Escher rocks my socks. <3
I cannot even tell you how much I despise the phrase that creates my title. It's like an MC Escher painting (Escher, BTW, is my favorite artist). You know something's just a bit off, but you're not sure exactly what it is until you take a deeper look.
This phrase is the calling card of Cafeteria Catholics. Chances are, if someone starts off labeling themselves as Catholic only to snarkily comment about Church teaching two seconds later, they are the cafeteria variety (translation: they're not actually Catholic).
Oxymoronic disclaimers like this exist in all forms. "I'm not racist, but listen to this black joke..."or "Look, I 100% believe men and women are equal, but let's be honest..." or my favorite, "... homosexual joke..." *pause as folks look on, obviously uncomfortable* "What? I've got plenty of gay friends, so it's okay."
Ay yi yi.
A friend of mine posted this article to Facebook (regarding the resignation of Bishop Zavala) which garnered quite the response. He headed the article with: I think the Church needs to rethink the celibacy mandate for priests...
The first to respond, I said:
This isn't an issue of celibacy. We've gotta do a better job of screening applicants. We've also gotta do a much better job of solidifying a proper support system for priests who are under ridiculous amounts of stress from being stretched too thin and having too, too much expected of them.
My heart breaks for priests these days... we are lucky to have ANY, and things like this are good (if disappointing) reminders that they are men... human men with human failings the same as us. That we expect them all to be living saints is tragically fallacious. May Our Lady protect our priests... ♥
Pretty soon, however, responders were adamantly decrying the "old-fashioned" and "sexually repressive" celibacy rules as nothing more than remnants of a greedy Church that realized priests with families would water down earnings through inheritance.
Now, while I realize that celibacy for priests is not dogma (especially considering we do actually have some married priests through conversion and/or reconciliation with Rome), I don't feel as though it's simply an outdated practice meant to hoard Church resources and repress sexuality either.
Celibacy is not just about refraining from sex. It is the understanding that one's objective in life is all-consuming, resulting in the refusal of hinderances to that objective. For a priest, this objective is to bring as many souls to Christ as possible through becoming as Christ-like as possible, thus things like romantic relationships, drug habits, or even arrogant pride are hinderances to that objective (hence the vows of obedience and chastity).
Priests understand that when they take upon themselves the mantle of priest, they are "in persona Christi" (or, acting in the person of Christ). Their personal goal is to become enflamed with the love of Christ, since that Christ-like love will radiate out towards the people and pull them closer to Heaven. This personal goal - to attain such Christ-like holiness - is not an easy thing. It is an on-going process that requires dedication and constant vigilance.
Romantic relationships detract from this goal as the priest is no longer able to remain vigilant / dedicated to being in persona Christi. Instead, he is forced to split his time between catering to the people and catering to a family. I'm not saying holiness is impossible to obtain for married folks. Quite the contrary. However, a priest models his married life after Christ. Married folks model the Holy Family (St. Joseph and the Blessed Mother).
Marriage is the sacrifice of two persons for one another. Well, marriage in the way it's supposed to be, anyway. The wife submits herself to her husband, and the husband submits himself to his wife.
For a priest, he follows the example of Christ who submitted FULLY to His bride, the Church (even to the point of death and on-going imprisonment). The Church, in turn, is expected to fully submit to her Spouse, Jesus (though we're notoriously awful for doing that). Just as the faithful should obediently submit to the teachings of priests (so long as these priests are in good standing with the Church, of course, and aren't teaching anything contrary to dogma).
Anyway, would I be super against priests being allowed to marry again? No. Christ, Himself, chose married men to be His first priests. However, upon choosing these men for this ministry, all "left their families" to focus on their mission. Mind you, they did NOT abandon their families. Instead, they lived as Essenes did - celibate and apart from their wives.
But I digress.
Celibacy is not the root issue of these types of stories. Celibacy also isn't the evil, archaic or sexually repressive thing current generations attempt to paint it as. Allowing priests to marry isn't going to solve our problems, and may very well bring up new ones (scandal of infidelity, divorce, wayward children desecrating holy things, etc, etc, etc).
Ah well. I'm curious if any one else has thoughts on this. I'll admit it's not something I've really delved too deeply into.
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