You are on page 1of 22

THE HISTORY OF CELIBACY IN THE CATHOLIC CHURCH

According to A.W. Richard Sipe, the concept that the oferers of a sacrifce
should remain untainted by sexual encounters goes back to ancient
civiliations. !e provides such examples as the yello"#capped $amas of
%ibet, the ascetic hermits of &gypt, the virgin priestesses of %hebes, the
Astorte cult of Syria, the primitive "orshipers of 'odona, the (estal (irgins
of ancient Rome, and the temple priests of the Atecs. )page *+,
'avid Rice presents a comprehensive historical look at celibacy in his book
about resigned priests entitled, Shattered (o"s. Rice credits -atholic
theologian &d"ard Schillebeeckx in %he -hurch "ith a !uman .ace "ith
asserting that clerical celibacy originated in /a partly pagan notion of ritual
purity,/ as Sipe indicates "ith the aforementioned examples. At the -ouncil
of 0icaea in *1+, a proposal to re2uire celibacy for all priests "as defeated
and at the -ouncil of %rullo in 341, marriage rights for priests "ere
reasserted. )Rice page 535.,
Schillebeeckx says that, frst in the fourth century came a la" that forbade a
married priest from having sexual intercourse the night before celebrating
the &ucharist. !o"ever, "hen the Western -hurch began celebrating a daily
mass, abstinence became a permanent factor for married priests.
/At the origin of the la" of abstinence, and later the la" of celibacy,/ said
Schillebeeckx, /"e fnd an anti2uated anthropology and ancient vie" of
sexuality./ )ibid, Rice follo"s "ith a 2uotation from St. 6erome "hich
expressed the vie"s of both pagans and -hristians at the time that, /All
sexual intercourse is impure./ )ibid,
7ecause the resulting implication of a priest living "ith his "ife like a
brother led many priests into /deplorable situations,/ in 55*4, the Second
$ateran -ouncil forbade the marriage of priests altogether and declared all
existing marriages involving priests null and void. )ibid,
/8ne does not approach the alter and consecrated vessels "ith soiled
hands,/ had been the pagan vie" and then became the cornerstone for
compulsory -hristian celibacy. )ibid, 8ther not#necessarily concurrent or
chronological developments also contributed to the establishment of the
celibacy re2uirement for catholic priests. 9ore bishops began to be chosen
from the ranks of monks "ho had already taken monastic vo"s of chastity.
Another factor "as an economic development as the -hurch began
ac2uiring his o"n property. According to Rice, there "as a real danger that
legitimate children of priests could inherit and deprive the -hurch of its
land. At the time, common la" prevented illegitimate children from
inheriting property.
:n reality, the 55*4 la" did not enact celibacy but merely changed marriage
into concubinage. Rice 2uotes from a document on celibacy prepared by
church historian !ubert 6edin for the Second (atican -ouncil;
/:t "ould be a mistake to imagine that these permanent concubines,
especially in the countryside, "ould have aroused a lot of scandal,/ said
6edin. /We kno" of many cases "here these <keepers of concubines=
possessed the sympathies of their parishioners and "ere looked upon as
good and virtuous pastors./ )ibid page 531,
0o fner mind than %homas A2uinas )Summa %heologia ::#::a, >>, 55,had
provided stubborn opposition to those "ho sa" celibacy rulings as part of
divine la". %homas contended that the celibacy re2uirement for -atholic
priests "as merely -hurch la" that could be reversed by any time by papal
or conciliar authority. )9ac?regor pages 5@>#5@4,
When the Reformation indirectly brought forth the -ouncil of %rent in the
mid 5+@@=s, the Roman -atholic -hurch reformed itself and remodeled the
priesthood to its present form. 0ot only did the -ouncil reiterate the
-hurch=s prohibition of a married clergy but also instituted reforms to try to
insure the implementation of the decrees of the -hurch on this subAect.
Since the -ouncil of %rent, celibacy has remained -hurch la", specifcally
upheld by Bope Baul (: in his 543C encyclical Sacerdotalis -aelibatus.
'espite opposition from half of the bishops attending the Synod of 54C5,
re2uests from bishops in the Dnited States, .rance, and $atin America in
54>>, Bope 6ohn Baul :: has not budged from his opposition to a married
priesthood.
THE SCRIPTURAL SIDE OF THE ISSUE
According to several authors on the subAect of priestly continence, there are
basically t"o passages in the 0e" %estament that are most often
interpreted as endorsing the celibacy of church leadership. %he frst is
9atthe" 54;51 in "hich 6esus responds to 2uestions from his disciples
about marriage and divorce by saying, /...and there are eunuchs "ho have
made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of !eaven./ )0e"
6erusalem 7ible page E3, :n a comparable informational format in 5
-orinthians C;C, Baul includes in a complex presentation on /marriage and
virginity,/ the statement, /: "ish that all "ere, as : myself am, but each has
his o"n special gift from ?od, one of a kind, one of another./ )ibid page 14C,
%hose are the most often 2uoted passages extracted from the 0e"
%estament in defense of celibacy, but, by and large, they are vie"ed by some
as taken out of a larger context. Although he admits he has has /no
direction from the $ord/ on the subAect of celibacy, St. Baul clearly indicates
that being free from the bonds of matrimony is preferable to being married.
!o"ever, there is a larger context from "hich Baul sees that, /time is
gro"ing short,/ and that /the "orld as "e kno" it is passing a"ay./ :t is
from this timetable, the expectation that the end of the "orld and the
second coming of 6esus "as imminent that Baul recommended that his
follo"ers pray, prepare themselves, and give /undivided attention to the
$ord. )ibid page 14C.,
:n her "ork &unuchs from the Fingdom of !eaven, Dta Ranke#!einemann
also suggests that Baul speaks out against marriage in -orinthians to
facilitate greater availability and for there to be /less interference in turning
ones attention to the $ord./)page *C,
:n Asimov=s ?uide to the 7ible, :saac Asimov states that Baul felt that people
should marry only if theyare tempted to sin out of "edlock. 8ther"ise, they
should prepare for /"orldly matters coming to an end./ )page 55@C,
:n the 6erome 7iblical -ommentary )page 13*, states that Baul does not
trivialie marriage as seen in &phesians +;11#** "here he sings the praises
of marriage, comparing it to the relationship bet"een -hrist and the
-hurch. !o"ever, the 6erome scholars interpret Baul=s intent as pointing out
that /marriage involves spouses in many "orldly cares that can make it
dificult for them to consecrate themselves perfectly and completely to the
$ord=s service./ )page **3,
%he 2uotation from 9atthe" is not al"ays described as an ans"er to a
2uestion about divorce and it is often presented as a Gat endorsement of
celibate life by 6esus. According to A.W. Richard Sipe, St. 6ohn -hrysotom
used 9atthe"=s "ords to Austify his misogyny and his oft#stated outrage
against anyone "ho thought "omen to be "orthy of anything more than
servitude. :t is dificult to understand ho" this man "as ever canonied,
although, granted, he did his much of his stereotyping 53@@ years ago.
