Even as the Roman Catholic church has endured ever-worsening news about sexual abuse by some of its priests, Pope John Paul II has stood without apology for the spiritual power of priestly celibacy. The pope's unflinching commitment to celibacy sure beats the way global popular culture treats sexual activity as rivaling only oxygen as essential to existence.
Catholic clergy who know God's call on their life provide a dramatic example that a celibate life can be meaningful, rich, and fulfilling. People who expect the Vatican to announce, any day now, a sudden reversal of its centuries-long requirement of clerical celibacy show an inadequate understanding of how the Vatican functions and why it remains committed to this policy.
While lifting the requirement of clerical celibacy is a closed topic during John Paul's papacy, the Vatican would nonetheless do well to evaluate the possible consequences of its policy. There is not, of course, a direct line from clerical celibacy to clerical sex abuse. As Rod Dreher of National Review has observed, a mature Christian man does not begin molesting teenage boys (or younger children) simply because he is prohibited from marrying.
But one troubling factor of contemporary Roman Catholicism, at least in the United States, is the presence of an aggressive homosexual subculture—not one in which celibate homosexual priests merely wish to be left alone, but one in which blatantly noncelibate homosexual clergy discriminate against heterosexual candidates for the priesthood. Michael S. Rose describes this subculture in chilling detail in his book Goodbye! Good Men (available through Aquinas Publishing and forthcoming from Regnery). Christians must carefully evaluate claims of clerical conspiracy, ...1
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