With the latest child molestation scandal in the Catholic Church in Pennsylvania, where there has been over 3000 cases of priests molesting both male and female children over many many years, I would hope that our pragmatic Jesuit Pope Francis might finally take this opportunity to end celibacy.
Whether Catholic or not, we have all been raised in a Western culture that has accepted without question that Roman Catholic priests are not married and celibate. But this has not always been the case. And as late as the 15th century, 50% of priests were married. And arguably, since "the rule of celibacy is an ecclesiastical law and not a doctrine, it can, in principle, be changed at any time by the Pope."
How many more scandals like the present one in Pennsylvania must take place before the Catholic Church finally realizes that sex and reproduction are natural functions of all human beings—priests and nuns included
How many more scandals like the present one in Pennsylvania must take place before the Catholic Church finally realizes that sex and reproduction are natural functions of all human beings—priests and nuns included—and like eating, breathing, and sleeping, they will find a way, since there is a natural and normal human will to do so.
And arguably, a priest with a family would be in a much better position to understand, empathize, and better minister to his flock, if he lived a fuller life that included all normal human bodily and emotional functions- why shouldn't a priest be married? In what way would this compromise his calling?
Catholic priests have not always been celibate, there is even some historical evidence that one of the main reasons that Roman Catholic priests were required to be celibate and not allowed to marry was because the church in Italy- with always strong and politically and financially powerful families as its hallmark- didn't want there to be any temptation as to where a priest's loyalty would lie- with his family or with the church. Celibacy was supposed to eliminate this potential conflict of interest. But the built in hypocrisy of this celibacy position is well known to any well-educated Roman of today. I remember 50 years ago, when I first went to Rome being given a "special" tour, where I was shown where the "family homes" were of several Catholic popes.
And while we're at it, might we also question why in a world of 7 1/2 billion and growing, an ever increasing world population that is now threatening the future of humans on this planet with the related phenomenon of global warming, has no proactive form of birth control other than abstinence that has been found to be acceptable to the Catholic Church? Might this questionable pillar of the church harken back to 14th century in Europe and the Black Plague, where as many as 60% of the population died and there was serious concern as to whether the human race would survive unless it continued to breed like rabbits? Clearly, that is no longer the case in 2018.
Ironically, one of the main factors that created the preconditions for the renaissance was the surplus of food created by the extreme drop in European population caused by the plague, which allowed time for more artistic endeavors like art and science.
Now, with an extreme drop in those actively attending the Catholic Church around the world, how much would pragmatic reforms like ending priest celibacy and practicing reasonable birth control accomplish in replentishing the ranks of the credenti (believers) without compromising the fundamental values of the Catholic Church?
All institutions must evolve if they want to survive. And the Catholic Church is no exception. Or it can devolve and go back to the ideas of people like Bishop Pelagio, who complained that women then were still ordained and hearing confessions- a harbinger of 2018 and beyond for a revitalized Catholic Church?