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The Case Against Imposed Celibacy, Part II By: Jamie Glazov
FrontPageMagazine.com | Wednesday, January 09, 2002


THE CATHOLIC CHURCH is in crisis today.

The crisis is rooted, in large part, in the Church’s policy of enforced celibacy for priests.

In his book Shattered Vows: Priests Who Leave, former priest David Rice affirms that an estimated 100,000 priests worldwide have left active ministry over a 25-year period, with another 200,000 priests "failing to observe celibacy." He estimates that almost half of all American priests will eventually leave the active formal ministry in order to marry.

While many priests are leaving their vocations, there are very few incoming priests. Moreover, the evidence suggests that seminaries are now attracting predominantly gay men. The seriousness of the problem is epitomized by one troubling statistic: the average age of priests is 63.

Think about it.

The case of "Father" Arthur Carraher, a Roman Catholic priest in Toronto who has recently confessed to being a child molester, is another reminder of the Church’s destructive policy of mandatory clerical celibacy.

Without doubt, the Church’s ban on priests’ right to marry is directly connected to the problem of pedophilia and homosexuality in the priesthood -- which is now pervasive and widespread. There has been an epidemic of molestations of young boys by priests, and the Church has had to pay out millions of dollars to settle the cases.

Mandatory celibacy originates in the 11th century, when Pope Gregory VII (1073-1085) banned priests from marrying in an effort to stop their families from inheriting Church property. In other words, enforced celibacy was not implemented for theological reasons.

Martin Luther, the founder of the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century, perceived the grave error in the Church's celibacy requirement. He stated that, in forbidding priests to marry, the Church’s leaders acted like "tyrannical, unholy scoundrels, occasioning all sorts of terrible, ghastly, countless sins against chastity, in which they are caught to this day."

I am a Catholic. I obviously disagree with Luther on numerous issues. But in terms of imposed celibacy, I concede that he was right on the mark.

Enforced celibacy simply collides with common sense and human nature. Dr. John Money, a leading expert on sexual violence, has affirmed a basic given: that people raised in conditions where heterosexual sex is viewed as something dirty often end up with deviant and warped sexual identities. Dr. David Finkelhor, a recognized expert on the study of sexual abuse of children, has conclusively demonstrated that repressive sexual attitudes linked to many religions predispose many individuals to abnormal sexual activities, which include pedophilia.

I have met many Catholic priests throughout my life. A large portion of them, obviously, do not fall under the category of this discussion. And they deserve our utmost respect and admiration.

But the problem is that a large number of priests who take their vows simply have no clue what they are getting into. Having entered the seminary at a young age, they have missed a crucial stage of developmental social experience. Their education about sexual development is almost always negative or non-existent. Consequently many priests lack a functional and healthy sexual identity. They have not resolved the problems which are ordinarily worked through during the time of adolescence.

Many priests, therefore, end up having a violent internal tug of war over their sexual feelings. They should have the option of marrying. But they do not.

This reality might help us understand why medical reports have confirmed that AIDS is rampant among Catholic priests. Joseph Barone, a New Jersey psychiatrist and AIDS expert, has estimated that the number of U.S. priests who have died from AIDS is nearly 11 times the rate of the general population. In a 1999 survey done by The Kansas City Star of Catholic priests, nearly 60 percent said they personally knew at least one priest who had died of AIDS. One in three priests said they knew priests who were living with HIV or AIDS.

No wonder most dioceses and religious orders now require applicants for the priesthood to take an HIV-antibody test before their ordination. Yet amazingly, the Church has yet to address how priests who have died of AIDS were infected in the first place.

The Catholic Church is, in other words, in a very serious case of denial.

Yes, celibacy has a long and cherished tradition in the life of Christianity. But it has to be a voluntary choice – as it was for all those early Christians who lived a noble life of virginity and for all of those who chose the marital state.


Jamie Glazov is Frontpage Magazine's editor. He holds a Ph.D. in History with a specialty in Russian, U.S. and Canadian foreign policy. He is the author of Canadian Policy Toward Khrushchev’s Soviet Union and is the co-editor (with David Horowitz) of The Hate America Left. He edited and wrote the introduction to David Horowitz’s Left Illusions. His new book is United in Hate: The Left's Romance with Tyranny and Terror. To see his previous symposiums, interviews and articles Click Here. Email him at jglazov@rogers.com.


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