Saturday, January 9, 2010

A Sad Truth: The Utter Facade of Mandatory Celibacy

According to numerous studies, in all different parts of the world, commissioned both independently and by various bishops' conferences...at any given time, around 40-50% of priests are sexually active!

No one group is a particular problem. Though abusers represent only 1-4% and were largely homosexual, among priests having sex or in sexual relationships with consenting adults (which is about half of priests!) the numbers are not skewed but are proportional to the population within the priesthood at large (said to be about 30% homosexual, 70% heterosexual).

Also, as in that Whispers in the Loggia article I cited in my post on the Creepiness of Seminaries...it is not limited to "liberal" priests either. Conservative and even traditionalist priests are just as likely, according to their proportion in the population as a whole, to also be engaged in this, and conservative and traditionalist bishops and superiors just as likely to cover it up ("since there is no victim") in the name of "avoiding scandal". Even though, as Catholic Encyclopedia points out: "Still less can that be considered scandal, which only arouses comment, indignation, horror etc; it is true that the act arouses indignation and in common parlance it is often called scandalous, but this way of speaking is inaccurate, and in strictly theological terminology it is not the sin of scandal," which technically means leading another into sin, not merely shock and outrage as popularly used. So, really, they dont mean "avoiding scandal"...they just mean maintaining the facade.

Check out the research, for example, of A.W. Richard Sipe. He's personally liberal and has an axe to grind, so take all his ideological spins with a huge grain of salt (such as about being sympathetic towards the "womyn priests" movement)...but his objective statistics are legitimate and his interviews with large numbers of priests about their sexual activity are shocking. I plan to read his books "Celibacy in Crisis" soon, as the snippets I have read are fascinating and confirm suspicions I have held for some time now.

I was shocked to learn all this, and to learn how the bishops' biggest concern is not dealing with it, but merely covering it up. How institutionalized ("mandatory," lol; as if that means anything in such a situation) celibacy for diocesan priests is a huge facade, and how bishops do nothing because they themselves are sometimes being blackmailed for having mistresses or priest-boyfriends. Even good priests who know about it and could expose it usually say nothing because they are threatened with losing their jobs or having their lives made a living hell. And that's what happens when the priesthood is a salaried career you can hold over someone's head...

The bishops' biggest concern seems to be secrecy and priests simply not getting caught doing it. When a bishop finds out about it, his advice is often not to leave the priesthood, and certainly doesnt impose punishment, but rather to "try harder next time," never leave the priesthood, and make sure the laity dont ever find out about it!

Because priests have been placed on this artificial pedestal as "celibates" (which at least half aren't)...and when a priest does the right thing and leaves the priesthood to marry the woman he loves or whatever (like that guy from Life On The Rock)...he is publicly shamed by Catholics and it's all treated as such a "sad situation". But he did the right thing! He realized he wasn't called to that ("he that is able, let him receive this") and did what was right. And he gets publicly shamed. Whereas thousands of priests who are leading double lives and simply not getting caught...are not treated that way at all, and get the naive presumption of celibacy.

People can say all they want about "not lowering the standard just because people don't meet it" and about priests "just needing to stick to their vows"...but that's like explaining the failure of Prohibition by saying, "it would have worked if people had just stopped drinking!" Saying "they just need to start actually following celibacy" is a non-answer, explaining-away, not explaining, as clearly even under the institutionalization of "mandatory" celibacy for diocesan priests...it isn't working. It's practically meaningless. Though I'm sure some authoritarian personalities would love to see priests have to wear ankle-monitoring bracelets and erection-initiated shock-collars. But if they have to spend all this time and energy controlling their males' sexuality and "enforcing" celibacy...then has the institutional clergy become nothing more than some bizarre BDSM role-playing game? Certainly any mature person can see that the idea of "enforcing" celibacy is twisted, and not anything morally worthy or virtuous. And yet if your answer is simply to fire any priest who breaks it...you lose half your priests in a time when there is already a shortage.

