Priests who enter their sacred vocation with no intention of keeping their vows are lying to themselves and the Church and the public. They are cheating God, the Church and the public, and they are stealing positions away from men and women who are righteous and honorable. They masquerade as messengers of God, but underneath the mask is all that is ugly. Rasa unmasks their evil.
In the days of slavery, many people of justice and love fought against discrimination to help those who could not help themselves. Honorable people of both the North and the South wanted black people to be free. Why have not the priests of the Catholic Church done anything whatsoever to stop the ostracism of women. Is it because they have turned the Catholic Church into a pleasure ground, a private men’s club for homosexuals and child abusers.
But the intellectual and moral gymnastics necessary to square divorce, adultery, promiscuity, and homosexuality with an ideal of proclaiming the teachings of the Bible are so rigorous that many American Christians have decided not to watch the performance. Which is to say that the sexual revolution of the 1970s, including both a relaxation of taboos on pre- and extra-marital sex and zealotry for gender egalitarianism, fully undid the Protestant mainline.
Many evangelicals knew that the mainline’s credibility was already questionable, a consequence of the modernist-fundamentalist controversy of the 1920s, when under the influence of liberal theology, mainline churches waffled on historic doctrines. But the fall from moral integrity since the 1970s has been so precipitous that the very term mainline has become more of a nostalgic wish than an honest description.
Celibacy retains its original meaning of “unmarried”. Though even the married may observe continence, abstaining from sexual intercourse, the obligation to be celibate is seen as a consequence of the obligation to observe perfect and perpetual continence for the sake of the Kingdom of heaven.Advocates see clerical celibacy as “a special gift of God by which sacred ministers can more easily remain close to Christ with an undivided heart, and can dedicate themselves more freely to the service of God and their neighbour.The law of clerical celibacy is considered to be not a doctrine, but a discipline. Exceptions are sometimes made, especially in the case of Protestant clergymen who convert to the Catholic Church, and the discipline could in theory be changed for all ordinations to the priesthood.
The celibacy debate
Garry Wills, in his book Papal Sin: Structures of Deceit, argued that the imposition of celibacy among Catholic priests played a pivotal role in the cultivation of the Church as one of the most influential institutions in the world. In his discussion concerning the origins of the said policy, Wills mentioned that the Church drew its inspiration from the ascetics, monks who devote themselves to meditation and total abstention from earthly wealth and pleasures in order to sustain their corporal and spiritual purity, after seeing that its initial efforts in propagating the faith were fruitless. The rationale behind such strict policy is that it significantly helps the priests perform well in their religious services while at the same time following the manner in which Jesus Christ lived his life. Moreover, the author also mentioned that although the said policy insists on helping priests focus more on ecclesiastical duties, it also enabled the Church to control the wealth amassed by the clerics through their various religious activities hence contributing to the growing power of the institution.
The Latin Church discipline continues to be debated for a variety of reasons.
First, many believe celibacy was not required of the apostles. Peter himself had a wife at the time of Jesus’ ministry, whose mother Jesus healed of a high fever. and 1 Corinthians 9:5 is commonly interpreted as saying that, years later, Peter and other apostles were accompanied by their wives. However, on the basis especially of Luke 18:28-30, others think the apostles left their wives, and that the women mentioned in 1 Corinthians as accompanying some apostles were “holy women, who, in accordance with Jewish custom, ministered to their teachers of their substance, as we read was the practice with even our Lord himself”.
Second, this requirement excludes a great number of otherwise qualified men from the priesthood, qualifications which according to the defenders of celibacy should be determined not by merely human hermeneutics but by the hermeneutics of the divine. Supporters of clerical celibacy answer that God only calls men to the priesthood if they are capable. Those who are not called to the priesthood should seek other paths in life since they will be able to serve God better there. Therefore, to the supporters of celibacy no one who is called is excluded.
