This week we have a general reflection by one of our readers – Anna. She has been a regular reader of our blog. She wishes to share her thoughts with the rest of the readers. We welcome all those who wish to write their opinion as we wish to make it your blog. In fact the last post has created a record of 106 messages! Well done to all our readers. We invite the new ones to overcome fear and share their story with the rest of the readers.

A man becomes a priest when surrounded by a religious environment that influences him to choose that specific religious pathway. Some are inspired by the life of saints or, while still in their early teens, pushed by their families to acquire a better education. The older generation thought that having a priest in the family gave them a better chance to get a good spot in heaven.

The young seminarians live and grow within a typical regimented spirit; going to Mass, to Holy Communion and the various piety practices just because all the others do so, too. Sometimes the spirit of devotion at that young age is reduced to the “must” of practice. As they grow a little older, they discover that the world is also populated by pretty girls. They start to have feelings, which they initially dismiss as wrong, evil thoughts for a seminarian heading to priesthood and a life of chastity, poverty and obedience.

Repression, however, is not a Christian behaviour. It is destructive and results in physical, psychological and emotional imbalances. The desire to approach a superior to confide a priest’s inner turmoil is often brushed aside with an “it will get better, don’t worry,” statement. The hierarchy makes communication inadequate because of defensive responses, distorted perceptions, mutual antagonisms and sometimes just raw ignorance. No wonder then, that many priests start wondering why their activity within the church has to be such a barren life and decide to leave.

The leadership of the church has always been in the hands of elderly males who repel anything new, different of what they have been used to follow for generations. They are terrified by any sort of reforms and, with rare exceptions, blindly reject any possibility to bring the archaic church laws and regulations up to date with the advanced realities of life on the planet earth and its society. They believe only in the things they want to believe. Yet, they are human and subject to the same sins they so fiercely condemn.

One of those sins is sexuality, which is portrayed by the church fathers as taboo, an evil to be avoided at all costs. Yet the root cause of most sinful or scandalous behaviour was the church’s policy on celibacy, which is considered by the medical establishment and a larger portion of the public opinion, including that of practising Catholics, as simply unhealthy, unnatural and damaging to the individual, physically, emotionally and psychologically. It serves no useful purpose and only did, and still does, generate much pain and suffering to healthy young and not so young men who are prevented from expressing their love for another human being and live happy and productive lives.

Celibacy should no longer be an imposition but a choice. Many priests find themselves in the position where they would love to share with a female soul their faith, their ministry or their missionary work. What is wrong with the church that it can do nothing more for the present inner conflicts, the exodus of clergy and the anguish this creates for thinking men within the church?

Most Catholics hope that the present Pope, Francis, will adjourn the celibacy issue and adapt it to the times we are living in. Whether he will succeed is questionable, being surrounded as he is, and pressured by an aging population of Cardinals, Bishops and Monsignors who are strongly resistant to change and therefore inflexible towards the needs of a newer generation of church workers, priests and missionaries.

It is important to point out that a priest leaving his status is not a delinquent Christian. In many cases he merely chose to live his Christian commitment in secular life. Not all leave due to the celibacy issue. Some feel that the original motivation leading to a decision to become a priest has not been fulfilled. Some leave the priesthood with a mixture of courage and uncertainty. To leave a structured situation that provides entirely for the logistics of living takes a great deal of strength. Many old thoughts and habits are to be shed and there is much new stuff to be learned. Help to re-establish him when leaving the ministry would be advisable, as most of his training and experience is not helpful in the lay world.

To some degree, priests are ignorant of practical matters of everyday life such as, how to approach an employment interview, where to buy clothes, how to live on earnings, how to build a social life, and that includes the emotional aspect when dealing with the opposite sex. He will need to know a little more than how to make love to a woman. He will need to get acquainted with a woman’s chemistry and all those things that up until then had been denied to him and kept from him to avoid the sinful temptation of the flesh.

Conversely, the woman that falls in love with a priest would need some sort of psychological and emotional introduction to his educational formation as they all have individual needs and a standardized procedure can definitely not be followed. It does take enormous courage on both sides to face the many, initial obstacles, and to build a strong, long-lasting happy relationship. Celibacy may no longer be part of their lives, but Faith and Love will prevail and remain.

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