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Priests to stress the celibate life

Clergy to draw up guidelines to steer them away from sexual temptation

Ignatius Philo Sarto, Kolkata

June 13, 2011

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Priests working in the east of the country have decided to formulate “healthy boundaries” so that they can lead a meaningful celibate life. About 35 priests from 20 dioceses in Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa and West Bengal reflected on a workshop entitled Response to Priestly Challenges Today with Reference to Celibate Life. The June 7-10 workshop in Barasat, near Kolkata, suggested each diocese and region draw guidelines for priests. The the Latin rite's bishops' conference is organizing similar workshops all over India. Father G Arulraj, executive secretary of the conference's commission for family, said the workshops aim to educate priests on cases of sexual abuse and pedophilia among the clergy that have been reported worldwide. Father Johnny Nedungatt, the workshop organizer, noted that priests in parishes and schools interact with vulnerable people and there were cases of “boundary violations” with regard to sexual behavior. “Priests have the primary responsibility to keep within boundaries even if the other person tries to seduce him,” the Salesian priest said citing various cases. Father Nedungatt, who has counseled priests and nuns for the past 20 years, asked participants to view their celibacy as God’s gift and that they should use it to serve those in their care. As practical steps, the participants decided not to receive women visitors and children in presbyteries at night. Another suggestion was not to allow women and children into priest’s bedroom. Father John Mohandas, vicar-general of Calcutta archdiocese, wants priests to meet those coming for counseling in a room less enclosed and private. If necessary, the room should have a glass door so others can see in without overhearing the confidential conversation, he said. Father James Amakatt of Buxar diocese said Bihar and Jharkhand dioceses would have guidelines ready by August. Related report IS CELIBACY OUTMODED TODAY?
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