Secret adult male and female sexual relationships with priests have left some with ‘horrendous’ consequences

Joanne McCarthy
Editors Pick


Women and men in secret sexual interactions with Catholic priests are being asked to say ‘Me, too’

A WOMAN groomed for sex by the head of a Catholic order said it is time for women and men in abusive and exploitative sexual relationships with clergy to speak up in their own “Me Too” campaign as the Catholic Church deals with challenges to mandatory celibacy.

“Celibate priests, it’s a sham,” said the woman from a devout family who was in her 20s when Discalced Carmelite head Father John Venard Smith* requested she “pleasure” him while he “reverenced” her body during spiritual sessions at the order’s Varroville priory.

The late Father Smith was in his 70s when he singled her out for attention as she trained to join the Carmelite secular order in the early 1990s, when she believed Carmelite priests were “about as close to heaven as you’re going to get”.
“I was a sitting duck,” she said.

I was a sitting duck.

Woman from devout Catholic family in a sexual relationship with a priest

The Catholic Church had to take responsibility for clergy who preyed on vulnerable adult male and female victims as it had been forced to acknowledge child sex victims, the woman who wanted to be known as Ann said.

“He put his arms around me. He held me. Then he asked ‘Is this how you would like to pray to God?’. He knew I was married. Women don’t want to talk about this because they’re ashamed, they’re scared they won’t be believed and they blame themselves, but God knows how many other women he’d been doing that with,” Ann said.

She came forward as the National Council of Priests of Australia confirmed its support for optional celibacy and married priests after the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse found mandatory celibacy was an “unattainable ideal” for some priests which contributed to a “culture of secrecy and hypocrisy” in the church.


(this is just a photo of priests, it does not mean they are involved in what this story describes)

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