Friday, July 29, 2011

Celibacy--Oh Well

Today I heard of a priest who recently left the ministry.  News like this tends to find me--must be the inactive priest magnet that I ontologically inherited.
Now, having been down the road of leaving the active diocesan priesthood years ago, I want to dismiss this blog from all rumors, slanders, and accusations which I am sure surround the specific situation.  After all it really doesn't matter who or where or even how....does it?

What was interesting was where my brief conversation lead--the issue of celibacy.
The person asked me "Having been on both sides of the ministry" (He was speaking not only of my being a Roman Catholic priest, but a married Episcopalian for a stint) "...what do you think?  Should the Roman Catholic Church allow it's priests to be married?"
I didn't have to think one second.
My lived experience was all I needed.

I used to believe that mandatory celibacy was one of the roots of many evils in the Church--and the uneducated media and issue driven (often angry) people want you to believe such.
Don't even go down the sexual perversion route--last I checked marriage was not seen as a cure for sexual predators.
Getting rid of celibacy is not the answer to any evil in the church or the world.
Last I checked there are other faiths where celibacy is not mandatory for it's ministers and their formation programs are not all filled to capacity.

When I was a Roman Catholic priest--I had no concerns over getting the family to church or dealing with the opinions of parishoners if your family preferred going to an earlier service or if your child didn't smile at someone else's kid or if it was your family's turn to provide cookies after the service--and that's just one Sunday.  Not to mention when you come home on that same day getting called out to the hospital while your family was heading in a completely different direction, or getting the house painted and cutting the grass-------i'm just saying when I was a Roman Catholic priest I didn't have those 'little' concerns.

I have heard all the arguments--theological, social, historical, financial, and cultural--I put alot of effort into trying to convince people for years that the church needed to change and grow..
That's like marrying someone thinking you can make them into someone else.

On occasion a priest who is thinking about leaving will contact me.  Right away I will ask them if they are in an intimate relationship and they answer 'yes'.  At that point I cut right to the chase.  They owe it to themselves and their love to discern properly.  Don't even start giving me the arguments for relaxing celibacy and don't complain to me about the way the Church needs to grow and change.  It is just wasted energy and it deflects from the real discernment that the 'couple' will need to enter into.
I figured they called me so I have nothing to lose by coddling them.
If you are in love then great--you'll grow deeper into God.  If you aren't in love and are just lonely and ticked--well that is a whole other issue.

So my opinion on celibacy is not what one would expect to hear from a 'married' priest.
Oh well.