Why is celibacy just SO important to the modern Catholic church?

(70 Posts)
PacificDogwod Wed 03-Aug-16 20:37:56

Why can a worldwide institution as HUGE as the Catholic not accept that sexual activity is a fairly basic human need? And that homosexuality is part of the rich tapestry of all human life? And that most of us will be somewhere on a continuum of human sexuality??
More for some than others, admittedly, but the vast majority of people will be sexually active at some point in their live (even if only with themselves).

On the back of all the reports on seminarists using Grindr I have been pondering: gay sex aside (and I really don't want to talk about the sexual abuse of minors or dependents sadangry) within the church), why is there this ongoing insistence of abstinence/celibacy for Catholic priests??

To me this news story reads "Adult males use publicly available dating app" - I really don't see what 'the authorities' are meant to do about it.
confused

ImperialBlether Wed 03-Aug-16 20:41:45

I get the feeling that nobody knows any more. My mum is a strict Catholic and for a while had a married priest - he's left the as he didn't like female clergy and suddenly found himself a Catholic instead. So of course he was a married vicar and they couldn't ask him to divorce grin so he was a married priest. And everyone loved him and loved his wife. Then the next priest came along and of course he can't be married, even though the last one was. They're tying themselves in knots, I think.

elgol Wed 03-Aug-16 20:45:23

Tradition. To show your commitment to god.

It's one of the many reasons why I really don't understand religious institutions. Love thy neighbour. Just not as much as you love God.

PacificDogwod Wed 03-Aug-16 20:47:32

Hm. Yes. 'Tradition' aka 'we've always done it like this'. Compelling - not.

Imperial, that situation had never occurred to me - what a mind bend!
Presumably, he was expected to remain abstinent??

pegomassive1 Wed 03-Aug-16 20:49:38

I actually asked my priest this once (when I was in primary school I must add...and it was 'why can't priests get married?'
He replied that a priest must dedicate himself to God first and then his congregation to be married he would then put his wife first and that may complicate his relationship with God/his flock
I was satisfied with this at the time but now I think hmmhmmhmm

museumum Wed 03-Aug-16 20:51:40

I've heard some interesting stuff on radio4 about this. Basically they say a priest should put the needs of his parishioners and church (or his boss) above all else. But they feel a married man needs to put his family above all else.
So they're saying you must be totally 100% committed to your work but also your family and yet that's not possible.

In some ways I think it's good to acknowledge you can't give 100% to work and be a half decent husband or father - some other employers should acknowledge that. It's not reasonable to give yourself 100% to work.

Duckyneedsaclean Wed 03-Aug-16 20:51:55

PacificDogwod No, Anglican married vicars who convert to Catholicism do not need to be abstinent.

ImperialBlether Wed 03-Aug-16 20:56:09

I think they would say you're not meant to be abstinent in a marriage. Or certainly the women are not meant to be grin

Yes, a lot of it is mind-bending, really.

elgol Wed 03-Aug-16 20:56:43

That's what I find difficult about Catholicism pego. Well, one of the things grin. That God comes first. Not the person in confession. Not the people in need.

Odd life, to live without that physical side. Apart from Grindr. Obvs.

lljkk Wed 03-Aug-16 20:57:06

The married clergy who came over from CoE do not have to abstain from sex at all.

This is quite interesting account of celibacy & women priests. Basically, the Catholic church has been all over the place on this issue & only cracked down hard about celibacy maybe 600 yrs ago.

PacificDogwod Wed 03-Aug-16 20:58:06

It's an interesting question - does having other human (including sexual) relationships make you a better or worse servant of god?

Surely it gives an added dimension to an individual?
I suppose it matters whether a priest is first and foremost serving his god or his parishioners...

karalime Wed 03-Aug-16 21:00:24

I don't really give a shit about the sex lives of men who decide to be priests.

I'm more concerned about the millions of women and girls in developing countries forced into becoming baby making machines due to the Catholic Church's stance on birth control.

Yet most of the Catholics I know in this country on have 2/3 kids. Funny that.

PacificDogwod Wed 03-Aug-16 21:00:39

I am a dr, and married, AND a mother, and a daughter, and a neighbour, and lots-of-other-things-to-other people, and surely all my roles add to the person that I am which in turn gives me more tools in my job?!
Well, that's how I see it anyway.

