Posted by: agapeflower | May 12, 2009

I’ll be in the Anger Dome.

Regarding this story:

People sometimes ask me about priestly celibacy in the Church.  They know it’s not allowed, but they can’t figure out why.  “Wouldn’t it be so much better,” they tell me pleadingly (as if I had the power to change the rule, but whatever) “if priests were allowed to marry? You’d have so many more people going to church,” (I doubt it) they’d argue.  “The priest would know more about sex than they do now, and they’ll be more empathetic to our situations.”

First, a disclaimer: I am not a conservative Catholic.  I’m not.  The fact that I’m not has cost me friendships, and it’s been painful, but I go from what I believe and from what the Church teaches (well, most of the time – I’m getting there).  I also believe that we are not a church of “no no no,” but of “yes yes yes” – those yeses just happen to mostly be outside of what our society sees as yes.  And so there are people out there who would say to me, “Oh, of course she’s against this, she’s Catholic.”  But this is a big issue for me, and I don’t take that blanket statement as one that applies to me all the time.

Okay.  The men who are called by God to be Catholic priests take a vow of celibacy for a couple of reasons: 1) They are giving up everything they are to follow Christ and to live by His example; and 2) They need to do so, to provide for their Church properly.

A bit about the first point: celibacy is a sacrifice.  It’s not fun.  It’s not something (I’m sure) priests look forward to when they decide to follow this particular vocation.  But let’s put it in perspective.  Many priests (those who belong to orders, anyway) also have to give up all of their personal property and not take a huge salary (if any salary, depending on the order).  That is a sacrifice as well, and that is also painful.  People think that the vow of celibacy is greater than the vow of poverty, but I think it depends upon the person taking the vow and how much they love sex and how much they love money.  It’s not easy any way you slice it.  Same thing with those headstrong folk who have a hard time taking orders from headquarters (obedience is another vow).  People love to point out sex as being the first and only vow, but that is because we are hardwired to think of sex as first and only of anything in our society.

In short, yes –  celibacy is hard.  But it’s not everything.  It can be done.

About the second point (this is where my marriage comes in).  I am a married woman whose husband works hard all day.  When he comes home from work, we spend time together, and when we have children, I expect (just as he would of me) that we’ll work as hard as we can to focus on them and help them grow up properly (and not be demon children who can’t sit still for more than three minutes).  If they get in trouble, he’ll be there, any hour of the day or night.

And that’s what priests do, every hour of the day and night.  They can’t do both – minister to an entire parish, oversee all of its needs (and there are so many things that need to be done), be its “Father” (catchy title), and throw himself 100% into it, when he needs to also throw 100% into his marriage and family at home.  I honestly don’t think it can be done.  It’s the same thing when people divorce because a husband throws 100% of himself into his job working at a bank or for a large corporation – same argument.

*(I’m only speaking about the Catholic Church here – I know that other denominations have married pastors, but from what I understand, the dynamics are different between individual denominational churches and Catholic parishes so the analogy doesn’t quite apply here.)

So about this one priest.  What do I think? I think I have no idea about his situation, and I’m loath to trust a media who is out to attack anything with the word “Catholic” in it.  If I judge, then I’m like everyone else.  However, I did see an interview with him on TV the other day when he said that priests should be able to give up their vow of celibacy and still be priests, to which I can only say: good luck.  Not because the Church won’t allow you to, but because the woman you’ll have to share with the Church you serve will most likely have a problem with not being the center of your world (which is quite a large one, seeing as how he’s the “Oprah” of all Catholic priests, according to some reports).  I know this because I would feel the same way if my husband made that argument.

And also about this one priest: he is not a stand-in for all of the abuse cases that occured in the past decades by priests (which is a horrible, horrible thing that I do not condone).  He is not an open allowance to say, “Oh, well, you know the Church – at least this was a grown woman and not a little boy,” etc. etc.   Sexual abuse cases by priests in this country are less than 1%.  That means 99% of priests do not abuse. That does not excuse the behavior of the 1%, but it does put it in perspective that the Church is more than what people who don’t understand it perceive it to be.

[I have to stop my rant now, I’m running out of time.]

Condensed version of long rant: Just…stop hating, everyone.  There is so much time left in the day if you don’t.

ETA: *screams* – Now Salon has an article too.  I can’t even deal with it.



  1. Christy, I love you! lol…..I read this great article by Sam Miller, a Jewish businessman, and he addresses the priest scandal thing that I thought applied well to your bold sentence about priest scandal:

    “Let me give you some figures that you as Catholics should know and remember. For example, 12% of the 300 Protestant clergy surveyed admitted to sexual intercourse with a parishioner; 38% acknowledged other inappropriate sexual contact in a study by the United Methodist Church, 41.8 % of clergywomen reported unwanted sexual behavior; 17% of laywomen have been sexually harassed. 10% of the Protestant ministers have been found guilty of pedophilia. Meanwhile, only 1.7% of the Catholic clergy has been found guilty of pedophilia.”

  2. I KNEW there were stats out there! lol. Thanks for that! I was so angry yesterday, haha.

    What you posted just goes to show that it happens everywhere. That it happens at all is horrible, no matter where it comes from, but people are so quick to judge Catholics first.

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