place to place was in hindsight irresponsible," Father Duffy said.

"I think there was scrutiny but it depended where you lived. In the Victorian diocese it was in plague proportions.

"The Brisbane diocese was isolated from it."

He said members of his congregation absenting themselves from Mass was most likely a sign they can't cope with the magnitude of the scandal.

Father Duffy said the church was deeply repentant about the harm done to children.

He said in the 21st century there was tendency to pretend there was no such thing as the Devil but he was at work and it was not finished

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