A.W. Richard Sipe is devoted full time to research into the sexual and celibate practices of Roman Catholic bishops and priests. That path now leads him to the study of the sexual teaching of the church and its effects on behavior - especially sexual abuse of minors by clergy - and the tangle of sexual problems that some people claim are blocking every religious agenda and destroying beyond repair the credibility of the Catholic Church in sexual matters. He has spent his life searching for the origins, meanings, and dynamics of religious celibacy. His six books including his now classic A Secret World and Celibacy in Crisis explore various aspects of the questions about the pattern and practice of religious celibacy. He spent 18 years serving the Church as a Benedictine monk and Catholic priest. In those capacities he was trained to deal with the mental health problems of priests. He and Marianne have been married since 1970 and have one son. Both as a priest and married man he has practiced psychotherapy, taught on the faculties of Major Catholic Seminaries and colleges, lectured in medical schools, and served as a consultant and expert witness in both civil and criminal cases involving the sexual abuse of minors by Catholic priests.
The Sipe's own spirituality has deep roots. Sipe was born Walter Richard Sipe on Dec. 11, 1932, in Robbinsdale, Minn., a farming town of 5000 within the shadow of Minneapolis. He had an upbringing that he jokes could have been a chapter of a Sinclair Lewis novel: The dominant values were Republicanism and pro-business; life centered around school and the church; and Main Street was two blocks long and full of stores. Sipe's father owned several gas stations.
The family was devoutly Catholic, and Sipe admired the enthusiastic young monks who came down to do parish work from St. John's Abbey in Collegeville, 80 miles away. "I was pious, I was intellectually inclined, I think I needed community support," Sipe says. "You know, if you're one of 10 kids, how do you make your mark?"
Sipe has no professional sympathy for the cardinals and bishops and other ranking church officials who cover up their crimes. "Some of them are so terrible," Sipe says. "I mean the plain lying that I've seen, bishop after bishop saying, 'No, this was never true. I don't know anything. I can't remember anything.' And sometimes the bishop just smiles. One bishop said, 'I only lie when I have to.' "
A.W. RICHARD SIPE is a Certified Clinical Mental Health Counselor who earlier spent 18 years as a Benedictine monk and priest. He was trained specifically to deal with the mental health problems of Roman Catholic Priests. In the process of training and therapy, he conducted a 25-year ethnographic study of the celibate/sexual behavior of that population. His study, published in 1990, is now considered a classic. Sipe is known internationally and has participated in 12 documentaries on celibacy and priest sexual abuse aired by HBO, BBC, and other networks in the United States, United Kingdom, and France. He has been widely interviewed by media including CNN, ABC, NBC, CNBC, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, People magazine, Newsweek and USA Today. Sipe lives with his wife in La Jolla, CA.