A real sacrifice

A real sacrifice

In the comments on yesterday’s post “Celibacy IS a vow”, Roseberry makes a good point:

Dom’s comments about the gift of celibacy to the Church remind me of Mother Angelica’s insistence that she wanted her Friars to be men who wanted wives, children, and a family life and who were prepared to sacrifice those desires for the Kingdom.

This is one of the objections given for why homosexuals should be excluded from the priesthood. It’s not that people necessarily fear that they will be sexual predators or that they will be sexually promiscuous. Let’s grant for the moment that there are priests who have same-sex attraction, but who are living chastely.

Still, the proponents of this point of view would say that for a man to become a spiritual father, he must be capable of natural fatherhood, biologically, emotionally, and mentally. The traits necessary for priestly fatherhood are those needed for all Christian fatherhood. In addition, the acceptance of ordination and the requirement of celibacy (in the Latin rite) is part of Jesus’ call to “become eunuchs for the kingdom of God.” But in order for this to be an authentic sacrifice, one must be giving up something. It must be a positive good that is being renounced.

At Lent we’re supposed to make a sacrifice as a sign of penance, but if you give up spinach and you already don’t like spinach, it’s not much of a sacrifice. There must be an ontological disposition toward the good being given up.

Yes, I know this isn’t what some recent Church documents have said on the matter, particularly last year’s instruction concerning homosexual seminarians. Still, a case has been advanced that this would be the higher way, a better way. The Vatican instruction is the minimum, but it doesn’t mean that it necessarily is the way it should be.

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Written by
Domenico Bettinelli
9 comments
  • Your assertion is unprovable, and statistics have nothing to do with it. Is it likely there have been homosexual priests in the past? Yes. But should we expect that the statistical distribution among canonized saints to be the same as among the general population or should we expect it to be lower?

    Regardless, it has nothing to do with the ideals that I wrote about.

  • All right class, pay attention now.

    Your homework assignment is to read the Catholic Medical Associations report titled : The Collapse of Ascetical Discipline And Clerical Misconduct – Sex and Prayer.
    This was printed in the associations publication LINACRE, Took up the whole issue for February 2006.

    This is a bombshell.  No, you cannot get a copy from the USCCB.
    No, there is no use continuing today’s discussion until you have all read this.
    You have to order the Feb issue. They don’t have it on their web site.  No idea why they dont publish excerpts there.

    My copy is so valuable I wouldn’t give it to my bishop.  Well, maybe, if he let me have his ring for security.

    B

  • I did not say a man with same-sex attraction could not be validly married. Nor did I say that all men with same-sex attraction should be grilled on their proclivities and excluded.

    Yes, a man with SSA can be successfully married, just like a recovering alcoholic can be successfully married. It is a wonderful thing. That’s not what I’m talking about.

    I am presenting the ideal, what should be. I am speaking not of minimums, but of maximums.

    I am not proposing a seminary admission policy.

  • R & B: I would get not just the ring but also the title to the bishop’s manse and to his car. And maybe the pectoral cross while you’re at it.

  • I remember in the seminary having several discussions with several other seminarians about the celibate Priesthood in relations to the Sacrament of Marriage.  We just came back from a spirituality conference giving by the IPF from Creighton Univeristy.  At the conference, a young married couple gave a talk on the subject of marriage and the priesthood.  They both had doctorates in theology and spirtuality; they were very educated.  They proposed that performing the Mass for the priest is the same as – the equivalent – very similar to – married couples having sexual intercourse.  They told us of a conversation with a priest who felt such powerful feelings when consecrating the Eucharist that he felt that he was having an intimate relationship with the Church, very similar to the very intense conjugal act of marriage.  We were all shocked.  The whole idea was absurd.  Priests don’t receive bodily pleasures at the altar.  I couldn’t stop laughing.  Some guys told me that they couldn’t sleep at night.  Other talked about leaving.  All we needed was to be told some lie about our future in the priesthood and offering Mass.  Do Eastern priests commit adultery everytime they offer the Divine Liturgy?

    The point here is that Marriage is a different sacrament than Holy Orders.  There really is no equivalence between marriage and the priesthood, most certainly not between the conjugal act of sexual intercourse of marriage and consecrating the Eucharist.  Yes, priests are configured to Christ the High Priest at ordination and offer the Mass in persona Christi capitus, who, while suffering on the Cross, blood and water poured from His side and His bride, the Mystical Body of Christ the Church was born.

    Should priests be good men who would make good fathers and good husbands?  Absolutely!  But it isn’t the same as marriage.  If a seminarian wants to be a husband and father, he should leave.

  • If there is a document you think is relevant to the discussion at hand, I think it would be kind of you to quote the passages relevant to your argument rather than forcing your interlocutor to go dig them up. If you have it at hand and it is hard to obtain, why not share it with the rest of us? I don’t think it is a good tactic in a discussion to simply post a link and make everyone else hunt. Do the hard work and excerpt at least some of the text for everyone else.

  • Re: The Catholic Medical Assod Feb edition i recommended – the text is 93 pages with another 11 footnotes and biblio.  Will comment box take this?

    Moreover I have been trying to find the text for the past half hour at the CMA site and cannot locate it.

    Very frustrating.  That is why I paid $15 for my copy.  Worth it.
    But, frustrating.

    B

  • R&B: The point is that in a debate, it is useless to tell everyone that you cannot continue the debate until the other person reads a long and obscure article. See Number 7 of Complete Blog Commenting Guidelines.

    Father Ethan: While that’s an interesting topic for discussion another day, I don’t want to get off-track. I’m not saying that ordination and marriage are the same. I’m saying that for celibacy (separate from ordination), one must be capable of the sacrifice offered for it to have the salutary effect. The point of celibacy is that the priest needs to have precisely those qualities demanded of a husband and father, but must dedicate them completely to his vocation as a priest.

    (Standard disclaimer: I’m only speaking here of priesthood in the Latin rite. Eastern rites, of course, have a different understanding of the value of celibacy.)

  • “the text is 93 pages with another 11 footnotes and biblio.  Will comment box take this?”

    R&B,

    What Dom said. But also, please note, I suggested excerpting relevant sections, not cutting and pasting the whole thing. Surely you could do that. Or perhaps if you have problems with finding key passages, you could summarize the argument.

    This also applies to JW. Even if the article is online, I’m not likely to click on a link to read an entire article. Either excerpt relevant passages or summarize. At least give me enough of a teaser that I will want to read the articles in question.

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