)page *@, 7oth Anthony Badavano in Reform and Rene"al, )page EC, and
Dta Ranke#!einemann in &unuchs in the Fingdom of !eaven, )page *C,
agree that there is a clear connection bet"een the discussion about divorce
and marriage and the subse2uent comments, although the disciples are
playing straight men for 6esus "hen they say/...if that is the "ay it is
bet"een husband and "ife it is not advisable to marry./ %he authors also
discount any implied connection bet"een celibacy and the discussion about
those /eunuchs "ho have made themselves that "ay for the sake of the
kingdom of heaven./ She claims that the translation is the result of a
common but "rong interpretation of the ?reek /eunuch/ for /unmarried./
/%he issue here is voluntary renunciation of remarriage )after a divorce, and
the renouncement of adultery and has nothing to do "ith celibacy,/ said
Ranke#!einemann. /%he "hole institution of celibacy is based on the foolish
obAection of the disciples./)in the Scripture passage., )page *C,
6erome 7iblical -ommentary )page 43, suggests that it is indeed 6esus "ho
shifts gears here and speaks in "ays that might be applicable to celibacy.
%he scholastic commentary in 6erome indicates that 6esus is saying that
celibacy can be preferable for some and may be a preferable "ay to
"elcome the reign of ?od.
%he scholars say that, in a larger context, the statement on celibacy may be
associated "ith 9atthe" 54;14 "here further sacrifces such as leaving
one=s home and family behind may be necessary to properly "orship ?od
and not to serve more than one master.
/:f the -hristian vocation can divide families,/ says the 6erome 7iblical
-ommentary, /it can also detach one from founding a family./ ):bid page 43,
Some authors extract Scriptural references and use the "ords to beg the
2uestion of celibacy.
Sipe uses $uke 1*;14 as a possible defense of celibacy. 8n his "ay the
cross, 6esus tells the 'aughters of 6erusalem, /'o not "eep for meH "eep
rather for yourselves and your children. .or the days "ill surely come "hen
people "ill say, <!appy are those "ho are barren, the "ombs that have
never borne, and the breasts that have never suckledI/ )0e" 6erusalem
7ible page 1EC,
/6esus "as ackno"ledging the good fortune of those not burdened "ith a
family,/ said Sipe. 6erome 7iblical -ommentary suggests that the encounter
puts forth a "arning that such a /terrible fate a"aits those in 6erusalem for
their sins and laments that the "ho ever had children "ill sufer so./ )page
E4,
:n $iving Religious (o"s, .ather 6oseph Rayes indicates his belief that
9atthe" +;>, the part of the Sermon on the 9ount "hich says, /!appy are
the pure in heartH they shall see ?od,/ alludes to the .ranciscan philosophy
of not having time for anything but loving ?od. .r. Rayes= vie"s on purity
are found in a chapter on celibacy. )page 1@, :n 6erome=s 7iblical Reference
purity is /manifested principally by speech "hich betrays oneJs thoughts
and desires. %he re"ard of purity of heart is to see ?od./ )page C@,
Sipe 2uotes Schillebeeckx "ho 2uotes 9ark E;55 "hich states that, /%he
secret of the kingdom of ?od is given to you but those "ho are outside,
everything comes in parables./ As in 6esus= "ords about /eunuchs,/ there
are some special, chosen people, not everyone, but those "ho, upon
learning of the /hidden pearl,/ the Fingdom of ?od, become /actually
incapable of marriage,/ because, according to Schillebeeckx, /their heart is
"here their treasure is./ )page *3,
CATHOLIC THINKERS-IN THE CLEAR?
%he 'ictionary of Religion and Bhilosophy, edited by ?eddes 9ac?regor
indicates that the "ord /theology/ originates from the ?reek "ord theos
and logs meaning literally, /?od#discourse,/ or /?od#talk./ :t is traditionally
understood as the /science of divinely revealed truths./ )page 3@4,
9edieval scholars contended that even "ithout divine revelation, from the
Scriptures or from other sources, people could still attain some kno"ledge
of ?od through the use of reason and the natural po"ers of /discoursive
thought./ :n the 9iddle Ages, theology "as treated a branch of philosophy
and fell under "hat "e "ould probably refer to as /$etters, Arts, and
Sciences./
:n the 5>th century, /reason/ became the fashionable feld of study among
educated masses, and /natural theology/ could be vie"ed as a respectable
academic in2uiry, since it did not rely on "hat many thought of as the
superstitious side of religion, and "as seen as being free of traditional
beliefs based upon supposed revelation.
'o"n through the centuries, theology has evolved into several diferent
branches. While the term /natural theology/ is archaic, /philosophical
theology,/ or the /philosophy of religion/ presently represent the same
concepts. /'ogmatic theology/ considers the implications of the 7ible and
other relevatory documents. /!istorical theology/ uses an investigative
approach similar to those delving into political, scientifc, or art history. As
previously implied, philosophical theology does not rely upon any revelatory
documents.
%o get a proper perspective of the frst t"o thousand years of -atholic
theology, various social, historical, political, scientifc conditions should be
taken into careful context. 8ver the years, members of the -atholic
hierarchical magisterium have not al"ays used that context "hen extracting
various theological tenets for canonical incorporation.
%he magesterium cannot be completely faulted for this narro" approach
because there is a very thin line bet"een theological tenets "hich are
sociologically inappropriate but are, at the same time, the product of that
nebulously evasive term /revelation./ :t is dificult for a person "ith any
degree of spiritual and religious a"areness to totally discount a socially
irrelevant canonical la" "hen the Austifcation is said to be /revelation./
%hat facet can thro" relevance out the "indo".
9any canonical la"s from "ithin the -atholic -hurch have, in recent years
been interpreted as being out of step "ith present societal mores. %he
celibacy issue as it relates to -atholic priests is a prime example. 0ot only
do modern critics see the la" as currently helping to literally tear apart the
very fabric of the -atholic priesthood, but there are also those "ho see the
celibacy re2uirement as having originated in an atmosphere that lent
credence to the vie" that both sex and "omen "ere to be avoided under
any circumstances other than procreationH and sometimes even then...
