Fr. Donald Cozzens is at it again, with a new book calling for the end of priestly celibacy. The topic isn’t new for Cozzens who’s become something of a media celebrity since The Scandal broke in 2002. He’s been a reliable source of quotes for reporters on why celibacy is part of the problem, despite all logic to the contrary. (See this entry for more on that.)
It’s the same, old thin gruel rewarmed for another heaping helping.
There were about 42,000 active priests nationwide in 2005, a 29 percent decline from 1965, according to Georgetown University’s Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate. About 3,200 parishes were without a resident priest in 2005, compared with 549 in 1965.
“Many, if not most, of the inactive priests would be serving in our parishes if it were not for the law of celibacy,” Cozzens wrote.
The church discounts celibacy’s responsibility for the shortage, saying an increasingly materialistic culture plays a far bigger role.
First, there are plenty of Protestant churches who allow married clergy who are similarly undergoing clergy shortages and emptying pews. Clearly, the problem has nothing to do with whether Father has a wife.
Blaming celibacy for the problems in the Church is an easy out and a convenient way of advancing an agenda opposed to the Church’s teachings on sexual morality. The underlying premise is that it is unnatural for man to do without sex and is the first objective of those who would eventually expand the argument to include homosexuals and others who won’t or can’t marry.
The article also provides the usual myths, such as the claim that celibacy only became a universal requirement in the 12th century and that priests and bishops were allowed to marry at will before that. This is simply not true and the fact that one must use such myths to advance one’s argument doesn’t speak well for the value of that argument.