If there is something which is common to all people, then that would be relationships. Nobody was born in a vacuum. In many cases one was born by the act of love of two people. At least one adult took care of her/him. He/she learned the basics of a relationship.

A relationship starts when we meet people. We get to know the name; where one lives; where one works etc…..The more sharing of information takes place, the more it makes one’s relationship deeper.

Why are thinking about relationships in this Easter week? First of all, it was the most tragic week for the apostles. They saw Jesus doing incredible miracles (like waking up the dead, walking on water, giving sight to blind people…). Yet all of a sudden they witnessed His death. Their relationship with Jesus seemed to stop forever. They lost all hope of changing the fate of the Jewish people. The Romans were still there. What has changed then?

The unmarried priest is nowadays sent from one parish to another. He has barely time to come to grips with the situation, when suddenly he is moved to another parish. His timetable is surely packed 200%. He sees people just to administer sacraments, give his ‘expert’ opinion about the spiritual life….and that’s it. At the end of the day he is all alone. Who knows about his internal struggles and loneliness? Can he be the shepherd and show fragility? Will the parish community see him as a holy priest albeit with personal difficulties and sins?

We repeat, it’s not the urge to have sex which drives a priest beyond of what is expected of him. It is rather this emptiness to belong to someone. The feeling of being a parcel at the post office which is being sent from one place to another with no emotional attachment! Belonging is something which makes part of the human being. One may call it a basic human need.

We have heard countless priests telling their own stories. These priests are saints. They are fighting a huge battle which most people do not understand. We simply pay attention when ‘sex’ comes in the story. Most journalists are not interested in what happened before or after!

How can a priest, who is not in relationship, speak to us about a relationship with a hidden and unseen God? We can understand the difficulty of the apostles who have been sitting next to Jesus and who all of a sudden was gone. But what about people who have never seen God? How can we nurture a true and deep relationship with our God?

We can’t live without one single, significant relationship. Now this is the achilles heel in the priest’s life. He does not belong to anybody in the parish. He can easily bury the problem by adding more work. Some might indulge in heavy drinking or smoking. Others might go travelling around the world in the most exotic resorts! Some of them invite women to their bed. The latter are the ones who make news items really interesting!!!

It’s a vicious circle because actually they are looking for a full time relationship. Yet in their early years in the seminary (the place where young candidates for priesthood are educated), they were lectured (or bombarded) by the message that any relationship is wrong! In some places, priests remember the advice in order not to talk to a woman alone! The only exception is during confession!!!!

Partially it explains the hot and cold attitude of the priest when getting a deep relationship. It’s something that he has no experience of yet he feels helpless. Most probably he wants to run away until the feeling of not belonging comes in again and he starts all over again.

The eternal truth is that one can’t be in a true, lasting relationship if it’s not a deep one! So it explains a lot about the odd behaviour of the priest!! He wants one thing without the other…which is humanely impossible.

When we speak in favour of married priesthood, we are changing all this. Now priests too are people who aren’t in favour of change especially when it touches their deeper self being! They need their time to understand what’s involved and why.

We should present our married priesthood not simply as a solution to avoid sex scandals! But it’s an answer to a deep yearning for inner peace. Any human being needs to be loved, taken care of, and to feel secure with one person who knows him/her inside out.

In the present life, both in the parish and outside (the rest of the population), love and sex have been taken out from a relationship. In that case the relationship dies a natural death. It’s no wonder that some women complain that they are being used as an object! Sex would be simply the meeting of two ‘foreign’ bodies! Love would be translated as simply touching the outside layer of the person (the body).

One of the advantages of married priesthood would be that they would be in a better shape to guide, coach and train other people in how to nourish properly a relationship! Let’s hope that the Risen Christ would guide us to have better relationships by having the example of the married priest!

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