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Is celibacy in a RC vow of chastity psychologically unhealthy?


patslatt

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Joined
Apr 11, 2007
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13,693
Celibacy could prove a difficult issue for the Catholic Church,with a la carte Catholic priests in Africa,France and elsewhere keeping mistresses as housekeepers. In Ireland,it has contributed to the decline in the indigeneous clergy who are becoming an endangered species.

This should not be surprising.A couple of million years of human sexual evolution makes it extremely hard to repress sexuality. A psychologist's opinion I once read claimed that repressed sexuality will find an outlet somehow,sometimes in bizarre or even perverted activity.

On the other hand,recently I read a compliment of clergy by a non-Catholic English person that the strongest characters he had come across in life were Catholic priests and nuns. Could it be that the monumental struggle to repress sexuality strengthened their character?

Years ago I suggested to a Jesuit priest that the Church might change the celibacy rule,given that the rule didn't apply in the first few hundred years of the Church's existence and was only introduced on practical grounds, to prevent the families of the clergy from stealing Church property. The priest looked despairing and anguished when he said that his lifelong struggle with celibacy would be made look futile if celibacy was revoked.
 

paulp

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Joined
May 5, 2007
Messages
7,324
Celibacy could prove a difficult issue for the Catholic Church,with a la carte Catholic priests in Africa,France and elsewhere keeping mistresses as housekeepers. In Ireland,it has contributed to the decline in the indigeneous clergy who are becoming an endangered species.

This should not be surprising.A couple of million years of human sexual evolution makes it extremely hard to repress sexuality. A psychologist's opinion I once read claimed that repressed sexuality will find an outlet somehow,sometimes in bizarre or even perverted activity.

On the other hand,recently I read a compliment of clergy by a non-Catholic English person that the strongest characters he had come across in life were Catholic priests and nuns. Could it be that the monumental struggle to repress sexuality strengthened their character?

Years ago I suggested to a Jesuit priest that the Church might change the celibacy rule,given that the rule didn't apply in the first few hundred years of the Church's existence and was only introduced on practical grounds, to prevent the families of the clergy from stealing Church property. The priest looked despairing and anguished when he said that his lifelong struggle with celibacy would be made look futile if celibacy was revoked.
Wouldn't it be shocking if that was one of the main reasons the guys in charge won't even consider a discussion on the subject.
 

wombat

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Jun 16, 2007
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31,949
If you're a priest, shell out the €60 and speak to a doctor. If you're not, why should you care?
 
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Celibacy as an ideal is by no means confined to Catholicism (the Buddhists have the same ideas) - though I have no objection in principle to a married priesthood at parish level and no higher. I'd argue that for some it is psychologically unhealthy, particularly the sexually immature or those pursuing the vocation half-heartedly. But for others it's an ideal that they are quite happy to make the sacrifice for and actually feel benefits from, though acknowledging the difficulties ever-present. It entirely depends on the priest. Which is why there needs to be far better quality control at seminary level...
 

potholedogger

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Oct 17, 2012
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Are priests any more faithful to the vow of chastity than the vow of poverty or obedience?
 

ergo2

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Oct 4, 2008
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I think the celibacy requirement should be changed.

At school in the fifties guys around the age of 17 were deciding that they had a "vocation" - literally that they were being called to the priesthood.

Off they went to Maynooth or similar. Proud Mammy telling neighbours that little Johnny going to be priest, and that she was so looking forward to attending Father John's first mass, getting his blessing.

Meanwhile Johnny after a year or two is having doubts about his vocation. One factor influencing him is that he will let his mother down. Many went on and got ordained for that reason.

imho it is not healthy to be celibate.

Church of Ireland seem to cope well with married clergy. RC will have to consider this, as average age of their clergy increases and numbers on the ground thin out
 

Glaucon

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Sex is a primal need in most humans, and if not catered to, terrible physical and emotional anguish can result. The sex need will usually manifest itself in other ways, usually in an disproportionate avarice for power, which caracterizes many of the great Churchmen. The idea of a man remaining celibate for perhaps 60 years or more goes against the basic needs bequeathed by nature, not to mention the loneliness that is accompanied with a lack of life partner.
 

Catalpa

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10,301
I think the rule should be relaxed

CLEARLY many Priests were unable to cope with the huge demands on them by this rule

Married Priests are fine by me

But priests with a string of girlfriends....

