Idiot arguments about priestly celibacy

You can make perfectly reasonable arguments either way on this. One can also make particularly dumb ones:

The Vatican predictably dismissed the programme as “more smoke than fire”, but it would do well to study it. For it makes clear that the celibacy that the Catholic Church continues routinely to demand of all who want to become priests is a strain even for the best of them. There is no suggestion that John Paul II broke his vow of celibacy with the married Mrs Tymieniecka, but his yearning for intimacy with her is plain.

That an ordained priest does not fuck another man’s legal wife is pretty much nothing at all to do with priestly celibacy, is it?

The rules about adultery might have the teensiest to do with it maybe?

53 thoughts on “Idiot arguments about priestly celibacy”

  1. So Much For Subtlety

    There is no suggestion that John Paul II broke his vow of celibacy with the married Mrs Tymieniecka, but his yearning for intimacy with her is plain.

    Again we see the Hard Left pushing their agenda. So the Pope was good friends with a woman? Just goes to show he was not a misogynist. Or at least it would if they had an ounce of intellectual and moral integrity. But they don’t. So they are only interested in this story to push their usual agenda. And they do.

    Their Concern Trolling for a man whose death they didn’t exact mourn is noted.

  2. So Much For Subtlety

    Actually if anything these letters are proof of the importance and usefulness of celibacy. The Pope was able to exchange dozens of letters with a woman and not sleep with her? I would guess no normal man would be able to exchange three without thinking of some way of banging her.

    And where men and women do actually exchange ideas without sex, they have an artificial, uncomfortable and all too often broken imitation of priestly celibacy – as between teachers and students for instance.

  3. The BBC article on this made me fume.

    “There is no suggestion that”, but we’ll write a whole article full of innuendo anyway.

    Dogma and theology aside, there are two great practical reasons for priests/popes being celibate:
    – Having time and psychological space to do the job properly
    – Not having dynasties

    Of course the first doesn’t preclude fornication, just not getting hitched (though if your fornication leads to procreation, you’re pretty much hitched…)

  4. Yes it’s a stupid and frankly quite shitty smear job.

    Priestly celebacy is complicated though. There undoubtedly is a major need for it and most, MOST priests I know regard it as an important feature of their vocation. However, married men are becoming priests here in the UK, through the Ordinariate and direct conversions. So we do have married priests and their vocation is undeniable for Catholics.

  5. No, not that “Nick” but Lord Hall’s empire as “Turbo-Nick” in smirking prurient overdrive.

    For my part, this revelation has rather increased my respect for JPII.

  6. If only he’d come out in favour of Climate Change. Looks like as far as the Proggies are concerned there is only one Pope.

  7. So Much For Subtlety

    It is a shame that they could not go for an honest headline. I would recommend:

    “Man discovers interesting women and really does just want to be friends Shocker”

  8. Or, delving a bit further in to what has been reported “Man stays ‘just friends’ with woman who says she loves him.”

    Of course, if you wanted a comprehensive discussion about the differences between agape, eros, philia and storge (no, autocorrect, not ‘storage’) and how one can be reciprocated by another, a Catholic priest is probably one of the few people around unless you are near a university with a decent classics department.

  9. Bear in mind though, that the one of the Ten Commandment admonitions was against “coveting” your neighbour’s wife, in addition to the commandment about adultery. So even unreciprocated feelings, in thought but not deed, are sinful. Perhaps there’s technically a point.

    But who cares what the idolaters (the Catholic Church) say. They worship relics, the Mother Mary, and sacred sites in direct contravention with another commandment as well.

  10. The necessity for priestly celibacy is essentially a Roman Catholic superstition, one that’s less than a millennium old, but they’re entitled to their superstitions if they want. It does, though, make rather a mockery of the absurd claim that Peter was the first Pope, given that Peter was married, or at least had been married.

    Anyway, if they want to solve the shortage of priests, why not just allow women priests?

    As for the Polish Pope, if he had nookie with Mrs Whatsit where’s the evidence, eh? Unless someone would like to argue that any accusation involving SEX must be true? Quick, set the Met Police onto it.

  11. So Much For Subtlety

    dearieme – “It does, though, make rather a mockery of the absurd claim that Peter was the first Pope, given that Peter was married, or at least had been married.”

    The Catholic Church does not insist that a priest must have never married. They do not even insist that he is not married. Celibacy is a matter of discipline, not a requirement for being a priest. So what Peter may or may not have done is irrelevant.

    “Anyway, if they want to solve the shortage of priests, why not just allow women priests?”

