Friday, November 17, 2006

Celibacy now, celibacy tomorrow, celibacy forever

Already the non-Catholic press is having a field day spreading the misguided notion that Pope Benedict XVI is going to end the celibacy rule for the priesthood. The Vatican says it has no intention of doing so-I am thankful that it does not. If you believe some people, the Holy See ought to care more about the ideas of men and quit upholding the Laws of God.

Father Vann Johnston, Chancellor of the Diocese of Knoxville, makes a couple of good points:

"I don't ever foresee a point where priestly celibacy would ever be totally done away with," Johnston said.

Father Johnston is right. For those of you who are not Catholic, you ought to know that many of the folks advocating for the complete end of priestly celibacy are the same bunch who want to ordain women and, in many cases, allow for Holy Mother Church to sanction so-called gay "marriage." These people apparently think that they have the authority to decide what the Church should teach and practice and what the Holy Scriptures do and do not mean, and that the Successors to the Apostles do not have any authority greater than lay authority.

There is a name for such people-they are Protestants.

Since they are Protestants de facto why don't they just do those of us who try to be good practicing Catholics a favor and become Protestants de jure? If you don't want to follow the laws of the Church, and you want to have a totally married clergy and female clergy and gay marriage and whatever else you want to have in your personal religious world, then find churches where they allow that sort of business-or better still, do as the rest of the Protestant world has done and create your own church where you can believe as you bloody well please-just don't call it Catholic.

Father Vann went on to explain to the Channel 8 reporter that a number of married men who are former Protestant ministers have converted to Catholicism and have become priests. This is quite true-but what the folks at WVLT did not tell you is that a majority of these priests came from the Anglican Communion, and were ordained on the condition that if anything should happen to their spouse they would not be free to marry again. What's more, I would be willing to bet that any future general modification in the celibacy rule would carry that stipulation for any married man wishing to be ordained, a stipulation that I would fully support.

I want to explain to my Protestant friends that nothing I have said here is meant as a personal slight twoard you or your faith in Christ, but it reflects what I see as a modern religious reality: People have no respect for Sacred Authority or Sacred Tradition, and they think they can simply interpret the Truth how they please-this is not so, God is not the author of Confusion.

There are those on the Right who are just as guilty of this kind of fallacy as those on the Left-the Church says or does something you don't like so you think you can pick and choose what you can and cannot believe. The Church's social justice teachings do not fit in with your political party so you think you can pick them out of your religious practice-nope, sorry. You think aborticide is a "choice" but you would never do it yourself, but you go to Communion, you are a good Catholic, right? Nope, sorry. You think the Pope is a nice old man in Rome but what he says doesn't have an impact on what you do-he isn't really the Successor of Peter, is he? Yes he is and you are not, thank God.

The celibacy rule is not dogma, and yes, the Church could change it-I think it is unwise to do so. Those of you who have been involved in Protestant ministry know the difficulties that families bear in such a situation, and I have seen this firsthand. Multiply that difficulty and stress by a hundred times and that is what it would be like for married priests and their families. Perhaps worst of all, I'd be willing to bet that within five days of lifting the celibacy rule and allowing priests to marry, we will have divorced priests. We aren't like many of the Protestants here...divorce is a putrid thing to us, and divorce and remarriage gets a person excommunicated de facto, and it is a terrible example to the people-so we are going to let priests marry and then do we defrock the priests whose spouses break under the strain of public scrutiny? It will surely happen...

For those who think that celibacy is the cause of the shortage of priests in many areas, perhaps you should know that I once seriously considered entering the priesthood. I ultimately determined that the priesthood was not my vocation, but celibacy had nothing to do with it-I was ready for a celibate life had the Lord called me to the priesthood, and I would have willingly embraced it.

Matthew 19:12:

For there are eunuchs, who were born so from their mother's womb: and there are eunuchs, who were made so by men: and there are eunuchs, who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven. He that can take, let him take it.

Our political views may be something that we cherish and we may believe them to be right, but Sacred Truth is really what we believe. What do I believe?

I believe that the Holy Catholic Church was founded by Jesus Christ the Lord, and that it serves as God's living Body and representative on Earth.

I believe that Pope Benedict XVI is the Successor of Peter and is the visible head of the Church on Earth-Christ is the Spreme Head of the Church and of all believers.

I believe that the Holy Eucharist is the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Christ our Lord (See John 6:31-55). It is not a mere symbol, and when consecrated it is not a cracker, wafer, chicklet, or mere piece of bread.

I believe that the Bishops are the Successors of the Apostles, and that God placed our religious authorities over us for good or for ill, and that authority must be respected and obeyed.

I renounce Satan, all his works, and all his empty promises.

I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, creator of Heaven and Earth.

I believe in Jesus Christ His only Son, Our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He decended to the Dead, and on the third day he rose again according to the Scriptures.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, and in one, Holy, Catholic, and apostolic Church. I acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins, and look for the ressurrection of the dead, and in the life of the world to come.

And I believe that if you do not believe any of what I just proclaimed above, you can be any of many things, but you cannot be a genuine Catholic.



