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Debate: Catholic priest celibacy

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Should Catholic priests still be required to take a vow of celibacy?

Background and context

Catholic Priests are not allowed to marry.
The general premise put forward by the Catholic Church to justify this policy is that it forces
priests to fully commit to God and their priesthood, without the distraction of a wife, kids, and family. Yet, many have begun to question this practice. Many simply argue that it is unnatural and harmful to suppress one's sexual urges and desire to find a life partner. There are many examples of Catholic priests falling in love, engaging in romantic affairs, and subsequently coming under scrutiny and derision for doing so. Many also argue that the sexual suppression resulting from celibacy creates the nefarious impulse to molest young boys in the Church. As such cases of sexual molestation have proven widespread in the Catholic Church, many believe that it is time for the Church to re-assess its celibacy policies. Other considerations surround whether celibacy is divine law and doctrine, or simply a Church discipline that can be un-done. As the number of Catholic priests dwindle, many also wonder whether celibacy is the cause, and if allowing priests to marry would increase vocations.
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Church: Does celibacy hurt/help priests perform duties to the Church?

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Pro

I should have added too that the argument setting forth that domestic matters would interfere with our priests' pastoral duties is nonsensical. This is another illustration of the well-anchored perception that women being unable to have any other status than that of a servant needing direction. There are millions of women who raise families without a father, because of widowhood or separation, and most do very well. I am in this case, and people marvel at how well-behaved and enjoyable my daughter is, and I get.... $175/month in child support!!!! It is afflicting that women, now often well-educated and self-sufficient are still perceived as burdens vs. potential sources of support and well-being. What kind of spiritual availability can a depressed, alcoholic, or psychologically off-balance priest can offer his parishioners? Are there not hundreds of thousands of examples of pastors, orthodox and eastern catholic married priests with families that actually act as references to their community? Have you never met a pastor or orthodox priest whose father was a pastor or a priest because they had grown within not only a Christ-centered family but also a pastoral family? Please, break from the St Augustine's view of women! There are women who can be holy outside the convent, in laity!

Of course roman catholic priests should be able to get married! But this will never happen in the Catholic Church as we know it. It is utterly SAD to see marriage reduced to having sex or not having sex, and that sex cannot be anything else than dirty and sinful, and that women cannot be anything else than temptresses obsessed with distracting men, and especially priests... The Church has found in the eloquence of St Augustine all that She needed to validate Her wealth and power building strategies in the Middle Ages as She was receiving large dowries from the aristocratic boys and girls who were sent to Her for priesthood or monastic life. The last situation that She wanted to face was to see this wealth disseminated to support the families of Her clerics. Instituting mandatory celibate combined with a vow of poverty was Her most efficient tactics to safely build Her wealth and associated power. The fundamental issue with priest celibacy is the peception of women and priests within the catholic church, which have not changed since medieval times. With St Augustine, women became portrayed as satanic temptresses vowed to use their sexual attributes to lead men to spiritual destruction, and hardly had any kind os spiritual ability. With him, sex was, for the first time ever, clarly and irectly associated with sin, in contradiction with the Bible's referring to achieving Oneness in love. The trouble is that St Augustine, while very smart and eloquent, was also what we would call today, a sex addict. In the face of his chirstian conversion, the burden of his past sexual "exploits" became such that, unable to take responsibility through forgiving himself, he transferred his guilt onto all women as a generalization of those he has sexually abused, because he knew that any woman could easily tempt him and he was too weak to resist. What is remarkable is that the Catholic Church established him as one of Her pillars, while his writings conveyed such hatred of women in blatant contradiction to Jesus' teachings of Love and Justice. No less remarkable is that the Catholic Church ended up, to serve Her materialistic needs, building Her Canon re: relationships with women on St Augustine's Confessions (of a sick man) rather than the Bible! and almost 1600 years later, the Church has not made a single move to reestablish women in a spiritually meaningful position (I am not talking about priesthood) but still maintain them is some kind of serving sub-status. It is therefore logical that the Church prohibits the marriage of priests, as She cannot fathom any positive role for the priest-on the contrary-vand it will remain so so long as She keeps portraying women according to St. Augustine's Confession rather than the Bible.

