Tag Archive: priest showed me his penis


Hello! My name is Laura. I want to share with you my relationship with my priest.

I’m a separated woman. I had to leave my husband of 5 years. He had betrayed me and now has another family, though we are still not divorced officially.

First of all let me be very clear: The priest is the one who started the relationship. I knew him for over 6 years at that time. Because of our mutual friendship, we got closer. Once after dinner, we went for a walk. Suddenly he held me and kissed me. He did admit of having feelings for me. At that time I was still struggling, but he told me that he wasn’t going to force me to have a loving relationship. He just wanted to stay close. After around 2 months he showed that he cared for me a lot. At that time I had some feelings too towards him. He told me I could trust him. He showed many signs that he really loved me. Time passed by and we became closer and knowing each other more. I fell in love deeply. He introduced me to his mother and to his family

Then sex happened. It has been going on for these last 2 years, till a few months ago. I got pregnant. As soon as I gave him the wonderful news, he astonished me by saying that we couldn’t keep this baby. I was so depressed hearing him say such a thing. I plainly told him that I couldn’t accept. At last he changed his mind. He considered to keep the baby. However I had a miscarriage. Could we keep our relationship I pondered silently…?? We had some serious arguments.

He suddenly said that maybe it was God’s sign to stop having sex outside marriage! We needed to stop having sex and keep our friendship platonic. He told me that he had confessed already, and that he loved me so much. His wish was to stop having sex. Consequently we couldn’t sin any more.

We could keep our love relationship but just without sex…. I asked point blank: Why not leave priesthood and get married? It’s so weird…He emphasized that he loved me so much, but that he couldn’t leave priesthood.

Since last January, something happened. We keep arguing about something trivial. We argue about some family affairs about his sister..?? He has now turned to be an emotionless person, with less hugs, kisses and less dating with me. I try to talk to him, but he says that everything is fine. He gives the excuse of too much work and that he feels tired. He continues to say that he still loves me. He just brushes me aside with the expression that he loves me so much. He urges me not to worry.

On the other hand he thinks that the fighting is God’s sign to show him that he is wrong, but he does feel his love for me. The priest thinks that he needs to follow his vow of celibacy, because he did promise to God that he will be faithful to his promise. But celibacy is not a divine law, it’s a human law after all!

I don’t understand…I feel so confused. What can I do? I really love him and I cannot live without him. What should I do? What should I tell him???

I would like to write about a whole book about this story but I prefer to let the readers air their views. Please let’s not blame the person who was/is in a frail situation. Let’s walk in her shoes.

Painfully slow

In English we have the expression of taking a short cut. A short cut may help one avoid a lot of traffic, gas and time. Nobody would like to spend so much time in traffic when a shorter route exists! Is there a short cut in life? Before we answer such question, we are aware that there are various aspects of life. We have in mind the much needed reform in the Catholic church. Unfortunately there are no short cuts!

It seems that some of our readers would like to wake up one fine morning and find the necessary changes in the Catholic church! The mentality of the short cut is embedded in those who wish to change things in the church. Well it never happened that way. That’s not the natural way. If one just takes a look at creation especially the growing up of a forest, it takes a lot of years. We do understand that a fallen tree is much faster and it makes more noise than a whole forest growing up!

The longer route is: who is going to take care of so many parishes without a resident priest? Whether we’ll have married priests or not, we still have to face this growing challenge! If married priests join officially the clergy, it still might not be enough (not all married priests will accept the call by the way!), to provide the necessary basic services in a parish.

What we really need is for the so called ‘lay’ people to take an active role in the parish. Obviously to train people, again, it’s not an overnight job. It needs a lot of training. Who is going to take the role?

The problem is that we are comfortably enough to hide behind a computer screen but not daring enough to make the first step towards the actualisation of our dreams!

Maybe the first excuse that comes up is that we don’t feel that we are the right person to do the job. If we truly read the bible, there were many people who complained to the Lord to go and pick up another person. Finally they had to give up! They accepted the Lord’s invitation with humility. Your sins, lack of faith, lack of skills etc…will be compensated by the Lord!

