Two full pages of the January 15, 1998 issue of the official Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano were dedicated to the issue of priestly celibacy.
According to the report, grounded in the work of theologian Stefan Heid, the tradition of celibacy was solidly established in the ancient church.
Heid determined, after studying recent debates on celibacy in the light of ancient traditions, that the tradition of celibacy can be traced to the Apostles. The theologian acknowledges that some of these, like Peter, were married. However, he claims they understood and accepted "Jesus' call for celibacy among priests." Therefore, in order to follow Jesus' example, they became celibate and observed "perfect continence."
Of course, as is not at all unusual when examining Roman Catholic positions based on the whimsies of RCC theologians and apologists, there is absolutely no Scriptural basis for the claim that Peter or any other married Apostle or disciple practiced "perfect continence." As with so much of Romish doctrine, the guiding principle appears to be: if the fantasy would help substantiate a previously reachedt doctrinal position, then it must be true.
Celibacy within marriage not only is unnatural, it also is unbiblical. Even Rome's official teaching acknowledges this:
The "special gift" Paul VI refers to is drawn from a tortured interpretation of Matthew 19:11-12, where we read:
There are margin notes for both verses to explain what Jesus really meant:
Reading the entire passage, this time in the KJV, and applying a literal/historical/grammatical hermeneutic, the honest student of Scripture will soon see that this passage does not in any way support obligatory priestly celibacy.
The passage addresses an issue some Pharisees brought to Messiah. In Jesus' time, followers of Rabbis Shammai and Hillel were divided on the question of divorce. The Shammaites held to a strict interpretation of the Law and permitted a man to divorce his wife only if she were guilty of sexual immorality. The Hillelites, on the other hand, took a more pragmatic approach and allowed a man to divorce his wife for just about any reason.
Jesus' response referred them to Torah, recalling the words in Genesis 1:27 and 5:2, and echoing the question in Malachi 2:15.
The Pharisees, applying a technique so dear to Roman Catholic inventors of doctrine, challenged Jesus, using a flawed interpretation of Moses' words as recorded in Deuteronomy 24:1-4. According to their eisegesis, Moses had commanded that a man divorce his wife and send her away. An honest reading of the passage clearly shows that, though recognizing the legitimacy of divorce when a wife has been found guilty of sexual sin, it was not a command for divorce but, instead, a restriction on remarriage in the event of such a divorce.
Jesus' words in verse 8, shows Him clearly to be aligned with the Shammaite view that a man might only divorce his wife if she is guilty of sexual immorality, which was understood to cover a variety of sexual sins. In such cases, Jesus has provided an exception that makes it acceptable for the innocent party in such a divorce to remarry without being guilty of committing adultery with his or her new spouse.
In the 10th verse, the disciples verbalize their correct understanding of the binding nature of marriage, observing that Jesus had established a very high standard – prohibiting divorce in all but the most extreme cases. They were saying, in effect, "Since marriage is THAT binding, maybe it would be better not to marry."
Jesus is aware that not everyone is able to handle the solitary life, and in verse 12, He declares that the decision to live celibate is entirely a personal choice – except for those whose physical condition would make normal marital relations impossible. The Savior acknowledges that some might find pragmatic reasons not to marry for the good of the kingdom. Over the years, Rome's dream weavers morphed what Christ declared to be a personal choice into a mandatory requirement for the Catholic priesthood.
But is that biblical? I don't believe such a requirement can be supported from Scripture. In fact, Paul warned Timothy, and through him the Church, that heretics would depart from the faith and introduce false doctrines. Notice that one of the false teachings the Apostle specifically warns against is one forbidding marriage.
Let us reason together for a moment. If Paul considered a doctrine forbidding marriage to be false in the 1st century, can it now be sound doctrine in these latter times? Only if you are under compulsion to believe what Rome teaches.
For just a moment, let us examine Heid's assertion that the married Apostles practiced 'perfect continence.' Again, this fanciful declaration cannot be supported in Scripture. In fact, the Bible specifically enjoins against such behavior within the marriage bond.
