They’re only going to do it anyway

They’re only going to do it anyway

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.

  • If Shays didn’t want to go,then he should have quietly decided not to go. If he had specific information about a potential attack, then he should have said so. But he called the press and make his big announcement: that was political grandstanding.

    I’m not saying he was a coward; I’m saying he is a political opportunist.

    And the point of being on Orange Alert is for cops to be aware of a potential problem and for people to be aware of their surroundings. It shouldn’t be an invitation to huddle in fear in your home.

  • “…said the church might have to consider ordaining married priests.”  Ordaining married men is one thing but is this good English?  Just curious.

  • Let’s not forget that even in Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Churches, priests are not allowed to marry after ordination.  So a religious would not be able to transfer to a diocese and have the right to marry.

  • For that matter, why should religious order priests be excuded? If married priests is a panacea, why not allow them to marry as well?

    As you say Chris, no one has yet been able to show that celibacy is a reason for too many homosexuals in the priesthood, for dissent among priests, for lackluster ministry. It is just asserted.

  • Well said Chris!  Priests are called to holiness, I think we all agree on that.  Those priests who choose not to honor the vows that they took are consciously choosing NOT to be holy.  Let’s not forget that it is not the fact that a person is homosexual that there is a problem, the problem arises when that person chooses to live a promiscuous lifestyle which is inconsistent with the Gospel of Christ, as is adultry, fornication etc.  We’re not talking about someone who, out of weakness fell, we’re talking about the conscious abandoning of a practice which enriches one’s relationship with God and to His community.  The burden is on those who believe that the Church should end celibacy, to show that it has no merit and to do so, it is certainly unacceptable to use those who do not nor cannot live it as proof, that would rather prove that they should not have been ordainded in the first place.  Although a tremendous amount of responsibility rests on the faculties of seminaries, especially those where homosexual attitudes and personality characteristics are freely flaunted,  the responsibility ultimately rests with the individual for his conduct then on the Bishop for permitting scandalous (in the true sense of the word) behaviour.  It makes you think when Eastern Rite priests say, “Don’t ever let celibacy go in the Roman Catholic Church!”  It was said to me.  So why should we do that?  Peace, Giulio

  • I beg to disagree.  I believe that there are those who will insist that religious orders adapt to the “New Church”.  Also, as far as diocesan priests are concerned, those heterosexual priests who believe in celibacy will become suspect of being homosexuals because they don’t want to find a woman!

  • Sherry,

    I do understand the difference between secular and religious priests. My point was that the arguments advanced by Fr. Radcliffe apply just as much to religious priests as it does to secular.

    And I do know that there are good priests still in all the religious orders. (Fr. Giles Dimock, under whom I studied, is one Dominican that comes to mind.) But there are also very many who openly dissent from the Church’s teachings, or at the least advance a sort of minimalism when it comes to living the Gospel life.

    Proposing to accommodate the weakness of men by watering down the discipline of celibacy is minimalism. Expecting all priests to live up to the vow they took to bear witness to the kingdom through their sacrifices is maximalism. Christ calls us to be “perfect as my Father is perfect,” or to be maximalists.

  • “…And religious orders opting out of celibacy? That would undercut the whole notion of monasticism. ”  Todd, not all religious orders are monastic.  Some could request it and want to live in apartments or communities/community clusters etc.

  • Well, let’s get back to what Radcliffe actually said that elicited my first comments: that because of rampant violation of vows (which is debatable) the Church should do away with the requirement of celibacy.

    There are arguments for and against celibacy as you note, but an accommodation for failure to live up to vows is not a good one.

  • Here is the page on the program that Radcliffe appeared on. The link to listen to the program loads a different program. You might try emailing the BBC for a transcript.

    I happened to stumble across this quote from a self-proclaimed producer from the show on what various people (including apparently Radcliffe) said about the Church’s teaching on contraception. Not good. Of course, anyone can say anything on the Internet and can claim to be anybody, but I would see no reason for someone to make a false claim like this.

  • Sherry,

    Here is the link to the transcript of the radio program:

    And the relevant quote: “Itnothing happened, as it didn’t, then everyone would forget about his prediction and just chalk it up to someone who wanted to be extra cautious.

    Those wily politicians.


    2004-01-02 10:38:10
    2004-01-02 14:38:10

    2004-01-02 11:58:12
    2004-01-02 15:58:12
    New York pols are famous for two things: long memories and low tolerance for insult.

    Shays will be paid back.