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Cardinal Sin

In the wake of the O’Brien affair, I may be splitting hairs here, but are priests allowed to have any sort of ‘sexual conduct’? Can we expect more compromised clerics to beat the gun and ‘fess up before potential accusers come forward? Or can we expect that the Catholic church will re-examine the discipline that it imposes on its ordained priests? Many of us will remember the scandal of Roddy Wright. Indeed I believe I met him once, at a family gathering. He was guilty of love; for that he was disgraced, and was lucky there was no tar or feathers handy. But what is the basis of priestly celibacy? It’s church law not God’s. It makes clergy stand apart from their  congregations. I wonder if it might not be better if they stood closer to them, sharing all the situations of their everyday lives, so that they might better understand their problems?

Categories: General
  1. Simon Reid
    March 4, 2013 at 8:47 pm

    Whoever becomes pope next can of course change the rules on celibacy, but I don’t believe such a move would be a good thing for the Catholic Church.

    Cardinal O’Brien is a man who failed to keep the vows he made to his god.
    The reasons for the vow of celibacy may be disputed, but what is beyond dispute is that when a Catholic visits their priest – or sends their children to the Church for guidance – they expect to get what it says on the tin: they expect the priests to be devout beyond the sins of the flesh. In effect, they expect a piety from their senior priests which is superior to all but the Christ they hold as their role model. Dan Brown did nothing to change that.

    And a noble vow it is too. It admits that if sex is part of your day-to-day life it will shape your world view, which it does. Let’s not forget, if the priests who have been guilty of abuse had not been required to sign up to a vow of celibacy, we would not have been quite so surprised at their abhorrent behaviour. Compare them with politicians, policemen, doctors – are we surprised when they abuse their position? Horrified, always, surprised, no.

    While I agree it seems reasonable for cardinals and popes to be more like us, the whole point is that they are not supposed to be like us: they’re supposed to be like Christ.
    Catholic priests have no excuse; it’s not as if they aren’t warned about the temptations and trials they will have to face. They’re given all the answers in advance of the test FFS!
    If they want to play in their god’s premier league, they have to prove themselves worthy. Few do.

    In light of his transgressions, the former Cardinal’s calls for change make him look (perhaps unfairly) like a man driven by self-interest. I think he’s saying the current bar for entry to the priesthood is too high. Er, yeah, well, it’s high for a reason. If the former cardinal, or anyone who wishes to become a high priest within the Catholic Church, doesn’t understand this, they’ve misunderstood their calling, and should either find another denomination, dissent and prove themselves righteous to the point of sainthood, or take a less demanding role in service to deity and the world.

    • Brian Campbell
      March 4, 2013 at 11:46 pm

      “They are supposed to be like Christ”. But where is the evidence that Christ was celibate?. For the first 30 years apart from the story of the Nativity threre is no record of his life. Why should the priests of the RC church be different from other Christian denominations, from Judaism, and from Islam ( where according to Wikapedia celibacy is positively discouraged). Celibacy is, for the bulk of the population, an unnatural state. Are we to believe that the natural celibates are statistically more likely to be Roman Catholics with a bent (sorry) for preachifying. Of course not. Many priests will have entered their calling under family or parish pressure. How surprising is it that they have sexual urges. It’s time to consign this hipocracy to the dustbin. Humanists, we don’t have this problem

      • Simon Reid
        March 5, 2013 at 6:44 pm

        Brian, I’m not a Catholic, nor am I religious, I’d much rather watch or play football than go to church. However, while I find your questions a bit odd given the vast amount of information you should be able to acquire for yourself before commenting on this subject – and because I know Q enjoys a good debate, even when he’s sober – I’m more than happy to take your questions in turn on the proviso that you are, like me, open-minded and willing to listen.

        Is there any evidence that Jesus was celibate? Well that depends. There is no evidence within the scriptures that Jesus was ever involved in a sexual relationship with anyone. If, for example, he had been married, it would be reasonable to expect at least some mention of it in the New Testament. There is plenty of information about his relationships with other people, such as his mother, brother, assorted disciples, followers, and enemies. But no mention of a wife or female partner. Odd, no?

        Personally, I’m not convinced that Jesus ever existed. I’m more interested in the poetry of his life story, regardless of whether or not he was flesh and blood. But I’m in no position to argue with the dozens of eminent historians who have come to the conclusion that he did exist. From them, there is no claim made Jesus had a wife, girlfriend or lover.
        So, no evidence that he was celibate. And definitely no evidence that he was Mr Lover-Lover Man.