%he "all that is -atholic theology##"hether it be metaphorically constructed
of cinder#block or matchsticks##consists of contributions from a variety of
men and "omen. 9any of those contributions and their survival amongst
the changes "ithin the -atholic canon contributed in turn to some of
present#day moralistic postures maintained by the (atican. :n the second
century A.'., %ertullian "as the frst -atholic theologian to discuss legalistic
concepts of debt and guilt. $ater in that century, 8rigen took passages in
9atthe"s gospel too literally and castrated himself to remain pure.
:n the fourth century, Augustine helped revive many of Blato=s fve#hundred
year#old concepts on the unnatural union of the human body and the soul in
eforts to do"n#play the importance of sensual pleasure. Augustine, "ho
so"ed some "ild oats before he settled do"n to ordinary day#to#day
sainthood, is credited "ith merging his 9anichaeanistic good v. evil
leanings "ith Blato=s "orldvie" to give the -hristian "orld a negative
attitude to"ard the human body specifcally and sex in general.
9uch of the guilt, repression, shame, and frustration sprouted in the
-atholic perception of sex and bodily function can be traced back to
Augustine, not to the Scriptures "hich tell us that the body is a gift from
?od. :n the t"elfth century, Beter Abelard of .rance "as one of the most
famous teachers of his time. !is gift "as conveying to his students the
relationships bet"een logic and dialectics and theological passages. Ket,
Abelard is unfortunately most remembered for betraying his vo"s of
celibacy, impregnating !eloise, a young student of his, and being castrated
by hired thugs in the process. %he painful romance bet"een Abelard and
!eloise is a monument to un#?od#like persecution and hypocrisy that
evolved out of the basic underlying tenet of -atholicism; that sex out of
"edlock and "ithout the intention of procreation "as of the utmost evil.
When one looks at the formation of the -atholic theological canon, as so
logically laid out in the book, -atholic %hinkers in the -lear, by William A.
!err, it is very interesting to note that no one principle or system of
principle has really "ith stood the test of t"o#thousand years of time other
than many of the precepts set do"n for us by 6esus -hrist in the ?ospels.
9ost of the "orks of /other/ theologians Geetingly and fcklingly fell in and
out of Rome=s grace. !o"ever, "hen those vie"s "ere the vogue, there "as
no 2uestion in the (atican=s collective mind that all good -atholic "ould
embrace that particular philosophy or face excommunication, if not "orse
punishment.
A good example of this is the "orks of Aristotle. A fourth century 7.-. ?reek
philosopher, his "orldvie" made a rather unexpected comeback in the
t"elfth and thirteen centuries. :n 515@, the teachings of Aristotle "ere
banned by the -atholic hierarchy. :n 51*@, Aristotle "orks "ere revised to
the satisfaction of the magisterium. 7y 51++, Aristotle=s "orldvie"s "ere
re2uired in the -atholic university syllabus. !o"ever, in 51C@, the 7ishop of
Baris condemned as heretical 5> propositions being taught by Aristotelian
professors, and a student of that school of thought, %homas A2uinas "as
condemned seven years later.
:n 531E, .rench la" stated that anything taught that contradicted Aristotle
"ould be punished by death. %he interesting aspect of this pattern of dogma
is the complete lack of Gexibility or dialogue involved in -atholic theology
as it isL"as vie"ed by the magisterium. %here "as no ability to step back
and look and say; "e=ve Aust overturned last year=s dogmaH is it possible that
there may be more than one solution to our 2uestionJ %he ans"er "as
invariably /no,/ that the -atholic hierarchy kne" best, that -atholic
follo"ers "ere indeed like sheep, innocent children incapable of doing
anything other than follo"ing their dogmatic lead.
.rom Beter Abelard to 9artin $uther to !ans Fung, there have been those
"ill speak out against -atholic dogma but never does one see the (atican
ever ackno"ledge that these rebels may in some small "ay have their
points. When and if the (atican has modifed its vie"s, it is often credited to
some mysterious revelation that causes a re#evaluation but not that their
outspoken critics could ever have been right, that the one accepted given in
their universal "orldvie" is that there are fe" blacks and "hites but a
considerable amount of gray.
MISOGYNY AND THE FEMINIST PERSPECTIVE
:n 544@, ?erman theologian Dta Ranke#!einemann "rote her volatile book
&unuchs for the Fingdom of !eaven )subtitled, /Women, Sexuality, and the
-atholic -hurch./, :t "ould seem appropriate to label 'r. Ranke#!einemann
a feminist, but perhaps calling her a misanthrope might be a bit extreme.
!o"ever, she may rank as one of the "orld=s most devout -hristians since
6esus -hrist is indeed the only male she seems to have nothing but nice
things to say about.
/-atholic moral theology is a folly that invokes ?od and pretends to be
religion,/ she said. /:t has "arped the consciousness of many men and
"omen. :t has burdened them "ith hair#splitting nonsense and striven to
train them as moral acrobats instead of making them more humane and
kinder to their fello" human beings./ )page **E,
%he book Aacket introduces the book as, /...the defnitive study on the
oppression of "omen in Western Society...rom the Apostle Baul to Bope
6ohn Baul ::, the -hurch has designated sex, degraded "omen and
championed a perverse ideal of celibacy./
$ike A.W. Richard Sipe, 'r. Ranke#!einemann contends that the historical
-hurch vie" of sex as being unclear and the imposition of celibacy on the
-atholic clergy virtually assured the need for the mistrust and hatred of
"omen and the temptation they posed to men of ?od attempting to maintain
their vo"s.
/:t is hard to over#estimate the importance of anti#feminism in the formation
of celibate consciousness and priestly development for over t"o centuries
"hen the discipline of celibacy "as being solidifed, from 5E>3 and
on"ard,/ said Sipe.)page 1>,
:n /&unuchs,/ the author continually points to the so#called /-hurch
.athers/ and castigates them for perpetrating the anti#sex, anti#female lies.
She describes Augustine as, /...the man "ho fused -hristianity "ith hatred
of sex and pleasure into asystematic unity./ She 2uotes St. 6ohn -hrysostom
as being convinced that there "as asexual reproduction in Baradise.
Ambrose, the 7ishop of 9ilan is said to have espoused the need for priests
to stop having sex "ith their "ives in the fourth century. )page 5>C,
%he author states that, /...no -hurch .ather talked more contemptuously
about marriage and sex than St. 6erome./ )page5>C, She 2uotes Anselm in
55@> as declaring that the "ives of priests had become property of the
7ishops. )page 55@,
'r.Ranke#!einemann 2uotes Aristotle that "omen are /a kind of Go"er pot
for male=s semen,/ )page 5>C, and she indicates that that idea has lasted for
many centuries. She also provides documentation that Aristotle, Albert, and
%homas all vie"ed "omen as some species of /defective men./ )page 5>C,
:n 54>@, :talian scholar Dmberto &co "rote his frst novel, %he 0ame of the
Rose, in "hich he portrays life in a 5Eth century monastery in scathing
terms. !is "ork is flled "ith ugly, misshapen men, homosexuality,
misogyny, superstition, and varied perversion and dysfunction among men
supposedly devoted to a life flled only "ith love and "ith ?od. 'isturbingly,
the covert motivation for as many as seven deaths in the monastery turns
out to be a sub#plot of censorship and fear of documents that might dilute
the faith of the -hristian "orld, the brand of paranoia that some claim
exists today.
