Charles Taylor on Celibacy I: “Mutual Fragilization”

May 23, 2010

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Religious Sisters in Taylor’s Native Quebec

Whenever the New York Times makes clerical sexual abuse a front-page story, it becomes something of commonplace among loyal Catholics to point out that sexual abuse is at least equally common among Protestant pastors and married rabbis and agnostic soccer coaches; yet, the failings of non-celibates receive comparatively little attention.  It’s right, of course, to decry selective reporting on the failures of Catholic celibates.  Yet, for all the prejudices that the Times may harbor, it seems to be responding largely to market forces.  Stories of clerical abuse, for instance, almost always become the most accessed and e-mailed articles of the day.  And though the seemingly endless parade of disgraced priests is not a little discouraging, it also reminds me that the world is strangely interested in the lives of celibates.  Reading chunks of Charles Taylor’s A Secular Age has, moreover, given me a better language for explaining why. Read the rest of this entry »