Archive for the ‘Celibacy’ Tag

Asking too much

I have been deeply saddened by the way the Catholic Church has been represented by the media in the past few weeks.  In yesterday’s edition of the New York Times, there was yet another article negatively depicting the Catholic Church. Each time I read one of these articles, I am disheartened by both the tone and the lack of knowledge of the true teachings of the Church that these articles seem to display.

In his latest column, Frank Bruni confronts the issue of celibacy in the priesthood. To be sure, there are intelligent and valid arguments for allowing priests to marry.  To clarify, priestly celibacy—that is, not allowing priests to marry—is a church discipline, which means that a future Pope, if inspired to do so, can change this teaching. Priest were allowed to marry in the early Church.  Peter, the first Pope of the Catholic Church, was married (see Matthew 8:14, in which Jesus heals Peter’s mother-in-law.)

Rather than focus on the genuine reasons for allowing priests to marry, Bruni cheapens the vow of celibacy.  He writes, “…let’s give a moment’s thought to loneliness. And longing. And this: the pledge of celibacy that the church requires of its servants is an often cruel and corrosive thing. It runs counter to human nature. It asks too much.”

What Bruni seems to be missing is that Catholicism, and Christianity more broadly, is based on the idea of “asking too much.”  We are about sacrifice. One needs to look no further than the cross to explain what sacrifice means to the Catholic Church. Sacrifice is everything. One could argue, “God asked too much of Christ when God asked His son to be tortured, to die on a cross.” Indeed, Christ paid the ultimate sacrifice for us. So isn’t it fitting that the men who are chosen to be representations of Christ on earth, in persona Christi, sacrifice something seemingly unthinkable in our hyper-sexualized culture?

If the Church someday changes its teachings on allowing priests to marry, I trust that it is what God wants for God’s Church.  But New York Times Opinion page—show a range of opinions.  Please. This reader is tired of the same negative portrayal of a sacred institution.

Bob Rice

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