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Celibacy to blame for some priest abuse, says report

"Obligatory celibacy may also have contributed to abuse in some circumstances," the church's Truth Justice and Healing Council report said.

The report was discussing issues that had been revealed during Australia's ongoing Royal Commission into institutional abuse.

Celibacy was only one line in the 40 page document but the Church has pledged to increase its screening for potential priests to ensure they can comply with the rules.

Francis Sullivan, one of those who wrote the report, said prospective priests "need to be given the skills and the support to make good decisions around that [celibacy]."

But he told The Guardian the report was not a step towards ending the policy of celibacy for priests: "There would be a long way to go before that conversation would be had and it would be beyond our brief anyway."

He said celibacy was not a problem for the vast majority of priests: "Many people in the world, either by choice or by circumstance, will have celibate lives - that's just how life is."

Last year the Archbishop of Melbourne, Denis Hart, defended the vow, telling the royal commission celibacy was 'very worthwhile' and 'a very high ideal'.

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