[This is another entry in a continuing series of profiles about individuals whom the mainstream media often cites in its coverage of the Catholic Church abuse narrative.]
When the media needs a reliable voice to bludgeon the Catholic Church over the issue of sex abuse from decades ago, one of its favorite voices is Richard Sipe, an 80-year-old ex-priest and mental health counselor.
What the mainstream media never reports, however, is Sipe's troubling track record of falsehoods, distortions, and nastiness. As is frequently the case with other purported experts cited by the media, Sipe uses the issue of clergy sex abuse as a means to advance his attack on the Catholic Church, especially its teachings regarding human sexuality.
Priest celibacy caused the Holocaust?!
To understand how disdainful Sipe can be of the Church and its teachings, especially those related to sexuality and priest celibacy, one can simply look to his 1995 book, Sex, Priests, And Power: Anatomy Of A Crisis.
In his book, Sipe actually claims the Church's so-called "celibate/sexual power system" was a root cause of the Nazi Holocaust. One must read it to believe it:
"The most frightening aspect of analyzing the the structure of the celibate/sexual power system is to realize how it was determined by banal sexual impulses which women are the objects of domination …
"When I substitute 'Jew' or 'homosexual' for 'woman' in the schema, I am struck with how everything fits with Nazi theory and practice … Numerous parallels with the celibate/sexual power system make it chillingly familiar and and force us to acknowledge that they both, system and power, spring from the same human impulses. I cannot forget that the people and forces that generated Nazism and the Holocaust were all products of one Christian culture and the celibate/sexual power system." (pp. 179-180)
Hundreds of popes murdered?!
However, Sipe's wild theories about the Holocaust should not be a surprise considering some other public statements that the bitter ex-priest has made. In a 2010 feature about Pope Benedict, Sipe actually claimed to ABC News that "several hundred [popes] have been murdered" in the Catholic Church's 2000-year history.
It is a bizarre assertion, indeed, considering the fact that there have only been about 266 popes since the Catholic Church's foundation.
Nastiness replacing factsSipe's frequent media appearances are rife with inflammatory rhetoric that neither advances the discussion about protecting children from abuse nor provides any concrete support for past victims.
For example, in his appearance in HBO's fact-challenged documentary Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God, Sipe claimed he has "great respect" for the Catholic Church, but then in the very next breath he actually asserted that the Church knowingly and intentionally "selects, cultivates, protects, defends, and produces sexual abusers."
One wonders who on earth could possibly "respect" an organization that would target children to be used as sex objects. Yet Sipe appears to want to give off an air of credibility by claiming "respect" for the Church so he can advance his wild theories and claims about the Catholic Church and its teachings.
Dissent upon dissent
Sipe erroneously blames the requirement of priestly celibacy as a root cause of the sexual abuse committed by Catholic priests many decades ago. (Yet even though Sipe got married in the very same year that he petitioned for his exit from the priesthood, he has said that the celibacy requirement was "relatively easy" for him. Go figure.)
However, the most reliable studies reveal that Catholic priests have never offended at a rate higher than clerics of other religious denominations – including those where celibacy is not a requirement – and have actually abused at a rate far lower than that of men of the general population. [See TheMediaReport.com's "Fast Facts"]
And Sipe would surely be hard pressed to explain the rampant and ongoing child sex abuse happening today in our nation's public schools, where celibacy is obviously not a requirement among teachers.
Indeed, a 2004 U.S. Department of Education report revealed that "the most accurate data available" reveals that "nearly 9.6 percent of [public school] students are targets of educator sexual misconduct sometime during their school career," prompting the author of the study to later opine, "[T]hink the Catholic Church has a problem? The physical sexual abuse of students in schools is likely more than 100 times the abuse by priests."