%he follo"ing solilo2uy is found "ithin the plot as protagonist 7rother
William of 7askerville takes his young novice Adso to task for having made
passionate, extemporaneous love to a young peasant girl.
/Adso, you have sinned that is certain, against the commandment that bids
you not to fornicate, and also against your duties as a novice. :n your
defense there is the fact that you found yourself in one of those situations in
"hich even a father in the desert "ould have damned himself. And of
"oman as a source of temptation the Scriptures have already said enough.
&cclesiastes says of "oman that her conversation is like burning fre, and
Broverbs say that she takes possession of man=s precious soul and the
strongest men are ruined by her. And &cclesiastes further says; <And : fnd
more bitter than death the "oman "hose heart is snares and nets, her
hands as bands. And others have said that she is the vessel of the 'evil.
!aving afirmed this, dear Adso, : cannot convince myself that ?od chose to
introduce such a foul being into creation "ithout also endo"ing it "ith
some virtues./ )page *+3,
A 2uotation also from %he 0ame of the Rose stated that, /%he step bet"een
ecstatic vision and sinful freny is all too brief./ )ibid,
Although (atican :: in the 543@=s made some inroads into "omen=s right,
e2uality for all, and the acceptance of a male marriage to a female as being
a divine calling along "ith religious callings, do"n through the centuries,
"oman=s e2uality "as consistently vie"ed as a threat the celibate male
-atholic hierarchy. %he closest thing to an e2ual rights amendment "as
from those "ho liberally interpreted St. Baul=s ?alatians *;1> as declaring
all e2ual in the eyes of ?od.
According to Sipe, ho"ever, most other /-hurch .athers/ "ere hold#outs for
the old order of male superiority. .or example, that old male chauvinist St.
6ohn -hrysotom "as outraged by the idea of "omen being anything but
servants. )page *@,
Said that not#so#saintly 6ohn -hrysotom, /What else is a "oman but a foe to
friendship, an inescapable punishment, a necessary evil, a natural
temptation, a desirable danger, a delectable detriment, an evil of nature,
painted "ith fair colours./ )Sipe page *5,
According to -icero, Seneca, St. 6erome, and St. 6ohn, nearly all the
overthro"n kingdoms in the "orld resulted from treacherous "omen. :n
5E>3, Bope :nnocent (::: sanctioned /Witches !umanea,/ and conse2uently
ingrained the subconscious of most celibates "ith negatives about "omen,
such as the /fact/ that "omen should not be ordained because they cannot
keep secrets and are prone to Aealousy. As the unfortunate title suggests,
"omen "ere accused of being "itches as a matter of course. )Sipe page E+,
Although there are numerous male movements today, such as the attempts
by the American 7ishops to "rite a pastoral on "omen "ithout interference
from Rome, the /olde "orld/ misogynous attitudes to"ards "omen prevail
in too many locations on this planet.
:n terms of female movements today, there is not one so#called /feminist/
efort that can stereo#type the opposition to oppression of "omen in the
"orld. %here are numerous movements of females "ho categorically refuse
to fall into the role of subservience that the -atholic -hurch "ould prefer
for them. %he discussion here is not "hether "omen should be priestsH more
to the point, "e are talking about "omen being treated the "ay -hrist
"ould treat them; as e2uals, "ith love and respect. And that means the
establishment of a concerted efort to teach the value of a celibate life for
religious "ithout any reGection upon the nature of the female species.
:n 8ctober 5441, :rish rock singer Sinead 8=-onnor shocked the "orld by
ripping up a photograph of Bope 6ohn Baul :: on live television, on the
infamous /Saturday 0ight $ive./ %he subse2uent outrage "as almost,
especially noting that 0e" Kork tabloid made it front#page ne"s over a
tragic Aetliner crash in Amsterdam that took hundreds of lives.
%he symbolism in 9s. 8=-onnor=s symbolic act, and her declaring the Bontif
/%he &nemy,/ relates to her opposition to the -hurch=s social stances on
"omen, most specifcally its anti#abortion.
%hat Sinead 8=-onnor is a graduate of a 'ominican#run reform#school, that
she has had t"o abortions in the past t"o years resulting from afairs "ith
married men, that she is kno"n for exhibiting behavior that ranges
some"here bet"een biarre and do"n right anti#social, should not
necessarily be the criteria used to assess "here she is coming from.
She ripped up a photograph. %he photo "as a picture representing a
person, the BopeH that person "ho represents Beter "ho represented
-hrist=s -hurch t"o thousand years ago, and the -hurch "as a
representation of -hrist=s love for humanity. 9s. 8=-onnor=s actions "ere
symbolic, perhaps suggesting that the Bope, like Beter, is not ?od, is not
-hrist and is indeed very human, and must, under no circumstances be
treated "ith the reverence reserved for -hrist or !is .ather.
.or "omen "ho feel oppressed by society and by a -hurch dominated by
male celibates, -hrist "ould understand "here the rage of "omen is
coming from these days and "hy the rage is symbolically transferred to the
Bontif. Women religious are expressing the same kind of rage "ith their
o"n "ritten "ords about the male#dominated -hurch in the doens of such
books published each year.
While their sentiments "ere similar, Sinead 8=-onnor had a diferent
medium and a some"hat diferent message than Sister &liabeth 6ohnson
"ho last year told three#hundred people at the Seminary of the :mmaculate
-onception in $loyd !arbor that -atholic the oppressive policies of the
-hurch to"ard "omen "ill cause female -atholics /to start protesting "ith
their feet,/ in order "ords predicting that "omen "ill continue to leave
-atholicism for beliefs that treat "omen as e2uals.
%here may be some method to the perceived madness of the moraliers in
the (atican. %he po"ers that be in the -atholic -hurch do not in any "ay
shape or form "ant to endorse any social policy that might be interpreted
as encouraging young people or adults, males or females, to take lightly the
responsibilities that go along "ith sexual andLor conAugal intimacy.
%hat means standing frm against birth control "hich indirectly condones
casual sex, "hich "e no" fear more for its contagion that for it sinfulness.
