The most senior Catholic clergyman in Britain has suggested that priests should be able to marry and have sex. In a major departure from current church teachings, Cardinal Keith O’Brien said the new Pope could consider changing the rules around priestly celibacy.
Catholic priests have in fact been permitted to marry and have sex for longer in the Roman Catholic Church’s lifetime than they have been forbidden. It was only in the eleventh century that the laws insisting upon celibacy for all priests were officially formalised. Anglican clergy who have defected to Rome have also been allowed to stay in marital relationships.
In an interview with the BBC, Cardinal O’Brien, who is the only person in Britain with a vote in the papal conclave, said the new Pope could look into changing the rules on priestly celibacy because it was not of divine origin.
“For example the celibacy of the clergy, whether priests should marry - Jesus didn't say that,” he said. “There was a time when priests got married, and of course we know at the present time in some branches of the church - in some branches of the Catholic church - priests can get married, so that is obviously not of divine of origin and it could get discussed again.”
However the 74-year-old Cardinal remained adamant that basic dogma and church teachings could never change on issues such as abortion and euthanasia.
The Cardinal’s comments may give succour to those in the Catholic Church who have hoped that women might one day become priests. They have long argued that Jesus never forbade women from becoming clerics and chose to announce his resurrection first to a woman.
The Vatican is acutely aware that there has been a major drop off in priests joining the church in the secular western hemisphere. Traditionally the church has looked to developing nations in Africa, Asia and Latin America – where clergy figures remain buoyant – to fill the short fall. But more reformist clerics argue that rescinding the church’s insistence on celibacy for its priests would attract new recruits.Reuse content
Marriage of Catholic Priests Essay
595 Words3 Pages
The Catholic Church, being nearly 2,000 years old, still follows many of the same rules and guidelines established in the early church. One item that many Catholics are surprised to learn is that the tradition of priests and other clergy members remaining celibate has not always been present in the church. There are many Catholics, in and out of the clergy, who believe that priests should have the ability to get married and raise a family. In fact, priestly celibacy is not a church law, but, as Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone says it is a "positive tradition," and not "untouchable" (France-Pressez). However, some critics of the practice would argue that celibacy is not a positive tradition, and that in fact it is…show more content…
It seems like a simple decision for the church to make: Make celibacy optional, recruit much-needed new priests. A few of the branches of the Catholic Church in Eastern Europe allow their priests to be married. The Vatican allows the marriages to keep church members from converting to Orthodox Christianity, the dominant religion in that part of the world. A recent article in The New York Times profiles Reverend Yuriy Volovetskiy, the priest at a Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church. Volovetskiy is married and has six children. He says that being married helps him better relate to his parishioners. He says having children has helped him become a part of society. It is easier for him to explain things to his parish if he has actually lived through them. Volovetskiy also says that celibacy is unnatural, and that no one can escape from having a sexual life (Levy). Many priests, after taking the vow of celibacy, discover that they can’t suppress their sexual feelings towards others. Many priests have secret relationships that they hide from their parish. Good Tidings is an organization set up by a woman and her husband, a former Catholic priest, to help priests who have fallen in love to decide whether to leave the priesthood. The organization has been contacted by almost 2000 women who were sexually involved