Besides the acceptance, one has to pull up his socks and starts the hard work ie to prepare ourselves professionally so that we can take care of a parish. On the internet there are many courses nowadays which can be followed in the comfort of one’s home! One can find a solution to juggle around other duties to leave space for such a course.

During the course, one meets several people. Don’t be taken aback if you meet some so called old fashioned friends. That will be the testing ground. One needs to train oneself in dialogue. These will be repeated in other occasions such as when one is responsible for a parish. There is no perfect community in the world! One has to work with the people that come to the parish, whether they are old fashioned, greedy, alienated, rebellious or whatever. I do remember the first time I was introduced to a parish where old aged people where the absolute majority. As a young priest, at first I didn’t want to stay there. But then, the old people brought other people for some special occasions and there I met other kind of people. So one needs some time to understand God’s call.

The same can be said of our call as married priests. I never thought that I would practice priesthood again. But the call from the people and the internal reflection made me realise that one cannot discard God’s call. Of course it’s very easy for a married priest to stay in the comfort of his family (without judging anybody though), yet God’s call is there for all.

Will you take up the challenge?

Easter Sunday

The gospels are interesting to read from several points of view. One of them is for contrasts. The people next to Jesus who have witnessed the most astonishing miracles, walked side by side with Him for some years. They are so proud of their master. On Good Friday they are nowhere to be seen. They are terrified of anyone associating them with Jesus. Peter made a solemn oath of not knowing Jesus!

The leader is gone. All the followers run for their lives. They are nowhere to be seen. But they have witnessed the most extraordinary events in their lives??!! This is because fear took over. One of the biggest threats to faith is fear. Fear of what the others might say. Fear of being judged. Fear of being different. Fear of showing your true faith to others. Fear of loosing friends. Fear of being fired. Fear of the future. Fear of others. Fear of the immigrants. Fear of…….The list goes on and on.

Are we afraid? Afraid of what? The fact that I don’t have more stories (for the time being), means that people are afraid of sharing their intimate story with a priest, even though we promised not to reveal real names nor geographical position!

If we wish to see change in the church and yet we are not ready to jump, then maybe we are procrastinating change in the Catholic Church. Maybe like the apostles we are still experiencing Good Friday but not Easter Sunday!

Jesus has won death itself – our greatest enemy. What are we afraid of, exactly? Why is this fear keeping us from transmitting our message? When discussing with others, it’s the others who might be afraid of change, not us!

We have to start the ball rolling as we don’t expect others, especially the priests to speak in our name! On the other hand, it might be interpretated as Pharisaic because whilst we demand the priest to leave everything for the name of love, we are so afraid to touch the hot potato subject of married priests. Myself, I have lost the ‘comfortable’ job of working at the university. Other priests had to emigrate. Others receive a very low pay. Others are still shunned by most of the people, family members included! A few of them have committed suicide. I wish I could reveal the many emails/communication that I receive. Unfortunately, everybody seems to be a victim of fear as they don’t give me permission to publish!

One of the tactics used by most bishops, is that these are very few cases! This is not true. But how can I explain that I have so many cases on my hands if I cannot disclose any information about many stories?

I truly believe that everybody can do something small but with great love and determination. One can send messages through many parts of the world in different ways. I can’t give a general formula for everybody! It’s up to each person to study it’s own personal life and act accordingly.

May the Risen Christ give you enough courage to be bold enough and strengthen the church by suggesting married priesthood.

The secret hand of God

Children would like to win when playing games. Adults want to come out as intelligent and mature persons when conducting a project at work. The Jewish people too wanted a superman in order to get rid of the then so powerful Roman Empire! In any case, everybody wants/wanted to come out with flying colours!

How come then we’re celebrating the death of a man nailed to a cross? Is this the promised victory? What kind of victory is that? It seems that the so called bad people had won!

Although we’ve been brainwashed [at times] in the Catholic church, there are moments when one is all alone. One can’t do what others did. It’s a personal situation where each individual has to give a personalised answer!

The married priesthood is another subject which cannot be judged on a yes or no campaign. We don’t say it’s possible or not. We firmly believe that it’s in God’s hands for the future. Now God, the way He handles these projects is in a different manner. If we just look at one of His extraordinary projects [the church], he didn’t select the very best [according to our frame of mind]! Yet no one can deny that it was another wonder of the world! Companies get dissolved after a few years or in other words, no company has withstood 2 centuries though!

