Sex and Religion
The Catholic Church must be desperate for priests. In recent news, Pope Francis announced he is open to allowing married men to be ordained into the priesthood. Whaaaaaat?
Is the Catholic Church finally getting that everyone likes sex?
Even religious people or spiritual people like sex. Heck, sometimes more than average. Have you seen how big traditional religious families are? Wink, wink.
There is in fact a global shortage of priests. Earlier this month, the pope said that in places where there is a great need for more priests, he is considering allowing married men to enter the priesthood. There is a particular need for someone to perform the sacraments, the religious duties such as baptism, weddings, and so on, in rural areas. So Pope Francis might ordain married men to the priesthood to fill the gap.
But this would go against a longstanding rule in the church’s Code of Canon Law, which proclaims priests must be celibate. And some people are upset about it. They say it makes Catholicism too much like Protestantism. And some don’t like Pope Francis’ modern views and interpretations.
Pope Francis’ comments notwithstanding, the church officially proclaims that a man who is married will be divided between his priestly duties and his responsibilities to his wife and family. Even more primarily, the church feels the ancient practice of celibacy shows a dedication to God and avoids distraction.
I submit it creates distraction.
Unless you’re a eunuch, you have a biological desire for sex. Some would say need.
It’s the basic psychological hierarchy of needs. You satisfy the baser needs in life, like food, clothes, and shelter, then seek the next level up. Once you achieve what you’re missing, it becomes a non-issue. But when you are lacking… well, seeking it becomes a “distraction” at best.
Unfulfilled desires are a hotbed of temptation.
Priests and Scandals
Over time it has scandalously come out that some priests have perfidiously sought out sexual gratification. With no acceptable outlet for normal sexual feelings, some priests chose to look for a way to gratify their desires, hide their actions, and attempt to keep their jobs. Perhaps a vow of celibacy asks a person to be more than human.
And unfortunately, when the pressure breaks, many priests have made horribly wrong choices. It has cost the Catholic Church billions in legal fees, counseling, and restoration to victims of sex abuse and affected families. And where does the Catholic Church get revenue? Primarily from its membership in tithes and donations, so members pay for the priests’ mistakes.
The pope’s official comments do not apply to unmarried men wanting to become priests and retaining the ability to marry later. Nor do they apply to current priests who are unmarried and might like to marry. The idea is that already married men could seek ordination.
The pope has intimated in private comments to his personal friends that he possesses a broader vision of all priests being able to get married. However, the pope commits to peace within the church above breaking traditions.
Could allowing priests to marry solve two problems with one change in decretum? Could they fill the need of more clergy and lessen the risk of sexual abuse by providing an acceptable sexual outlet? Or, are those who willingly take the vow of celibacy not interested in male-female married sex to begin with?
But celibacy wasn’t always the rule!
Since the start of Christianity at the time of Jesus, about 2,000 years have passed. For the first 1,000 years the Church had no rules about priests and celibacy. In fact, most of the early church fathers and apostles were married. It has only been the last 1,000 years where this is a thing. And it’s not dogma. It’s really just a Catholic rule.
Married men are already allowed to be deacons and minister in Catholicism in other ways; but to be a priest, the ancient vow of celibacy should be taken.
The next big synod, a meeting where the bishops of the church gather to consider issues and make major decisions, will take place sometime in 2018 or 2019. They expect to address the question of married priests definitively at that time.