As one who personally does feel called to celibacy, let me tell you how much that offends me. The facade that has been set up trivializes and cheapens the whole lifestyle. It is a vocation not meant for all men. It is not something we can force men into (which they admit), nor can we hope to boost the number of men called to it by "bootstrapping" it to the separate, independent vocation of the priesthood. Vocations cannot be socially engineered into existence like that! That's like trying to put a "price-floor" on a good economically; it's bad policy.

True celibacy has to come from within. If it isn't there, no external policy or requirement is going to cause it (nor is any "celibacy seminar" in seminary going to foment it! lol, such efforts are as pathetic as junior high school Health class). On the other hand, if it IS already there internally...then at that point, why would we even need the external requirement??

Of course, if there were enough men with REAL celibacy vocations to fill our priestly needs...obviously they'd be our pool of first resort for drawing clergy from. But obviously there aren't enough men with real celibate vocations, at this point in history, to fill our needs. Merely pretending that half our priests are celibate...doesn't change this fact, it just leads to a lot of lies, secrecy, blackmail, guilt, repression, and lost souls. There's a priest shortage as is. If we kicked out the half who weren't being celibate...we'd be sunk. Add to that the homosexuals (as the Vatican seems to think that even the half who are being celibate are a problem)...and we'd have almost no one left.

Pretending that all priests are celibate in fact just because they are "required" to be in theory...just artificially inflates the number of allegedly "celibate vocations," but in reality cheapens and makes meaningless the entire concept, which really offends me.

All the finger pointing at liberals, homosexuals, pedophiles, etc...doesn't solve it. Those are all SYMPTOMS of a much more corrupt clergy, a corruption irrespective of ideology or sexual orientation (remember what has been exposed about Marcial Maciel, founder of the Legionnaires; had love-children with mistresses, all while also abusing seminarians).

To be honest, the best thing Catholics could probably do is to hire private detectives to spy on their priests and bishops (like on that show "Cheaters") and see if they are having sexual relationships. They might find nothing, but half the time, with enough patience, they would. It might take months (many are compartmentalized personalities in a cycle of guilt->repentance->abstinence->falling again), but this problem needs to be exposed in its enormity!!

And yet, I bet an individual who did try to bring a little sunlight into the situation to disinfect it...would be renounced by Catholics. "Stop causing scandal" they'd say. IT'S THE PRIESTS LIVING DOUBLE LIVES WHO ARE THE SCANDAL...not their getting caught! "Oh, you're just hurting the church and it's credibility! No need to dig up dirt and go looking for skeletons in closets!" GRRRR! Yes, because the dirt needs to be washed away, the closets need to be cleaned! Even someone exposing it out of spite or schadenfreude, though their motive would be wrong, would be doing an objectively good service.

But most Catholics seem to want to keep pretending that everything is okay and that most priests really are celibate and that it's just "a few bad apples" casting suspicion on the whole bunch. And the hierarchy, of course, wants to maintain that illusion because it gives them an enormous holier-than-thou mystic separation from the people, giving them authority, giving credibility to the sexual teachings of the Church (as if they needed any credibility except the fact that they come from God and Nature). Teachings which, though correct and wonderful if understood properly, have been used for years by psychosexually unhealthy priests (both celibate and not) to keep Catholics in the Church through guilt instead of love!

And that's another problem. You've got the abusers (a small percent), you've got the sexually active (a large percent), you've got the homosexuals (an at least disproportionately high percent), and on top of that...even many of the celibate heterosexual priests are found in studies and interviews by psychologists and sociologists to be psychosexually immature, adolescent in their personalities, neurotic, repressed, or otherwise underdeveloped as the post on the Creepiness of Seminaries discussed.