As married priesthood is aimed for the future, it links with another group of people: the prophets. Prophets in the old Testament [Bible], used to talk in a strange language. They used to see things that others didn’t. No prophet knew how far away was the actualisation of his words. Though they firmly believed that one day it would have been put into practise.

The signs that make us believe that it will happen is that the number of candidates for priesthood is getting the lowest record. We’re speaking in a general manner because in very few countries they are still having an incredible high number.

The church can’t survive in such an environment. I do mix with people and many times when discussing religion, I realise how little do they know about true religion! How can they learn if there is no one to teach them? What about their daily lives? Do they turn to God? Well, we can safely say that the old prayers are gone forever. Even though people can surely meet God in other areas and circumstances, we firmly believe from daily experience that if we don’t have a timetable, most probably we turn to God [maybe] when we encounter a negative experience!

As usual, when discussing any subject in the church, there should be a dose of prayer. It’s not just the sharing of ideas. We are walking together on a journey to discover God in the futuristic church where married priests will be present.

Just to make our ideas more clear let’s make an example: discussing forgiveness. One can discuss at length about the subject but finally one has to pray a lot in order to practise it in one’s life. This is because one needs God’s help to be able to live it!

Let’s not see married priesthood on its own. It’s just one project alongside others which finally will enhance the church to be able to be again an important player in society in this century.

A different approach

I still remember some of the so called good old days in the church where people used to be afraid of breaking tradition in Lent by eating prohibited food or to exceed the exact quantity of some food! Well we had a particular formation where tradition used to occupy a central place. Fasting was a way of life in a Christian’s perspective. It was tradition.

Today, when walking in a city, there is rarely a sign of people who fast! Most people broke with tradition. People do not feel that tradition is a reason why we have to continue the same way of life. People feel that they need a change. Some of them are looking for a direct communication with our Lord, in or outside the church. If they don’t fast, it doesn’t mean that they do not believe in God or that they are far away!

The direct approach is their meaning of prayer. They ask any kind of question especially those outside the box because they are looking for something honest, caring, understanding and meaningful. If one asks, one expects an answer. Some people do not find answers. How is God going to provide answers to some curious questions?

God works through us. We are the ones who have to provide an answer to these thirsty and hungry people for God!

If we compare statistics, we might become pessimistic of how many people are not attending church any more! There are many people who are so alienated that they do not know that it’s the Lent season! On the other hand, if we are truly living this Lent, we might see things differently.

The rush to buy more or to get more rich, is a request to find God ultimately, according to St. Augustine’s philosophy. We might be the link for others to show them where God is. Maybe it’s not the time for fasting, but it’s time to go and look for others and help them contact God.

This applies especially when discussing married priesthood. It’s the link that people are looking for to find a humane church where it understands their daily challenges to live a normal life! It is the link that they are looking for. Whenever I’m discussing this issue amongst people who have left the church, I always see a smile and a genuine interest to come back to church.

The other side of the coin shows people who are still attending church ceremonies yet they are strongly in line with tradition. Taking away tradition means taking one’s life in their own frame of mind! We have to explain the reason maybe of breaking up with the tradition of celibate priests. We have to pray together in order that the Lord will illuminate the challenges facing the church today, especially that of lack of priests!

In our frame of mind too we have to let God move us towards new pastures! Although the hurdles seem insurmountable, yet we do believe that God can move mountains! At times, we don’t need a very large following. Maybe we might need just one prophet who with the appropriate words can bring the necessary changes in the church for the good of all! In this sense, this week, there have been some positive and significant changes in order that priests could get married!

Another article is found here. Have a spiritual and meaningful Lent!

We met in 2001. I worked in a hospital, but Vladislav came to a Christmas event for the patients as a priest.

We have been in a relationship for 16 years and have 2 children. It was very clear to Vladislav, that at the beginning of the relationship, I was looking for a family and not just some amusement. I hold family values very high. I have always thought of him as my husband and he has been calling me his wife.

Fifteen years ago, when we were expecting our first child, incredibly his provincial [The head of a religious order] advised him to leave the family, because “She’ll find someone else”. Vladislav was moved to another country!