        Why should the priests of the RC Church be any different from any other denominations? You’ve sort of answered your own question there.
        It’s because they are different. Schisms result from differences of theological opinion. Given their lineage, the RC Church view themselves as Christ’s official crew. If you would like to take the time to understand one of the specific references made to celibacy, you’ll have to look up Matthew 19:12: “”..there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He who is able to accept it, let him accept it.”
        Catholics who want to be as Christ-like as it is humanly possible to be, accept it – or are supposed to.
        True enough, celibacy is an unnatural state for the common man. They also don;t chop their own nuts off. But as I pointed out in my previous post, the higher priests of the RC Church are required to withstand the natural temptations of the common man.
        The contract is clear: if they want to prove themselves worthy of the highest grace, they must give up certain things; because, much as neither you nor I could imagine a state of bliss more profound than that found in copulation, the truly devout believe they will pass on from this world and enter a rapture greater and longer-lasting than any orgasm you’ve ever had. (My words, not theirs, although I’m sure you get my meaning.)

        “Are we to believe that the natural celibates are statistically more likely to be Roman Catholics with a bent (sorry) for preachifying.” No. Nobody suggested otherwise.
        Please do not set up and burn down your own straw men. It’s rude, and you’ll only create smoke and that’s bad for the environment.

        “Many priests will have entered their calling under family or parish pressure.” How many is many?
        The vow is voluntary. It’s an expression of the freedom of the will and faith of the individual.
        I agree with you that back in the day “many” young men were encouraged into the Church and ordered to keep their robes zipped; but then that would contravene Matthew 19:12.
        If they find they can’t or don’t want to do it – either now or at a later date – they need to rethink their career path.

        I note you declare yourself to be a Humanist.
        I’m sure you will agree with me that indoctrination of any kind is wrong, and that the individual’s freedom to believe as they will is, for want of a better word, sacred.
        I know there are people out there who call themselves Humanists, when in fact they are little more than bigots, ignorant in ways that over the longer term could become dangerous to society.
        So I’m going to take this opportunity to give you a heads-up:
        I hope your movement will learn from the history of the Church and do all it can to oust those elements who place self-interest before personal freedoms.
        In these enlightened times, we should all be advanced enough in our thinking to to allow for the possibility that views other than our own have validity. Just because we do not share a belief system which encourages us towards the scriptures and a life within religion, we should, now more than ever, be tolerant and understanding of those who make different choices, otherwise we may all find ourselves once again enslaved by dogma.

        I’m being very serious here. Humanism, as it currently stands, is well on its way to becoming the new militant atheism: a religion in all but name; profitable to a few, with high priests aplenty; a safe haven for prejudice and hatred.
        Please do all you can to make sure Humanism makes all the right moves rather than following the same tired and backward route.

        Sorry about the essay, but you did ask.

  2. March 5, 2013 at 11:47 am

    Great, a debate.

    • Brian Campbell
      March 6, 2013 at 12:03 am

      Well Simon, it seems to me, having been well admonished, that you are a good preacher gone to waste. Essay? Nay lecture. Perhaps you are a teacher.
      Of course I’m willing to listen. I ‘ve been listening for over 70 years – a lot of it utter crap so your erudition makes a pleasant change and it was good of you to take so much time putting me straight.
      But if JC did exist, and as you say you are not sure, perhaps his interest was not in women. In which case the cardinal got it right.
      However, seeing as we both seem to believe the same thing ,I.e “this is all there is ” perhaps we should conclude this string.
      I’m sorry your last three paragraphs were wasted on me. When I said Humanist I mislead you ( humourist ?), more pacific aetheist.
      I look forward to a return match where my knowledge matches my opinions.
      Enjoy your fitba . I,ll stick to my fishing. A well placed fly of often tempts a good fish.

      • Simon Reid
        March 6, 2013 at 9:33 pm

        We can’t conclude the string just yet. For one thing, Pat wants to see a bit more gnashing. You’ve also raised a couple more points to make me worry about what kind of people you’ve been talking and listening to over the last seventy years.

        No, we are not in agreement that this life is all there is. Nobody knows the answer to that question.
        Don’t ask me, I definitely don’t know the answer.

        I’m very glad to see the back of Ratzinger, and not just because of his comedy villain voice.
        While nothing new has been written about religion for hundreds of years, I welcome and recommend his contribution to literature. As a theologian, he is an exceptional talent. Unfortunately, he’s a piss-poor CEO.
        I hear he’s on Twitter so I may send him a link to this discussion. I’m sure he’ll be amused, as he understands better than anyone the relevance of the divide between the Relative and the Absolute.