I want to be very clear, it's not the sex that bugs me about these priests breaking celibacy, though that's what trads and neocons seem to focus on. It's not the sin itself (we're all sinners, I don't judge)...it's the hypocrisy. The facade. I mean, unmarried lay catholics "aren't supposed" to have sex either...but it isn't institutionalized or anything like that, so no one is too surprised that it happens quite a bit. Priestly celibacy, on the other hand, is consecrated by its officialdom, and so priests receive a (totally false) presumption that they are actually being chaste when they aren't.

Single lay Catholics may believe that sexual morality is wrong, but they aren't hypocrites when they mess up because they never claimed to be perfect. Priests, on the other hand, don't just claim it is wrong or that celibacy is an ideal, but there is a claim that they are ACTUALLY following it when many (even MOST) aren't. That makes healing the problem very hard.

Allowing married men to be ordained would certainly not solve all the problems. The mere presence of married men in seminaries and in the structures of power isn't, for some reason, going to randomly cause the single priests to be celibate if nothing else about the institutional model changes (in its politics and economics), that's for sure. But I think it would go a long way towards deconstructing the facade of institutional celibacy, the lie of a "celibate priesthood," to encourage more psychosexually healthy men to join, and to pull the Wizard of Oz out from behind his magic curtain.

All this is an open secret, apparently, among most priests...but kept largely out of the public eye by clever propaganda, mutual blackmail within the priesthood, the good-natured naïveté and benefit-of-the-doubt given by the laity. And by well-meaning conservatives who think that "supporting our bishops" is the right thing to do since they are attacked so much from outside the Church that critique within the Church is also reacted to with suspicions of disloyalty. It's a perfect storm.

This is a huge problem. The problem facing the Church today, the root of almost all of the others. And the bishops and priests aren't going to do anything about it, because they've all been socialized into the homosocial power-game of the "old boys club" priesthood, a dynamic that depends on the facade of institutional celibacy among diocesan priests, as does their salary. If married volunteers could handle all the clerical duties (and they probably could), the careers of paid priests would be threatened.

Your first instinct is going to be to be incredulous or try to defend them or to say it isn't true. To bring up anecdotal evidence about good priests you know (and there certainly are many of those too, and they suffer under the current regime). But don't, please. It is your duty to save the Church from the utterly corrupt clergy. To spread this information. To expose these hypocrites and liars and sociopaths.

The first instinct of many good Catholics would probably be to "jump to the defense of" the hierarchy. I wouldnt be surprised if his first impulse would be to deny the statistics. To call it anti-catholic propaganda, etc. To say the premise of 50% sexually active Catholic priests was nonsense or ridiculous, and thus the rest of what follows. Faced with this information, the first response of any Catholic who trusted the hierarchy (like we should be able to! like our Catholic instinct tells us to) is denial. Denial. DENIAL. They often bring up the "black legends" of priests having sex with nuns and killing the babies, etc (which, frankly, doesn't look so ridiculous a story anymore given what I know now).

It's how most good Catholics react. It's how I thought for a long time. Because the institutionalization of celibacy causes us to think a certain way about it and to revere priests in a certain light.

They've got us all convinced that it's working just fine and that it is still meaningful and that it's just a "few high profile cases" that are ruining the bunch (and that's certainly true for the child abuse...but child abuse and sex with consenting adults, consenting adult women usually, are two totally different matters.)

The fact that loosening celibacy is associated with liberalism and "sexual liberation" and such...doesn't help. Nor that many people are against institutionalized celibacy because they are against the idea of celibacy or sexual morality IN general (and not, like me, because they respect it so much but see attempting to artificially "require" it and maintain the illusion as a CRUTCH that holds back authentic celibate vocations and sexual morality in the Church).