When we were expecting our second child he wanted to convert to Eastern Rite Catholics, but his brother, a Roman Catholic bishop didn’t allow that. His brother also told me that Vladislav would be happier without me!!!

The elder child, our son, was very attached to his dad. When Vladislav left us, the son started having health problems.

During these years I have been forced to leave my friends, my job in the school and the university, just to be able to pay the bills. I worked illegally – without holidays for years, because Vladislav’s financial contribution was unpredictable.

In the period when we didn’t meet each other, Vladislav fell to the final stage of alcoholism.

When I met Vladislav – he was like a slum, not a living person. He couldn’t move or sleep normally, he talked like an insane person.

Immediately I led him to a detoxification, to narcologists. Vladislav started having epilectic seizures. At the moment, any amount of alcohol can go fatal to him, causing a psychosis, which would turn him into a “vegetable”.

Because of the risk of having an epilepsy attack, he must not stay alone – not even a minute. Vladislav also had severe memory impairment. He had been living at home. Our children and I helped him return to life, regain his memory and intellectual abilities.

I persuaded him to go through the Minnesota program for addicts. According to the doctors, a situation of Vladislav remaining in the ministry would leave a very bad impression to the children.

Unfortunately, when he lived at home, in family, he received messages from his brother (bishop): “Your only choice is to run away secretly. You must remain sacred even against your own will !!!!!”.

His sister persuaded him to leave by inventing lies. He said to our little daughter: “I’ll be back in 3 days, and we will go to a pizzeria.” It’s been two years since that day but he is yet to come back!

I wrote to the Order and turned to an international organization for help.

The General Father of the Order didn’t allow him to leave the ministry. He said that my request was ‘not well grounded.’

I was presented with a contract in which the father could meet with the children 4 times a year – according to them!! Is that how to bring up children?!!! In this contract I was named ‘a nuisance’.

I believe that the way the RCC behaves towards me, the children and Vladislav, is a crime.

Please be careful with your comments as this is a very sensitive case of a The Roman Catholic Church abusing a woman. Let’s show our practical belief by helping and not judging a person who had the courage to write her story on our blog. Let’s keep her in our prayers.

The sun behind the clouds

Students have exams in order to test their abilities. We, as grown ups, we have our own situations where we feel we are being tested. In the human life, there are situations where although the people are adults and mature, they feel at a loss what to do or how to react. It could be that the present situation was not the desired one or a one which changes our life completely.

We feel at crossroads. What shall we do? This is the time where the true church has to show its true colours. We are all pilgrims walking towards our Risen Lord. We are people of faith. Even if we don’t see, yet we believe. It’s a cloudy season yet we firmly believe that behind the dark clouds, there is the sun.

Most of the old Testament prophets spoke about the future which they had never experienced! Yet they still preached the message requested by their faith. We too need faith to accept the latest developments. We need a lot of faith so that what we believe in, will be the norm in the Catholic Church.

Lately, according to the latest news, Pope Francis seems to have changed his mind. He is simply letting married people to help with the distribution of the sacraments in remote areas. Actually we don’t know if they would truly be called priests! But it’s a big no to priests who might consider marrying! Consequently, we don’t think he would be letting other priests who left to come back!

It seems that marriage is still being viewed as something which hinders priestly duties! What makes one laugh is that I don’t know of many priests who have truly a packed timetable! So why all the fuss that the priest can’t follow his timetable?! What do priests do during the week, especially morning time? Family visits are still largely unknown in many parishes of the world. How are the priests reaching out to people? Mass attendance has gone down drastically especially in the Western World! They don’t have long queues for confession neither.

How can we help? We can write, talk, discuss with other media/people to show the benefits of marriage in Catholic priesthood. One which helps the priest understand life today especially when having one’s own kids! The priest would be doing a practical exercise in relationships when living with his wife 24/7. Like in all other organisations, we have to convince other people of our arguments. It’s NOT the end of our ‘war’! We might lose the battle in the coming months but not the war!

In this case I would like to comment that at times we are finding difficulty in practising dialogue between ourselves. We still have to grow in maturity ie the way we write our opinion and they way we react when somebody does not agree with our opinion. If we react in the same way with people who do not agree with married priesthood, we would be hijacking our own purpose!

