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27 September 2005

No More Gay Priests. Now What?

Thrasymachus, based on some crude calculations - but broad enough to make being very far off not very likely - concludes that homosexualss are at the center of the Church scandals and that the Church therefore can't afford to have large numbers of gay priests. Steve Sailer, however, doesn't think the Church can effectively recruit enough American straight priests, and predicts that eliminating celibacy will result in a more personality-driven, protestant-like clergy (very interesting article wih a nice historical perspective - read the whole thing).

I'd like to see a third way. ...Read moreThe Church should keep its celibate priesthood but be very stringent on who joins. Catholic priests have a wonderful mystique about them that other clergy don't have - and celibacy is a big part of it. To make up for the big shortfall, the church could expand the reach of deacons - specially trained lay persons. Rather than just give communion and give readings, they could receive additional theological training (equivalent to, say, a Masters of Education) that would give them expanded roles, particularly to say mass (this would require a revision to Church law).

Priests, now in reduced numbers, would serve more of a special ministering role, giving the occassional special homily, appearing at special events, that kind of thing. The church could concentrate more on developing quality priests, leaving the more mundane tasks to the deacons. This would allow more normal people to become clergy without requiring large expense - deacons would still live a mostly normal civilian life - while maintaining the essence of the priesthood. Anyway, that's a modest proposal from a humble (and very bad) catholic.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

From what I understand of Catholic theology, it would be practically impossible to allow anyone other than a priest to say Mass (or at least, to perform the act of consecrating the bread and wine that's at the centre of the Mass -- maybe they could have an alternative service for deacons using pre-consecrated bread and wine). Likewise, they've painted themselves into a corner, theologically speaking, around the issue of woman priests. On the other hand, the celibacy requirement is something the pope could dispense with in an afternoon. In fact there are already hundreds of validly ordained married priests in the Church (Eastern Catholics and a few converted Anglicans and perhaps Lutherans).

--Intellectual Pariah

September 28, 2005 10:31 AM  
Blogger ziel said...

Well the pope can really dispense with anything in an afternoon, being that he's infallible on doctrine - but I was thinking along your lines - pre-consecrated bread and wine. I believe there are sparsely populated catholic areas now where something like this already is done.

September 29, 2005 7:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The pope's freedom of action is limited by the fact that he can't blatently contradict his predecessors. After all, if they were wrong, that means they weren't infallible... and if *they* weren't infallible, then maybe *he* isn't infallible. OK, infallibility, strictly speaking, applies to only a handful of doctrines. Most of the popes' pronouncements (e.g. on birth control) were not made ex cathedra and so aren't considered infallible. But there are degrees of wiggle room. Many people think that JPII entrenched the no-women-priests doctrine to the point where no future pope can change it, even though it's not considered infallible.


September 29, 2005 2:59 PM  
Blogger Dennis Dale said...

Am I missing something or is it absolutely nuts for the church to care about sexual orientation if the priest is practicing celibacy? If they characterize homosexuality as deviant but controllable behavior (very nearly the definition of sin) then isn't a priest with gay tendencies who chooses to devote himself to the church in celibacy heroically overcoming the desires of the flesh? I suppose if anyone can justify thought control it's the church, but this seems to go beyond even that. Furthermore, it's hard to imagine that the pope, or any pope, is unaware of the long standing tradition of gay men not just in the Catholic priesthood but in most societies of monastic brotherhoods. I've heard (and one of you Catholics better than I can correct me if I'm wrong) that the culture of gay priests began with the notion that celibacy meant only that a celibate did not have sexual contact with women.

October 09, 2005 10:34 PM  
Blogger ziel said...

Dennis, I think the concern is that when celibacy does break down with gays, it can do so in very expensive ways, as in teen fondling. The danger from straight priests does not seem so great, as very few of the abused teens were girls.
I am, however, unaware of the tradition you allude to - I could however imagine clandestine buggery occurring in monasteries, as happens in other female-deprived environments such as prisons, sailing ships and boarding schools.

October 09, 2005 11:26 PM  
Anonymous Isiah said...

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July 17, 2012 5:41 PM  

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