    Because women cannot be priests. They cannot solve the problem of a shortage of qualified candidates by pretending unqualified candidates can do the job. They may as well ordain kangaroos. Or at least that is the theological reason. The sociological argument is that women cannot be priests and cannot be accepted as such. Every Church that has tried to pretend they can has collapsed. Short of making buggery mandatory it is the quickest way to suicide any Western Church has discovered.

    “As for the Polish Pope, if he had nookie with Mrs Whatsit where’s the evidence, eh? Unless someone would like to argue that any accusation involving SEX must be true? Quick, set the Met Police onto it.”

    That is the point. There is no evidence. But he is dead, he can’t defend himself and the Left hates him so they are going to p!ss on his grave.

  12. Ironman, the rule for the Orthodox churches, and I think for the Ordinariate and other ex-Anglicans, is that married men can become priests but priests cannot marry. So if you want to get married, you have to do it before you’re ordained.

    So it’s another way of trying to ensure that priests don’t chase women. Which works better in practice I don’t know. Swings & roundabouts, I suspect.

    Of course not having married priests at all brings other advantages (the dynastic point that someone mentioned, the removal of a major distraction in life, no wife to fall out with the parishioners, not to mention the practical issues of it being easier to pay, house and move someone without a family) and disadvantages.

  13. ” The sociological argument is that women cannot be priests and cannot be accepted as such. Every Church that has tried to pretend they can has collapsed.”
    Isn’t that rather putting the cart before the horse? Surely, the Churches you’re referring to were already at the flailing around stage before they resorted to women priests as an attempted solution. It doesn’t imply a Church in its full pomp would suffer the same fate.
    Don’t some of the US Evangelical churches have women ministers? And that’s not exactly a failing sector in the god-bothering industry.

  14. the rule for the Orthodox churches,

    The rule for the Greek Orthodox churches, I have no idea about the Russian, is that married men may become priests and priests may marry but that you then have a hard career stop.

    Bishops must be single.

  15. So Much For Subtlety

    bloke in spain – “Isn’t that rather putting the cart before the horse? Surely, the Churches you’re referring to were already at the flailing around stage before they resorted to women priests as an attempted solution. It doesn’t imply a Church in its full pomp would suffer the same fate.”

    Well the Catholics are well past the flailing around stage so it would be hard to prove. But I would agree those Churches determined to die rarely content themselves with just an overdose of sleeping pills. They usually have to shoot themselves in the head, while dangling from a noose and walking into a bar in Toxteth with a picture of Peter Tatchell on their right body-hugging t-shirt.

    “Don’t some of the US Evangelical churches have women ministers? And that’s not exactly a failing sector in the god-bothering industry.”

    Most Evangelicals seem to have gone Full Retard and they are rapidly in decline.

  16. Bear in mind though, that the one of the Ten Commandment admonitions was against “coveting” your neighbour’s wife, in addition to the commandment about adultery.

    I’m not theologian, I don’t even play one on the internet, but weren’t the Ten Commandments superseded by the New Testament?

    So both coveting the neighbour’s wife and idolatry might be relevant to Jewish priest-equivalents but not strictly so for Roman Catholics?

  17. So Much For Subtlety

    Bloke in Wales – “So both coveting the neighbour’s wife and idolatry might be relevant to Jewish priest-equivalents but not strictly so for Roman Catholics?”

    Unfortunately that door swings both ways. When the Catholics decide to “supplement” the OT a little, you can never be sure which way they are going go. In this case, Pope John Paul II said that excessive coveting of one’s own wife is sinful.

    So they didn’t go the way you think they did.

  18. Bloke in Wales

    I think the Gospels do “supplement” rather than “supersede” the Old Testament commandments. The rules are still there.

  19. I think the Gospels do “supplement” rather than “supersede” the Old Testament commandments. The rules are still there.

    You’ll find most Christians are happy to eat pork and shellfish (or, if they are not, do not consider eating them to be un-Christian.) And I’ve never met a Christian bothered about tassels on mens’ shirts. So the question is more “which, if any, of the old rules still apply.”

    The semi-official answer is “the Noahide law” also known as “Noetic law.” Adultery is still forbidden.

    Hope the html worked. Bring back Preview!

  20. Ironman said:
    “I think the Gospels do “supplement” rather than “supersede” the Old Testament commandments. The rules are still there.”

    There are a few specific things that were superseded in the New Testament (usually the Acts of the Apostles rather than the Gospels, I think), but otherwise it’s supposed to still apply.