I don't understand religion and its institutions and random rules, I really don't.

Yes, I knew that celibacy was a relatively new invention.

elgol Wed 03-Aug-16 21:01:29

I was always told (CofE, now aethist) that the vicar was there to help us find God. To show how to live a Christian life. To provide support for those who need it. So I guess serving both? Different to catholicism though.

I just don't believe in God <ducks lightening bolt>

PacificDogwod Wed 03-Aug-16 21:01:32

Amen to that, karalime, indeed hmm

wobblywonderwoman Wed 03-Aug-16 21:03:32

Dh and I have catholic nuns and priests in our family. They are kind. Devout. But I really am struggling with the church at the moment. More than I ever have.

The abuses are mostly why. What they did to women and children. How they have treated friends of mine who had dc before marriage. One of my friends refuses to go back to mass. I don't blame her.

In answer to you question - an aunt of mine thinks priests shouldn't marry as then parishioners would need to pay towards to upkeep of a whole family - I don't agree but its one view.

ScarletForYa Wed 03-Aug-16 21:04:52

It's financial. If sexual relationships were allowed then priests could marry. If priests could marry then wealth would pass out of the church to the wives and children of priests.

The Catholic church is a very wealthy institution.

Stevefromstevenage Wed 03-Aug-16 21:05:05

Yep karalime I totally agree but I am willing to bet that the Catholic Church concedes on priests marrying long before it gives up controlling women's bodily autonomy.

elgol Wed 03-Aug-16 21:06:26

That's the hypocrisy and double standards karalime. I don't care about their sex lives either (provided it's legal). Sex does seem to obsess the hierarchy though. Obviously need to get a bit more.

PacificDogwood the rules make no sense to me either. A lot of historic stuff that really needs updating.

Stevefromstevenage Wed 03-Aug-16 21:08:00

wibblywobbly our family is the same a number of priests and a nun. I just could not hack story after story of abuse coming out and they still come out and they still get swept under the carpet. It killed my faith stone dead although it took 10 years of a slow drip, drip.

wobblywonderwoman Wed 03-Aug-16 21:14:51

Steve sadly my mil (who is lovely but naive- I do think a lot of it is drilled in 'brainwashing' style) goes to a church that has been proven to hide a well known abuser. She often sends me mass cards from there. So well intentioned - she is a sweet person. But ughh. Why oh why. She gives a substantial proportion of her pension to said church.

lljkk Wed 03-Aug-16 21:17:07

oh yeah.. the financial thing, that was the driving reason why the celibacy rule was imposed firmly. Nowadays I think the church is a lot less greedy, ever since Pope Jean Paul they talk a lot about social justice.

PacificDogwod Wed 03-Aug-16 21:44:37

an aunt of mine thinks priests shouldn't marry as then parishioners would need to pay towards to upkeep of a whole family

Do the actual parishioners pay for the upkeep of their priest even now?! shock I did not know that.

I am an atheist, raised non-catholic Christian in Germany (where there is only Catholic or Protestant, that's it! grin) in a very 'mixed' family - lots of Catholic and Protestant marriages, I have cousins in both denominations and a great-aunt who was a nun. It's not the individuals I take issue with, it's the institution. And just how powerful it is over the lives of individuals AND society.
hmm

LynetteScavo Wed 03-Aug-16 22:01:52

Clerical celibacy wasn't even a thing before the Second Lateran Council in 1139, was it? And even after that there were priests and pope marrying and having children.

Orthodox priests marry and have families...so I think it's a current situation, and with time, possibly lots and lots of time....things will change back to how they were before

The church of England manages to be able to finance married vicars. I'm sure the Catholic church can stretch to it too...

I have heard that priests lead very busy lives, and just wouldn't have time to fit it all in if they had to spend time with their families too.

Also, I think deacons can't re-marry if their wife dies.

PacificDogwod Wed 03-Aug-16 22:09:11

People in other professions lead very busy lives, yet still manage to marry/be sexually active/have kids.

It's a nonsense and now used to beat people with a stick IMO.

As somebody eminent in the catholic church (cannot remember how) said, there are other things the Catholic Church should be more worried about, like falling numbers of the faithful for instance.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now