The Vatican has strongly denied that its celibacy requirement is the root of the sex abuse scandal convulsing the church in Europe and has again defended Pope Benedict XVI's handling of the crisis.
An article in Sunday's editions of the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano shot down suggestions that the celibate priesthood was to blame for the "deviant behavior" of a small number of clerics.
Echoing comments from top clerics all week, the newspaper noted that study after study had shown no link between celibacy and a tendency to abuse minors.
The article also defended Benedict as a "vigilant shepherd of his flock" in confronting the crisis decisively early on, in denouncing the "filth" in the priesthood and in taking charge of abuse cases himself.
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