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If you are visiting my blog, expecting to see 'Toward a Progressive Catholic Church,' I have changed my title to reflect my wide assortment of interests. Having retired from my secular job, I hope to devote the rest of my life to my hobbies, ministries and perhaps a part-time job that makes good use of my communications skills. This blog will be designed to address my multi-faceted interests.

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Location: Rochester, New York, United States

I have an M.A. in Theology and an M.Div (Master of Divinity) from St. Bernard's School of Theology and Ministry. I am currently a media consultant and promoter of classical music. I am also certified as an officiant by the Federation of Christian Ministries for baptisms, weddings and funerals and minister independently of the Rochester Diocese. My life has encompassed many interesting paths: broadcasting, free-lance writing, video-production, music, ministry and a secular job in government. In addition to this blog, I have a YouTube site at www.youtube.com/priestray and I have a Facebook page.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Much Debate on New Book: "Priests in Love"

It was called to my attention this morning that the Beliefnet website is currently hosting a debate of the book, "Priests in Love." (There were 728 postings as of this morning.)

I will need to read the book in order to offer a fair objective analysis. However, the topic should not be surprising to those of us who have studied and written about the topic of priestly celibacy.
Per the following book review, "Priests in Love" is not about sexual abuse. It is rather an honest look at 'consensual' relationships that many priests are engaged in. (I personally don't fault any priests who are in relationships of this sort.)

My argument continues to be that some priests are called to a life of celibacy, and some are not. Whether or not priests called to relationships can in fact live celibate lives remains an interesing paradox. (I would much rather see priests in such a dilemma pursue a normal, consensual relationship than resort to anything 'unnatural' as a result of sexual frustrations. Therefore, it should be no surprise there is great interest in this book, for it seems to present an honest picture of priests who fall in love, yet find the need to keep the relationships secret as a result of their commitment of mandatory celibacy to their bishops.)

A married priest recently told me that he and his wife had a 'secret' relationship for seven years when he was a parish pastor and she was a nun with the Sisters of St. Joseph. (This book will hopefully get the message out that there are many of these relationships - relationships that are driven underground due to the oppressive policy of mandatory celibacy.)

Here is the book review:

PRIESTS IN LOVE: Catholic Clergy and Their Intimate Friendships
Review taken from Continuum Catalogue, T&T Clark International, Religion Spring 2005

"Although it reads with the ease of a novel, the power of this book is inestimable for furthering a productive dialogue on the sexual issues facing the Catholic Church precisely because it gives voice to real people, real priests, and their companions. These lives challenge any reader to re-examine her or his own life, sexual ideas, and moral compass. After reading it, I decided that it should be dedicated to the Pope and be required reading for every bishop." Richard Sipe, author of Celibacy in Crisis: A Secret World Revisited

"No one has captured with greater understanding and insight the personal, human struggles of priests coping with mandated, institutionalized celibacy than Jane Anderson. This moving and compelling book, both gracefully written and grace-filled, is destined to shake the foundations of obligatory celibacy." Donald Cozzens, Sacred Silence: Denial and the Crisis in the Church
In the 1960s and '70s , thousands of Roman Catholic priests left the active ministry to get married. Nothing like this had been seen on this scale since the French Revolution, and before that since the Reformation. Now a different phenomenon seems to be at work: priests who have formed long-time, intimate sexual friendships. These men are not pedophiles or sexual abusers. They are adult, mature men who can no longer find a rationale for a life of obligatory celibacy and enter into responsible sexual relationships. Some of them are straight, some gay. Based on interviews, conducted over a nine-year period, with 50 Australian priests, Priests in Love tells the stories of these priests and their friends. It deals with the moral, psychological and social challenges they face on the less traveled road of social change.

Jane Anderson, mother of four teenage children, received her PhD in anthropology in 2004. She lives in Yakamia, Western Australia, and has been actively involved in Australian Catholic life for over twenty years.

Voices of "Priests in Love"

"If truly the command of God is to love, then I feel our love is where God can be found. As for celibacy, it's an injustice insofar as it is mandatory, and God can't be found in that kind of contradiction." - Fr. Abe

"Promises are conditioned by their contexts and are not absolutes in themselves. If the context loses its validity, so then does the promise. I made it originally in good faith, with the understanding of the situation I had at the time. But eventually the context changed, and my faith in the purpose, place, and even probity of the promise dissolved." - Fr. Thomas

"I am definitely in favor of celibacy - for those who freely opt for it as a way of loving God. The vow of celibacy is only for a few. Theirs is a noble choice and a clear sign that they are men/women of deeply sensitive love. But celibacy should never be required of persons as part of a package deal for priestly ordination." - Fr. James.

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