In his first letter to the Corinthian church, Paul responds to specific questions representatives of that church had communicated to him. One of those questions dealt with marriage. This was a hot topic in a city in which virtually any form of sexual behavior was tolerated
It appears that some in the congregation, like the doctrinal fantasizers of the Roman Church, came up with the idea that the best way to avoid sexual sin and marital difficulties would be to remain single. In fact, they supposed that it would be even more spiritual to remain celibate. Such beliefs might induce some falsely pious folks to advocate a return to single status through divorce. Paul's response, though promoting the celibate single life, no way teaches that marriage is an inferior state.
In the 1st verse, Paul informs the Corinthians that while it is good to be single and celibate, that is not better than to be married. In fact, in the 2nd verse, the Apostle warns of the danger of sexual sin that faces single people. He goes on to show that marriage is God's provision for sexual fulfillment.
Notice he goes on to point out that, while celibacy is proper for those who are single, it is not proper for married folks. In fact, he makes it clear that, under the bond of marriage, each partner has the right over his or her spouse's body for achieving satisfaction. In verse 5, he explains that withholding from marital relations for a limited time is permissible, but only if both partners agree to do so as a part of their intercessory fasting. He adds that they should resume sexual relations once the spiritual hiatus is ended. This is important, in that sexual desires tend to increase during periods of abstinence, thereby increasing one's vulnerability to sexual temptation.
In the following verses, Paul explains that, being aware of the God-given benefits of both single and conjugal life, he is not commanding people to marry as a means of avoiding sexual sin. He acknowledged that his single state provided him freedom and independence to serve our Lord, but he did not expect that all believers should be single, nor those who were single at the moment remain that way. And he certainly did not expect married believers to live celibate lives. True spirituality has no connection to one's civil state. Marriage is a gift from God, after all.
The final two verses in this passage address the state of unmarried believers and widows. A jump to verse 11 helps us to understand that 'unmarried' refers to people who once were married but now were single, though not widowed. It is possible that Paul was a widower, though that is only speculation. His identification with unmarried and widows would seem to affirm his status as a widower.
The Apostle first suggests that widows and unmarried should remain single, as he was. However, he then commands that those for whom the single state is a difficult burden should marry. After all, a person dominated by unfulfilled sexual desires would find it difficult to live a happy or godly life.
The Roman Catholic church, and it's denominations in the Latin Rite, demand that its priests be as singlemindedly devoted to their Catholic Lord as possible. One means to that end is celibacy. Paul would have understood their intent though not, I believe, their practice. Look again to the 7th chapter of Pauls's 1st Corinthian letter for another passage Rome likes to call upon to support the doctrine of clerical celibacy:
Certainly, an unmarried man likely would find it easier to live a consecrated life. However, as the Apostle makes clear in verse 35, marriage does not prevent great devotion, though it does have the potential to introduce distractions that could interfere with it.
One Catholic Pope managed to come up with a really bizarre twist on priestly celibacy, linking it to Roman Catholic salvific doctrine.
Voluntary celibacy for ministers spread throughout the young church, according to Paul VI, until various councils and papal utterings 'strengthened, spread and confirmed the practice in the West.' The doctrine of obligatory celibacy for clergy was solemnly declared by the Council of Trent and included in Canon Law. (Ibid. para 35, 36)
Catholic denominations that follow the Eastern Rite do not consider marriage to disqualify a man for the priesthood, though tradition does require that bishops be celibate. Yet Rome considers those who follow the Eastern Rite to be under her umbrella. How does she explain that marriage does not disqualify men for the priesthood in those denominations? Easily, of course, for RCC doctrine is nothing if not adaptable to RCC needs.
Does Rome think any less of Eastern Rite married priests? Not according to what Paul VI wrote:
So, what is the role of the Catholic priest in his community of believers? Paul VI tells us:
Over the years, I have read newspaper accounts of numerous cases involving Roman Catholic priests who took advantage of their position as spiritual leaders to sexually abuse children. In most of the cases I have read, though the local bishops and, perhaps, other senior members of the child-molesting priest's diocese were aware of the man's contemptible and sinful behavior, they elected to do nothing and continued to permit him to perform his priestly duties. To me, this shows a cavalier contempt for the holiness of the Catholic Christ, whom the priest orders down from the Catholic Heaven to become a communion wafer, that he handles and consumes or gives to others to eat.