Let’s remember that some people have been brainwashed with the learn by heart answers given by the Catholic Church for many years or better centuries. But when one thinks about it deeply, one might change his mind. Please do remember that most people are backing our way of thinking. The only problem is that the Pope together with other priests and bishops are failing to see the writing on the wall. If the church is in dire straits, it should be practical and think about its own future. If not, it might risk of becoming a very small minority! Let’s use and believe in the force of prayer to make great changes in the church.

Happy New Year!

We are very pleased that some of our readers have reached a very high level of maturity when it comes to discussing married priests. It is a clear sign that the Holy Spirit can steer the minds and souls of common people if the need arises! The Holy Spirit is God. The Holy Spirit can give flesh and blood to a whole cemetery! God is not a God because He performs normal procedures or work. He is God because He does best what others classify as ‘impossible’. In other words, nothing is impossible for God. If we are true believers, we should believe it 100%.

Let’s be more clear. Some of our readers are truly understanding how many stumbling blocks the priest has to face before or if, he decides to leave the parish or the monastery! In some cases, he is aware of hurting the woman, yet for some reasons he won’t succeed in jumping over the fence! Again, let’s not play the blaming game. It’s not a question of who is right or wrong but of creating awareness first. Secondly we need to help create the right structure so that it becomes easier for priests to make a mature choice.

This blog was created for this simple reason: let’s discuss the issue of celibacy in priesthood. Let’s not put it under the carpet. I still remember that initially some of the people that I knew in the parish accused me of creating confusion! Maybe they thought that if we don’t discuss the issue it will simply go away! Maybe they were hinting that they don’t like a different opinion on this matter as it will eliminate their unfair position in this debate (ie dominance). In any case, we feel very proud of our blog as it has gained quite a lot of popularity without using any publicity!

Let’s not feel defeated. On the other hand let’s remain with our feet on the ground. The blog on its own is still not enough. We still need to go out and meet other people and share our opinion. We can still write letters to newspapers, radios, televisions etc…We can write letters to the priests, bishops and the Pope himself. We need to be heard. Other people are behind us. They do support our issue. I know of many people, inside and outside the church who are truly believers in our cause.

We need to make some ‘noise’ in the public eye! No revolution started from the top people! It has always started from the base – the common people! Let’s be one solid group in order to make our voice heard from all parts of the world! In the meantime we urge new readers to come forward with their story. We promise to hide their identity, if they feel safer that way. Yet each and every story proves that celibacy is not the issue of a small group of priests!!! It reaches a much bigger and wider audience!

A Happy New Year 2019 to all our readers!

What’s an update?

One of the fascinating words today is update. It means to bring up-to-date! We want to update several areas in our life and that of material things. This applies to religion. We were once very young children. We had our first ideas about God and the church. We grew up, we made experience, attended courses..so on and so forth. We continued to update our idea of God, church etc……It means that we are understanding more about religious themes. Everybody understands better as one grows older. Not updating it means to remain with the same childish ideas, in other words being left behind or not learning at all.

Why are we focusing on the word update? Because of the wonderful call of the Pope for the church to do outreaching i.e. to go out of the temple and look for the man/woman of today. But the multi million dollar question is: how can one call for an outreach if one does not update? i.e. the church needs to update its teaching about sexuality; justice; work; rights; environment; relationships etc…..We firmly believe that outreaching without updating the present teaching would sooner or later backfire. The initial enthusiasm may soon die.

The priests (those responsible for updating and preaching the contents of the Catholic religion), have been brainwashed that the teachings of the church do not change!! So whilst people do change in many areas, in the area of the Catholic religion they have to make an exception!

This is quite insulting as it means throwing into the trash what other people have experienced about God! God speaks in everyday experience. We cannot discard what other people experience about God. The mentality that the priest knows it all in the area of religion has to stop. Adults in faith (according to the updated teaching of the church) have the right to seek God in other ways! They are Adults in faith not children to be lectured at!!

