Friday, December 9th, 2022 08:40:06

Celibacy Not The Word Of God

Updated: July 13, 2013 12:02 pm

Sex is a powerful human urge difficult to suppress. Gandhiji in his autobiography mentions that when his father lay dying, he left his bedside to have sex with wife Kasturba. The orthodoxy in the Catholic Church which advocates celibacy has resurfaced when Pope Benedict XVI resigned abruptly citing health reasons, but it was alleged that it was the sex and the graft scandals in the closed circles of the Vatican which prompted his resignation. The controversy, “Why should’nt Catholic priests be allowd to marry” has become the focal point of a debate after Pope Francis’s ascendency to the Vatican. Activists are urging Pope Francis to consider allowing Bishops in Great Britain to ordain married Catholic men who feel a calling to priesthood. Hindu priests marry and have children, Islam does not impose celibacy on its maulvees. In Rabbinic literature that is Talmudic, there are numerous statements endorsing marriage positively and at the same time commenting negatively on celibacy. The Jewish law states that only one who is married may lead the congregation in worship. Rabbis marry, they marry for companionship and to have children. Yet the discipline of celibacy among priests is one of the distinctive marks of the Roman Catholic tradition which is being challenged today.

The Catholic Church uses the Bible as party reasoning for priestly celibacy. Jesus Christ was not married, although there are significant theories suggesting the opposite—that Christ was married. Papyrus from the 4th century claim to be evidence that Christ was married to Mary Magdalene. The novel Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown exposed this theory to a larger audience. The Church teaches and affirms that celibacy isn’t just a sacrifice, it is also a gift. Arguments in favour for priestly celibacy suggest that in a society that is completely saturated with sex, celibate priests are living proof that sexual urges can be controlled and channelised in a positive way.

Man cannot serve two masters. Married men will be preoccupied with family and domestic issues, therefore, they will not be able to give themselves totally to the service of God which could be very demanding .

Many argue that priesthood and marriage are not contradictory. The 87-year-old Clelia Luro in Buenos Aires has started a powerful campaign to draw the Roman Catholic Church’s attention to end priestly celibacy. Clelia Luro’s Romance with a Bishop which culminated in marriage became a major scandal in the 1960s. “I think that in time priestly celibacy will become optional,” said Luro after sending an open letter to the Pope stating her case. Luro’s convinced that Pope Francis will eventually lead the global Church to end mandatory priestly celibacy- a requirement she says, “the world no longer understands.” According to Times of India report, “Pope Francis inherited a Church mired in problems and a major scandal over priestly abuse of children.” It is believed that for the first time Pope Francis had taken up the issue of sex abuse in the Church with a senior member of his staff since his election on March 13, 2013. Allowing priests to marry would end pedophilia. A Vatican report said that Pope Francis wants the Catholic Church “to act decisively,” to root out sexual abuse of children by priests and ensure the perpetrators are punished. Marriage is not sin. The Bible asks Christians to “Be Fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1;28). A married clergy would create a larger pool of healthy priestly candidates solving the current shortage of priests. It’s unnatural to remain celibate. Married priests relate better to issues concerning marriage and the family. “It is better to marry than to burn with passion,” Corinthians 7:7-9. The choice of remaining celibate or getting married should be left to the priests themselves. Imposing celibacy on priests who are not emotionally and physically suitable to the rigors of it would have adverse repercussions on the Church as it has been proved. Hopefully, the Pope will re-think the rules and adopt a more sensitive and pragmatic approach and allow Roman Catholic priests to marry.

By Indira Satyanarayan

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