Jesus Creed

A good article by a married priest in the RCC, Leonard Klein, a man who was formerly a Lutheran (and married) pastor:

A married priesthood would increase the pool of available men who might otherwise suppress their sense of vocation, but to blame celibacy for the shortage of priests overlooks some possibly more significant and spiritually weighty causes. Where there is a passion for the faith and an assertive call to sacrifice there tend to be more vocations. If the problem is secularization and weakened commitment, a married priesthood is not much of a solution. Richard Neuhaus’ famous and often maligned solution to the abuse crisis–“Faithfulness, Faithfulness, Faithfulness”–is likely both the better and the more realistic solution also to the vocations crisis. But to hear it requires abandoning some widespread assumptions.

The Long Lent of 2002, now dawning afresh in Ireland and Western Europe, has also led many to wonder anew about the wisdom of celibacy. While a celibate community does provide concealment for offenders and has contributed to the formation of dark networks of abusers, ending celibacy would not end human sinfulness. Celibacy does not cause abuse any more than marriage causes adultery. A married clergy and the ordination of women have hardly ended violations of the sixth commandment and pastoral trust in Protestantism. Protestantism endures the scandal of divorced and remarried clergy, sexual abuse in all forms, and in the mainline the increasingly successful effort to normalize homosexual liaisons. The Protestant experience ought to warn any thoughtful person off the notion that celibacy causes sexual misconduct. 

That argument is also a smokescreen. It conveniently serves a bias that was already in place. Worse, it has served the politically correct denial of the main feature of the abuse crisis, to wit, homosexual misconduct. Now again, in reports on the European crisis, the word “pedophilia” is automatically used to describe the homosexual abuse of young males, when the statistics and anecdotal accounts suggest only a handful are pedophiles and the rest are homosexual men behaving badly.

Thus to the question many would prefer to skirt: Would a married priesthood dilute the problem of homosexuality in the priesthood? Almost surely to some degree, although in Lutheranism a married clergy did not eliminate either homosexual networks or sham marriages. But the problem in the Catholic priesthood was not so much the presence of a disproportionate number of homosexual men; it was the winking at misconduct, culpable naivet? and the failure by bishops to deal with criminal acts.

Join the Discussion
comments powered by Disqus