Celibacy, A Temporary Prescription

Pope Francis recently stated, “there is no contradiction for priests to marry. Celibacy in the western church is a temporary prescription,”  to which my reply is, “Shut the front door!” 

How can they suggest that celibacy, which has existed for a millennium or lasted over 11 centuries, is temporary? A word defined as “lasting for only a limited period; not permanent.” That is a contradiction and an error in semantics. Worth a Hallelujah, alongside raised eyebrows concerning how the Vatican frames the notion of time and truth. Contemplating revising ancient ways to get its crew out of the archaic celibacy maze to one day learn why “Oh God” is called out during climax.

Some clergy left the church to marry early in the last century, wanting to be reinstated. The Vatican replied with a hard no. They left, and those who converted from another faith to Catholicism stayed because they didn’t take the oath of celibacy—continuing with family in tow. There are no words for the hypocrisy. 

The history of celibacy within the church was for commercial purposes, as is the idea of its removal. It has nothing to do with faith. It’s business. In the 11th century, those without children within this religious institution left their wealth to the church. Allowing the Vatican in 1942 to have a private bank and become the world’s largest landowner. Power and separation are intrinsic to their existence. They are a formidable corporation regarding assets versus liabilities—the envy of the industrial world.

Their method of acquiring wealth is no different from insurance companies. You keep paying to fill the institution’s favour with the caveat of never being reimbursed. You have to wonder whether insurance actuaries take their cues from the church’s hard-line financial approach ensuring enormous wealth remains and increases. Of course, with catastrophic environmental shifts, insurance companies are now forced to pay out. And so, too, is the church, for the obscene number of cases of sexual abuse. Like insurance companies, they, too, are paying out in the billions. Celibacy was never in Catholicism’s original teachings. It was created for business, and business was good until it wasn’t.

It was only in the past century that parishioners voiced that they had had enough. The idea of ‘do as I say, not as I do’ is challenging regarding engagement. They’re supposed to be an institution that serves as a beacon of light and empowerment under the umbrella of love, not one that dismantles the dignity of a human being in manipulative and criminal ways. That is cruel and contrary to the essence of its teachings. 

Though not a practicing Catholic, I am convinced if Christ was to return, the last place he’d walk into would be a church. Instead, He would be at a Starbucks conversing with some atheists. Engaging with those who serve their communities but didn’t profit from or use the church in any manner to leverage their interests. Unlike politicians and television evangelists insisting on contributions for one’s retribution. To quote Led Zeppelin, it’s about “Buying the Stairway to Heaven.” The plea from the church remains, ‘leave us in your will,’ and please take the contribution envelope before you go. Ignoring that their parishioners are not unsusceptible to the economic challenges caused by the various current domestic and international factors.

There’s been no commitment to this radical change as resistance has a stronghold within the church. I suspect they believed they were impenetrable, assuming the misguided actions of what they perceived as a few within their institution couldn’t bring their house down. They’re now learning that their home is made of the same glass as everyone else’s and is falling fast, not to mention at the cost of so many who suffered or were hurt by this corporation before this realization of being human was recognized. Similar to a corporate oil disaster, their sludge is skewed beliefs engaged by those in fear. Fear sells. Ask any advertiser or news network. 

No one is lining up to take on the role of a priest these days, and can you blame them? To quote Dylan, “The Times They Are A-Changin,” and the Church is not immune. Each generation of those wishing to become a member of the cloth has had different experiences reflecting their times. The church’s homily or sermons do not reflect these exponential progressions. Instead, they pretend to speak to the empowerment of the human spirit. But they can’t help themselves as the dark embellishments of shame, fear, judgement and guilt are intricately woven into every thread of this corporation’s existence. And that’s counterintuitive to spiritual expansion. Love is not on that playing field, never mind the same stratosphere. The church must demonstrate a more empowering, progressive, all-inclusive narrative that celebrates this beauty which means absolute inclusion cradled in unconditional love. Something they’re sadly lagging at. Consequently, McDonald’s is more successful at attracting talent than they are.

Back when I was growing up, those who joined the priesthood were revered for practicing celibacy. The rules were firm and non-negotiable. Their sacrifice had agreement around it. No more. I thought it was my destiny to become a nun as a young girl, but having feelings for at least three boys in my class rendered me ineligible.

I did grow up with stern nuns, and that same story should be valid for them to marry. The stats concerning their demographic place them at the highest risk of breast, ovarian and uterine cancer. Their pledge to be married to God puts them in an impossible long-distance relationship with no end in sight. 

I can imagine when the time comes to eliminate it, clergy falling to their knees upon the announcement and declaring, thank you, God. Sitting in a circle after downloading Tinder and then swiping left or right. “Her ankles look great. She’s a keeper.” “This one looks like Mary Magdalene. I’m all in.” Christian Mingle and Grindr will have a slew of new members.

I’ve mentioned how things that operate beautifully in life work from a place of balance. Nature is our predominant teacher in that lesson. On that premise, humans require balance to expand. For those who can comfortably do celibacy go for it. Lots of Buddhist monks are celibate. The difference is it’s not imposed upon them. It’s a choice, and everyone needs to be free to make that choice. No institution or politician has the right to dictate one’s free will, which is one of the tantamount beliefs in Catholicism.

I’m sure the Cardinals and Bishops are gasping at the thought of one-day clergy heading to the dating scene. And what they don’t know about women will be a lot. They’ll get invited out to dinners by parishioners or post a simple photo on a dating site because that’s how they’ll have to roll, all the while sporting black, no less, which unbeknownst to them is cool—stating their actual age and likeness of themselves will be a given seeing that they will lean towards being honest. That’ll be refreshing. They’ll be well-read and compassionate and have a palate for wines; some will even have a respectful golf game. They’ll pick up after themselves, be able to cook and be kind. They’ll be community-minded, not to mention they’ll meditate daily and engage in divine discussions. All pluses. They won’t have a mess of money. Still, they’ll have an indomitable amount of faith which will be a turn-on, especially with hope currently in the toilet. They’ll be naive, depending on what they smuggled into the seminary, and they’ll be looking for something real to align with their beliefs—all good stuff. Essentially there could be a global wave of 40-year-old virgins turning up all over dating sites in the future looking to fall in love and have a family, and why not. Let the wedding bells now ring for them.

It’s long overdue that all priests and that needs to include nuns have the same experiences as their parishioners, especially if they’re counselling those in their congregation. And even, on occasion, being as miserable as their wedded parishioners. It’s one thing to seek guidance while having an existential crisis. It’s another to be in the depths of marital issues and able to speak from a place of experience and not theory. 

This idea does open the door to the conversation; what if they get a girl pregnant, and she wants an abortion? How about birth control? You can’t ever pull the goalie. What does confession sound like after a wild weekend? What if it’s all an AI prank?

One action will trigger a slew of others. But the conversation needs to be clear from the lens of progress, and everything else is best reserved for another blog post down the road once things are confirmed and advanced. Change is the only constant in life, and no institution that wants to remain relevant is immune to that. 

The checks and balances will find their way into the light when viewed through a stained glass window of compassion.