Not to worry, for Paul VI admitted in his encyclical that some rotten apples slipped through the gates and were ordained. So, what happens to these ordained perverts when they are found out? Why, they often are moved to another parish where no one knows them and so are turned loose on a new flock of unsuspecting sheep. T
Though the Roman Catholic Church calls the billion or so souls wearing its chains to live holy lives, and uses the threat of anathema or excommunication to enforce obedience to its sovereignty, it seems not so concerned with the holiness of its priestly class. How like the Pharisees of Jesus' time.
Interestingly, pervert priests often are not defrocked. In fact, Paul VI writes tenderly of them:
There are many Christians, myself included, who argue that the RCC's requirement that her religious practice lifelong celibacy is a major factor contributing to the sexual excesses of priests, monks and nuns that sometimes come to the attention of the news media. One can only wonder how many incidents are not reported. It may be that the obligation for celibacy actually attracts sexual deviants to the priestly or religious life by providing both a cover for those to whom heterosexual marriage is unattractive and a rich hunting ground for sexual predators.
So, it is not unusual for the Roman church to protect, even nurture, her pervert priests with callous disregard for the safety and welfare of those poor innocents who look to them for spiritual leadership and the dispensing of God's grace.
"Okay," say those inclined to turn a blind eye to symptoms of depravity in the clergy and hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church, "there are bound to be a few bad apples who evade the close scrutiny of the the bishops and manage to get through seminary and be ordained to the priesthood. Their corrupt behavior should be viewed as the failings of individual men and not of the Catholic Church as a whole." That sounds pretty good...on the surface.
Do officials of the RCC seek to "cover up" the aberrant sexual behavior of its priests? Let us examine the manner in which the various ordinaries are said to have dealt with the allegations and charges laid against priests under their authority. In San Antonio, claims surfaced that the Archdiocese was aware of the vile sexual preferences and behavior of at least one priest convicted of sexual abuse but that, rather than acting to protect children and others of the RCC faithful, simply transferred the offender to another parish.
Defrocked priest Rudy Kos claimed that he tried for years to tell officials something was wrong with him and that he needed help. He said that he was told he was on his own. When he was 16, Kos was sent to a juvenile facility for deviant bevahior. He claimed to have seen a number of psychiatrists who either could not or would not help him. He said he entered the priesthood seeking a refuge from homosexual feelings he had been having. Kos blamed the RCC hierarchy, which he said betrayed him.
A suit against the Bridgeport (CT) Diocese was allowed to go to jury in spite of the abuse victim's age because there was an issue of fact as to whether the Diocese had fraudulently concealed the cause of the action. The Diocese was also ordered to pay $33,195 in sanctions for withholding evidence. (Martinelli v. Bridgeport Roman Catholic Diocese. No. 3:93 CV 1482 (Arterton, J.) U.S.D.C. , New Haven, August 26, 1997
In an Alabama case, a woman claimed, in a suit against a priest and the Catholic Diocese, that her parish priest sexually abused her as a child, and that one of his female followers raped her. The case was dismissed on a technicality involving the statute of limitations. (Alabama, Doe v. Roman Catholic Church , 656 So.2d 5 (La.App. 3 Cir. 1995)
In recent years, the new media has mainained a steady flow of reports of priestly sexual misconduct, One can only wonder how such monsters can become priests. Once the pedophiles, fornicators and carousers within the "celibate" priesthood are identified, why does the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church appear to protect them, rather than separate them from the innocents they are charged to shepherd? Sending a depraved priest on a retreat to the "mother house" of his order, seems hardly enough. Certainly, merely transferring such a person to a different parish does nothing more than expose other innocents to his predatory behavior.