But the following are some of the Statistics that Sipe has found, and as far as I've been able to confirm, they are pretty much valid:

* a study of Swiss priests published on May 12, 2003, revealed that 50% of that clergy had mistresses.
* Father Victor Kotze, a South African sociologist conducted a survey of the priests in his country (1991) and found that 45% had been sexually active during the previous two year period.
* Pepe Rodriguez published his book length study of the sexual life of clergy in Spain (La Vida sexual del Clero 1995). He concluded that among practicing priests ...60% have sexual relations...
* Sipe's own 25 year ethnographic study of celibacy published in 1990 had drawn comparable conclusions about the celibate/sexual activity of Catholic priests in America. "I stand by my findings that at any one time 50% of American clergy are sexually active. When in 1994 a BBC television reporter faced Cardinal Jose Sanchez, Prefect of the Congregation of the Clergy at the Vatican with those and other figures from the study, the Cardinal's response was, 'I have no reason to doubt the accuracy of those figures.'"

The fact that we still do have so many good priests fighting the good fight...is a testament to God's protection of the Church. It's a miracle really. Now, whether even those good priests are fully psychosexually mature is another question...but psychosexual maturity is at least not an absolute requirement for holiness.

You can't solve demographic sociological problems by legislating to individuals. That's what I think conservatives dont understand. For example, proportionally speaking at least, there are too many homosexuals in the priesthood...so the Vatican thinks throwing an unenforceable "no more homosexuals" policy at seminaries is going to do anything!! It's ridiculous.

The Vatican decree on homosexuals will be as useless as the requirement that priests be celibate. The homosexuals who actually would be celibate and who have come to terms with and integrated their sexuality...will obediently not join seminary. Just like the non-celibate married men who would make good priests stay away currently. But that doesn't solve the problem...we will still get the homosexuals, it just means we will get the ones who are deceptive, the ones in denial, the ones repressed, the absolute sociopaths who don't care and wont be celibate, etc. Likewise, the "requirement" of celibacy isn't actually causing a celibate priesthood, merely one where the non-celibates don't do it in the confines of marriage or a mature sexuality but rather of secrecy, deception, and compartmentalization.

We don't really need to "do" much though except work to expose it. It will work itself out once it is exposed. And the only way to expose the "situation" is to expose more and more individual cases.

Suggesting that a better "celibacy seminar" could fix everything...is ridiculous. And even if it could work, is it really the job of a seminary to be fomenting sexual awakenings??

When I was first faced with these statistics, I doubted them. But then I realized...why shouldn't it be? I mean...priests aren't soooo different than regular men in their sex drives just because they profess something "officially". Regular unmarried lay Catholics "aren't supposed to" have sex either, but many do. Apparently, both from statistics and just from anecdotal estimates I've gotten from priests who hear confessions...even among the good Catholic adults who go to confession regularly...50% of them have also fornicated within the past year at any given time, (that's still lower than the general population, mind you).

And so are we really to believe that priests, merely because they're priests and have institutionalized their celibacy with an official profession...are sooooo different statistically than unmarried lay Catholics? Does having a bishop lay his hands on you suddenly make you 10 times more likely to be chaste (if we are to believe the claims of those who say that "only 5%, at most" are not celibate)...

And, yet, that's the implicitly "holier-than-thou" claim that they make. Maybe not individually about themselves as an individual. But as a group they claim it about the group as a whole. That for some reason, even though they'll reluctantly admit that their percentage of homosexuality and other deviancy is so much higher than the general population...they claim their overall rate of sexual immorality is somehow so much lower by a statistically miraculous amount. If one accepts that priests are just human sinners...the fact that they commit this particular sin at a rate comparable to single lay Catholics...shouldn't be so surprising.

They claim they're not "forcing" men to be celibate (and they aren't, that's for sure!). Merely to be accepting men who "already have a celibate vocation". Which sounds great in theory. People should probably make the decision about whether they are called to married life or single life before making a decision about whether they are called to lay, religious, or priestly life. But, in reality, it obviously doesn't work. By limiting the priesthood to celibate men...all you do is limit it to publicly "celibate" men. You don't actually stop non-celibates from joining, merely the ones who would do it (as they should) in the context of marriage. You don't guarantee that you'll get celibates or men truly called to celibacy...just that the non-celibates will be the kind willing to do it secretly, outside of marriage, etc.

