Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Sex and the Celibate Priesthood: the other side of the scandal

Here's one article in the opinion section of the paper I saw this morning as I was leafing through the papers halfway through my breakfast. It caught my attention and the title says it all. I couldn't resist the temptation to comment on it here and there. I've been an avid follower of one blog "sired" by an excellent specimen of a priest named Fr. John Zuhlsdorf (more commonly known as Fr. Z). The blog is very good, named What Does The Prayer Really Say (or WDTPRS). Just follow this address to have a good look at it: http://wdtprs.com/blog/page/2/. Anyway, following his methodical style of commentary, let's see what the article says (the words in red and in parentheses are my own reactions and comments)

The Other Church Scandal: Priests Siring Children

Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 02:36:00 05/11/2010

READING THE NEWS REPORTS ABOUT THE sex scandals in the Catholic Church in the United States and Europe, I went through a mix of emotions ranging from anger to shame and disgust(for one part...). As a former priest I personally felt at times very much at a loss( well, one won't be surprised here). I read also about four Filipino priests in the United States who have been accused of pedophilia and other sexual crimes.

So far no sex scandals involving Catholic priests in the Philippines have erupted (thank God). However, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines recently came out with a statement admitting that the situation in the Philippines regarding sex abuses in the Church shows the need for formative programs for its clerics specifically on the topic of sexuality (amen). The statement fails to mention the widespread scandal of so many priests who have sired one child or more.

The policy of many bishops here with respect to this scandal has been the same as the policy of the Church in the United States and Europe: cover up in order to protect the sanctity of the priesthood and this at the expense of the victims of these abuses. The abusive priest is allowed to continue performing his functions as a priest, while the mother and the child(ren) are left to their own resources.

I often hear that the woman is to be blamed here; after all, she seduced the priest. That is an unfair accusation (I agree). When two people fail to resist temptation, both have to take the blame; more so the one who is supposed to be spiritually superior—and that is the priest (WELL SAID).

It is high time that the hierarchy of the Church arrested this problem. A priest who has made the mistake of impregnating a woman should face the consequences of that mistake. He must marry that woman and be a real father to the child he has begotten, instead of just being a “spiritual” father ( well, this is just too simplistic. What if the woman doesn't want to get married to the guy? If I were the woman, i wouldn't. I can't imagine the man to be responsible if he hadn't been able to be such in his priestly commitment in the first place. And why these quotation marks about spiritual fatherhood. Is the author implying that it is less of a fatherhood? well I think herein lies part of the problem. I believe that when a priest loses sight of this, his own fatherhood, it begins to fail to fulfill him and thus leads him to look for it elsewhere. Then there you have it.). The child here is the victim. He/she has the right to have a father and a mother. This right of the child is a sacred right, more sacred than the function of a priest (Ja, there's no doubt about those two things being sacred, but you can't compare between two dissimilar things).

What happens here is that the spiritual welfare of the Church’s most vulnerable members—the child and the mother—is sacrificed for the image and power of the institution and its officeholders (So here we go again, the classical appeal to the sentiment. Well, in this case, don't forget that the priest is vulnerable also, and the community as well. Everyone loses here, you know). One solution to this problem is to make celibacy optional and allow married priests in the Church (And so we get to the bottom of the barrel. After all this defense of the victimized woman and the fatherless child, against the powerful institution and those powerful stakeholders called bishops and the gloomy figures of the Vatican, why don't we just do away with celibacy? It seems that this is what it's all about. Let's just pass a law to let philandering husbands take as many wives as they like, that way there will be no more adulteries; laws allowing married men to have and establish more than families, so that there would be no more broken families, only extended and restructured ones...more or less, this is the very same reasoning, only applied to marriage)


Actually, he would've gotten of better if he pursued that very urgent necessity for formative programs for its clerics (and clerics-to-be) specifically on the topic of sexuality and (need I add) a deeper appreciation for the gift of celibacy in the Catholic priesthood of the Latin Rite

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