Friday, November 17, 2006
Antibiotics are out of the question...
The Pope Lays Down the Law on Celibacy
Pope Benedict XVI believes Catholicism is growing sick in its historic birthplace of Western Europe, where a shortage of priests is both a symptom and an aggravating condition. But the 79-year-old pope made clear Thursday that he does not think opening up the Church to a married priesthood is the cure. After a roundtable with top Roman Curia cardinals to discuss the case of renegade Zambian archbishop Emanuel Milingo, who was excommunicated in September for having ordained four married men, the Vatican publicly reaffirmed "the value of the choice of priestly celibacy."

My own personal history with The Catholic Church

I was baptized into the Catholic faith at birth, at the age of 2 1/2 months I was christened a second time by my newly adopted parents. My (adopted) mother had been deeply religious previous to her marriage, and during the 7 years she was married to my father. When they divorced (I was 3) my mother was approached by her priest who informed her that it was her "duty" to seek an annulment. My mother, having little funds at the time was also informed that a substantial "donation" was expected for this "service". I do not recall the exact amount, but it was somewhere around $1000. (unbelievable right?) and as a result my mother stopped attending Mass regularly (for the first time in her life). Her faith was still strong however.
I was forced to attend Catechism and make my First Communion. Later, I was enrolled (once again by my willful mother) in CCD and successfully made made Confirmation. It is strange that during the process she never pressured me to attend Mass with any sort of regularity (and I didn't), it was almost as if going through these "motions" gave her some sort of satisfaction which I cannot to this day appreciate.

My father and I Mount Carmel Church
Springfield, MA.
My First communion

My Aunt Linda & I
Our Lady of The Lake Church
My Confirmation
I am not sure what my mother expected to accomplish, apart from believing that since my natural mother was catholic, and had given me up to Catholic Charities it was her obligation to see me through those two sacraments. Imagine her chagrin when I married my Episcopalian ex-wife in her own church (by a woman minister no less) ne'er a Catholic Priest in sight. I had never fully embraced The Church, although on the instigation of my mother (yet again) both of my sons were baptized in a Catholic Church (which I "joined" for that sole purpose). My ex-wife wasn't so pleased, and needless to say never "converted" but went along in any case, even after a priest pulled ME aside DURING the baptism of my elder son and notified me that my son was illegitimate in the eyes of The Church since we were not married by a Catholic Priest. I mean can you imagine? AT the Christening, in front of my entire family? It was expected of course (here comes another donation "suggestion") that we have the union blessed. As with my ex-wife's conversion, this was not to happen. We were going through these motions strictly for my mother, who explained the parent with the stronger faith (which I suppose technically was me, albeit indicating little) should bring the child into their own church. She would sleep well knowing my sons would not enter purgatory and could now pass on to behold the light of St. Peter should something happen. (This is what mom explained to me, and you would think, after all those years of Catechism and CCD I should have known this, go figure!)
Do not misunderstand, while I may not particularly care for the Catholic Church (it's overly materialistic and rigid immovable adherence to archaic "rules" and "ceremony" not to mention of course its repeated "turning of the other cheek" to what has become a stain on it's priesthood which it shall (in my opinion) never recover from, have served to alienate me from it) I am certainly not an atheist, and have a very strong Christian faith, however I will be damned to hell before I let them dictate with exact conditions and consequences just how that faith is defined and the ways in which I must "prove" this along archaic and outdated uncompromising dogma.
but I digress..
Back to Pope Benedict's statement
I found this site interesting...
It is a list of 40 Priests in The Springfield, Massachusetts Diocese (4 of which I have served under in the capacity of parishioner (thank god Mom didn't try to push me into becoming an Alter boy, because two of these Priests would have been "supervising" me directly).
I address this suggestion to His Holiness...
Perhaps you should consider the possibility that your rigid refusal to allow Priests to wed might actually be the "cause" of the "sickness" about which you speak as opposed to the "cure", while some of you may say "but isn't that the same thing?" and in that case I would ask you to consider my statement a bit longer, and perhaps let your eyes drift up two lines.
There is of course a single question to consider...

Does the Catholic Church's rigid stance against the marriage of it's Priests create an atmosphere condusive to the sort of sexual abuse which has been exposed at an alarming rate in recent decades? I am not convinced, and a part of me (as a Gay male) feels uneasy even considering the idea, what are your thoughts??