Apparently, there are 20,000 laicized priests in the USA (which is half as many as there are still-active priests), most of whom left to get married. Compared to the fact that there are only 50,000 some active priests...this is another number that should make it clear that a large number of priests are breaking their celibacy, as most of those 20,000 probably were at some point before doing the right thing and leaving. How many "future laicized priests" are in the priestly population now? A steady trickle still leaves each year. And if that many finally faced their cognitive dissonance and left to marry...how many still live in secret before they reach such a decision (if ever). The numbers suggest close to half.

And before anyone asks "how would we pay them to support their families?" I'd say two things.

First...they could decide. They're adults. They'd know what the salary was in advance. They could decide whether it was enough to support them. Maybe they have money saved up. Maybe (like among the Orthodox) they're often older retired men. Maybe they are rich already or won the lottery. Maybe, in our world today, his wife works (gasp!) once the kids are out of elementary school or whatever. So you wouldn't have to raise the salary. They could decide whether it was enough for them based on their personal circumstances.

Also, as I think I've discussed before, who says priests have to always be full-salaried individuals? The Orthodox have a sort of two-tiered priesthood between the celibate and married. Maybe many married priests could work during the week and just say Sunday Masses (where the shortage really becomes a problem) and be volunteers like our current permanent deacons.

It seems absurd to me that at many rural parishes they have mass only once a month and the other three weeks have just a "communion service" lead by a permanent deacon because the priest has to split up his time. It begs the question...why not just make that deacon a priest? He wouldn't have to make any greater time commitment. He could still be a volunteer unsalaried, though perhaps like some church musicians he could even be paid per-service or only for as many hours as he actually contributes. I suppose, in emergencies when the priest couldn't make it, common courtesy would suggest he administer the Last Sacraments to those who are suddenly dying, but otherwise it would practically be the same as having that permanent deacon...except the bishop would lay his hands on him one more time and the people would actually have Mass. Is the facade of institutionally celibate priesthood really worth depriving people of mass 3 out of 4 weeks a month??


The Law exists for man, not man for the Law. Likewise, the priesthood in itself exists solely to provide the sacraments. It is a ministry of service of which the pseudo-consecrated life that celibate priests live...is accidental. Catholics seem bizarrely willing to accept unideal liturgical and ministerial situations that don't reach their maximum potential...just for the sake of maintaining a certain institutional structure in a priesthood that only exists in the first place for the sake of liturgy and ministry! To me that is absurd.

I found an interesting old quote by Pope Benedict even, on Whispers in the Loggia:

A statement of the new Pope when he was prefect of the CDF confirms this interpretation. On vacation in Regensburg two or three years ago, he stated to Catholic journalists: "If the Church can not guarantee the Eucharist in all parishes, she has to modify the conditions for access to the priesthood."
I'd go further and say that if the Church isn't maximizing her liturgical and sacramental and pastoral potential because of mandatory celibacy, then there is no argument for keeping it, as it only exists in the first place to facilitate salvation. I have a feeling that we would see a huge increase in involvement in the Faith if married men of the clergy were ordained to the priesthood and lesser clerical orders in large numbers, and functioned on a volunteer basis. The "Small Group" model of networks of personal relationships (as opposed to the impersonal, institutional model of 10,000-member parishes)...has been shown to be highly effective in keeping people involved in the community and in spreading religions. This is how early Christianity spread; the issue is discussed in several books by sociologist Rodney Stark, specifically The Rise of Christianity: A Sociologist Reconsiders History. But such a model is only really possible (without becoming Protestant) if we have a much higher clergy-to-lay ratio. As I said of the Ethiopians, they have 15% of their men priests. We have about 1/10th of 1%.