        Absolute: ‘There is no god. There is no afterlife.’

        Absolute: ‘There is a god.’

        Do you see the problem here? I find it a complete mind-bender that atheists are strengthening the Pope’s hand.

        You mentioned something about Jesus. Are you suggesting he might have been gay?
        There’s no evidence at all of that of course, but hey, anything is possible.
        Would it matter? Would it, really? I suppose it would mean everybody, believer and non-believer alike, has been misreading the Bible all these years.
        I think it’s unlikely but even if true, I’m pretty sure love would still be love.

  3. Patricia (Pat) Wright
    March 6, 2013 at 1:09 am

    As the old saying goes”let’s you and him fight!”

  4. Brian Campbell
    March 7, 2013 at 2:16 am

    Fish hooked.
    Simon, you berate me because you thought me a Humanist, then for being an atheist. No doubt if I ran the full gamut you would be able to find fault. You seem on the face of it to be an (agressive) agnostic. When the final bell tolls it will be like waiting to see if your horse wins. I just expect the lights to go out.

    Strictly speaking I am a lapsed Anglican and did in my youth read the King James Version cover to cover although unlike you I don’t remember chapter and verse. But it was hard work in places.

    You give two examples of Absolute but none of Relative which confuses me.

    Why would you worry about the company I keep or have kept. They are from all walks of life but none have prevented me from making up my own mind. Farmers, construction workers, Engineers, one or two politicians, journalists (I married one), two bank robbers. Just ordinary folk.

    Was Jesus gay? Yes I was suggesting the possibility. But not being judgemental. You now expect me to trot out ” some of my best friends……” Sorry to disappoint you, however I can be factual and say two gay couples have been tenants at my cottage and they were the best.

    But gay marriage (as opposed to civil partnership which makes financial sense) I can’t see the point. Marriage in the past was to stop the offspring being called bastards. The only people who took offence were those who really were. Nowadays a large proportion of couples are not married and it seems to be increasing ( no doubt you can quote the figures).
    Two of my grand kids were born in wedlock and one out but I love them all the same.
    Pat. Don’t sit on the touch line, at least come in as ref even just to blow the whistle , two short and a long.

  5. March 7, 2013 at 11:29 am

    Brian. You don’t want Pat to join in; she’d eat you both. You are entirely wrong about agnostics. They have a bet on both horses.

    Simon. It’s good to express our opinions as long as we respect and give equal weight to those of others. What was not all right, potentially, was to suggest that QJ is ever anything other than sober. Happily I was in good humour when I saw that, so I let it go and you are not, currently, gasping under the weight of a ton of bricks. Incidentally I have attended a couple of humanist funerals, and spoke in one of them. I can’t imagine anything less militant.

    I started this off by asking a question. Has the time come for the Roman Catholic Church to re-examine its self-imposed rule of priestly celibacy? I didn’t express a strong opinion on this, I simply hinted that it should.

    Will it?

    It’s fairly obvious that it won’t, as it’s run by old men who have spent their lives suppressing their stiffies, and if it was good enough for us, lads, it will be good enough for you.

    Finally, I have to point out that not even my dear friend Pat, in faraway Arizona, can be ref on this blog. I am. I’m judge, jury, editor, and I even have the power to trash material that I consider to be over the top. I have not deleted a single word in this entertaining exchange, but the time has come for me to blow that whistle. Simon, go and watch a football game, preferably one that is not refereed by an incompetent Turk, misinterpreting rules set by grey men in Switzerland. Brian, go and kill some fish.

  6. Simon Reid
    March 7, 2013 at 1:51 pm

    Oh, boo. Religious blather and banter is one of my favourite things. I’m not dumb enough to mess with a man who kills people for a living, though.

    Brian, it was good to talk to you. (You do know you can buy fish in the supermarket?)

  7. Brian Campbell
    March 7, 2013 at 3:09 pm

    QJ. Thanks for giving us the freedom to carry on for so long. Simon, the supermarket is the last resort of the pistacor with an empty basket. Hope we meet again.

  8. Patricia (Pat) Wright
    March 7, 2013 at 3:47 pm

    Q? could you make a book out of this exchange? Must say I enjoyed every word of it and saw no ill will on either side.,

  9. March 7, 2013 at 4:00 pm

    I’ll leave it to them. Copyright issues.

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