    For example there is the time when St Peter was hungry one morning and a bacon sandwich came down from Heaven for him, with a voice from God telling him that he could eat it (I paraphrase from a dim memory, but it was something like that).

    And there was a long-running dispute amongst the Apostles about circumcision, the final decision being that it was only compulsory for Jews; Gentile converts didn’t need to.

    But theoretically the rest of the Old Testament generally applies, although I’m not sure how we’ve escaped the rule against mixed fibres – does anyone know?

  21. Surreptitious Evil said:
    “The rule for the Greek Orthodox churches, I have no idea about the Russian, is that married men may become priests and priests may marry but that you then have a hard career stop.”

    I’m pretty sure you’re wrong there. Married men may indeed become priests (but can’t become bishops – there is a career stop – although I think they can once their wife dies). But priests cannot marry, so if you want to marry, you have to do it before you get ordained.

    I’m pretty sure that’s the rule in all the Orthodox churches.

    Wikipedia isn’t the best source, but it says:
    “In Eastern Orthodox Churches, and Eastern Catholic Churches (which latter are in full communion with Rome), married men may be ordained to any order except as bishops, and one may not marry after ordination”

    (There is some difference between the different orthodox churches about whether deacons can marry, but definitely not priests)

    That’s what I have heard from several sources, so I’d be very interested if you can point to something that says it’s incorrect.

  22. Fun fact: the practice of celibacy amongst parish priests and up did not take hold until the 12th century. ( monks were a different matter )
    The reason it *was* enforced eventually is ultimately because it enabled people to claim inheritance of land and office by the laws of the land, which did *not* suit the church, at all, as it became a land- and property holding institute in and of itself.

    There’s plenty of judiciary evidence left of those times, but the easiest way to see it happen is to read a decent translation of the Anglo-Saxon chronicles, and noting how the attitude of the writers changes over the centuries.

    (it also shows some other sensible practices that are rabidly denied by the current Powers-that-Be, but I’ll leave it to the reader to discover those for themselves.)

  23. As I recall the Russian Orthodox Church has 2 levels, black and white.

    Black priests occupy positions like bishop, cardinal… and take a vow of celibacy. Depending on the whims of leadership a married man may divorce in order to become a black priest.

    White priests are limited to preaching in parish churches. They are expected to marry in order to understand their parishioners.

  24. Or it might just be that JPII was a decent and honourable gentleman, ad I have always supposed him to be.

    Let’s face, not one of these lefty chatterers is fit to lace up his sandals, or whatever it was he wore.

  25. Grikath said:
    “Fun fact: the practice of celibacy amongst parish priests and up did not take hold until the 12th century”

    Attempted clerical marriage was strongly denounced by the Lateran Council of 1123, but in fact it had been forbidden (and attempted marriages by priests had been invalid) since Justinian in 503.

    What happened in between was, I think, not a change in the rules but a widespread ignoring of them.

    One of the things St Richard (bishop of Chichester in the mid 13th century) is known for is his enforcement of priestly celibacy amongst his clergy, but there’s no suggestion that this was a new rule, just one it was unusual to see enforced.

  26. “The semi-official answer is “the Noahide law” also known as “Noetic law.”

    To continue yesterday’s collection of antique gags:

    Moses comes down from the mountain & addresses the Children of Israel.
    “OK guys. I’ve good news for you & bad.
    The good news is that I’ve haggled Him down to just 10 Commandments.
    The bad’s that adultery’s still in there.”

  27. @ Richard: note my use of “did not take hold”…

    There was a great disparity between official church doctrine and the practical application of such in Real Life™.
    The Papacy in and of itself was….volatile.. to say the least, and had its own little problems that pretty much precluded any real efficiency in enforcing any rules until the 12th/13thC.

    Justinian had a reason for supporting just *one* version.. He wanted to reunite an empire. Religion was but one of his tools.

  28. Well if they won’t accept women priests, how about eunuchs? There must be historical precedents for that, and it’s becoming all the rage apparently. They could find a Saint Caitlyn in the Dark Ages.

  29. The Old Fraud of Vienna taught that sexual desire was the one and only motivator: the desire to which all other desires could be reduced. Unfortunately, this false notion has entered popular consciousness. As a result, any intense relationship between a man and a woman is inevitably seen as sexual. So, to a post-Freudian leftist media, an intense but platonic relationship between a Pope and a married woman must be sexual, because platonic relationships are impossible – and can always be reduced to sublimated sexual ones.

    It’s bollocks, of course. Freud was wrong about most things. And I, for one, have former female colleagues who are close friends and for whom I feel not the slightest twinge of desire.