Those cases broke and were settled before the big priestly misconduct scandal was spread all across the nation, and the world, in television, radio and newsprint reports. Most who read here must be aware of the lawsuits that have financially devastated or bankrupted diocese all across this nation. Don't you just wonder how many hundreds, or thousands, of charges have yet to surface? Perhaps one reason is that Catholicism does not require impeccability of its priests. In itself, of course, this is not unusual, for who can live a sin-free life? Certainly not this writer and, as we have seen over the past several years, not some who would preach from a Protestant pulpit. What makes a difference within the RCC is its failure or refusal to adhere to its own doctrine and laws.
Scripture is quite clear as to God's opinion of those who willingly participate in deviant sexual behavior:
There may be those who would argue that priestly pedophilia is not quite the same thing as homosexuality. I would agree. It is worse. In any case, the Lord God Almighty admits to no weaseling:
The Lord has provided a golden parachute for those who turn aside from the reprobate life.
God forgives those whom He calls and covers theirs sins with the shed blood of Christ, but He holds in low esteem those who, knowing Him turn back to their evil ways:
The RCC, which is a law unto itself, has much to say concerning those to whom it accords the authority and power (according to her own dogma), to call Jesus Christ down from Heaven to reside in eucharistic wafers. To whom it calls alter Christus, or "another Christ." Compare the public behavior of the Roman Catholic hierarchy with the Canons of its own Law.
Whoa! Just what does this mean? In the Catholic reckoning of the Decalogue, which conforms to the Augustinian model, the Sixth Commandment is: Thou shalt not commit adultery. Now, according to the Catholic understanding of adultery, it must involve sexual relations with a married person. Clearly, a 10-year-old altar boy is not likely to be married so, I suppose, according to the strict letter of the Canon Law, pedophilia involving a priest and such a child would not be considered adultery.
I suppose the questions here must be 1) is it adultery when a priest sexually abuses an altar boy; and 2) if it is, what would be a "just penalty"? Perhaps another question should be: If it isn't adultery, is it not still wrong?
Continuing to read in Canon 1395:
Mother Church has a catch-all canon to cover those ecclesiastical crimes not addressed specifically in the canon law. When you read the following, please give particular notice to under what conditions this law might be invoked.
In other words, take action as necessary to protect the RCC from unfavorable media attention.
Is the Roman Church unaware of the evil nature of the predatory actions of its pedophile/ephebophile priests and religious against the children who serve at the altar? I think not, for in the Catholic Catechism, we read:
How can a pedophile or other sexual predator officiate at the Catholic Mass? How can a priest who, by even the Roman Catholic concept of justification, clearly has fallen out of grace be permitted to invoke priestly powers to call Christ down from Heaven to be offered yet again in the Eucharistic sacrifice? How can a priest who has fouled his soul with sexual sin take in his hands the consecrated wafer which is, according to RCC dogma, the real and substantial body, blood, soul and divinity of the Second Person of the Trinity? How can the Catholic faithful take this bread from his tainted hands?
Does not Scripture warn that those who partake of the Lord's Supper unworthily will incur God's wrath?
Catholic canon law holds to a similar position:
This appears to cover those who continue to practice grave sins such as fornication, pedophilia, and the like, but what about the officiating priest? What about the man whom Catholics love to refer to as alter Christus? Does he not only call Christ down from His seat at the right side of the Father to become a communion wafer but actually partake of that wafer, that so-called body of Christ, in the Eucharistic sacrifice? Can someone guilty of persistent grave sin be qualified to do these things? Canon law states:
I am not prepared to address whether a "sacramental confession" of persistent and continuing grave sin qualifies a person to be another Christ. Nor will I address the issue of the validity of such a confession when the confessing sinner has every intention of continuing to sin in the same way. Let Rome's canon lawyers dispute over that. Suffice it that the Council of Trent addressed the effect of grave sin on one's standing with the grace of Christ:
Making the question as clear as possible, can a priest who is cut off from the grace of Christ because of persistent sexual sin truly celebrate the Eucharistic sacrifice that is the very heart of the Mass? Trent says he can and, moreover, that his standing with the Lord has no effect on the sacraments he confers or effects. Hard to believe, hunh?
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