Friday, August 27, 2004

Via Rebecca at Journey to Vatican III:

Commonweal article about priest who is not so hot on celibacy after a lifetime of the celibate life.

Now at age eighty-three, after fifty-nine years of a happy and exciting priesthood, my early questioning of celibacy has been confirmed. Rather than an enhancement, celibacy has been more of a distraction. Unmarried, the priest ideally can give more of himself and his time to ministry, but it does not always work out that way. Compensations easily insinuate themselves-golf, tennis, bridge, social activities, hobbies-and make disproportionate demands on the time and energy said to derive from celibacy. Without a high-octane spiritual life, other less acceptable activities can come into play: drinking, race tracks, casinos. As a form of asceticism, celibacy’s heroic demands are more at home with a hermit in the desert or a monk in a monastery than with a priest ministering in today’s highly charged sexual atmosphere.

The celibacy issue is another one of those that the hierarchy is going to have to get honest about. The issue has become a conservative v liberal, orthodoxy v unorthodoxy issue that no one can raise it as a discussion issue anymore. Mandatory celibacy is simply unnatural and counterproductive IMHO. I'm not against the celibate priesthood or even mandating it, all I say is be honest-don't inflate the celibate life, don't make it superior, don't demean married life, just take celibacy for what it is.

The hierarchy, the celibate ones in power, have sought to justify their "celibate" lifestyle choices and have consequently proclaimed their lifestyle the superior. That's natural, after all, what are they going to say, "celibacy is bad for you?"

An interesting point in the article was the priest's acknowledgement that the hierarchy has proclaimed priests as ontologically superior. I have seen in a document somewhere by either the Vatican or US Bishops, that the priest is the prime example of God's love in the world! Yikes! And we have JPII who has said that celibacy belongs to the "very logic" of the priesthood--interpretation-I cannot make celibacy, a discipline, dogma because I'll be called out on it, but what I can do is make it as close to dogma as possible.

When you have celibate priests, whose natural inclination is justify their choices in life, determining the value of celibacy v married life, the inevitable conclusion is, celibacy is superior to non-celibacy, after all sex is evil, bad, dirty, and for the weak. Any reasonable person would have to honestly assess the quality of these proclamations by the hierarchy on celibacy. If the Church's position is not driven by the self interests of the celibate men in charge, then I can't see what other motive drives the Church's celibacy stance.

Bottomline: Simply say, "We CHOOSE to make celibacy mandatory because we hope it makes for better priest." Don't lie and say, "We mandate celibacy because we know it is the superior way of life." It isn't.


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