Blogger steve'swhirlyworld said...
I, too, was raised VERY Catholic, and I'm now in a recovery program ;0) My brother is a Deacon, and his job is to coordiate the Deaconate program in his area. I often ask how many Priests vs Deacons are being's about a 1-10 ratio, if not more. For those who do not know, Deacons can be married and have families - they serve in pretty much the same capacity as a priest, but have a few functions that they cannot perform(listening to confession and doing mass w/out a priest present). The church may be dragging their feet on this necessary change, but the lack of interested men wanting to become priests will change it for them.
To answer your question, it's difficult to say if there is a corrilation there...I don't think it's healthy to not have a sexual relationship with another adult - I think that's why so many priests focus on food and liquor...not natural.

Blogger Lemuel said...
Hi Persian! I've seen you around, but had never visited your blog. "Ah'l be bahk." [The Persian shudders.]

Seriously... I was raised in a pietistic Protestant home. Without a diatribe on that, I would just comment that your post was very interesting because you confirm much of what my parents told me about the Roman Catholic practices in our PA community.

My opinion would be similar to yours. Among other things, I do believe that the pressure for mandatory celibacy has created the very atmosphere of pedophilia, adultery, alcholism (as Steve mentions), etc. that is destructive not only to the institutional church but also to people of genuine faith, let alone the priests themselves. I am sure that there are many persons out there who are caring persons of genuine faith who would have made excellent priests and pastors but who said "no way!" and decided to it was "better to marry instead of burn" (St. Paul).

I think on the Protestant side, the prohibition of gays serving as clergy is going to have a similar result. I know of a couple of my blogger friends who are in this category. Churches have lost good pastors because of their narrow reading of the faith. In the words of J. B. Phillips (translator of scripture and theologian), "your God is too small".

Blogger Polt said...
Honestly, I don't really have an opinion on this. Which is weird cause I have an opinion on practically EVERYTHING. ;)

I was raised Protestant, and didn't even go inside a Catholic church until last year, to attend a wedding.

I'll leave this discussion up to the other Catholics among your readers.

I am, however, quite sorry to see you take the HNT down...I thought it was quite hot. :)


Blogger john said...
I don't feel sexual abuse is justified for any reason--whether it because a person can't be married or for whatever reason they may give. However, abuse goes on everywhere and I think because of the institution of religion, more focus has been drawn to the downfalls.
I do however feel that many people are turned off to becoming a priest because of the fact they can't have a family or get married. I can understand the Catholic's viewpoint (I was raised strict Roman Catholic). The reason they give is that a priest's life must be dedicated to God, without distractions. While I understand the reasoning, I don't exactly accept it. I believe a person can be just as dedicated to God alone or with a family. I think that having a family and raising them Christian would be ultimate gift to God.
I'm still a practicing Catholic. Yes, there are many things which I disagree , but that's to be found in any organization. One of my biggest struggles has been understanding why homosexuality isn't accepted--because I firmly believe that we are born this way, that God made us this way. And also excommunication for divorced persons. Somehow they have to examine the reason for divorce and to take in someone who is alone.
Yikes, my comment has become somewhat of a post.Sorry for blubbering.

Blogger patti_cake said...
I'm a non-practicing Episcopalian. Pope Benedict just gives me the creeps. I always like JPII though

I think the whole catholic culture of "despising the body" in order to gain salvation for the soul is conducive to all kinds of horror, from self flagellation to diddling children.
There's actually a rationale:get them communion, and they'l go to heaven, so it doesn't really matter what happens to their body.

It's a perversion of healthy spirituality, and it has damaged many people.

Pope Ratzo is a very sick and dangerous man. His last job was Head of the Inquisition, where he ruined many, many lives ovefr the last 25 years or so.

Blogger Doug said...
In my biased, non-religious opinion, the restrictions the church places on its priests and its members will be the downfall of the church. People are most healthy when they can experience all parts of being human, and denying or repressing parts of that experience creates a tension that some (if not most) cannot endure. It is unrealistic to deny priests the ability to marry and have children, and then expect them to counsel married people who have kids.

Blogger Jason said...
You look really handsome next to Aunt Linda.

Blogger Will said...
I was raised strictly Catholic (including all 12 years of Catholic school) and couldn't WAIT to ditch it. That took longer than expected--the scars still showed for quite a while.

