There have been scandals involving Boy Scout leaders, teachers, athletic coaches, psychiatrists, and other counselors. But no profession had the easy access on a basis of trust that a priest enjoyed until recently. He was presumed to be disciplined by his code of sexual abstinence. He did not just help a boy at camp or in the gym but had the whole care of the child's soul as his province. He was not just a technician of one particular skill, but a man set apart from others by a spiritual mission, with important roles to play in church, at school, in homes, and in various kinds of Catholic activities. There was no obvious way to delimit his activities. (One does not normally invite the athletic coach over for dinner, nor do one's children go to his home.) Parents - especially devout Catholics - relied on the priests, and the priests recognized targets of opportunity
This sounds reasonable, but if you think about it long enough, it's really not. Why? There's been plenty of sexual abuse in Protestant denominations and in Judaism - of all kinds, and the reasons parents trust their children with those ministers, youth ministers, music directors and Sunday School teachers has nothing to do with celibacy. It has to do with a trust that if the person is working with youth in a church setting they must be essentially moral people, who have nothing but the good of the child at heart.
And although good people of faith differ, I really would recommend to you the way in which Wills assesses the effect of a celibate culture on the second page of this article. There is much truth in what he says, truth that you really only know if you've ever seen how all of this works from up close:
This puts priests in a situation of mutual blackmail. A gay bishop who is innocent of pedophilia may be hesitant to push for punishment of a fellow priest if that could expose him and his own partners to unwanted scrutiny. The gays can rightly say that church authorities have been very protective in the past of priests having affairs, long-standing or briefly exploitative, with women. Speaking to this subject at a 1972 synod of bishops in Rome, Cardinal Franjo Seper, the former head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, said, "I am not at all optimistic that celibacy is being observed."
Given this weave of mutual vulnerabilities in the "celibate" priesthood and the perceived duty to maintain a comparatively holy aura around their work, it is no wonder that bishops are anxious to look the other way or to make others do so. The whole celibacy structure is really a house of cards, and honesty about any one problem can make the structure of pretense come toppling down. The priesthood itself has become an esoteric school of pretense. Treating pedophilia as a separate problem is impossible, since it thrives by its place in a compromised network of evasions.
I'm not willing, as I said, to go the whole way with Wills on this. The issue of the culture produced by mandatory celibacy is important, but in a way it's a diversion. We have to deal with what we have at the moment and where we are.