Celibacy and the Catholic Church Even though I was born and raised of the Catholic Faith, I still disagree with some of the traditions that the Catholic faith practices. One tradition in particular that I disagree with is the requirement of priests to remain celibate after entering the priesthood. I believe requiring priests to remain celibate after entering the priesthood is morally wrong because celibacy can be a role in the sexual abuse of children, the future priests are not given adequate time and circumstances to make a rational decision on whether or not they are ready to become celibate, tradition is not a good enough reason for the requirement of celibacy, the future priests have to choose between family and church, priests would not be good spiritual leaders for women, men, and married individuals especially if they needed sexual guidance; and celibacy is a violation of “The Natural Law Theory.”
There are many traditions that the Catholic faith no longer practices anymore because of the changing times. I believe that of those traditions no longer practiced, celibacy is just as immoral. A textbook definition of celibacy is: The state of being unmarried and total abstinence of sex.
I conducted an interview with Psychologist Dr. Ricketts. I asked Dr. Ricketts if celibacy could have played a role in the Catholic Priests sexually abusing children and she said that it was possible.
She spoke with me about celibacy and the priesthood. She said, “All animals (including human beings) are all born sexual beings and need that attention; they need to feel physical touch and physical love from another. Absent the physical contact all human beings must feel can cause stress.” She also goes on to explain that the most common class of sexual predators that target children are people dealing with stress because sexual intercourse can comfort the stress that individual is feeling (Ricketts).
I believe that obviously remaining celibate in the priesthood can be stressful because of the lack of physical affection that all human beings need. Lacking the affection can lead to stress. Stress is the most common class of sexual predators. Therefore, a priest who is under stress could target children.
I conducted a personal interview with a Father Theiryoung. He is a Catholic priest that was moved to our county parishes to replace two other priests who left because of the recent sex abuse scandal. I started off with the obvious question of where in the scriptures is celibacy? His response was, “Matthew 19: 12.” (Theiryoung).
I then took it upon myself to look that up in the bible. What I found was unexpected: For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother’s womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He that is able to receive it let him receive it. (Matthew 19: 12) A eunuch is a castrated man. From all of that I gather there are men without genitals born from their mother’s womb and men who have been castrated by other men and men who have castrated themselves for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. Clearly there is something wrong with that since I have never heard of a priest castrating himself for the good of the church. I hope no priest would. So, why is something like that in the scripture and not followed? My guess is that there would be a very big shortage of Catholic priests.
Father Theiryoung also went on saying that it is the dedication that priests and he have to be able to give to the church because if he were married he would be a lousy husband and a lousy priest (Theiryoung).
I understand what Father Theiryoung was trying to say, but I disagree; unless the priesthood was proven to be the most overwhelming job in the world. For example, my surgeon and my physician are both married and have children and can still perform their job as doctors very well. I believe being a doctor would be an extremely stressful job every single day. Therefore, I disagree with Father Theiryoung’s belief of the only way to be dedicated to the church is to be celibate. I believe having a family and being a priest would be great because of the moral support a priest could receive from his spouse and children.
I asked him, “Do the future priests really have adequate time to consider celibacy?” He responded by, “Yes, they have plenty of time because most of the future priest go to school right out of high school and after six years of college only then do they become priests.” (Theiryoung).
I do not believe that to be enough time because of the isolation that the teens are encompassed by in the college.
If a priest decided he wanted to raise a family but also wanted to stay a priest, a decision such as that could lead him to a moral dilemma with no good conclusions. The priest could take into consideration what could happen if he decided to leave the priesthood. The question of what people would think of him quitting the priesthood to get married, and he could also be faced with what his leaving the priesthood would look in the eyes of God. He might therefore, stay a priest so he would not have to face those questions in reality. He could also be faced with wanting a family but also wanting to remain a priest simply because his love for the church. Thus, remaining a priest he would be haunted by the question of what could have been part of his life if he would have married and had a family. Either way the decision would have no good conclusion unless he was able to have both. From a “Utilitarian” point of view we should do what causes the most amount of happiness and diminishes the most amount of misery for those involved with the decision. A “Utilitarian” would say that if a priest wanted to be in the priesthood and also have a family that would be fine. Thus, his choice of both would give him the greatest amount of happiness and diminish the amount of misery from only being able to choose one of the options.
