Monday, February 25, 2013

Sex and the Single Priest

Amid the hullabaloo over selecting the next pope, several forbidden topics have come up for discussion.

  • A cardinal has publicly advocated giving up the requirement of celibacy for priests.  Keith O'Brien of Scotland was the highest official in recent history to take this position in the Roman Catholic Church--perhaps because he knew he was resigning soon.
  • E.J. Dionne of the Washington Post wrote a column suggesting that the next pope should be a woman and thus that the ban on women priests should be lifted.
  • Italian media are reporting a gay sex scandal inside the Vatican. 

The great ship Vatican appears to have sprung a few leaks, giving rise to the new term Vatileaks from the previous word wikileaks.

Centuries-old icebergs of doctrine against married priests and women priests are shifting, turning and breaking up.  The Vatican may have to choose between shifting course and crashing.

I may have to move up my prediction for when the Roman Catholic Church will ordain women regularly.  I had said 2050, but sexual scandal within the church could move things faster than advocates of women's ordination ever could.

Scandals new and old continue to rock the church as cardinals arrive at the Vatican to join the fray over who will become the next pope.

O'Brien, head of the Catholic Church in Scotland and Britain's top prelate, submitted his resignation a few months ago, but the Pope did not accept it until Feb. 18, apparently to make sure that O'Brien would not taint election of the next pope.

Pressure mounts on Roger Mahony and two others from Belgium and Ireland not to participate in the conclave of cardinals, but if all cardinals who have participated in covering up sexual abuse were to resign, there might be very few left to vote.

Are we surprised that a gay scandal inside the Vatican is being reported?  

It's a boys' club par excellence--"No girls allowed."  But boys will be boys.

Actually, my colleague Mutombo Nkulu-N'Sengha told me a year ago that when he studied at the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome to become a priest, there were rumors of Joseph Ratzinger having or having had sexual relationships with men.  

Truth will out, and perhaps the Roman Catholic Church will become a more honest, open institution by allowing priests to marry, allowing women to become priests, and some day even accepting priests who are in a long-term, faithful, same-sex relationship.

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