The topic for today is as the title suggests, celibacy and its role in the priesthood. I have watched many great programs on EWTN that explain how important this aspect of the priest's life is and I even wrote my final English paper this semester on religious celibacy, so it is something I find quite special and necessary for our Church. But in the wake of this abuse scandal, I am being forced to think twice about it's necessity for every priest.
Lets start off by explaining, from what I have gathered and personally believe, why this vow is so vital to the life of a priest. By not taking a wife, a man is better able to devote his time, energy, and efforts to God. He does not have to worry about supporting a family, running errands, raising children, etc so his day is completely free to serve God and the community. This is something a married man would have trouble doing (however I'll get to the flip side later). It's also become a safe haven for men with "homosexual tendencies", as I have read in Catholic articles. That gay men who want to deny their sinful urges will enter the priesthood where sex is not allowed at all, and thus the temptation is greatly diminished by the support of fellow priests and the new role he holds in the Catholic community.
Now, as we see in the Orthodox tradition and Protestant denominations, pastors and priests have the opportunity to take wives. Even men who convert to the Catholic Church who previously were priests in the Anglican Church (I believe?) can be an ordained priest and maintain their families. These men can preach, tend to their parishes, answer their higher call to witnessing, AND have a family. It's not impossible to do. The early Church fathers and popes had wives...why can that option not be available today?
What I fear from this thought is that slowly, a gate will be opened and the liberals will attack. (lol) As is in my family, the discussion starts with the desire for priests to marry...then someone demands that women be priests, and next women should be able to have abortions, and finally "heck the whole church needs to keep up with the times!" WRONG! I desperately fear one change in tradition leading to the complete collapse of our Church and its traditions. The pressure of the world is mounting. I read European newspapers online and many countries only mention the church in criticism of the child abuse and its "old ways".
But this one aspect of our faith-the celibacy of the priesthood-is not a moral issue. Could we alter this one part of the Church without opening pandora's box? I am not saying I want all our priests to suddenly take on a family, but lets look at 1 Corinthians 7:8-9
Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I am. But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.
Paul teaches believers that if you are able to control your hormones and drive for sex, THEN you should be celibate as he was. This means men who truly can control themselves should be celibate priests, but to those who cannot, they can marry.
I guess part of me is so drawn into this because my own parish priest had to be sent away for 3 months due to poor behavior (not child molesting), but when he came back he told us how depressed he had been, how lonely and consequently withdrawn from us he was, and how much therapy it took in those three months to get him back to somewhat normal.
One of my priests at my church at university was mentioned in a child abuse article I read. He never abused anyone, but he was the confessor to a priest who molested and brutally murdered a child. I was physically ill when I read that...I just stumbled upon this article and uncovered a horrific reality our Church faces...and it was so very close to home for me.
These men have so much more on their plates than we parishioners realize...and it truly breaks my heart to know the pain, guilt, loneliness, and disgust they must feel each and everyday. Many of them obviously have personal desires for love or possibly even marriage (as my priest seemed to in his speech). On the other hand, many more do not, as they were called to this life by God (God made this decision possible for them, He ordained their choice). And then there are those who need to absolve the priests who have gone WAY off the deep end. I could not handle the mental and emotional damage of hearing a confession of a cold blooded murderer and or child molester who is simultaneously a supposed "man of god".
To those who are pedophiles and murderers, I know my "solution" is lost on them, as NOTHING can excuse or fix their behaviors. But to the Catholic men who feel called to the priesthood...and to marriage, why can't their be that option?
As always, thoughts and comments are gladly welcome!
Peace & Blessings always~