I asked Father Theiryoung, “Is celibacy morally wrong for priests?” He answered, “All the cards are out on the table. You can always leave if you want to” (Theiryoung).
I believe the cards that he is talking about consist of two cards. One card is the church and the other card is a family. I believe choosing between those two cards would be one of the toughest decisions a human being could ever make. The choice is made for the priest. When a person begins school to become a priest the decision is already made. Why would he attend school if he were still unsure of becoming a priest or having a family? I believe the student may even isolate himself so he is not put into a situation that would affect his decision that he has made on abstaining from sex and marriage. I doubt very highly that he would go out and “see what he is missing” because of the consequences that could follow. I also doubt very highly that these teens, these “future priests” are encouraged to go out and experience relationships to see if that might change their mind, to make sure they know what celibacy is all about and are given real life opportunity and encouraged to be in a relationship, I believe are discouraged. My reason for thinking this is because of Father Theiryoung’s response to a question I asked him. I asked, “Can a person become a priest if he has had sex before?” Father Theiryoung’s response was, “Yes, but you will be under more close scrutiny than another priest while in training” (Theiryoung).
I do not see how that could be at all fair for a person to explore his sexual being if such consequences exist. I do not believe everyone is given a fair chance to make a clear distinguishable choice between these two cards, celibacy and family. The definition of celibacy is much more easily grasped than the actual reality of celibacy.
Even though the “Natural Law Theory” has dominated Christian thinking for hundreds of years, the requirement of celibacy seems to contradict it. “The Natural Law Theory” says to do whatever promotes the fulfillment of human life. Any action against procreation is a violation of the theory i.e. sterilization, birth control. The requirement of celibacy is a form of birth control. Therefore, the requirement of celibacy violates “The Natural Law Theory.” I also see another problem for celibate priests. Priests are counted on as being spiritual leaders for not only men and children, but for women and for married couples. I am not sure how well the priest’s spiritual guidance would be with a married couple or a woman if the priest had never been involved with a relationship. I wonder how comfortable a priest would be talking with a woman and having that woman open up to him and telling the priest her problems. I believe the priest would be extremely uncomfortable in a situation that required him to speak with women, men, and married individuals about problems they are encountering and/or sexual problems those individuals may be faced with.
I never really thought about Catholic Priests and celibacy until just recently. I mean, I always knew what celibacy was and that Catholic Priests were celibate, but that was all I thought about. I never really thought about it too far in-depth until I visited a priest recently at his house. The feeling I got when I walked into his house was that of pure loneliness. The walls were filled from top to bottom with pictures of Jesus, Mary, and other religious figures. There was not one picture of himself or anybody else. The house was set up more to look like a place of work than a place where you go home, kick off your shoes, light a fire in the fireplace, and give hugs and kisses to the family that was waiting so patiently for you to come home. Even though the priest was very kind and generous to me, I could tell that something was missing inside of him. A piece of him was incomplete. Whether that incompleteness was the lack of a family, I do not know. I do know that I sensed a feeling of emptiness inside of the priest as I spoke with him. As I sat at home after visiting with the priest, I thought about all the family holidays that I got to spend with my family. Decorating the Christmas tree when I was younger with my mother and father, watching the Thanksgiving day parade on TV while reminiscing about past times we have shared together as a family, those thoughts swarmed throughout my head and brought a warm feeling throughout my entire body, until I thought about the priest. The Catholic priest, who at one time decorated the Christmas tree with his mother and father and watched the Thanksgiving day parade on TV while reminiscing about the good-ole-days, is never going to have the opportunity to ever decorate the tree or reminisce about past holidays with his wife and kids unless he gives up something that he loves, for love.
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