In "Theologians at the United Nations" (Commentary, Feb. 7), Wesley Pruden seems to suggest that suppression of "the most compelling of natural human instincts," (i.e., priestly celibacy) has been the primary cause of sex abuse by Catholic clergy.
There is now a substantial body of literature on the subject, including and especially the research study performed by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice at City University of New York in 2004, commissioned by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
The study was based on the profile of more than 10,500 individuals making allegations of abuse spanning the period of 1950 to 2002.
The data from the study suggests that, considering the profile of the alleged victims and the prevalence of sex abuse in various situations in society at large, the primary cause of the problem has not been natural instincts, but rather disturbing, aberrant inclinations on the part of perpetrators of child-sex abuse.
Allowing clergy to marry is likely to have little effect on such inclinations.