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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 09, 2005

A Puzzling Paradox

Since 2002 , I have been puzzling over a paradox that has become increasingly clear as the pedophilia crisis in the Roman Catholic Church continues to capture headlines. In brief, it is interesting to note that the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church went to great lengths, over the course of several decades, to protect pedohiles. Paradoxically, at the same time, the Vatican has been quick to punish good priests who have simply entered into marriage out of genuine love. Is something wrong here?

When one examines this paradox closely, it becomes perfectly clear that our hierarchy has serious hang-ups concerning sexuality. To understand this better, we need to go back to 1139 and the corresponding Inquisition which was to last several decades. (Some would argue that the Inquisition never ended.) While several attempts were made to mandate celibacy prior to 1139, whereby the solitary life of monks was held up as a model, the year 1139 was the pivotal year whereby celibacy was not only emphasized, but mandated under harsh terms. With the advent of the Inquistion, it was discovered that secret marriages were still taking place, whereby Inquisitors sought out such unions and dished out what they perceived to be appropriate punishments. Consequently, the married priesthood was gone, but not forgotten.

During the several centuries Roman Catholicism has lived with mandatory priestly celibacy, the hieararchy has thrived in an environment of secrecy. To ensure this secret society, a priest going through the ordination rites routinely made, and continues to make two promises: 1.) obedience to his bishop and 2.) commitment to a life of celibacy.

Through my involvement with CORPUS, I have come to know many priests who have entered into marriage. Unlike the Church hierarchy, you will note that I don't use the term "former priests." While some have elected to go through the process of becoming laicized, others have found ways to continue their priestly ministries. When our hierarchy continues to use celibacy as the determining factor as to who can and who cannot be called a Roman Catholic priest, I am inclined to believe our Magisterium needs to reflect back to the first century Church. In fact, a scenario I continue to picture is that of Peter returning to us for a convocation of priests. I have a sense he would ask a simple question: "Where are your wives?"

How does the Magisterium expect us to take its members seriously when it continues to operate under the umbrella of secrecy and silence on the pedophilia issue? Perhaps more import, how can some of our cardinals and bishops protect guilty priests and at the same time punish good priests for either desiring healthy relationships or entering into marriages?

Through enforced celibacy, members of our hierarchy are contributing in an indirect way toward the suppressed sexuality of priests who are not called to a celibate life. This can lead to problems, some of which are just beginning to surface. This is not to say that celibacy is the cause of pedophilia. Yet, an environment of enforced celibacy can be both attractive to a potential pedophile and a springboard for illicit behavior.

My remarks are in no way designed to insult the many wonderful priests in our ranks who are genuinely called to a life of celibacy. We owe a debt of gratitude to these faith-filled men who continue to serve unselfishly. Yet, I continue to worry about those who commit themselves to a life of celibacy, when in reality they are not called to this way of life; some are able to adjust and others are unable to commit in a healthy way.

When a priest chooses to marry, he should not be required to apply for the laicized state. In fact, some choose not to, thereby incurring the wrath of the powers-that-be. Here lies the paradox: A pedophile priest is bounced from parish to parish, protected by the hierarchy. However, a priest who chooses to marry is forced out of his ministry.

My goal is not to replace celibate priests with married ones. Rather, there is room amongst the ranks of the clergy for celibate men, married men and women. As long as the Pope continues to require a celibate, all-male clergy, the present climate of secrecy will continue and Jesus will continue to weep.

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