Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Catholic celibacy conundrum

From the London Guardian-

The open letter sent to the pope by a group of Italian women who have been or are in relationships with Roman Catholic priests has cast a new light on the rule of priestly celibacy in his church at a time when its abolition was already under discussion as a possible response to the crisis over clerical sex abuse.

One aim of the letter was to make the point that the rule against marriage in the western Catholic church is not a dogma but a discipline.

In one of its most intriguing passages, the authors claim that "the reasons which prompted the ecclesiastical hierarchy, in its day, to insert this discipline into its legal system are well known – economic convenience and self-interest."

Those alleged reasons are, in fact, far from well-known outside church circles, though they were alluded to last month in the Guardian's Face to faith column by the dean of Southwark, Colin Slee: it costs a great deal less to pay for single priests than for priests with wives and perhaps children.


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