The desire to have sex with children is not born of sexual frustration, says Dr Marcella McCarthy. The problem is one of institutional self-protection, says Colin Armstrong. There is one simple practical step the Vatican could take, says Stephen Barber

Jane Harding (Letters, 21 February) may well be right in thinking that the principle of clerical celibacy should be re-examined. However, she makes a serious mistake in saying that were this done “some abuse might be avoided”. Let us clearly see abusers for what they are. The desire to have sex with children is not born of sexual frustration, and to imply this fails to recognise the reasons why abusers might become priests.

The Catholic church, like other organisations such as schools, sports clubs and the BBC, has proved attractive to paedophiles because it has enabled them to have contact with children in a way that avoids suspicion as to their real motives, and allows them to avoid detection. The church, in common with these other organisations, now has a serious duty to secure its safeguarding practice so as to avoid this ever happening again.

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Read More Celibacy and sexual abuse in the Catholic church – there is no link | Letters

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