%hat means standing frm against divorce "hich can indeed encourage
partners not to take their marriage vo"s seriously and perpetuate the
current epidemic of frivolous matrimony.
%hat means standing frm against abortion "hich contributes to a global
malaise that suggests that even the most serious mistakes can be corrected
"ith as big an eraser as you can aford to pay.
%he inimitable .ather 9ichael !imes, formerly dean of the $loyd !arbor
seminary, presently a professor on sabbatical from 0otre 'ame, once said,
/7ecause you disagree "ith a certain "ay of thinking, do not believe that
those "ho espouse that vie" are necessarily "icked or stupid. !o"ever,
don=t entirely discount that possibility either./
%here certainly is a tradition of t"o#thousand years of insensitivity to"ard
"omen that the -atholic -hurch "ill not live do"n in our lifetimes.
!o"ever, that insensitivity is not necessarily "ickedly, stupidly, or
conspiratorially targeted to discriminate against "omen. We are more likely
talking about the stolid miscalculations of some unenlightened human
beings "ho have unsuccessfully misinterpreted the teachings of the
.ounder of their -hurch. And, to a certain extent, "e may be talking about
men "ho feel obliged to stand by policies they kno" are totally out of tune
"ith today=s "orld, but out of concern for tomorro"=s "orld, cannot go back
on centuries of -hurch revelatory teachings.
-ritics of the 1+#year old Sinead 8=-onnor "ere not 2uick to 2ualify her
protests in terms of her :rish heritage, not a small contributory factor in her
sociological make#up. 7y many standards, she is very young, and may even
be appropriately considered as one of /6oshua=s -hildren,/ in reference to
6oseph ?iaone=s book on the damage the :rish -ivil War has reeked upon
that nation=s young people.
:n his book :reland; a %errible 7eauty "hich he "rote "ith his "ife 6ill,
noted author $eon Dris presented a magnifcent over#vie" of :reland, it
history, and its demographics. :n a chapter entitled /%he -atholic !ierarchy#
Muestions Replace 7lind 8bedience,/ Dris discusses ho" the propensity of
the :rish to turn#out priests is not an accidental occurrence.
/%he horn of plenty stems from the unparalleled devotion of the people
"hich has made priesthood the highest human calling,/ said Dris. /:rish
sexual appetites are generally lo",/ he continued, /and the "omen are
notoriously unfulflled. Such "omen, "ho have found little or nothing from
sex, see no "rong in urging their sons into a life of celibacy./ )page 1C,
Although he "rote his book "hen Sinead 8=-onnor "as only seven years
old, Dris seemed to ero in on "hat may be at the heart of Sinead
8=-onnors protestations.
/%he root of the "oman=s problem can generally be found in the moral
dictatorship imposed from childhood "hich stiGes,condemns, and riddles
"ith guilt every natural sexual impulse,/ said Dris. /%he -hurch has lately
realied that it has to modify its suppression of normal human behavior, but
this revelation came too late to salvage the "reckage it made in
:reland./)page 1C,
THE MARRIAGE OF SPIRITUALITY
9uch as "e must put legalisms, pronouncements, essays, and traditions in
context "ith the times and places of origin, "e too must look at our o"n
preAudices in similar light. Apart from many of the Aaundiced vie"s from
past centuries to"ard "omen and sex, our generation has great dificulty
obAectively envisioning "hy something as arcane as celibacy could possibly
enhance spirituality and one=s service to ?od.
%he narcissist /9e ?eneration,/ the sexual revolutionH the vicarious sex
portrayed in the media, the arts, advertising, and fashion all have
contributed to the Western World being sexually polaried and preoccupied.
:t is dificult for most people to envision the intentional restraint from
sexual contact for something so nebulous as spirituality.
Speaking of nebulous, %he -loud of Dnkno"ing "as a mystical treatise
"ritten in the 5Eth century by an anonymous young monk. %he love and
devotion in that "ork seeps from each lovingly sculpted phrase. :t is indeed
a love story, a beautiful tale "oven about the romantic relationship bet"een
men and their ?od, and a mystical method of intensifying that afair using
contemplative meditation. %he :mitation of -hrist, believed to be "ritten by
%homas a Fempis in 5E5>, outlines a "ay of life in pursuit of an ultimate
intimacy "ith -hrist and ?od by /imitating/ the life style of 6esus "hile on
he "as on earth. %o either of the authors of these spiritual masterpieces,
continence in the name of ?od most certainly "ould seem as natural as a
setting sun.
:n theory, the goal of -hristian celibacy is the enhancement of love, a "ay of
focusing one=s spiritual beliefs "ithout the distraction that comes "ith an
heterosexual relationship and the subse2uent implications. According to
A.W. Richard Sipe, the celibate removed from sexual activity and
involvement is forced to grapple "ith the transcendental nature of love for
?od and for humanity. %he transcendent reality of love has to be /translated
or activated into proAects or services that transform the man making him a
<man for others=##a man of service to humanity./ )page 31,
As previously stated )an important point that cannot be overstated,
9ahatma ?andhi ackno"ledged that abstinence can be a dificult spiritual
path to follo" and stated that only a love that can match or exceed "hat is
possible "ith sexual love can sustain celibacy for spiritual reasons and for
the validation of beliefs. )Sipe page 3E,
%here are some other more pragmatic reasons that are presented as
arguments against married priests. 9arriage and a family can present
numerous burdens that the single life does not. When the "ord /celibacy/ is
properly used, rarely does it simply refer to abstinence from sex. -elibacy is
a "ay of life, allo"ing a religious to focus on one=s calling "ithout the
economic, political, and social encumbrances of a conAugal partnership. :t is
hard to argue the logic that a priest=s lifeis much more Gexible "ithout
having to attend parent#teacher conferences, to take children to soccer
practice, or to "orry about earning enough money to send any number of
of#spring of to the college of their choice.
'uring the frst 1+ years of his life, %homas 9erton experienced more than
his share of tragedy, pain, and disappointment. Whether or not these
unfortunate events led him to a life as a contemplative monk is open for
debate. 9erton, "ho died an accidental death at a relatively young age in
the 543@=s, speaks of his celibate existence as a monk "ith great reverence
in various of his "ritings, most notably in his biography, %he Seven Storey
9ountain. Ket, there "ere some variables in his life that prevent him from
being the perfect model of a religious celibate.
Brior to his ordination, 9erton fathered a child out of "edlock. 9y studies
have suggested that this is not an uncommon event prior to the modern
advances in birth control, and it appears that it "as not uncommon for
children to be fathered out of "edlock by men "ould had already been
ordained. 9erton=s pre#ordination life seems similar in comparison to that of
St. Augustine, in "hich the saint asked of ?od, /9ake me holy, $ord, but not
yet./
%here are also numerous reports of 9erton=s afair "ith a student nurse.