We were taught that a married ministry (of course they always referred to it--meaning Protestants and Jews--belittlingly) was inefficient because the priest would have distractions from being part of a family instead of devoting himself completely to being a priest. The massive Catholic paranoia about sex (unless it meant popping little boys in the rectory) wasn't ever mentioned, except to say that sex was only permissible when it was for procreation and then without pleasure, or that the PERFECT marriage was one in which there was love but no sex.

Those people were just so completely sick.

Blogger TigerYogi said...
Not that I really care, because I'm no friend of the Catholic church, but, Pope Nazi had better wake up and smell the coffee if he wants the Catholic Church to survive past the 21st century.

If an institution doesn't change, it dies. The shortage of priests should be a wakeup call to him...

Blogger Phoenixboi said...
As an italian who was raised a Roman Catholic I always as a kid found comfort in the Church. Right up until I became an alter boy or what i now call.."an altered boy" and experienced constant sexual abuse by the priest in the actual church. This later continued into High School where the priests saw fit to innapropriately touch me. SO saying this I have lost all faith in the "institution" of the Catholic Church and instead found my own spirituality.

I honestly believe all religions have a purpose up to a certain point in an individuals life, but there has to come a time where the person as an individual realises they need no intercesor between themselves and their God, in whatever form they choose to have a relationship.

Religions are there as an initial guide. Beyond that they become an institution whereby they indoctrinate and keep people in fear in order that they are the only ones who can "save" them. (sounds like the government).. But Spirituality is upto an individual to foster and acknowledge their place in creation.

Saying all this.. what does it matter if someone is married or not? The laws which govern all this are based on the temptations of man, and sex beyond procreation being an "evil" in the eyes of the church is the main issue here. Sex = Shame = Guilt which all leads to punishment. Again all part of the fear and indoctrination of all Religions.

Blogger steve'swhirlyworld said... have created quite the stir :)

Blogger Jeepy said...
I agree with you, that priests should be allowed to wed.

I was brought up catholic by a very religious catholic family. I do not believe in all the views of the catholic church, but I still attend mass for certain family events. I do this mostly out of respect for my mother and family.

Jeepy :)

Blogger Kalvin said...
I had not idea that you were a strong Christian. This is just a problem of religions and their constant battle to be "the only true church". Oh well. I think the restriction on marriage is ridiculous especially if one looks at the bible in its historical context.

Blogger Scott E D said...
Lemuel I am a bit confused about how you can say that pedophilia is a product of a vow of celibacy. You aren’t turned into pedophile because you’ve chosen a life that requires you to be celibate, you either are one or you aren’t. If what you said was true all priests would be pedophiles and they certainly aren’t.

Trigeryogi the current pope that you are referring was a member of the Nazi Youth as child. It was required by the Nazi government however he was not a member of the Nazi party as an adult. So calling him a Nazi is both erroneous and unfair. Heavy on the chai with none of the sympathy as usual, I see.

Time did a great article on the abuse in the church on 2002. One of the things that the article pointed out was most of the men who entered the priesthood were young and immature. They didn’t have any idea of their own sexuality or if they did and were gay they chose to be in a place that was safe for them. If they took a vow of celibacy so they didn’t need to face their own sexual identity. As we all know this didn’t work out so well for them.

The article also said that because most of the victims of the abuse were past the age of puberty the pretests weren’t pedophiles in the traditional sense. Most pedophiles are attracted to prepubescent children. I couldn’t find a link to the article, sorry.

About priest’s being married, remember the Catholic Church still forbids birth control. So not only is there the issue of priest being distracted by having a family there is also the financial burden that comes into play. If a priest were to die young and leave behind a large family they didn’t want those families to become a burden for the church. Priest usually live on a very modest stipend as do nuns, it’s not enough to raise a family on.

There is a great English movie called Priest. If you haven’t seen it I suggest renting it. It’s a young gay priest’s struggle with his homosexuality. It also talks about some of the issues you’ve brought up.

The thing about all of this I don’t understand is why the Catholic Church in the US hasn’t broken ties with Rome. Very few American Catholics have any idea about the doctrine in their own religions and don’t follow it. It’s like when you hear a woman say she won’t get an abortion because she is Catholic, but got pregnant by having premarital sex.

Blogger Scott E D said...
Phoenixboi, I'm so sorry for what happened to you. I hope that who ever did it to you was brought to justice in a criminal court.

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