At that point, especially if celibacy isn't being kept by half of priests, it's time to end institutionalized "mandatory" celibacy. You can't create an ideal in practice just by mandating it in theory. It doesn't work. Just look at the endless War On Drugs.
It's sort of like the logic of illegalizing things just driving them underground, not actually reducing their occurrence, like "If guns were illegal, only criminals would have guns".

Finally, they have spent billions of dollars paying out settlements to the victims of clerical abuse. I bet a ton of money is spent "keeping" mistresses and boyfriends, keeping blackmailers quiet, paying child support (and even, as Sipe has a whole chapter about in his book, funding their girlfriend's abortions!). The money you and I give the Church. We shouldn't stand for it.

11 comments:

Ben said...

A sad truth: The Utter Facade of Marital Fidelity.

Ben said...

For someone who is has a "psychosexually integrated personality" you seem to spend a lot of time worrying about the supposed psychosexual problems of other people.

1. You cherry pick stats to promote your own agenda. A cursory search of the Internet yields other sets of data one could use.

2. Pretending for a moment that your stats are real: How does any of it indicate that we need to do away with a celibate priesthood? You discount the origins of priestly celibacy as if it were just something power-mad bishops made up in the Middle Ages. "Not of the faith"? Furthermore, would a married presbyterate solve any of the problems you seem to think it would? The vocations crisis? Ask the Anglicans and the Orthodox about that. The abuse issues? Ask any high school principal whether having married teachers has reduced the issues faced by that institution.

In general, this screed and others on your blog makes me think that you have some personal stake in this. There should be a word for people who suggest sweeping institutional change to accommodate their own "psychosexual" needs.

If you really desire for your "Renegade Trads" project to get off the ground you're going to need to write more concisely and more coherently, avoid "!!!" and TYPING IN ALL CAPS. Think of concrete actions that will help parish life and avoid tilting at windmills. Obsessing about things that one has absolutely no power to change and has committed nothing to mitigate is the sine qua non of the trad mind, and in that respect you are no renegade at all.

I say all of this because I have a basic respect for most of the concerns you have on this blog.

Welcome to the blogosphere.

A Sinner said...

Solid numbers would make the comparison more helpful:

A quick search comparing several studies of the issue indicates that in the United States demographers estimate about 25% of married men and 15% of married women have had affairs, so lets call it 20% of all married people.

The number among "Good Catholics" is much lower, however, based on anecdotal evidence I've gotten from priests who hear confessions, who say that adultery (unlike fornication) is a relatively rare sin to hear.

Divorce is high now, of course, but most Americans would consider divorce to be something like laicization in the analogy between priestly celibacy and marriage. Both divorce and official laicization put it out in the open, whereas the analogy with adultery comes mostly from the secrecy and external claim of faithfulness.

In terms of fornication among the unmarried, numbers are much higher than adultery. As I mentioned, somewhere around 50% of unmarried lay Catholic adults, those who go to confession regularly, fornicate at least once a year. To put that in perspective, however, the number in the general population is 80-90%...so both unmarried lay Catholics, and priests, are doing "better" than the general population. But not nearly as well as married Americans in general, let alone Good Catholics who are married.

It seems that for many people to "marry rather than burn" truly is the choice they're faced with. Comparing rates of adultery to those of fornication seems to indicate that most people need sex (rates of fornication are very high), but at the same time ARE willing to settle for one partner once they find them (as rates of adultery are comparatively low).

But ultimately, even if marital infidelity among practicing Catholics WERE at 50% also (though it is nowhere near that)...that's still hardly an argument for maintaining the facade when it comes to priests.

First, because it IS better to marry than to burn. No need to create an occasion of sin for these men. Monogamy is of the Faith, so we can't dispense with that. But priestly celibacy is not, it could be changed in a minute, so why put these men in a situation that is making half of them lose their souls?