And 9erton=s activism and lecture tours later in his life "ere not "hat one
might expect of a member of a hermited order. :ncidentally, a flm about the
life of 9erton sho"s flm clips of the ?etsemine, the Fentucky monastery
"here he lived for most of his adult life. A sign Aust outside the perimeter of
the compound states, /Women Who &nter Will 7e &xcommunicated./
%he varying stages of 9erton=s life inspire 2uestions as to "hether or not it
is truly spiritual and truly productive for any man or "oman to devote his or
her complete existence to prayer and ecclesiastic matters. :f 9erton had
not died prematurely, the continuing evolution of his "ork may ultimately
not have served as the model that it is today for those considering a
contemplative monastic order. 9erton=s considerable experiences outside
the monastery undoubtedly contributed to his greatness, although his love
of -hrist and his love for ?od are indisputable.
CELIBACY AS A PROCESS
Andre" ?reeley##priest, novelist, college professor, and sociologist, has
compiled a number of diferent surveys over the years to analye the
relationship bet"een celibacy and the -atholic clergy. :n 54C1, ?reeley took
note of the gro"ing post#(atican :: evolutionary problems "ithin the
priesthood and stated that American priests "ere ordinary men faced "ith
extraordinary ideals and demands. )Sipe page 34,
!e follo"ed up "ith a study in 54>* that suggested that priests content
"ith their vocations, "ere as likely to remain faithful to their vo"s of
celibacy as happily married heterosexual husbands and "ives are more
inclined to stay faithful to each other. ?reeley also amended that statement
by adding that there is greater efort involved "ith a priest breaking his
vo"s of celibacy than a spouse to break marriage vo"s because of the maAor
afect on lifestyle that is involved. )Sipe page C@,
/Briests keep their celibacy although not necessarily all the time,/ said
?reeley in "ords that, on the surface do not seem particularly profound.
!o"ever, beneath the surface, the exceptions to /not necessarily all the
time/ are the keys to adAustment problems, aberrations in the moral
conduct of celibates, and, very likely to the future of the celibate priesthood
as "ell as -atholicism in general. )Sipe page C@,
According to A.W. Richard Sipe, a study in 54>E suggested that the modern#
day candidate for the priesthood has signifcantly diferent personality traits
than the type of priesthood described in the introduction, as typifed by
9onsignor -olligan and his peers. )page C5, %he study cited by Sipe says
that seminarians are inclined to have dependency problems, lo" libido, lo"
athletic andLor mechanical interest, and have experienced /mother
dominance./ 0ot necessarily a cause and efect factor, Sipe also indicates a
subliminal suggestion of homosexuality in seminaries and in other
institutions of the -hurch is not being ackno"ledged andLor addressed and
is therefore posing some important problems. )page 551,
%raining a seminarian to understand his celibacy is as important as
anything else being taught to candidates for the priesthood, according to
A.W. Richard Sipe. !e suggests that seminarians are not allo"ed to really
face the issues surrounding celibacy head#on, and there is no discussion, no
open dialogue about specifc problems, feelings, or realistic "ays of
approaching a life of celibacy. )page 1*C,
Sipe says that it is not so much that a course is needed as much as the open
dialogue helping men deal "ith their sexual urges, beyond the traditional
cliches of 5, pray about itH 1, play some rigorous sportH or *, accept it, it=s
only natural. )page +*,
:n 54>*, the 7ishops -ommittee on Briestly $ife stated that to be a human
person is to be a sexual person and that, /it is clear that confdence in being
able to live out a life of celibacy is based on ?od alone. %he 7ishops also
said that /seminarians "ith a sensitive appreciation of "omen and their
natural attraction to them "ill have their determination to lead a celibate
life on their love for -hrist./ )page +E,
:t is a fair 2uestion, perhaps rhetorical, perhaps irrelevant, to ask "here
celibate priests such as Richard Rohr and Andre" ?reeley get their
information for "riting and lecturing about sex. :n his 54C* book Sexual
:ntimacy, ?reeley ofers a frank, though some"hat .reudian assessment of
the importance of sexuality in lives of men and "omen.
/7ecause our sexual hunger is so po"erful and so pervasive, it becomes
involved "ith every strange and biarre trait in our personalities,/ said
?reeley. /%here is not one single neurotic defense mechanism that "e=ve
developed that is not at least partially sexual in origin and partially sexual
in its manifestations. 8ur defense mechanisms exist to protect our o"n
fears of sexual inade2uacyH and "e impose neurotic behavior on others as a
form of sexual aggression, "hich substitutes, though barely for more
obvious and more explicit sexuality.
/&ven the most mature of us,/ ?reeley continued. /has severe problems
preventing sexual hunger from disrupting his life and destroying his values.
Any approach to understanding and living "ith sexuality that does not take
into account the immense and undiferentiated po"er of sexual passion is
naive and self#defeating./ )?reeley page 1C,
Assuming that .ather ?reeley is the correct source for such an unbiased
statement on the po"er of sexuality, it can subse2uently be surmised that
the improper channeling of that kind of sexual energy can result in
problems for any human being, and priests most certainly fall into that
category.
$et us refer back to another 2uote from Andre" ?reeley, that being, /Briests
keep their celibacy although not necessarily all the time./ )Sipe page C@, As
stated previously, it is the /not necessarily all the time/ that must be looked
into to get a balanced vie" of "hat life is really like for the celibate priest.
Some complex surveys indicate that only 1N of all priests are completely
true to their vo"s of celibacy during their lives as priests. )And, as the Aoke
goes, that t"o percent probably did not understand the 2uestion., Some of
the polled priests contended that their "as a diference bet"een being
unmarried and celibate. 8thers dre" distinctions bet"een being on#duty
priests and of#duty priests.
A.W. Richard Sipe points to something he calls /splitting/"hich he vie"s as
being more harmful that the acts that actually constitute breaking the vo"s
of celibacy. %he duality, the secrecy, the associated fear and paranoia of
living t"o lives can be detrimental to the emotional stability of a priest.
Rationaliing infdelity to one=s vo"s can also cause some maAor problems.
