Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Bashing the Bishops

Following, the recently disgraced, Cardinal Keith O'Brien's suggestion that the church reconsiders its position on celibacy, the BBC has turned its hand to the issue.

Their article discusses the consequences of celibacy for males and links to a report linking celibacy with a higher rate of prostate cancer.

The Beeb couldn't have found a better named spokesman for the church, than Father Wang.  Father Wang (honestly - check the link) explained that the Catholic church believes that being celibate includes refraining from masturbation.  He does not see this as a problem for priests and those of faith.

If Father Wang is correct and priests are practising abstinence, then it is logical that we should expect to see an above average rate of prostrate cancer in Catholic priests.

Not holding much hope of finding statistics on such a niche topic, I was pleasantly surprised to find on Pubmed a paper titled "Prostate cancer mortality among Catholic priests".

Did the paper show a higher rate of prostate cancer amongst priests?  No, it didn't.  In fact, compared to the general population of non-abstaining males, there was a much lower rate - nearly half - amongst "celibate" priests.

"Celibacy is a sacrifice that many priests manage" says Wang. The evidence suggests, as we found with Cardinal O'Brien, what Catholic clergy say publicly, is very different to what they get up to in private.