The irony is that the Church's mandatory celibacy of priests ends upconveying Her profound disrespect for priests who are not even perceived as able to control their pulsions or see anything else than sex (=sin) in a woman, and makes it that the "Call" to vocation ends up targeting maybe highly spiritual men but also very dysfunctional psychologically. In the end in warding off sex and women with such extreme, the Church has ended up transforming the positive message of Christ into a negative doctrine centered on what She despises most- women and sex. The second irony (of a long list indeed) is having gone at such lengths to cling to her wealth and power, the Church today ends up having to liquidate part of Her treasure to indemnify victims of the sex abuse cases, opening the gates to some unscrupulous individuals who allege sexual abuse to make a quick and easy buck, ruining lives, and covering Herself with shame.

Such a pathetic picture conveys deep pain and mounting resentment if not rage among faithful catholics like myself, as we feel betrayed by the Church, and ridiculed by Her as well as non Church members. Yet, in the face of this catastrophic situation, the Church hierarchy remains in denial and camps on the medieval positions that caused all this turmoil. Maybe the Catholic Church as we know it needs to collapse in order for authentic Christianity to return, for Christ to come back in our lives.



  • Marriage and family do not distract from priesthood. Thomas DeMatteo, a non-practicing Catholic from Dingmans Ferry, Delaware, USA: "There are pastors and ministers who are allowed to marry and it doesn't affect their job in doing God's work. I really don't see a problem with priests being able to wed."[1]
  • Married priests could better consult married churchgoers Priests are counselors in many ways, counseling individuals on their lives and how they can better reach God. Because marriage is such an important part of living a moral life, it would be valuable for priests to be married so that they can better understand their married churchgoers and provide better counseling as a result.
  • Marriage/sex are sacred; priests should be allowed to marry Paragraph 2362 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (2nd ed.) says: "The acts in marriage by which the intimate and chaste union of the spouses takes place are noble and honourable; the truly human performance of these acts fosters the self-giving they signify and enriches the spouses in joy and gratitude."[2]


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Con

"Should Catholic priests be allowed to marry?". Times Online. October 11, 2005: "A good friend of mine is a Pastor for the Church on Scotland and I know how he struggles in his marriage as well as in his community as he feels he can't be totally devoted to any of them. Name and address withheld."
"Should Catholic priests be allowed to marry? I don’t think so." Pearls of Nonsense. May 12th, 2009: "I’m no theologian, but it seems there are two main ways we Catholic faithful share in the Church’s mission as adults: through marriage and family life, or through religious and clerical life. Since both vocations require a lifelong, full-time commitment, it seems unreasonable to expect anyone to do both at the same time. For example, if a priest were also a husband and father, and he had to choose between the needs of the Church and the needs of his wife and children, who would come first? Or, similarly, if a nun were also a wife and mother? There’s no obviously correct answer, so the preferable thing to do is avoid the question."


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Religious doctrine: Would allowing priests to marry comply with religious doctrine?

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Pro

Absolutely! There is nothing in the Dogma that supports mandatory celibacy for priests. St Paul, who is most often quoted on this matter, in fact specifically offers the opposite of a prohibition: "I am saying that for your own good, NOT TO RESTRICT YOU, but etc...", in the form of a personal recommendation. In all humility (a cardinal value in catholicism) and authentic love, he respects his audience by leaving those called to priesthood free choice.


  • Priestly celibacy is unnatural. Adrian Ryan. "Should Catholic priests be allowed to marry?". Times Online, Comment. October 11, 2005: "Celibacy is an unnatural state. How can a priest be expected to advise on the complexities of a normal marital relationship when he himself is utterly ignorant? It is only natural that a priest would want to marry, have a family and experience the love, affection, and fulfillment that marriage can bring. It is high time that the Church recognised and encouraged it. Adrian Ryan, Ardara, Ireland."
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Con

  • Bible provides clear rationale for forbidding priests from marrying. Unmarried 1 Corinthians 7:32b–35 NIV: "An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord's affairs—how he can please the Lord. But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world—how he can please his wife— and his interests are divided. An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord's affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world—how she can please her husband. I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord."[4]


"NOT TO RESTRICT YOU"

there is a difference between "forbidding" and "recommending not to"! the very passage from St Paul that you mention clearly states "I am saying this for your own good, NOT TO RESTRICT YOU, but that you may live etc..."- which is specifically the OPPOSITE of a prohibition ("NOT TO")and a recommended OPTION that St Paul offers in full respect of individual choices and people.