Secondly, because priests are given a naive presumption of celibacy by the laity, who are often "surprised" when a priest is caught with a partner. Marital fidelity among the laity is less of a facade because the laity never claimed we were perfect. People are quite honest about current rates of infidelity, as your own very comment proves. Though they may personally claim to be faithful in their individual marriage, they'll ADMIT rates of infidelity in the population considered abstractly.

But the hierarchy and many Catholics deliberately try to DENY the statistics when it comes to priests. If a priest said to me, "I personally am celibate, however...50% of priests are not. But 20% of married Americans are committing adultery too, so don't be so surprised" that would be one thing. Even if he were lying about his own personal celibacy, at least he'd be candid about the population as a whole.

But they're not. There is a claim by the clergy not just that they personally are celibate...but that priests IN GENERAL are, by and large, faithful. A claim that your very comment proves isnt made for the married population in the same way.

Hence why I'd consider mandatory celibacy among priests a facade, but not marital fidelity. Beside the fact that rates of secret marital fidelity are much lower than the rates of secret priestly sexual activity...there is the fact that people know that adultery happens in society, but then try to claim that priests are, by and large, so radically more chaste than unmarried lay Catholics.

A Sinner said...

Even after all the scandals, people are still "surprised" by priestly transgressions like in the Father Cutie case, etc. Surprised in a way they arent about marital infidelity. To me this is counter-intuitive. Marital infidelity surprises me MORE than priestly infidelity, because married people already have a legitimate outlet for sex, so it is somewhat less understandable why they'd seek an additional illegitimate one. Celibate priests, however, have no legitimate outlet, so the fact that they seek an outlet in secret (and many of these priestly relationships are long-term and committed, by the way) is less surprising to me, just as fornication is less surprising than adultery.

The fact that married people cheat or divorce, or the fact that single people fornicate isnt the point. People are sinners, I dont judge. As I said early in the post...it is not the individual sin that angers me about priests breaking their celibacy. It is the FACADE maintained around celibacy that leads many people to presume that priests in general truly are celibate when they arent. As your own comment proves...such a presumption is not given to the married population. The problems there are quite well known. But with the priesthood, they try to HIDE it, try to cover it up, try to keep up appearances. It is THAT institutional spin-doctoring around the issue, not the sins of individuals, that makes me mad.

As for solving the vocations crisis, I think I've said elsewhere on the blog that that would also require reconsidering the notion of the priesthood as full-time salaried career. No, I dont think enough married men to permanently solve our problems would choose the priesthood as their full-time occupation, especially with the low pay.

But if, as in some Eastern Churches, the priesthood were a part-time volunteer service, and married men from the parish were drawn (as in the Ethiopian Church) to take on the priestly duties only one week a year or only on Sundays, etc...yes, I think that would solve the "crisis". There are plenty of men clearly willing to be Ushers, EMHCs, Readers, sing in the Choir, etc. If there were a tier of "priests simplex" who were similarly unpaid volunteers...that would solve the crisis of parishes not having Mass on Sundays, etc.

Married priests in themselves may not reduce the absolute number of abusers (though opening the Institutional dynamic might) but it would reduce the overall proportion of homosexuals (as most married men are assumed to be heterosexual).

A Sinner said...

Priestly celibacy is nice on paper. But the priesthood in itself only exists to minister the sacraments to the Catholic community. If we let a model of the priesthood limit the potential of sacramental ministry...we have let the means determine the ends. If the structure of the clergy isnt maximizing our potential, then there is no reason to cling to it as an end in itself, especially when priests could still be celibate if they chose to optionally.

We currently have a vocation shortage, not enough money to pay the ones we do have, parishes without Mass each week, a disproportionately high number of homosexuals in the clergy, Catholics drawn to more personal Evangelical groups because of the impersonal, bureaucratic atmosphere of Big Box parishes, and even young men (myself and others I've spoken to included) who WOULD be celibate priests, but are creeped out by the Total Institution aspects of seminaries.

At the same time, we have a glut of permanent deacons in the US, and a glut of lay volunteers, including many married men obviously willing to put in a few hours each week.