)page C*, Some common forms of rationaliation are;
5, sex is good, cleanH not evil, dirtyH
1, sex makes me a better priestH
*, no one is being harmedH
E, helps me to understand and love others better. )page C*,
%hose priests "ho break their vo"s fall into a number of categories. A good
number of them, perhaps as many as t"enty percent of them have
heterosexual relationships "ith single "omen. 8thers have relationships
"ith housekeepers, married friends of friends of the family, or "ith female
religious. Socially, some priests go of on vacation posing as laymen either
individually or in groups. %here is also "hat is referred as third#"ay
pairings that are, on the surface, platonic relationships but are not in
actuality. )page CE,
%here are some emotionally healthy relationships bet"een priests "ho are
faithful to their vo"s of celibacy and "ith "omen. !ugs, kisses, meal
sharing, intellectual and emotional intimacy can sometimes fulfll the needs
for interaction "ith "omen "ithout it having to be overtly sexual.
8n the other hand, there are priests "ho refrain from sexual relations "ith
"omen but, because of improper adAustment to the celibate life or due to
some undetected problematic emotional baggage brought into the seminary,
but instead engage in various deviate behavior. Briests are all too often
exposed as molesters, "hether the victims be children, "omen, or men.
While many outside the -hurch champion homosexuality as a harmless
variation in behavior, the oficial -hurch attitude as "ell as that of many
psychologists is that homosexuality is a pathological aOiction that needs
counseling.
%he supporters of a married priesthood contend that there is no "ay for a
mature adult male )or female, to overcome the unnatural act of continence
in a healthy "ay. %he "ay Andre" ?reeley described the unbridled po"er of
the human sex drive inspires a"e in those "ho believe it can be tamed "ith
prayer. And, yet there are some "ho succeed in loving ?od, loving -hrist,
loving their -hurch enough to make giving up heterosexual relations a
relatively trivial pursuit.
Summing up, ?andhi said a celibate life "as possible as long as the calling
compensated as much love as a heterosexual relationship "ould in that
particular individual. ?reeley said taming the enormous sexual drive of
human nature "as very dificult and that has been supported evidentially by
survey and statistics that sho" only t"o percent of priests have been
absolutely faithful to their vo"s of celibacy. AdAustment problems abound as
demonstrated by repeated reports of priests abandoning their callings,
fathering children, being charged "ith child molestation.
Brior to a discussion of the issue of a married priesthood "ith a married
resigned priest, it might be interesting to look at celibacy from a "oman=s
point of vie". )0ote; "hile the celibacy issue most certainly afects "omen
"ho choose to become nuns, that "ould indeed be the subAect of another
paper.,
6ulia 'uin, is a reporter for the !ouston -hronicle, and has "on numerous
a"ards from the 0ational .ederation of Bress Women and the Religion
0e"s"riters= Association. :n 54>>, 9s. 'uin "rote a book entitled Burity
9akes the !eart ?ro" Stronger##Sexuality and the Single -hristian, in
"hich she espouses the spiritual, psychological, and moral advantages of
single -hristians refraining from pre#marital or non#marital sex.
She dra"s a line of distinction bet"een celibacy that accompanies the vo"s
of a religious order and chastity "hich she feels should be preserved until
marriage.
-amille Baglia, the /anti#feminist feminist,/ discusses celibacy in her book,
Sex, Art, and American -ulture.
/%here=s a lot to be said for celibacy, for the concentration of your mental
and physical energy,/ she said.
/7alac has "ritten very feelingly about the concentration of energy that
you get through celibacy. And 7alac himself, in the great period "hen he
"as "riting his maAor novels "as celibate./ )page 145,
She goes on to cite other artists, authors, actresses "ho chose celibacy over
the complexity of married life in order to maximie their success and
achievement in their chosen felds. :t is a further argument for a celibate
life for the priest "ho is then better able to concentrate on his service to the
human population at large rather than diluting his efectiveness as he
tended to the day#to#day needs of his spouse and of#spring.
GEORGE S.
?eorge S. came from a family rich in -atholic tradition and gre" up during
a time "hen becoming a priest "as an undertaking for a son that any
-atholic parent "ould be proud.
%he priests that he admired during his childhood served as role models in
his determined 2uest to become a priest. !e attended -athedral -ollege in
7rooklyn and the Seminary of the :mmaculate -onception in $loyd !arbor,
being ordained in 543@.
%hat ?eorge S. resigned form the priesthood in 5434 to marry a "oman "ho
like"ise chose to put aside her religious vo"s, is not the important part of
his story. %hat he harbors bitter feelings to"ard the -atholic -hurch as an
institution, that he looks upon his years as a seminarian as a theft of
invaluable time, that today he seriously 2uestions the entire concept of
priestly ofice is the focus of ?eorge S=s continual struggle "ith the faith of
his family.
%ales of loneliness, depression, isolation, and resentment cloud memories of
his days as a seminarian. :ntellectual, spiritual, academic, and interpersonal
repression flled his days as a parochial school teacher and as a parish
priest. After having left the priesthood for marriage, his anger to"ard the
-atholic -hurch "as heightened "hen a dispute over the timing of his
layicied dispensation left him and his bride excommunicated/ by an irate
canonical supervisor.
%oday, ?eorge S. is a member of -.8.R.B.D.S., and professes deep doubts
about the relevance of the priesthood as a form of socio#religious nobility
and is even giving some consideration to leaving the -hurch that has turned
its back on the great resource it has in its resigned priests. !e fnds the
diminishing viability of the -atholic -hurch in the "orld due to the priest
shortage ironic "hen Auxtaposed to magisterium=s attitude to"ard resigned
priests. $ike so many issues today and do"n through the centuries, the
-hurch=s stance regretably involves a dialectic rather than a dialogue.
?eorge S. "as asked about the theories espoused by some that there is a
true calling spiritual to the priesthood and those "ho leave to marry
apparently did not receive such a calling. Although he shares the concerns
of some about the typeof men "ho are called today to be priests, he
ackno"ledges the value of someone such as *3 year old parish priest .ather
%om having been named spiritual advisor in charge of seminarian formation
at the Seminary of the :mmaculate -onception in $loyd!arbor. .ather %om
has earned the respect of lay#people and clergy "ith his compassionate,
spiritual approach to his faith in this modern "orld.
CURRENT EVENTS
'ateline; (atican -ity,
8ctober 1>, 544@, the $os Angeles %imes; /A month long international
synod of Roman -atholic bishops ended yesterday on an assertive,
traditional note, efectively closing the door to any prospect of liberaliation
of the celibate male priesthood during the papacy of 6ohn Baul ::.
/%he synod=s oficially secret conclusions reafirmed the tight rein on the
church that has become the hallmark of 6ohn Baul=s rule. :n a month of
speeches and in their conclusions, the 1*C bishops echoed papal
conservatism on issues of doctrine.
/%he bishop#delegates said the synod had for"arded E5 propositions to the
Bope. %heir theme, the bishops made plain, "as not ho" to change the
priesthood but ho" to fortify the institution in its current form.
/We have to be honest and to remove any doubt about celibacy of priests.
