Author Criticises Celibacy for Priests, Says Young Women Flirt

By Phil Pennington
Radio New Zealand
October 11, 2019

A prolific children's author says she is sorry for women who had sexual relations with a Catholic Bishop, but that she has seen young women flirt with priests.

Joy Cowley says the Catholic Church is displaying a "suicidal resistance" to married priests. Photo: Joy Cowley

"Do they think that a vow of celibacy guarantees immunity?" asked Joy Cowley, in an online post in response to the resignation of Palmerston North Bishop Charles Drennan.

He quit after admitting inappropriate sexual behaviour with a young woman.

An older woman several years ago made a confidential complaint about him.

Ms Cowley, a Catholic great-grandmother in her 80s, also writes books on spirituality.

The pope should have said "who am I to judge" (a phrase he is famous for), rather than accept Bishop Drennan's resignation, she wrote online at CathNews New Zealand.

Bishop Charles Drennan Photo: Supplied / Catholic Church

Her primary target was celibacy for priests.

"I am sorry that a reputable magazine connected with the church, should send emails to subscribers giving details of Bishop Charles Drennan's resignation," she said.

"I am sorry that Pope Francis didn't offer his famous response: 'Who am I to judge?'"

In her post online she says: "Catholic laity are generally understanding about priestly indiscretion.

"We know that a hungry man cannot be judged for stealing a loaf of bread."

Cowley said she was sorry that the church is losing a very fine bishop.

"I am also sorry for the women concerned. But I have seen how young women flirt with priests. Do they think that a vow of celibacy guarantees immunity?

"Most of all, I am sorry that the church maintains a suicidal resistance to married priests."

When she read about a priest charged with sexual abuse, she knew both abuser and abused were victims, she said, saying the celibacy system had failed.

She said the "blame game" was encouraged by the media feeding on sensational negative news.

RNZ is attempting to contact the author.

Compensation possible for complainant

The Catholic Church says a young woman who had a sexual relationship with Bishop Drennan could be paid compensation.

Cardinal John Dew said church officials have been in touch with the young woman "constantly' to ensure she is being cared for.

He said counselling and a financial contribution is up to the diocese.








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