I know we’ve debated priestly celibacy over the past week or so, and there are good arguments on both sides. But this one is not a good argument for getting rid of the rule.
An English Dominican clams that “in many parts of the world celibacy has actually largely broken down,” therefore we should allow priests to marry because otherwise it’s a negative witness.
You know what’s negative witness? Telling Catholics that there is a discipline or dogma they must live by, and when they don’t, changing the rule rather than enforcing it.
Let’s take an analogy. Say you give your teenage son a 10 pm curfew, but he never abides by it, coming in at midnight most nights. Which would be better for the child—grounding him and making him abide by the curfew or changing the curfew to midnight? Or to take another example: the common highway speed limit is 65 mph. At least here in the Northeast, most people drive anywhere from 70 to 80 mph. In the face of this reality, what do you think would happen if in reaction they raised the speed limit to 75 mph? Some of those speeders may continue to drive 75, but let’s face it, most of them would drive 80 to 90 mph.
By the way, the article refers to this priest Fr. Timothy Radcliffe thusly: “… now a monk in Oxford but tipped by some as a future leader of the Roman church in England …” Tipped by whom? How does one get tipped thus? The only person who knows who the future Archbishop of Westminster will be is the pope who will do the appointing when Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor retires or dies. (He turns 75 in 2007.) Sounds like a newspaper reporter is trying to pump up the value of his story somewhat.