We must not give any false impression among candidates for the priesthood,
and among priests themselves,/ said D.S. delegate 7ishop 6ohn B. .oley.
/%he (atican reAects even debating the idea. Kesterday, the C@#year old
Bontif, "hose o"n support for celibacy is unGinching, thanked delegates for
their support. /%he synod has une2uivocally confrmed the choice of priestly
celibacy,/ said the Bope./
:n the 0ovember 4, 544@ issue of the /0ational -atholic Reporter,/ (atican
Afairs "riter Beter !ebbleth"aite "rote that the papal vie" on celibacy,
endorsed by the bishops, "as based on the perception that the -hurch had
"eathered the vocations crisis. !ebbleth"aite "ent on to indicate that the
stabiliation in the number of candidates for the priesthood "as illusory
because there "as a marked increase in &astern &uropean and African
priests but the numbers sho"ed no improvement in 0orth America and
&urope.
Some of the 2uotes about celibacy !ebbleth"aite extracted from the
bishop=s propositions included; /a "ay of loving,/ /an enhancement of the
priest=s "itness and service,/ a /total gift,/ et.al. !e also put forth his
interpretation of Rome=s vie" that marriage is a sign of the realied
kingdom, "hile celibacy is seen as a sign of the kingdom to come. )page 3,
:n that same issue of 0-R, .ather Richard 9c7rien took issue "ith one of
the bishops= defense of celibacy as he criticied the assertion that
-atholicism should be /countercultural,/ and that celibacy is
countercultural.
/%he -atholic -hurch can be countercultural if it takes an authoritarian,
repressive and conformist turn, /said .ather 9c7rien, head of the theology
department at 0otre 'ame Dniversity. /7ut is that "hat the church should
be doing, Aust for the sake of being counterculturalJ %here are good
arguments for celibacy but none for obligatory celibacy, certainly not the
countercultural argument ofered last month in Rome./ )page 5E,
:n the 6anuary 5>, 5445 issue of 0-R, an article by Bat Windsor discussed
the astonishing proposal from 9il"aukee Archbishop Rembert Weakland
that, /under certain circumstances, he "ould be "illing to ask the pope to
ordain a married man./
According to Windsor, it "as the /frst archbishop in recent memory to
publicly propose the possibility of a married priesthood./ )page *.,
%he 3,@@@ "ord document, addressed to priests, "as the result of a year#
long discussion among archdiocesan parishes about the future in light of a
proAected 13 percent decline in the number of priests by the year 1@@@.
According to Windsor, Weakland reAected lay#led communion services and
liturgies of the "ord "ithout communion in parishes "ithout resident
priests as solutions to the priest shortage.
/7oth of these solutions, especially over many years and perhaps for the life
of a "hole generation, frighten me,/ Weakland "rote. /%hey are simply not
ade2uate nor spiritually healthy. %hey could lead to a ne" kind of church
that is not rooted in the one "e kno" and that has come to us from the
apostles. We could not be a &ucharistic community in the fullest sense of
that term./ Weakland also reAected suggestions to close smaller parishes
and to form /mega#parishes/ to compensate for clerical shortages.
Anthony Badavano, resigned priest and Bresident of -8RBDS and the
author of a number of books on -hurch reform, supported Weakland=s
proposals and called the archbishop=s pastoral /courageous./
/Weakland bases his argument on the most theologically solid foundation
possible,/ said Badovano. /&veryone, including the pope, has to say that the
community is more important than celibacy./
Windsor=s article goes on to say that church observers indicated that
Weakland=s pastoral on a married priesthood, /represents a signifcant
opening to"ard discussion of a topic that has been for the most part##
publicly at least##of limits during Bope 6ohn Baul ::=s papacy.
SUMMATION
:n summariing, there is no need to rehash the many sources, the many
points that have been made, or to reemphasie Aust ho" crucial an efect the
issue of celibacy "ill have on the future of the -atholic -hurch. %he most
important focus on this and other important issues involving the -hurch is
dialogue, or, to use the "ord chosen by 9ichael !imes, /conversation./
All those "ho espouse various vie"s on the clerical celibacy have their
rights to their opinions and : "ill take the liberty to suggest that there are
no right or "rong ans"ers. !o"ever, the -hurch hierarchy, the
magisterium, the (atican, or "hatever "ord "e "ant to use for -hurch
authority must step a"ay from its self#righteous dogmatic methods for "hat
they consider the protection of the -hurch. %o paraphrase a (ietnam era
cliche, they are destroying their religion in order to save it.
%he contrasts are clearly deliniated; dialogue vs. dialecticH open systems vs.
closed systemsH discussion vs. dogma. :t is no longer productive for the
-hurch to treat its follo"ers much as naive children "ho, for their o"n
sake, must be spared any misinformation that might s"ay them a"ay from
the /truth/ of their faith, a /truth/ that inspires fear and devotion.
%he -hurch can ill aford to continue to punish its resigned priests because
they supposely have broken a sacred vo" on the premise that to forgive
might encourage others not to take their o"n vo"s seriously. 'epriving the
-hurch of the gifts that resigned priests can ofer to this foundering
institution is socially and spiritually counterproductive and the defense of
that stance insults the intelligence of -atholics "ho "ant stay -atholics
because of the loving heritage and the direct heritable link bet"een 6esus
-hrist and those "ho follo" !is "ords and deeds some t"o thousand years
after !is death.
:t "as at once satirical and as "ell as sad to hear the Bope=s recent
pronouncment that the -hurch had erred in the 5Cth century by
condemning the astronomer ?alileo after he maintained that the &arth "as
not the center of the universe. Bope 6ohn Baul :: acted after the completion
of the the (atican=s thirteen#year study on the ?alileo case.
:t is unfair to look at this issue only from the Associated Bress=
interpretation. %here must have been more to the matter than meets the
eye. 7ut there is the temptation to ask ho" it could possibly have taken the
-hurch thirteen years to confrm the fact that the &arth does indeed revolve
around the Sun. 8ne might also ask "hat motivated the -hurch to make
such a production of an announcement that must have embarrassed the
maAority of -atholics in the "orld for the ackno"ledgement that the -hurch
had to "ait *+@ years before letting go of its fallacious vie" of the universe.
As stated previously in this paper, the -hurch has continuously sho"n the
pattern that today=s heresy is tomorro"=s dogma. %he magisterium must
no" accept one of 6esus= primary tenets, that of humilityH it must stop its all#
too convincing imitation of the BhariseesH and it must look at vital issues
such as the celibacy re2uirement "ith intelligence, openess, and courage to
save -hrist=s legacy from an unnecessarily premature demise.
tgl 55L5L41