At Friday, November 17, 2006 11:14:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think its time for the truth to be told about the real reasons why the Roman Catholic Church will not let priests marry. While admittedly I am an atheist, the celibacy requirement has nothing to do with priests having a personal relationship with God. What it has to do with is money and control. Nothing more.

My father is a former Catholic priest told my mom soon after they were married that the Catholic Church will not allow priests to marry since the church does not want to pay the salaries and benefits associated with married clergy.

This would explain the church's opposition to women clergy as well since the church would have to spend more money on women clergy if they took time off to have or take care of their children.

At Friday, November 17, 2006 3:05:00 PM, Blogger Dave Oatney said...

Mr. Renzulli;
I am sure you will understand that since you are in fact an atheist, I have to presume that you are a bitter one unless proven otherwise-most atheists I meet are bitter and aren't really atheists at all, they are angry at God, so they shun Him.

If your Father left the priesthood and is married, I think it is quite fair to say that he never had a vocation to the priesthood to begin with and he probably had no business there. I think it is extremely unfortunate that he may have taken the souls of not a few other people with him, but I pray that is not the case.

Laicized priests who have left the priesthood to marry often claim that the Church will not allow married priests because "they" would have to pay "married" salary and benefits. Let's clarify who "they" are. "They" are not the Vatican, but "they" are local churches and dioceses throughout the world-that is who pay priests salaries. Some of these local parishes and dioceses actually have married clergy. In Eastern rite churches in union with Rome, they have always had married clergy-these clergy do not receive any greater salary or benefits than single celibate clergy, and the priests are aware of that before they marry (in Eastern rite churches, a priest must marry before he is ordained-he can also never rise to the episcopate). Many Latin Rite dioceses have priests who are former Anglicans who are alreadyy married and have received a special dispensation to be ordained a priest-they also receive no greater salary or benefits. Even if the Church lifted the celibacy requirement in the Latin rite tomorrow, it would likely have no impact on salary or benefits of diocesan priests-something priests are well aware of.

Hence, the issue of having to pay additional salary or benefits is not an issue-it would not happen even if the requirement were lifted. Contrary to popular belief, parishes, dioceses, and the Vatican do not have an endless supply of money on which to draw that they are hoarding. The priceless antiquities the Vatican possesses in its safekeeping are considered the collective treasure of all humanity and are insured for a grand total of one dollar-no joke. The Vatican itself has been in a state of debt since the early 1900's.

The Church is opposed to women clergy because of doctrine, because the priest is seen to act in persona Christi, in the person of Christ. Since priests and Bishops were ordained by Christ to their work and the first priests and bishops (the Apostles) were not women and Christ (in whose person priests act) was not a female. That doesn't mean that women cannot be fully active in church ministry, even as a career, vocation, or calling-they just can't be ordained.

The Diocese of Knoxville has a myriad of women in ministries of all sorts, and many are paid benefits and get the family leave required by law (and more), and many of these women are in positions of authority in their parishes or the diocese-the same is true in locales all over the country. Again, not an issue.

It is a matter in one case of Sacred Tradition and in another of dogma-neither of which will dramatically change. The Church may allow for greater latitude in the ordination of married men and she may not-but I stand with and support the Church and I understand why things are the way they are, and I embrace that fully.

At Friday, November 17, 2006 8:29:00 PM, Blogger Jim Boyd said...


Do you realize you just said that most Protestants are supporters of gay marriage?!?

"For those of you who are not Catholic, you ought to know that many of the folks advocating for the complete end of priestly celibacy are the same bunch who want to ordain women and, in many cases, allow for Holy Mother Church to sanction so-called gay "marriage." These people apparently think that they have the authority to decide what the Church should teach and practice and what the Holy Scriptures do and do not mean, and that the Successors to the Apostles do not have any authority greater than lay authority.

There is a name for such people-they are Protestants."

As someone who was brought up as a Protestant and attends Catholic church with my wife... As someone who is firmly AGAINST gay marriage, I'll overlook this small gaff. Heck, since I usually enjoy your writing, I'll even help you pull your foot out of your mouth.

But just this once.


At Friday, November 17, 2006 9:41:00 PM, Blogger Steve Mule said...

Hi All, including you, David,
Roman Catholic Celibracy has bifractued roots - the first is the ancient (& pagan) tradition/philosphy of the ascetics. The second and most practical is in the inheiritence laws of medievil Europe. (please note that I am suffering from a serious cold, or, possibly, the onset of flue - so my spelling sux and I don't care) The priests were fathering childern (married or not) and many of Europe's Nobility purchased clergy positions for thier childern who would then grow up and have childern. This created issues with the nobility loosing their land to church and/or the church looosing its' land to the nobility. Besides it made the clergy look bad in serveral notable instances. SO ... celibracy was the answer, justified by aestic philosphy wrapped in the appropriate Bible verses.


At Saturday, November 18, 2006 2:05:00 AM, Blogger Steve Mule said...

Oh, by the way, I forgot to mention earlier that I once knew a celibate prostitute. Yes, that's right. Everytime she was short of money she'd go down to the corner and celi-bit!