We're told that the solution to the vocations crisis is simply to foment more celibate vocations. They say their goal is to see tons more men showing up at the door willing to be celibate. And yet, if 50,000 young men showed up tomorrow willing to sign up, or even spread out over the course of 10 or 20 years...they wouldnt be able to handle them. There simply wouldnt be enough money to pay them (it is unlikely that each new priest would "bring in" enough new donations to cover a whole salary). To me it all sounds very self-defeating.

From my point of view, it's a no brainer. You're free to disagree, of course, but many people are sympathetic to my ideas. I don't appreciate the personal insinuations, however.

Mark of the Vineyard said...

I'd like to share a story. Over on my side of the world, in the Old World, in a traditionally Catholic country, where just last century a miracle of almost biblical proportions was witnessed by a large number of people, sexually active priests were not unheard of in the pre-V2 days.
I recall my grandmother telling me of how her father would take the village priest off in the dead of night to see his mistress who lived in another village. I believe she bore him a child or two. It seems stories like these were not uncommon (either a mistriss in another village, or the cleaning lady that would live inthe priest's house, etc), and there would be a child or two in almost every village known as the "priest's kids". Though it was taboo to talk about it was taken as something somewhat "normal" because, after all, "they were just men".

Perhaps "worse" than married clergy is the fact that so many Catholics nowadays see the priesthood as "just another job" and ignore the unique role of the presbyter in the sacraments, especially in the Eucharist (it seems that belief in the Divine Presence is on the decline).

A Sinner said...

To me it's not so much that it's seen as "just another" job...but that it's seen as a job at all.

The priesthood is not the consecrated life, though the full-time, paid, celibate model of the diocesan priesthood has turned it into a pseudo-consecrated life.

But in itself, the priesthood as such exists only for the sacramental ministry to the community. It is a service. Whether the man also leads a consecrated life, or is simply a volunteer...who he is or how he lives shouldn't matter. He is only an instrument, a servant of the community with a practical function to provide the sacraments.

As I said in the post, the priesthood exists for the sacramental ministry, not the sacramental ministry for the priesthood, as if it's there to just provide a job for priests to do.

Interestingly, this same confusion of ends and means exists in our current financial system, something I'll perhaps write about when I do a post on Social Credit.

Putting priests on a pedestal like this...is definitely an American phenomenon, ironically inspired by Puritanism. While I commend Americans for refusing to bear as much cognitive dissonance as Europeans have always been able to (the type of situation you describe was extremely common even in pre-Vatican II Europe). But to solve the dissonance by pretending that the priests live up to the standards set for them when they don't...is in some ways a worse facade than simply winking at the fact that the standard isnt met.

Jonathan said...

The Priesthood is The Priesthood is The Priesthood. Since when is one Ritual form (East or West) superior to the other. All draw their genesis from The Priesthood instituted by Christ and preserved via Apostolic Succession to the members of The Clergy today. But to say that somehow The Latin Rite takes The Priesthood more seriously for what it should be and that somehow those in The East are lacking is just egotistical. Both are valid forms, so why the insistence that The West is better than The East. This is why I get annoyed and sometimes want to give up on Traditionalism.

A Sinner said...

I agree, Jonathan. The East has a lot we can learn from, including their model of the priesthood. No one can say the East doesn't value the celibate life, they clearly do, more than us even, I'd argue. But they realize that trying to make it mandatory...is an artificial inflation. You can't legislate ideals. The East understands that pastoral concerns must come before theoretical jargon.

I think mandatory celibacy for secular priests is one of those issues where people get more defensive the more indefensible it becomes.

Kelly said...

I thought the permanent diaconate was supposed to be a sort of trial balloon for a married priesthood?

A Sinner said...

It certainly would make sense. But I think since that concession, other forces have come into power that are vehemently opposed to the idea. But at this point, they may have no choice.