Peter and IrishHermit,
I would prefer to think that sex abuse in the Catholic church was extremely low and never tolerated, and that it was no higher than in any other mainstream church.
Maybe I am persuaded by media and popular perceptions, but where would a popular perception about abuse in particular come from? It seems to me that the filter system of forcing people with healthy sexuality to make a choice of raising a family or joining the clergy- while others do not have this choice- is a significant explanation. I understand I have not statistically proved that it is the explanation, it just seems like a good one to me. Not sure how I can explain it better, it is just an argument from logic.
I reject that the Catholic Church wants kids to be abused, so it seems to me an unintentional result of this filter system.
To recap, I would prefer for the scandal to be extremely low and no higher than in other mainstream churches. If it is real, then the most likely cause to me seems the filter system, rather than any desire by the church to hurt kids.
Further, I would agree with you, if you say so, that the decision to allow married clergy should not just be based on "the most obvious means necessary" to prevent abuse. Rather there should be use of the doctrinal justifications you mentioned for allowing clergy to marry. Perhaps stronger safeguards could be used that would prevent abuse while maintaining the celibacy requirement. Nevertheless, doctrinal justifications combined with practical needs seem to encourage allowing married clergy.