30 August 2018


Inevitably, the idea is being spread around that the Latin Church's rule of Celibacy might have something to do with the horror of the sexual abuse of children by clerics in Major Orders.

I think it is extremely important that Catholics approach this matter with a clear, logical, and informed mind.

By informed, I mean, in plain terms, Look at the Church of England before you leap to 'obvious' but erroneous conclusions.

The dirty washing of that ecclesial body has, only recently, been in full view before the Independant Enquiry currently going on in this country. It is a story every bit as unsavoury as anything the Catholic Church has to offer.

In the Church of England married men are ordained and the clergy are allowed to marry. This has done nothing to prevent extensive abuse, and cover-ups, at the highest levels. The most notorious abuser is a former diocesan bishop, charismatic founder of a religious order, who was once, when he was riding high, described on Wikipedia as the holiest and wisest man in the Church of England. He was the darling of the British Establishment. He has recently emerged from prison. Two metropolitan archbishops, Primates of England, were removed from public ministry by their successors for doing cover-ups. (Yes, Canterbury and York make up 100% of the Metropolitan Primates of the C of E.. Carey covered up for Ball, and Hope protected a former Dean of Manchester).

You may argue that the clerics concerned were unmarried and belonged to the Anglo-Catholic 'wing' of the C of E, so that they were pretty well as unwholesome as real papists. But you would be wholly wrong on both counts. Archbishop Carey comes from an extremely Evangelical stable, and a convicted Rural Dean (=Vicar Forane) is another evangelical. And, as for marriage as a guarantee of sexual probity, well, yet another of the convicted clergy (I know him) is a married man with children. In any case, would anybody argue that only married men should be ordained?

Don't be naive.

I am not making an attack on Anglicanism. I happen to think that the Anglican tradition of a largely married parochial clergy is a gift of God which we should all cherish.

But the simplistic bilge floating across the oceans from Australia and America, linking celibacy with abuse, is unevidenced nonsense.

Worse, it is simply another ebullition of the sick centuries-old prejudice in WASP culture against the Catholic Church and, especially, against her clergy.



Fr PJM said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Randolph Crane said...

Abuse has nothing to do with celibacy, but with men being perverted monsters. It is in their DNA. Otherwise it must be like this: The holiest men are being ordained priest, and immediately become homosexual predators of the worst kind. All due to celibacy. This doesn't make sense. Either they had those tendencies before, or not. There are so many holy priests. Not only Saints in Heaven, but also saintly priests in earth. They are celibate, and they are not homosexual or pedophile predators, abusers, and sex-offenders.

If celibacy is not for you, then don't become a priest. If your sexual cravings are so enormous that you can't live a celibate life, don't become a priest. It's very easy, right?

I think the problem lies somewhere else. I hate to say it, but many clerics today are active homosexuals. They did not after years become so, but they were like that from the beginning.

I'd like to relate a little story of my own experience (and every word is true, and I have solid proof): In a neighbouring diocese from my own, the bishop asks the seminarians whether they are gay, and whether they actively practice homosexuality. If the seminarians answer with yes (and they usually do), the bishop says to them: I will ordain you, but be cautious as not to be involved in any scandal.
The bishop is thus willing to ordain men who actively engage in gay sex, who actively seek it, and who don't plan on changing their ways after ordination.
There was a scandal a few years ago. It happened some time before my involvement with the diocese, but I personally know the involved people (well, men). At one point, the entire seminary was full with homosexual seminarians. This is not an exaggeration. All of them were gay. And all of them very actively gay. In the evenings, the seminarians would sneak out of the seminary, and attend gay parties, go to gay clubs, go to eat at the city's many gay restaurants, etc. etc. And when they returned, they would not be alone, but they would bring men with them, and in the seminary, they would have sex. And this did not occur only once, but multiple times per week. It became public only after one of the seminarians who felt left out (because he didn't get as much sex as the other ones) would complain to the rector of the seminary. The result was that all seminarians were evicted.

The bishop, in any case, knew about their doings, knew about their actively being homosexual, and he was still okay with ordaining them, which is still the case today. I know of other seminaries where similar things happen. And it's not only me, but it's an open secret.

We cannot keep ordaining active homosexuals, and then be shocked when they are actively homosexual, and seduce young boys (who often quite voluntarily participate in such actions).

It has nothing to do with celibacy, but with diregarding and breaking celibacy.

But sexual abuse etc., although it does occur in the Church, is an incredibly small number in relation to the number of priests in the Church's ministry. Someone calculated a figure of something like 0.something % of the Catholic clergy being involved in such abuse as perpetrator. It's a tiny amount of the total clergy. Homosexual networks exist, and I know of some personally, but sexual abuse happens mostly in families, and in government institutions like schools etc.