Why does this happen in the church? We firmly believe that the unmarried priest does not have a family of their own. Hence they have to make an extra effort to understand the world of today. Most of them spend most of the time closed between the protective walls during the initial formation period. They are expected to study on books. Most of them are very young. Non married priests have the most strange ideas about women where most of them still see them as a devil in disguise. Most of them had never a real and deep relationship with an adult! How can they have a healthy relationship with their parishioners? We are not surprised by some of the stories shared on this blog as it amply shows the lack of preparation of unmarried priests to meet the society of today. Consequently it will effect their ‘handling’ of people in parishes and their explanation of the teaching of the church. It will effect their focus in their parishes.

The married priest is the one who is living the married experience which in itself is part of a chain of many other experiences….a deep relationship with an adult; understanding the opposite sex; loving an adult; taking care of children; interacting with his own sons and/or daughter; taking care of his house; being a parent 24/7 for all his life…….

The married priest is at an advantage over other priests because he has his own sons and/or daughters where it’s not so easy to educate and he has to respect this often contradictory attitudes/opinion/clothes etc…..Yet they are his sons and or daughters so he has to forgive and love. He is the one who has to understand their journey in life and their right to choose the wrong path or maybe the joy of running on a ‘greener grass’. The spirit of teenagers who feel like grown ups only if they say no to their parents!!! I remember one episode where my son and I used to go shopping for clothes. He used to ask for my opinion about the choice of clothes. He used to select the clothes that I hated most!

All this experience might help him to approach people who have left the church. Surprisingly, some of the married priests too have people in their family who do not wish to go to church. Below we publishing part of the

APOSTOLIC EXHORTATION
EVANGELII GAUDIUM
OF THE HOLY FATHER
FRANCIS

47. The Church is called to be the house of the Father, with doors always wide open. One concrete sign of such openness is that our church doors should always be open, so that if someone, moved by the Spirit, comes there looking for God, he or she will not find a closed door. There are other doors that should not be closed either. Everyone can share in some way in the life of the Church; everyone can be part of the community, nor should the doors of the sacraments be closed for simply any reason. This is especially true of the sacrament which is itself “the door”: baptism. The Eucharist, although it is the fullness of sacramental life, is not a prize for the perfect but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak.[51] These convictions have pastoral consequences that we are called to consider with prudence and boldness. Frequently, we act as arbiters of grace rather than its facilitators. But the Church is not a toll house; it is the house of the Father, where there is a place for everyone, with all their problems. (published on the 24th November 2013)

 

Although most of our readers did not study theology (study about God), the argument of married priest cannot be discussed properly without any knowledge of theology. It is this kind of theology which people may quote for or against married priesthood. Today we are presenting a short history of the arguments in favour or against. We hope to be of help to our readers in order to understand the argument for married priesthood better.

By Richard R. Gaillardetz

It is very difficult to have a productive conversation about the possibility of a married priesthood in the Roman Catholic Church. For some Catholics, any discussion of a change in the church’s current discipline constitutes either an attack on the priesthood itself or a capitulation to a secular culture that cannot appreciate the spiritual gifts that a celibate priesthood offers the church. Some Catholics support a married priesthood as a way to argue against priestly celibacy, which they regard as an antiquated discipline that is anti sex and at least indirectly responsible for the clerical sex-abuse crisis. Still others will argue for a married priesthood as a necessary pastoral response to the shortage of priests: the people of God, they say, have a right to the Eucharist, and that right trumps any spiritual or pastoral value in a celibate priesthood. Frequently, advocates of a married priesthood will point out that ecumenical accommodations have already been made for married Protestant ministers who convert to Catholicism, but those cases remain the exceptions to the rule. What is needed today is a constructive argument for a married priesthood in the Latin Church that is neither a pastoral/ecumenical accommodation nor a repudiation of priestly celibacy.

Any discussion of the relationship between celibacy and priesthood needs to distinguish between three different “logics” that have governed the practice of committed celibacy in the tradition. We find the first logic in the words of Jesus commending those who freely become “eunuchs for the kingdom” (Matthew 19). We might speak of this as celibacy’s prophetic witness to the values of the reign of God. According to this logic, one chooses a life of committed celibacy and renounces the sexual intimacy and companionship of marriage in order to enter into the paschal mystery in a distinctive way and give public witness to its transformative power.

