“Do you, Father Mike, take this woman in holy matrimony?”
Unfortunately, the powers that be (the Pope and bishops, not God) disagree. As a progressive Catholic, I am saddened to hear that after three weeks of debates, which ended Saturday, Catholic bishops have rejected proposals to ordain married priests. This comes at a time when the Church needs priests more than ever. Consider these facts I found in an AP article:
“Since 1965, the number of annual ordinations has dropped by more than half to 454 this year. Enrollment in graduate-level seminaries has dropped from 8,325 to 3,308 in the same period. Thousands more parishes are without a resident priest and the average age of Catholic clergy is climbing.”
The Church’s audience is socially progressing too fast. Catholicism and its priesthood are becoming unattractive to younger generations. This young Catholic thinks the Church has been stubborn by continuing to disapprove the use of contraceptives. Most Catholics I know use contraceptives (see cartoon). More importantly, contraceptive use should be encouraged in an AIDs-infected Africa.
Ordaining women could be a way to combat decreasing ordinations, but maybe I’m just trying to create a different Church entirely here. These restrictions define Catholicism.
So why won’t the Church let married men become priests? It’s reinforcing a restriction: the celibacy policy. That means no marriage and no sex, people.
Celibacy, which has little theological justification, allows the Church to avoid addressing homosexuality in the Church. Because after all, if priests remains celibate and loyal, why does their sexual orientation matter?
Sexual orientation does matter, and the backlash of celibacy has surfaced in the form of sex scandals. According to the AP, in September, “Vatican-directed evaluators have started visiting all 229 American seminaries, looking for lapses in teaching about celibacy that contributed to the scandal.”
I echo my Dad’s opinion: Recent sex scandals are a direct result of guilt-ridden, gay Catholic men trying to resolve their sexual preference by committing themselves to the Church. The Church can argue that homosexuality is unnatural, but I argue that celibacy is unnatural, as those sex scandals have proven. Homosexuals are no more likely to commit sex crimes than heterosexuals, by the way. I’m inferring that celibacy is the problem here. Abandoning celibacy will result in fewer sexually abused children.
I don’t expect and I’m not suggesting the Church should abandon the core ideology that defines it, but the Church ought to adapt. It should admit married men into priesthood. There’s no point in the Church debating about its ideology if there’s no one at the alter to spread the word.