Someone in Twitter posted a meme I found very accurate in this situation (by Ross Douthat):

"Long past time for America to acknowledge that the vow of celibacy we require of politicians, journalists, producers, actors, and directors has warped their sexuality."

pj said...

For Father PJM,

I think you may be thinking of a post from Father Z, http://wdtprs.com/blog/2018/08/food-for-my-cerebellum-food-for-my-reptilian-brain-stem-and-my-observation-about-coverage-of-the-present-crisis/.

Anonymous said...

Humbly submitted.

I would like to see statistics of sexual misconduct in the various churches, however, I would really only be interested in those churches with valid Holy Mysteries that do not allow the ordained to marry.

In the absence of statistics, I will also share anecdotal evidence. As far as I can tell, while the Orthodox and the ECCS have sexual abuse issues occasionally, it is nowhere near as much as in the Latin Church.

Now onto harder facts. While it is technically correct that the abuse problem is not "about celibacy," which is to say "caused by celibacy," it does not logically follow that a change in the celibacy regulations will not have a good effect on the abuse problem.

I did some quick googling. What I found said that 2% of men married to women are homosexual or bisexual. I found another study that said that 4.5% of the males in the general population are "not 100% straight." This is very approximate, but if we exclude the roughly 78% of men who are married, by my math, extremely roughly 1 in 4 single men are not 100% straight.

So if the church ordained exclusively married men, then you'd have perhaps 2% of them with the inclination to couple with males. If you ordain exclusively single men, the percent shoots up to 25%. Now I know that this doesn't account for the virtue of the men who want to be priests, or the Holy Spirit, and my facts and my math are vague and open to correction - however, I challenge anyone to overturn my basic premise.

I also think that certain kinds of diversity help to prevent rot from setting in to human organizations. So simply have married men around, and I would also say having "battlefield promotions" of men who never went through seminary, removes a certain conformism and allows for checks and balances between sociological groups.

I recently saw an article on a popular priest's blog in which he made mention that having married men around the seminary would be a good example for the seminarians. But as seminarians themselves? Heavens no, just speakers, etc. If married male visitors are a positive impact on single seminarians, just think how positive it would be if they were actually seminarians. I just can't wrap my head around how someone could miss that.

I live in the Albany Diocese, which is now better run than it used to be, but our prior bishop was accused of horrible things. My father is a Latin deacon, and I can't count how many "good priests" I was introduced to that ended up being abusers. Then there's the suspicious "suicide" of Fr. John Minkler, which you can google. I went UGCC in roughly 2002, in part because I just couldn't handle the insanity any more (since then I've "gone native" to UGCC spirituality, but anyhow).

Therefore please don't lump us all together as having a "sick ... prejudice." In fact, my experience is that the married clergy are the ones that are prejudiced against, at least in the New World. I'll share one story, but there are countless others. I know of a married priest who was asked to give a blessing before a Catholic event. Then when a celibate priest showed up, some laymen asked him, as the "real priest," to give *another* blessing.

NOW, in the USA, an EC priest was attacked by a loon shouting something like "this is for the children!" My first thought was, "wow, what a case of mistaken identity." My second thought was, "the Latin Church does the crime, and the Eastern Church does the time. How typical."

I don't mean to be uncharitable, but we - Latins and otherwise - want the insanity to end. It has to stop. ***All bets are off.*** I know that there's a real celibacy shibboleth in the Latin Church, especially in those countries under the Protestant yoke, but The Crazy has to stop. I and people like me don't care that reconsideration of celibacy is skewering good peoples' sacred cows. The Insanity has to end.

Dorota Mosiewicz-Patalas said...

The testimony of Bella Dodd needs to be included in all discussion about sodomy among Catholic priests. She took responsibility for installing about 11 hundred of them, and during her testimony two were already cardinals.
The Catholic Church has been under a well coordinated masonic attack for a very long time, and with the selection and election of Bergoglio, freemasons were celebrating, saying - the Church will never be the same again.

I wish this was some silly conspiracy theory. But because it is not, the current discussion should include evidence corroborating the claim about infiltration of catholic clergy, orchestrated by freemasons, by men with "no faith and no morals" (Bela Dodd).

Albrecht von Brandenburg said...