This logic is not anti sex: those who freely choose this way of life can also give witness to the liberating power of authentic sexuality, in part by resisting the contemporary tendency to reduce sexuality to sexual acts. This kind of prophetic witness invites all Christians to consider anew their own call to exercise the virtue of chastity, whatever the particular circumstances of their lives. A crucial characteristic of this logic is the presumption that the person considering a celibate way of life actually possesses a charisma for celibacy. For those who recognize that charisma in their lives, celibacy can be both demanding and fruitful. Without such a charisma, however, celibacy can become a sterile burden. Prophetic celibacy first emerged in the witness of hermits and monks and continued to flourish in later forms of consecrated life. It has no intrinsic connection with the ministerial priesthood.

A second logic for celibacy, characterized by a concern for both moral and ritual purity, appears with particular force in the fourth and fifth centuries. Before examining this logic, we should recall a basic distinction: sexual continence refers to abstinence from sexual relations, whereas celibacy refers to forgoing marriage (and of course presumes sexual continence as well). The logic of purity sees the sexual continence of the clergy not as a freely embraced charisma but as a canonical obligation intended to preserve the purity of the priest in view of his holy office. When it became difficult to ascertain whether married priests were observing sexual continence before celebrating the Eucharist, bishops and regional synods began calling not just for priestly continence but also for priestly celibacy.

The logic of purity is constructed around a selective appropriation of the norms governing the Levitical priesthood, as presented in the Old Testament. This logic treats sexual activity as a form of ritual defilement. It also draws on ancient Stoic suspicions of human sexuality. Sex, even in marriage, is viewed largely as a concession to natural appetites and to the necessity of procreation. Partly as a consequence of this second logic, sexual continence and eventually celibacy would become a canonical obligation for priests in the Latin Church.

Finally, there is a third logic for celibacy, what we might call the logic of ministerial freedom. This logic sees celibacy as providing a greater freedom for Gospel service because the minister is not preoccupied with familial obligations. (A fourth logic emerged in the early Middle Ages as a way of protecting church property from the inheritance claims of the clergy’s offspring, but this logic lacks a properly theological foundation and so will not be considered here.) Note that the logic of ministerial freedom, like the logic of prophetic witness, assumes the presence of a charisma, without which celibacy will be experienced only as a burden, not as a gift.

As long as celibacy was intended to preserve ritual purity, it made sense for it to be a canonical obligation for all priests. According to the logic of purity, the point of forbidding priests to marry was just to prevent them from engaging in sexual activity, which was judged to be incompatible with their cultic function. Since the Second Vatican Council, however, this logic has been largely abandoned (for good reasons). So we are left with the logics of prophetic witness and ministerial service. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church,

All the ordained ministers of the Latin Church, with the exception of permanent deacons, are normally chosen from among men of faith who live a celibate life and who intend to remain celibate “for the sake of the kingdom of heaven.” Called to consecrate themselves with undivided heart to the Lord and to “the affairs of the Lord, they give themselves entirely to God and to men [and women]. Celibacy is a sign of this new life to the service of which the church’s minister is consecrated; accepted with a joyous heart celibacy radiantly proclaims the Reign of God. (1579)

But this leaves us with a difficulty. As Heinz Vogels argues in Celibacy: Gift or Law [2] (1993), a celibate life lived as prophetic witness and in genuine freedom for gospel service cannot be mandated by canonical obligation; it can emerge only as the free recognition and embrace of a particular charisma.

A better understanding of celibacy’s proper role in the church would require a better theology of vocation—one that properly distinguished between various ministries on the one hand and various forms of holiness on the other. Despite some helpful developments in its theology of vocation, the Second Vatican Council continued to draw on the traditional view of Christian vocation, configured around three alternative “states of life”: marriage, priesthood, and religious life. However, an alternative framework presents itself in the middle four chapters of

Lumen Gentium [3]. Chapters 3 (on the hierarchy) and 4 (on the laity) explore how the church is constituted by its different charisms and ministries. Chapters 5 and 6 are concerned with the call to holiness—the former with the perfection of charity to which all Christians are called, and the latter with the public witness to holiness offered by consecrated religious. What we see embedded in the order of these four chapters is not the traditional “three states” schema, but the outlines of a new schema constructed along two axes. The first is ministerial: Am I called to serve the church through the charisms I have received from baptism or through ordination? The second axis has to do with holiness and forms of Christian discipleship: Am I called to pursue that Christian holiness proper to all disciples of Jesus, or am I called to give a public witness to the demands of discipleship and the values of the reign of God through a form of public vowed life? This framework has the merit of unhinging the ministerial priesthood from any necessary relationship with either celibacy or marriage, since the call to priestly ministry would be realized along one axis, and the call to the single life, marriage, or committed celibacy along the second axis.

