Thursday, September 04, 2003

Most Priests Aren't Clamoring For "Optional" Celibacy

And here's a website for faithful priests to stand up in favor of the Church's traditional discipline:

Priests For Celibacy


In spite of what you may read in the press, like the stories about the Milwaukee priests who advocate relaxing the Church's discipline of priestly celibacy, most priests are leading dedicated and fruitful lives as celibates.

And in spite of the maunderings of those Milwaukee priests, and the natterings of the Call To Action crowd, dropping priestly celibacy will solve precisely no problems in the Church. As I have written before, the idea that a married priesthood will prevent future priest-abuse scandals is simply absurd. By what logic would anyone think that men with perverse sexual appetites would be appeased by a normal heterosexual relationship? If anything, a married priesthood might make it worse: Pedophiles frequently use a "normal" marriage as cover for their deviant behavior.

The belief that a married priesthood would address the so-called "priest shortage" (in itself a dubious concept) also doesn't stand up to serious scrutiny. I have a friend who is a pastor in the Missouri Synod Lutheran Church. He has told me more than once that the Missouri Synod is experiencing its own clergy shortage. This isn't noticeable on the coasts yet, because most pastors gravitate to seeking positions on either coast. But the shortage is very serious in the Midwest, and particularly in rural areas. Now the LCMS has married clergy, so clearly its shortage points to a problem going across theological boundaries and having nothing to do with celibacy.

As I have written before, in a post on The Sacramentality of Priestly Celibacy:
Finally, it seems to me that those who advocate dropping celibacy frequently have bought into the "dogmatic minimalism" foisted upon us by "progressives" in the wake of Vatican II. Dogmatic minimalism is the attitude that anything not explicitly defined as dogma by a council or ex cathedra papal pronouncement is somehow extraneous to the Faith and therefore easily dispensed with. Those arguing that because celibacy is a matter of discipline and not dogma we can get rid of it are operating from the dogmatic minimalist assumption. But just because something hasn't been defined as de fide doesn't mean it isn't from the Holy Spirit. Just because something is a matter of tradition [with a small "T"] doesn't mean it isn't spiritually good or useful.

That non-Catholics wouldn't understand or properly value the witness of celibacy is, perhaps, understandable. That some Catholics would be confused or poorly catechized about it is lamentable. That priests could lose sight of the witness they have been called upon to give, and parrot the world's line, is tragic.