Now that could be a problem!:shock:
 
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Sex is a primal need in most humans. If it is not catered to, terrible physical and emotional anguish can result. The idea of a man remaining celibate for perhaps 60 years goes against the needs of nature, not to mention the loneliness that is accompanied with a lack of life partner.
Can result - it depends on the person. Some priests, believe it or not, are entirely willing to make that sacrifice. Indeed many want to. It's not just Catholicism, either - Buddhist enlightenment virtually demands it - dedication to enlightenment means the overcoming of the base urges (which they view as transient and a form of slavery - a false freedom which in fact entails loss of control to the trick that nature plays on us to get us to reproduce) and a choice to accept life without family in order to achieve it.
 
R

Ramps

I think the problem for many priests, especially as they go thru their middle-age, is loneliness rather than their being deprived of sex. The support and understanding that a man gets from his wife, and vice versa, is of far greater importance to either spouse than sex is, I would suggest.
 

Cato

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Aug 21, 2005
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Celibacy as an ideal is by no means confined to Catholicism (the Buddhists have the same ideas) - though I have no objection in principle to a married priesthood at parish level and no higher. I'd argue that for some it is psychologically unhealthy, particularly the sexually immature or those pursuing the vocation half-heartedly. But for others it's an ideal that they are quite happy to make the sacrifice for and actually feel benefits from, though acknowledging the difficulties ever-present. It entirely depends on the priest. Which is why there needs to be far better quality control at seminary level...
They are down to only 12 new entrants into Maynooth this year, of whom only around 6 will be ordained. The numbers of priests serving in communities around the country is going to plummet over the next two decades.
 

Cato

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Are priests any more faithful to the vow of chastity than the vow of poverty or obedience?
Most priests do not take vows of poverty and from taking to and knowing some priests, obedience can often be a far greater burden than celibacy.
 

pedagogus

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May 12, 2010
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Can result - it depends on the person. Some priests, believe it or not, are entirely willing to make that sacrifice. Indeed many want to. It's not just Catholicism, either - Buddhist enlightenment virtually demands it - dedication to enlightenment means the overcoming of the base urges (which they view as transient and a form of slavery - a false freedom which in fact entails loss of control to the trick that nature plays on us to get us to reproduce) and a choice to accept life without family in order to achieve it.
Absolutely. The same is true of Hinduism as well. Their sadhus pursue an ascetic ideal which is considerably more stringent than that demanded by the Catholic Church.It is worth remembering also that the Orthodox churches who allow priests to marry have a huge monastic tradition.
I do , however feel that celibacy for parish clergy ought to be optional and I think that is likely to happen in the future.The ideal ( for a self-selected minority) does go back to Christ's words on the subject. "Let those who can hear this let them hear it. Let a man leave family " etc.
 
D

Dylan2010

also given that priests arent allowed to bash the bishop, it cant be healthy to create circles of artifical guilt as most must be breaking that part of the "vow"
 
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They are down to only 12 new entrants into Maynooth this year, of whom only around 6 will be ordained. The numbers of priests serving in communities around the country is going to plummet over the next two decades.
True. But numbers are up in many parts of the world too, and it seems that the people joining now are more inclined to the stricter traditionalist ways than the generations since the early 60s. We'll no doubt see a reverse of what we saw growing up - priests coming here from abroad to fill the vacancies.
 

gatsbygirl20

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Dec 1, 2008
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Can result - it depends on the person. Some priests, believe it or not, are entirely willing to make that sacrifice. Indeed many want to. It's not just Catholicism, either - Buddhist enlightenment virtually demands it - dedication to enlightenment means the overcoming of the base urges (which they view as transient and a form of slavery - a false freedom which in fact entails loss of control to the trick that nature plays on us to get us to reproduce) and a choice to accept life without family in order to achieve it.

There is something beautiful in renunciation, forbearance, self abnegation, acceptance of limitation---however unpopular it is to say so, and these are, as you say, at the heart of many religions

Patrick Kavanagh's beautiful mystical poem "Advent" deals with these themes

It is the fact that traditionally, in Irish Catholicism particularly, these vows were taken often in a feverish desire to please Mammy, to please the local priest, a desire too to put off taking the next fearful step into the adult world---and the vows were taken, worst of all, at much too young an age--that made them problematic

But this idea that without active sexual lives we are somehow living an "unhealthy" life, needs to be questioned

Many lay people live celibate lives--sometimes by choice, but sometimes from failure to meet the right person, inability to make love except with the "special one", or low sexual charge..etc

Marriages often go through periods of celibacy, only to catch fire again at another time, farther down the road...

Celibacy, like sex, is everywhere.
 

Cato

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also given that priests arent allowed to bash the bishop, it cant be healthy to create circles of artifical guilt as most must be breaking that part of the "vow"
That's not really part of the vow they take but rather the same duty of chastity that all Christians are supposed to adhere to.
 
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