Some male religious communities have preserved this distinction by insisting that those seeking entrance into their community focus on their embrace of its charisma and apostolate before they explore the quite separate question of whether they are called to priestly ministry. The process for those entering the diocesan priesthood should be adapted along the same lines, so as to leave room for the possibility that a candidate for priestly ministry may not have a charisma for celibacy [4]. The lack of that charisma should not be thought to invalidate a vocation to the priesthood.

For much of the history of the Latin Church, priestly celibacy was defended according to the logic of purity: the priesthood was seen as essentially incompatible with the sexual intimacy of marriage. This logic depended on a rather harsh appraisal of the character of human sexuality. A much more positive theology of sexuality emerged in the twentieth century, offering the possibility of a new assessment of a married priesthood—one based on the recognition that Christian marriage is not an alternative to an ascetical life, but a form of it.

I have no wish to demonize secular culture; grace is at work there too. Yet we cannot ignore the force of consumerism, which turns goods into commodities and encourages an “upgrade mentality,” even with respect to human beings. This mentality can make lifelong commitment appear almost nonsensical. At the same time, our culture’s preoccupation with romance and passion can make the mundane marital practice of companionship appear boring, laborious, and ultimately unnecessary. Consider the myth of Mr. or Ms. Right—the naïve conviction that there is one “right person” out there for each of us. This is a myth often underwritten by an inadequate understanding of divine providence and the misguided Christian conviction that God has intended “one person and only one person” for each of us who feel called to marriage. This myth can make the inevitable pains and disappointments within a marriage appear as indications that one has chosen the wrong person (“I see now that my spouse was not the right one”).

Against this cultural backdrop, authentic Christian married life will inevitably be counter cultural and prophetic. The public profession of marriage vows engages Christian spouses in a prophetic form of renunciation, a free embrace of limits for the sake of Christian witness and mission. The vows of marriage bind a couple together “for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health.” The faithful companionship to which Christian marriage calls us retains a vital and necessary ascetical character. Moreover, we must resist reducing marital lovemaking to “the thing celibates don’t get to do”; it, too, participates in the prophetic witness of marriage. Conjugal love is not constituted by a mere “right to the body of one’s spouse” (ius in corpus). In its potential for intimacy and vulnerability, as well as delight, and in its humble openness to new life, it is a sign of contradiction in a culture that commodifies sex and depreciates fidelity.

Christian married couples, like faithful celibate priests and consecrated religious, give prophetic witness to eschatological values associated with the coming of God’s reign: chastity, radical forgiveness, vulnerability, fidelity, hospitality, generosity, and gratitude.

Were leaders in the Latin Church to recognize the prophetic witness of Christian married life, they might look at the possibility of a married priesthood with new eyes. They might see that marriage, like committed celibacy, is a concrete form of the universal call to holiness that can fruitfully support priestly ministry. They might come to see a married priesthood not as a reluctant pastoral or ecumenical accommodation but as a genuine gift to the entire church. They might recognize in a married priesthood a valuable complement to a celibate priesthood, a form of life well suited for both ministry and prophetic witness. And if a married priesthood helped challenge the misuse of priestly celibacy as a support for clerical elitism, well, that wouldn’t be so bad either.

Richard R. Gaillardetz is the Joseph Professor of Catholic Systematic Theology at Boston College.

His books include: Keys to the Council: Unlocking the Teaching of Vatican II (co-authored with Catherine Clifford, Liturgical Press, 2012), When the Magisterium Intervenes (editor, Liturgical Press, 2012), Ecclesiology for a Global Church: A People Called and Sent (Orbis, 2008) and The Church in the Making (Paulist, 2006