There have been many scandals in recent years where priests have been exposed after sexually abusing mainly young boys and mainly in seminaries where young boys as young as eleven were sent away to study for the priesthood.
The Catholic Church argue that these arerogue priests and that it is not systemic. Indeed they argue that the percentages of Paedophiles or sexual abusers among their ranks are not any higher than in society as a whole – just more newsworthy. Indeed a figure of 2% is quoted.
The last thing they would want would be if it was shown to be a systemic problem with the Catholic Church. However, they no longer take boys away into seminaries at the ages of 11 and 12. Those that want to become priests have to apply later, now, usually after they have done their schooling. So, that is, at least, a tacit admission that something ha dto be done.
When priests are ordained they have to taek three vows, those are the Vows of Poverty, Chastity and Obedience.
As regards the Vow of Poverty, it means that priests are not allowed to own anything. they have no possessions (Imagine that). However, the Order is allowed to have possessions, like nice property, cars etc. and the priests are allowed to use those. Indeed, as long as they don’t own anything by themselves, they may have a better lifestyle than their parishioners or ordinary Catholics.
It was also quite hand when priests died. as they didn’t own anything there ws no death duty to be paid. all hteir possessions were owned by the church – and the church continued as normal.
As regards the Vow of Chastity, it wasn’t always the case that priests couldn’t get married. It was always preferred that they didn’t. However there were quite a few Popes who were married in the first millennium of the church.
The reason that this changed, around a thousand years ago was mainly due to the property laws of some of the countries where the Church owned land. The laws said that, when someone died, the land would be divided equally amongst their children. The church didn’t want to lose its land. So, it brought in the Vow of Chastity. If priests weren’t getting married, they wouldn’t have children and they church wouldn’t lose its lands.
Pope Pelagius in 580 decreed that married priests should not hand property to their wife or children. Pope Gregory VII in 1074 first decreed priests should be celibate. His successor Urban had wives sold into slavery. In 1123 Pope Calistus declared all marriages of priest were disolved. However as late as the 15th century about 50% of priests were still married.
The Vow of Chastity allows the church to keep all of its lands and property. However, it does cause a problem for them. They are turning young men into new priests right at the time when they are at the peak of their sexual prowess. As, we have seen, denied access to women and a sexual life, they have turned to those who were at their ‘disposal’, over whom they had almost absolute power – young male seminarians who would have had to have been very brave to refuse to do as they were told by the frustrated priests.