Dear Father, it's not often that I disagree, but I must, in a qualified way, disagree. Most orthodox catholics, and most trads, don't understand the distinction between metaphysical, and moral causation. Or as everyday people might put it, cause and occasion. It is indisputable, that the evil choice of a homosexual - who ought never to have been ordained in the first place - to engage in unnatural acts, that is, their abuse of free will, is directly responsible for acts of sexual abuse. But, Bella Dodd, if I remember rightly, said that the requirement of celibacy made it easy for the communists in the 1930s to infiltrate homosexuals into the priesthood. And the mediaeval canons of Tournai(?? It's been over 20 years since I read it) in a letter to another cathedral chapter concerned at Ss Peter Damian's/Gregory VI's attempts to impose celibacy upon the secular clergy, predicted - accurately - that it would result in the homosexualisation of the clergy. So there IS a nexus between the "law" of celibacy and the present disaster. But, may God forgive me for saying this, the ignorance of the legal and theological facts, selfishness and pride, prevent them from seeing, or admitting, the truth. On one trad forum years ago, I laid out some of the legal and theological evidence in favour of clerical marriage, and I was accused of using traditional sources to come to a modernist conclusion! Nothing, of course, could have been further from the truth!

Sprouting Thomas said...

My unease about this is neither theological nor learned, but I offer it anyway.

There is a certain kind of worldly clergyman who, if he thinks he can get married, will also think he can do all the other things that secular society considers equivalent to marriage. To cohabit, to have girlfriends, to get flippant divorces...how long will it take before the authority of the Latin Church on divorce and remarriage is utterly destroyed? That is one area, of very few, where we cannot look to our Eastern brothers for example and encouragement.

Second, it is difficult enough for young men to convince family and friends that choosing celibacy is not "weird" or unhealthy. Usually, their families reach a state of resignation, because they realize the priesthood can offer nothing else. But if such men must, in the future, convince everyone of their genuine call to celibacy, when even the Church does not demand it, it will be more than the average man can do without heroic virtue: and it is sure to ruin many relationships with parents. In East Asia particularly, where fruitfulness and family loyalty are a religion within a religion, the result could well be familial chaos, disinheriting left and right - there are Asian parents who will not be above arranging forced marriages before ordination, if only the possibility exists.

Then there is the approach of the British establishment, where only married men will be considered for certain posts, because a wife is a token of "soundness" and a valuable social secretary, dynastic alliance and ambitious hostess. It may be a uniquely English attitude, but might there come a time when we are so afraid of celibacy and its mysteries that the curiae, the nunciatures, the seminaries and universities take a wife for a kind of acid test of character?

All in all, any promise that marriage would be an option, not a requirement, would be very hard to keep. If it could in fact be kept, I know not how, I'd be less worried - though we would still have to resign ourselves to being left with an overwhelmingly Jesuit and Salesian episcopate, the secular clergy being pretty generally disqualified.

Perhaps a solution would be to preserve the undoubted spiritual riches which the Latin Church has gained by its promotion of celibacy, while allowing free movement into other, equally valuable, traditions for those who wish to be married. In England, for example, the Ordinariate could be the destination for those wish both to be married and to celebrate the sacraments; the Eastern Churches where they are culturally appropriate. The trick would be to do this without cheapening the whole "patrimony" idea into a pick-'n'-mix.

Catholic State said...

Exactly and for the first Archbishop of Baltimore to call for Holy Mass in the vernacular while facing the people circa 1787 suggests the infiltration has been going since bare minimum 1600's.

A Daughter of Mary said...

In response to the thoughtful comment above by Mr. von Brandenburg, I say one thing: The Catholic Church has decided, following Christ, that its priests will be celibate. We go from THERE. There are no arguments about this issue that can make any difference, philosophical, emotional, psychological, or whatever.

The starting point of all this is that the Church HAS decided. This is a solid decision based on Our Lord, and centuries of tradition.
The sad fact that many find it hard to obey the Church is meaningless.

lucilletogni said...

Daughter of Mary,

The author of this blog is a married priest, a member of an ordinariate with many married priests. We are all members of one Catholic Church which has entire particular Churches, in the East, with married priests. The normative discipline in the Latin is for priestly celibacy, nonetheless, the indisputable facts are that...the Catholic Church allows priests to be married.

Albrecht von Brandenburg said...

Daughter of Mary raises a red herring. It is the infallible teaching of the universal ordinary magisterium (cf. Rerum Novarum & Casti Connubii) that no human law can take away the human right of a man to marry. Yet, Canon 7 of Lateran II describes the "law" of celibacy, which purports to do just that as a human ordinance ("regula humana"). So the purported positive human law contravenes divine law. It is therefore invalid. Vogels has these and other arguments in "Celibacy: Gift or Law?", and anyone can do what I have done and go to a university library and verify his sources for themselves. You'll see that he is spot-on. The canons enjoining the latin right clergy not to marry must be repealed to bring the CIC 1983 the code in line with jurisprudential (and theological) reality. Actually, there are excellent jurisprudential arguments for repealing the Code and returning to the Corpus Juris Canonici, but that is another matter for another day).

Albrecht von Brandenburg said...

P.S. In the original Latin of Lateran II, Canon 7, it is in the accusative, and therefore "regulaM humanaM".