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Debate: Should Catholic priests be allowed to marry?

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*'''Unmarried priests can focus entirely on God, Church.''' [http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A31091-2004Nov6.html Andrea Lemieux. "Should Roman Catholic Priests Be Allowed to Marry?". Washington Post. November 7, 2004]: "Roman Catholic priests should not be allowed to be married. They are to be Christ's earthly representatives, to live as He did, and that cannot be done with a wife in tow. When a priest takes his vows, he consecrates his life completely to God and forsakes all earthly attachments. A man cannot serve two masters, and it would be far too easy to follow a wife's wishes over God's." *'''Unmarried priests can focus entirely on God, Church.''' [http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A31091-2004Nov6.html Andrea Lemieux. "Should Roman Catholic Priests Be Allowed to Marry?". Washington Post. November 7, 2004]: "Roman Catholic priests should not be allowed to be married. They are to be Christ's earthly representatives, to live as He did, and that cannot be done with a wife in tow. When a priest takes his vows, he consecrates his life completely to God and forsakes all earthly attachments. A man cannot serve two masters, and it would be far too easy to follow a wife's wishes over God's."
-*'''Priests do not worry about sacrificing family life for God.''' [http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A31091-2004Nov6.html Kathryn Nicole Stockhausen. "Should Roman Catholic Priests Be Allowed to Marry?". Washington Post. November 7, 2004]: "I personally love having a non-married priesthood. I never have to worry about whether I am taking away from a child's time, or a wife's time, if I call up with an emergency."+*'''Priests should be torn between commitments to family and God.''' [http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A31091-2004Nov6.html Kathryn Nicole Stockhausen. "Should Roman Catholic Priests Be Allowed to Marry?". Washington Post. November 7, 2004]: "I personally love having a non-married priesthood. I never have to worry about whether I am taking away from a child's time, or a wife's time, if I call up with an emergency."
:[http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/article577213.ece "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." :[http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/article577213.ece "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."
 +
 +:[http://www.pearlsofnonsense.com/2009/05/12/should-catholic-priests-be-allowed-to-marry-i-dont-think-so.html "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."
*'''The Church should maintain its tradition of celibacy.''' [http://www.helium.com/debates/69718-priests-should-be-permitted-to-marry/side_by_side 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." *'''The Church should maintain its tradition of celibacy.''' [http://www.helium.com/debates/69718-priests-should-be-permitted-to-marry/side_by_side 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."

Revision as of 23:26, 26 May 2009

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. The effect of such suppression can be unfortunate, with many arguing that it creates the nefarious impulse to sexually molest young boys in the church. And, it is the controversy surrounding the fairly widespread molestation of young boys by priests that has brought special attention to whether it is a good idea to prevent priests from marrying.

Church: Does celibacy hurt/help priests perform duties to the Church?

Pro

  • 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.
  • 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."
  • 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]
  • Celibacy is no "gift from God", but only Church mandate. Rev. Donald Cozzens. "Commentary: Celibacy should be rethought". CNN. May 15, 2009: "How can a gift be legislated? The church answers that if a man is called to the priesthood, God will grant him the gift of celibacy. Many priests today wonder how church leaders know this. Reading the mind of God in this matter -- in any matter of church discipline -- is risky business. [...] More and more Catholics today are coming to understand that celibacy as a universal law for priests had its origins in the 12th century and that during the church's first millennium, priests and bishops -- and at least thirty-nine popes -- were married." Therefore, in the first years of the Church, it was not seen as a gift from God. It can only be seen, therefore, as something that the Church imposed on itself as a discipline and mandate. And, the Church can undo such a mandate.


Con

  • Unmarried priests can focus entirely on God, Church. Andrea Lemieux. "Should Roman Catholic Priests Be Allowed to Marry?". Washington Post. November 7, 2004: "Roman Catholic priests should not be allowed to be married. They are to be Christ's earthly representatives, to live as He did, and that cannot be done with a wife in tow. When a priest takes his vows, he consecrates his life completely to God and forsakes all earthly attachments. A man cannot serve two masters, and it would be far too easy to follow a wife's wishes over God's."
"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."
  • 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."

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

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."[3]


Con

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

Pro

  • Church policy on marriage is greedy effort to maximize revenues.
Rev. Donald Cozzens. "Commentary: Celibacy should be rethought". CNN. May 15, 2009: "the most human, existential factor that should keep the celibacy issue on the table is the spiritual and emotional health of priests. Celibacy really isn't the issue -- mandatory or obligatory celibacy is. [...] There are many priests who do possess the gift of celibacy -- it is their "truth" so to speak -- and their humanity, warmth and pastoral effectiveness give abundant evidence of their authentic celibate lives. But there remain other priests who believe deep down they are called to the priesthood but not to celibacy. And for these men, the burden of mandated celibacy threatens their spiritual and emotional well-being. The priesthood may be their "truth," but mandated celibacy wraps them in a cloak of loneliness and struggle. [...] I wonder if church officials understand the burden they place on the shoulders of a man who believes he is called to priestly ministry but not to celibacy. Certainly, a married priesthood will have burdens of its own and, sadly, scandals of its own -- infidelity and abuse among others. But it should be left to the individual priest and seminarian to determine whether or not he is blessed with the gift of celibacy."



Con

  • 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."



Vocations: Would allowing priests to marry increase vocations?

Pro

  • Priests should be allowed to marry to increase vocations. Rev. Donald Cozzens. "Commentary: Celibacy should be rethought". CNN. May 15, 2009: "For some years now I've been teaching in the religious studies department at John Carroll University in Cleveland. I've asked dozens of serious, healthy young students if they have given any thought to being a priest. They seem flattered by the question. With only one exception, each has answered, "Yes, I've thought about being a priest, but I want a family. [...] There are, of course, other factors, urgent and pressing, that will keep the celibacy issue alive. The Catholic priesthood is aging. The average age of active priests hovers at 60, and if retired priests are factored in, it is considerably higher. Moreover, Catholic seminaries are lucky to be half full. [...] Parish staffing challenges alone will press for a review of the celibacy rule. Catholic bishops simply do not have enough priests to meet the pastoral and sacramental needs of the Catholic faithful. Closing and merging parishes may offer some temporary relief for overworked priests, but the shortfall of priests will continue to challenge the vitality of Catholic parishes and the health of Catholic clergy for decades to come."



Con


Pro/con sources

Pro

Con

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