At Saturday, November 18, 2006 6:19:00 AM, Blogger The Constantly BAREFOOTED Ray said...

Dave, as I'm quite sure you expected, here come the enemies of God and his Holy Mother Church to ttack the church and you who follow and believe in her. These thinly veiled attacks have not gone unnoticed by me; and, I see, not you either. Let me offer thsummary of yet another reason the Holy Mother Church REQUIRES celibacy of her priests. A Catholic Priest does not just offer mass for one hour a day and then he's done being a priest until the next mass. He MUST be available twety four hours a day seven days a week for the need of his parishoners. IF by chance I should need a priest at 2:00 in the morning, I must be assured that I can call upon a priest for what ever the need may be and one will be available to me. If priests were to marry, I fail to see how this could be possible.

At Saturday, November 18, 2006 12:11:00 PM, Blogger Dave Oatney said...

You are quite right that not all Protestants support gay marriage and that the majority (in this country, at least) do not-but my meaning was something larger.

By definition a Protestant is a Christian who accepts the basic tenets of Christian doctrine (on the nature of Christ) but who does not accept the authority of the Papacy or the magisterium of the Church. There may be many Protestants who agree with the Catholic Church on social issues, but that doesn't make them Catholic since they reject the Church's foundational authority. No, all Protestants

So-called Catholics who want to call themselves Catholic but accept aborticide or gay marriage or (insert heresy or false doctrine here) are in fact not Catholic at all, but in refusing to accept the Church's authority, they have become de facto Protestants. Have they become liberal Protestants, outside the realm of orthodoxy or even appropriate Christian thought? Absolutely-they are hardly representative of all of Protestantism.

In the strictest sense, these people become Protestant by default...that doesn't mean that all Protestants agree with gay marriage or abortion.

At Saturday, November 18, 2006 12:19:00 PM, Blogger Dave Oatney said...

You are quite correct about the reason the celibacy was finally codified in canon law(European progeny laws), but the practice was promoted, encouraged, and utilized right back to apostolic times.

At Saturday, November 18, 2006 7:38:00 PM, Blogger Steve Mule said...

you are correct - however, caution should be applied: 1st) The practice wasn't that widespread, unheard of, no, common, no, big no. Secondly, it was prominently practiced by a few gnostic/pagan cults. So ... appeal to Apostolic times carefully - just because it was happening then doesn't mean that it was Christians doing it.


At Sunday, November 19, 2006 11:34:00 AM, Blogger Steve Mule said...

You should differentiate betwen NonCatholics and Protestants. Muslims reject the Authority of Rome but they are not Protestants. Additionally, the Eastern Orthodox Church rejects the autority of Rome and they are not Protestants. The word Protestant has come to mean something different than simply opposed to Rome. You should be more careful with your terms and how you use them.


At Sunday, November 19, 2006 1:56:00 PM, Blogger Dave Oatney said...

The Eastern Orthodox DO NOT reject the authority of Rome-their disagreement is about where that authority ought to be applied. The Orthodox to not believe in the Primacy of the Petrine Chair, but they do not deny the Pope's authority as Patriarch of the West.

Secondly, the Orthodox accept the notion of the magisterium of the Church-Protestants do not, and if you re-read my comment, you will note that I made that clear distinction. Also note the distinction between Eastern Churches in loose union with the Patriarch of Constantinople and those in union with Rome-there are many of both.

Thirdly, there are as many sources pointing to the idea that celibacy was widely practiced by Christians in the apostolic and post-apostolic eras as there are sources pointed to the fact that there was no mandate of the practice and there were married priests. I would recommend the book Apostolic Origins of Priestly Celibacy by Father Christian Cochini, SJ and Celibacy in the Early Church by Stephan Heid. Both are excellent "starter books on the subject. Both are published by Ignatius Press.

At Sunday, November 19, 2006 2:09:00 PM, Blogger Steve Mule said...

My point, my only point, was they are not Catholic and they are not Protestant. That's all.
Opposition to Rome (in whatever form or degree of significance) does not define Protestant. It might have at one time but no longer. That's all.
As for origin of Celibracy (and all its baggage) I'm not sufficently interested in the subject to study it in any detail. I feel that simply put, Celibracy is unecessary and its origins sufficently flakey to justify disinterest.


At Sunday, November 19, 2006 2:38:00 PM, Blogger Dave Oatney said...

In utilizing the word "Protestant" here it was not my intent to offend, but I was using what might be called the "textbook" definition of the term. By that definition, you are correct that the Orthodox are not Protestant.

As a discipline for diocesan clergy, I could take or leave celibacy (though it should always be strictly enforced for persons who are members of religious communities and I am quite certain it always will be) but I have come to believe that it ought to be maintained for two reasons-so that the priest may give all of himself to the Kingdom of God-all his time, energy, and being, and also because I believe that parish communities will suffer inadvertantly and unintentionally when the priest's time is turned away from his parish and the needs of his people and inevitably toward the needs of his family-as it would have to be.

In this sense, I see thie need for a priest to make the Church his family.


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