  30. On priestly celibacy…

    My understanding is that the Greek Orthodox position is that a priest must retain the marital status he had when he received ‘the call’ and entered a seminary (or when ordained?). Do correct me if I’m wrong…

    Celibacy suits some priests, but not all. I have a celibate friend – an ex-monk (anglican franciscan) – who is simply asexual. Apart from the few who find celibacy easy, and those who can cope with it, I suspect some celibate priests find it difficult to contain their sexual desires: hence the markedly higher level of problems with paedophilia in the Church of Rome. Essentially, the Greek Orthodox and Protestant churches have a more humane attitude to a married priesthood.

  31. Because women cannot be priests. They cannot solve the problem of a shortage of qualified candidates by pretending unqualified candidates can do the job. They may as well ordain kangaroos. Or at least that is the theological reason. The sociological argument is that women cannot be priests and cannot be accepted as such. Every Church that has tried to pretend they can has collapsed.

    I am an anglican and not a huge fan of female priests. Yet, I concede that there is nothing in the Bible or the Fathers that prohibits them. Indeed, we know that women could administer the sacraments in the early church. And, in my experience in my diocese, women priests seem more conservative liturgically than their male counterparts, though they do often carry a lot of other baggage.

  32. Acts 15:28-29.
    “For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay upon you no greater burden than these essentials: that you abstain from things sacrificed to idols and from blood and from things strangled and from fornication; if you keep yourselves free from such things, you will do well. Farewell.”

    So black pudding is out…

  33. Bollocks. Priestly celibacy ensures only freaks and wierdoes become priests. And in fact the results are obvious.

  34. I’m stunned by some of the responses in this thread. For a start, as there is no god, of any kind, the whole subject is a nonsense anyway.

    Taking specifics (in order):

    @Ben S “The BBC article on this made me fume.

    “There is no suggestion that”, but we’ll write a whole article full of innuendo anyway.” Well yeah, that’s the media for you.

    “Dogma and theology aside,” OK, leaving aside that the whole basis is bollox. Frankly any discussion should stop there. No wait! There’s a sky fairy!

    ” there are two great practical reasons for priests/popes being celibate:
    – Having time and psychological space to do the job properly” You think? What other profession do they think that mental balance is best served by celibacy? It’s more likely to drive them mad. Consider astronauts: they need to be level headed, and they are overwhelmingly married.

    ” – Not having dynasties” So there’s bugger all about the church and higher things which won’t prevent them lining the pockets of their family. Well, first of all, that’s the history of much of the papacy, and secondly, rather demonstrates that the religion is a purely human construct.

    “Of course the first doesn’t preclude fornication, just not getting hitched (though if your fornication leads to procreation, you’re pretty much hitched…)” Quite. Historically, the popes were at it like rabbits.

    For a forum which is so keen to cut to the chase, to apply Occam’s razor, to strip away the hypocrisy, for goodness sake! There is no God, or god, or gods. Get over it.

  35. So Much For Subtlety

    dearieme – “Well if they won’t accept women priests, how about eunuchs? There must be historical precedents for that, and it’s becoming all the rage apparently. They could find a Saint Caitlyn in the Dark Ages.”

    There are historical precedents but not the ones you want:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Origen#Asceticism_and_castration

    Theophrastus – “hence the markedly higher level of problems with paedophilia in the Church of Rome. ”

    The Catholic Church does not have markedly higher levels of problems with paedophilia. Or even problems with paedophilia. At worst they occur about as often as they do with everyone else. As every study has shown. What the Catholic Church has a problem with is a hate-filled media out to get it.

    Theophrastus – “Yet, I concede that there is nothing in the Bible or the Fathers that prohibits them. Indeed, we know that women could administer the sacraments in the early church.”

    I am not sure we do know that. And you are an Anglican. That you personally have not found something that does not prohibit them is unlikely to move a Catholic who has 2000 years of tradition and doctrine plus the Magisterum of the Church on his side.

    Bloke in Italy – “Priestly celibacy ensures only freaks and wierdoes become priests. And in fact the results are obvious.”

    Because Anglican priests are just so normal? I think that there has been a trend for the freaks and weirdos to ordain other freaks and weirdos. But I don’t think celibacy is to blame.

  36. Theophrastus said:
    “hence the markedly higher level of problems with paedophilia in the Church of Rome”

    I thought the incidence was about the same as other groups – vaguely remember American studies where paedophilia amongst Catholic priests was about the same as amongst protestant clergy and (different study) school teachers. Just that there was a rush of historic allegations against Catholic clergy at a time there was interest in sex crime.

