Mr. Rilch has a topic for discussion (priest scandal)

Mr. Rilch wanted me to post this topic for possible discussion. Or not, if no one finds it interesting.

“I think the Church should make it so that priests don’t have to be celibate any more. Is it possible to change that? We’re going to have a new Pope soon, y’know.”

Mr. Rilch is not registered, so I’ll be monitoring the thread for him. I’ll relay any comments and his responses.

It’s possible. Celibacy is a discipline of the Latin Rite of Catholicism and no one pretends that it has been ordered by God.

Obstacles to the change:
It has a tradition dating back 1900 years;
there is no reason to expect that JP II’s successor (nearly all of which candidates including all the leading candidates have been personally selected by JP II) will be any less conservative on the issue than he has been.

Reasons why such a change would have little impact on the pedophilia issue (other issues notwithstanding):
There is no evidence that celibacy has been the “cause” of the problem (there are a great many athletic coaches and day care providers who engage in that behavior despite having wives and children of their own);
(Similarly, the recent calls by one idiot in Rome and another idiot in New York to “tighten” the rules to prevent homosexuals from entering the priesthood would do nothing to weed out all those priests who have preyed on young girls–and that is without even getting into all the issues regarding whether pedophilia is really outside homosexual/heterosexual orientation).

I think it might have an impact on reducing pedophelia in the clergy. Not that I think celibacy causes pedophelia, but I suspect that some people who have pedophelic (is that a word?) desires turn to the celibate life of a priest in an effort to cure themselves. They know that pedophelia is wrong, and believe that they can escape their desires if they live the non-sexual life of a priest.

Removing the celibacy restriction will reduce the allure of the clergy for these people. While it certainly wouldn’t reduce the number of pedophiles overall, it may reduce the number of pedophile priests.

Frankly, I think they should have gotten ridden of that a long time ago. As I hear it, the ranks of the clergy have been getting thinner year after year, it’s very difficult to find people willing to be celibate. Perhaps the problem is distinctly American, but if you could be a married priest, you’d have many more candidates, that’s for sure.

My understanding of the requirement (of celibacy) is that it originated within the Catholic Church for political reasons more so than for reasons of virtue.

I was taught that the Church first set forth the requirement in an effort to simplify matters between itself and the families of priests with respect to things like inheritance. Further, the Church would have a much easier time moving priests around as they saw fit if there was no family to be concerned about. So this boils down to control.

These were (some of) the original reasons, but it is now a matter of tradition, and commitment to the Church. There are some churches which allow priests from other denominations to become Catholic priests, and retain their families if they were already married. Seems like one tradition which is certainly questionable, whether it would help reduce pedophilia or not.

First, celebacy itself does not alter some one’s ‘potential partner pool’. If I’m an adult female w/adult heterosexual orientation, my ‘potential partner pool’ does not include immature humans of either gender.

So, for Potential Priests, unless they have a ‘potential partner pool’ that includes immature humans of either gender, ‘celebacy’ requirements will not increase or decrease the incidence of child molestation among the priesthood.

For those who have a ‘potential partner pool’ that includes immature humans of either gender, partnering up w/immature humans is against the ‘statute’ law in all 50 states (and most nations as well), so I can’t see where additional ‘no, you can’t do that’ instructions from their employer would serve additional restraints to their actions.

Abandoning the celbacy requirement may be a ‘good’ thing to do for other reasons, however, don’t for a moment believe that it would alter/decrease the incidence of molestations among the clergy.

And, of course, gender preference for adults has nothing to do with gender preference for minors. (many cases of males w/wives who molest young boys - John Wayne Gacy for example). And, while we’re on that tangent, let me ask the hypothetical Powers that Be who think screening out males w/same gender sexual preferences will solve their crisis - um, what about the little girls? they’re far more likely to be molested (according to Justice Department figures) than little boys, screening out homosexual males, wouldn’t do a thing to protect little girls (it also wouldn’t necessarily protect little boys, either, but… )

The current law (which is really not that recent) had both issues of politics and issues of virtue associated with its promulgation. However, the concept and practice of celibacy dates to the earliest days of the church.

I don’t think pedophiles are attracted to the priesthood because of celibacy, hoping to control themselves. They are attracted to the priesthood because it provides them access to young boys and young girls - usually unquestioned access. The same reason pedophiles turn up as school janitors, youth group leaders, boy scout leaders, the list is endless.
I do, however, think eliminating the celibacy requirement would be helpful in that many good, decent men would follow their call to the priesthood if they could still marry and have a family.

Hi. Sorry I’m so late getting back to this. I showed Mr. Rilch the responses up through tomndebb’s second post, and he’s satisfied with the answers.

His comment re: married priests: “God, it’s hard enough to be the minister’s wife, or the rabbi’s wife; imagine being the priest’s wife!”

I don’t know if this could be true: the training to become a priest is very rigiourous, and if your only goal was free access to children, it would be a great deal easier to secure any of the posiitons you listed, and the priesthood dosen’t offer any greater access to children than does any of those. Now, there may be a case or two of someone with a really weird “I wanna be a priest who molests children fantasy”, but becomeing a priest in order to have access to children would be like becoming an Ob/gyn just so you could look at vaginas.
None of this makes any difference in the actual issue, of coursse.

Since I’m not a Catholic, I don’t really have a dog in this fight. I’m a little curious as to the current rationale behind celibate priests, however. Is it so they can devote all their energy to God without being distracted by a family?

To God and to their ministry (parishoners, etc.) Basically, that is the primary reason given.

I kinda doubt that someone would go throught the process of becoming a priest just for the eventual opportunities to molest children.

One possible scenario is that someone with pedophilic tendancies is less likely to act on them if they have another sexual outlet, but a priest has no other outlet.