Third, some say that resisting the natural sexual impulse in this way is unrealistic and harmful for a healthy life. Sexual scandals among priests, especially homosexuality and pedophilia, the defenders say, are a breach of the Church’s discipline, not a result of it, especially since only a small percentage of priests have been involved. Further, Paul of Tarsus supports celibacy in the New Testament.
Fourth, it is said that mandatory celibacy distances priests from this experience of life, compromising their moral authority in the pastoral sphere, although its defenders argue that the Church’s moral authority is rather enhanced by a life of total self-giving in imitation of Christ, a practical application of Vatican II teaching that “man cannot fully find himself except through a sincere gift of himself.”
In 1970, nine German theologians, including Joseph Ratzinger (the future Pope Benedict XVI), signed a letter calling for a new discussion of the law of celibacy, though refraining from making a statement as to whether the law of celibacy should in fact be changed.
In 2011, hundreds of German, Austrian and Swiss theologians (249 as of February 15, 2011) signed a letter calling for married priests, as well as women in Church ministry.
In February 2013, shortly before resigning in view of accusations, which he denied, of having made improper advances to priests in the past, Cardinal Keith O’Brien said, in an interview with the BBC, that he felt that it would be within the scope of the next elected Pope to rethink the rules to allow Roman Catholic priests to be married if they wished, as celibacy was not of divine origin. In the interview he stated that “of course we know at the present time in some branches of the church – in some branches of the Catholic church – priests can get married”. In reality, while in some Eastern Catholic Churches married men may become priests, no Eastern Catholic Church allows priests to marry.
In March 2013, 21 Catholic parliamentarians from the United Kingdom wrote a letter to Francis, asking him to allow married men in Great Britain to be ordained as priests, keeping celibacy as the rule for bishops, as a sign of the “high regard we have for those who are able to live a genuinely celibate life.” The letter cited the fact that married Anglican priests have been ordained by the Catholic Church and allowed to serve as Catholic priests, noting that “These men and their families have proved to be a great blessing to our parishes.””Based on that very positive experience,” the letter continued, “we would request that, in the same spirit, you permit the ordination of married Catholic men to the priesthood in Great Britain.’
Opposition to clerical celibacy during the Reformation
Celibacy as a requirement for ordination to the priesthood (in the Western Church) and to the episcopate (in East as well as in West) and declaring marriages of priests invalid (in both East and West) were important points of disagreement during the Protestant Reformation, with the Reformers arguing that these requirements were contrary to Biblical teaching in 1 Ti 4:1-5, Heb 13:4 and 1 Co 9:5, implied a degradation of marriage, and were one reason “many abominations” and for widespread sexual misconduct within the clergy at the time of the Reformation. The doctrinal view of the Reformers on this point was reflected in the marriages of Zwingli in 1522, Luther in 1525, and Calvin in 1539; in England, the married Thomas Cranmer was made Archbishop of Canterbury in 1533. Both of these actions, marriage after ordination to the priesthood and consecration of a married man as a bishop, went against the long-standing tradition of the Church in the East as well as in the West. See Clerical marriage.
Since the Second Vatican Council
The Holy See has officially re-affirmed the discipline of clerical celibacy in the Latin Church of the Catholic Church. Pope John Paul II in Pastores Dabo Vobis stated that the “unchanging” essence of ordination “configures the priest to Jesus Christ the Head and Spouse of the Church.” Thus, he said, “The Church, as the Spouse of Jesus Christ, wishes to be loved by the priest in the total and exclusive manner in which Jesus Christ her Head and Spouse loved her.”
Still, in 1993, at a weekly audience of tourists and pilgrims, Pope John Paul II said that celibacy “does not belong to the essence of priesthood”.The Latin Church now admits married men of mature age to ordination as deacons, provided that they intend to remain permanently as deacons and do not intend to advance to priestly ordination(ordination to the order of deacon is part of the process through which priests pass on their way to priestly ordination). Ordination even to the diaconate is an impediment to a later marriage (for example, if a man who was already married by the time of ordination to the diaconate subsequently becomes a widower), though special dispensation can be received for remarriage under extenuating circumstances