    (Although (dim memory again) I think they found that Catholic priests who were paedophiles tended to like them younger than Episcopalians did.)

    When I was young (and fortunately unattractive) the jokes used to be about Anglican vicars and scout masters (and particularly Anglican vicars who were scout masters).

    General impression was that men who want access to young people try to get roles that give access to young people.

  37. So Much For Subtlety

    Richard – “General impression was that men who want access to young people try to get roles that give access to young people.”

    Becoming a Scout master is a lot easier than being a priest.

    Interesting to see one of the old PIE friends of Harriet has resurfaced as a Corbyn-supporting member of the Labour Party. But he would wouldn’t he?

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3450284/Notorious-paedophile-joined-Labour-party-support-Jeremy-Corbyn-facing-trial-time-abusing-two-brothers-aged-nine-ten.html

    I am just disappointed they could not work immigrants or housing prices into the story. But Corbyn and paedophilia is not bad.

  38. “a Catholic who has 2000 years of tradition and doctrine plus the Magisterum of the Church on his side”: oh come now. A lot of rot about Peter and Paul founding the Church in Rome – about as legit as the Donation of Constantine.

  39. So Much For Subtlety

    dearieme – “oh come now. A lot of rot about Peter and Paul founding the Church in Rome – about as legit as the Donation of Constantine.”

    1700 years then.

  40. SMFS

    I am not sure we do know that. And you are an Anglican. That you personally have not found something that does not prohibit them is unlikely to move a Catholic who has 2000 years of tradition and doctrine plus the Magisterum of the Church on his side.

    Read a history of the early church, and you will find plenty of evidence that women administered the sacraments. The Magisterium’s counter-argument is circular: anyone who ordained women was a heretic, so women priests were not part of the one true church. As for Theodora Episcopa, well, Pope Paschal I was simply granting his dear mother the honorific title of bishop…OK, perhaps.

    Meanwhile, there is nothing definitively against female ordination in the Fathers while there is a little that is sympathetic (eg in Clement of Alexandria). And scripture is silent on the matter.

    The Church of Rome has the argument from tradition – 1500-2000 years of tradition – in its favour, and it argues that the tradition is itself a form of revelation.

  41. Theophrastus, there is indeed undeniable evidence. But you said there was a “markedly higher level of problems” than in other organisations.

    Basic maths says that to justify “higher” you need to compare the level in various organisations, not just look at the one you’re complaining about.

    Which is what the insurance companies are doing in setting premiums.

    Figures I’ve seen from the US are 4-6% of Catholic priests (yes, there’s been a lot of abuse, but a lot of it is done by a relatively small number of people who have large numbers of victims) vs 9% of state school teachers.

    And I’ve seen estimates of child abusers in the general population of 5% of males (although I have no idea how reliable that is).

  42. Richard: 4-6% is huge, and RC apologists try to set this in context by vastly inflating the incidence of paedophilia in the population at large.

    Insurance is essentially a scam: you are always insured until you make a claim, the devil being in the details of the small print. And insurers can easily re-structure premiums to shift costs whike also cherry-picking risks. In short, insurance premiums tell youvery little without a lot more information.

  43. Insurance is essentially a scam: you are always insured until you make a claim, the devil being in the details of the small print.

    The small print? Many people don’t read the big print.

  44. So Much For Subtlety

    Theophrastus – “However, the evidence of child abuse in the Church of Rome is colossal:”

    Actually no it isn’t. The international media campaign against the Church is colossal, but the evidence of sexual abuse much less so. Look at the fine print of the claims about Ireland for instance. The Catholic Church more or less ran the schools for 70 years. Something like 370 people have *alleged* sexual abuse. Despite trawling through the trailer parks with offers of money, as the future President of the US said, despite the promises of millions in pay outs. To put that in perspective, on a per-capita basis that is about the same for the UK’s schools – each and every year.

    Theophrastus – “Read a history of the early church, and you will find plenty of evidence that women administered the sacraments.”

    I don’t think you will. Actually. I think you will find feminists doing the usual feminist bullsh!t.

    Theophrastus – “4-6% is huge, and RC apologists try to set this in context by vastly inflating the incidence of paedophilia in the population at large.”

    It is huge. Which is why I do not believe it.

    “Insurance is essentially a scam”

    Sure but for the Catholics it works the other way – some number of claims in the US have been fraudulent. The Church has a lot of money and if they allege and sue they get millions. So the insurers are having to pay out for fictional abuse victims. The real rates should be lower.

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