12 March 2010

Dissent is the problem, not celibacy

Cardinal Schonborn stirred up a little controversy recently when he seemed to suggest that mandatory celibacy for priests was part of the sexual abuse scandals in his archdiocese.  Reading his actual comments, it is easy to see that once again the media are fishing for juicy bits to use against their favored whipping boy, the Church.  The Cardinal said no such thing.

Included in the linked article are these two paragraphs outlining the dessicated views of dinosaur faux-Catholic theologian, Hans Kung:

This week the dissident theologian Father Hans K√ľng, who was stripped of his licence to teach Catholic theology in 1979 after he rejected the doctrine of Papal infallibility, said in The Tablet that denials of any link between abuse and celibacy were “erroneous”.

He said celibacy was not the only cause of the misconduct but described it as “the most important and structurally the most decisive” expression of the Church’s repressive attitude to sex. 

Can celibacy cause sexual repression?  Yes, it can.  So can sexual promiscuity and monogamy.  If a priest (or anyone else) finds himself sexually repressed by celibacy, this is a sure sign that celibacy is not a discipline he should be practicing. . ."better to marry than burn." If you can't practice celibacy, don't seek ordination as a Catholic priest.  If you are already a Catholic priest and can't be celibate, then seek to be laicized.   

If a man is sexually integrated and emotionally stable before he enters seminary, there's almost no chance that the discipline of celibacy will cause sexual repression, much less cause him to molest children or teens.   Keep in mind:  the number of sexual abuse cases in the public school system is significantly higher than in the Church.  I doubt many public school teachers are celibate. 

The real problem with celibacy is the constant attacks on the practice by people like Kung.  How many sexually problematic men go through seminary listening to the "inevitable revolution" rhetoric of Church dissidents and believe that any day now the Church will see the light and allow priests to marry?  I know for a fact that many women in the '70's went to seminary to train for Orders b/c they listened to these same dissidents tell them--in knowing prophetic tones--that women's ordination was inevitable, so they had better be prepared!  Their disappointment forms one of the strongest pillars of radical feminist rage against the Church.

Is it any wonder that Mother Church comes out looking like a Prude given that your wildest (and impossible) dreams, planted by dissent and nourished by heresy, are thwarted by the truths of the faith?

Follow HancAquam ------------>


  1. Anonymous3:47 AM

    one of the best explanations I have heard! you are awesome Fr. Philip

  2. Anonymous8:06 AM

    I forget where I saw this comment, but one priest commented that coming up through the seminary back in the day he was not taught how to deal with celibacy, but instead was told that by the time they were ordained the Church will have relaxed the discipline and priests could marry. Dissent and bad formation.

  3. Anonymous11:53 AM

    It is interesting that you say that priests who feel they cannot keep their vows should seek to be laicized. This is not a practical option in most cases. An M. Div degree is not marketable except in another denomination. Most priests have given the most productive years of their life to the church so it is difficult to start over in another profession. They are paid little so they have no money to start over. Housing, retirement and health care are all lost if they leave. Add to this the sense of shame and failure that is attached to the decision to leave and you end up with many men feeling trapped in a life they find unbearable. Is it any wonder they act out? I am in favor of celibacy being the norm for Latin rite clerics, but until we have the equivalent of an honorable discharge, we can expect more horror stories.

  4. I agree that those that cannot/will not keep their vows should seek laicization (?). I remember my horror back in the mid 80's at someone who claimed to be a "priest" here in Portland serving at the local Public University Newman Center, also claiming to have a gay lover. I was shunned/chastised for my "biggoted" response towards him. I am a single male Catholic who is not in vowed life, but who can and does practice celibacy as that is what my spirit is lead to do. I do not wish to have a pastor whose call is to his family above the need of his flock.... I hope this does not seem selfish, but I give my all to God and the people I serve (the elderly), and I would hope those in the Priesthood could do the same for me!

  5. Marion (Mael Muire)9:40 AM

    Regarding the difficulty priests face when leaving the priesthood: a former pastor of my Church was found he was unable to persevere in the priesthood and went through the laicizion process. The Archdiocese assisted him to find a suitable job. (I have little doubt that the cardinals, bishops, and archdiocesan staff have all kinds of connections with the local business community, who are only to happy to do a favor of this kind if the Church asks.) During the ensuing years, this former priest/pastor of Parish A would sometimes attend Holy Mass at noon at another parish (Parish B), near where I worked. I used to attend noon Mass there, too. One day after Mass at Parish B I saw the pastor of Parish B greet and warmly embrace former Father X. They spoke together for quite some time. It occurred to me that a wise priest regards the priest who seeks laicization in the light of "there but for the grace of God go I", and continues to be supportive and charitable towards him. Any sense of shame and blame are most likely *not* coming from his brother priests, but from relatives who may feel the family honor has lost some value - not a very worthy reason to blame someone who has done his best.