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Tradition: Is it wrong to maintain the tradition of Catholic priest celibacy?

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Pro

What is wrong is to impose a tradition that finds its roots in St Augustine's pathological perception of women as mere sexual objects without much spirituality because he could not assuage his guilt of having sexually used/abused (in those days women were kept sheltered in families until marriage-therefore sex out of wedlock was either rape or prostitution)a large number of women and abandoned his concubine of 7 years and their son. What is the credibility of a tradition established on St Augustine's Confessions rather than the Bible?


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Con

  • The Church should maintain its tradition of celibacy. R.N. Lentejas Jr. "Debate: Priests should be permitted to marry". Helium: "I believe that priests in the Latin Church should live a celibate life to maintain the rich tradition of the Church. It has been a universal notion from time immemorial until today and until the future that priests are celibates for the sake of the Kingdom of God. This is a universal understanding from across the globe unique to Catholic priests alone, because there are priests in other Christian churches who are actually married. There exists among them (Catholic priests) a universal concept of brotherhood, surpassing the many barriers of race, culture, ethnic origin, economic standing, and many others."
  • Allowing priests to marry insults those who kept celibate. Archbishop John Foley, a Vatican spokesman, said in 2005: "I think it would be an insult to the priests who have remained faithful to readmit these individuals who have left the priesthood in order to marry."[5]


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Sexual abuse: Will allowing priests to marry lower sexual abuse in Church?

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Pro

  • Allowing priests to marry would reduce sexual abuse in Church. Louise Linehan, a non-practicing Catholic from Dingmans Ferry: "I think priests should be allowed to marry because it might lessen the sexual abuse cases there are in the church."[6]
John Aloysius Farrell. "Catholic Church Should End Celibacy Rule, Let Rev. Cutie and Other Priests Marry". US News and World Report. May 12, 2009: "You would think that after all the molestation scandals of recent years, the Catholic Church would give its priests a break and let them choose to be celibate, or to enjoy loving relationships with women."


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Con

Probably not- the issue of celibacy (along with the "vocation crisis") is not about sex or no sex. It is about an imposed discipline, with zero dogmatic foundation- based on the use by the Church of St Augustine's despicable view of women to serve the Church's central concern with preserving her wealth and power. Extensive statistical data gathered and analyzed by an independent source are needed before venturing in such correlation. I am a scientist, adn do not draw conclusions absent of statistically significant data. Sexual predation roots in the urge of asserting power, and as such is not an exclusive deviation of celibacy at all- you have sexual predators who are married!


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Vocations: Would allowing priests to marry increase vocations?

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Finances: Would allowing priests to marry help/hurt Church finances?

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Pro

  • Church policy on marriage is greedy effort to maximize revenues. By banning marriage, the Church prevents the assets of a priest from going to his family, ensuring instead that it goes to the Church. This is an unfortunate abuse of Church power to acquire wealth.


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Con

reading the previous comment: here we are, at the crux of the problem! the Church would need to pay them more, which She has gone at great length to not do for almost 10 centuries through imposing celibacy. Not only that but the Church would also have to admit She erred in positioning St Augustine's "Confessions" at the cornerstone of her canon thereby labelling until today women as mere sexual objects and temptresses vowed to the felling virtuous spiritual men....


  • Allowing priests to marry would require Church pay them more. Kathryn Nicole Stockhausen. "Should Roman Catholic Priests Be Allowed to Marry?". Washington Post. November 7, 2004: "And as for financial considerations, most Roman Catholic priests, especially diocesan ones, receive a substantial portion of their pay in the form of in-kind contributions. This would be difficult to maintain if a priest took on a wife and children, and their pay would have to be increased as well. The church, especially in America, is having enough financial problems right now without adding to it by allowing priests to marry."



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Pro/con sources

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