Thursday, July 14, 2016
Last week Philadelphia’s Archbishop Chaput said remarried divorced Catholics shouldn’t receive Communion unless they abstain from sex…likewise for same sex couples. Furthermore, he said those same people shouldn’t be allowed to serve on parish councils, instruct the faithful, serve as lectors or dispense Communion. (I think they can still operate heavy machinery and definitely can contribute financially.) He feels such people are in “irregular” relationships that offer “a serious counter-witness to Catholic belief, which can only produce moral confusion in the community.”
Coincidentally, that same week, a priest confessed to me that he is sexually active. This places him in the worldwide majority of priests, since according to psychologists who study priests’ sexuality, 50% of U.S. priests and a higher percentage of priests from other global regions are sexually active. By the way, this priest felt his sexual activity was “sinful” but seemed prepared to suffer this sin repeatedly in the future.
Regardless of one’s opinion about the sinfulness of priests’ sexual relationships, aside from converted married former Anglican priests, any sexual activity Roman Catholic priests have is categorically dishonest and unhealthy because it is secretive.
This guy, like other sexually active priests, which means the majority of priests, not only receives communion, he consecrates the host. I guess Chaput is ok with sexually active priests receiving and consecrating the host because it’s not “irregular.” It’s become so regular that it is the majority of priests who have secret, dishonest, unhealthy sexual relationships.
Not only do sexually active priests consecrate and dispense communion, they lead parish councils, instruct the faithful, read the gospel, and preach all while leading an inherently dishonest life. Archbishop Chaput, pardon me, but THAT is what I find a counter-witness and morally confusing. I’ll go so far as to say the deception and hypocrisy are morally repugnant.
Many laity are hypnotized by glittering chasubles and shiny chalices into believing priests actually abstain from sex. It is my understanding that all priests regardless of sexual activity tend to know which ones are sexually active with women, with other men, or with minors. The unwritten code of conduct is to turn one’s head to not see other priests’ sexual activity lest that priest make your sexual activity known. And thus, they band together to form a sick group illusion to the faithful of abstaining from sex though actually having sex, all while instructing the faithful about how “sinful” their relationships are, and marginalizing them based upon those relationships which are usually 1000 times healthier than any relationship most priests have ever known.
It is time for the faithful to say, “No more!” (“Non amplius!” for Latin fans.) No more lies about priests’ sexuality. No more hypocrisy about sexual morality from men with the unhealthiest of unhealthy sexual relationships. No more cult-like, zombie-esque laity accepting the celibacy myth either.
Here’s what I suggest. Walk up to your local priest and ask about his sex life. Priests instruct about ours all the time. They also serve in public roles that carry explicit restrictions around their sex lives. So it’s entirely appropriate that we start openly discussing their sex lives. Clergy’s sex lives deserve at least as much and probably far more scrutiny than that of remarried divorced or homosexual algebra teachers, who rarely weave moral theology into discussing things like the quadratic equation.
Why not walk up to the priest before Mass and ask, “When was the last time you had sex? Was it with a man or a woman? Have you gone to confession since having sex or are you planning to celebrate Mass in a state of mortal sin? How many times have you had sex, confessed and then had sex again? True reconciliation requires a firm commitment to amend your behavior. I just want to make sure you’re not doing anything that is morally confusing before I receive communion you consecrated.” Try using a questionnaire if verbally asking these intimidates you.
Most likely even if the priest just zipped his pants 30 seconds before your discussion, he will deny being sexually active. Don’t waiver because in addition to having the moral fiber to engage in secretive sex, priests also are capable of lying. It is actually a requirement for their secret sex lives. For example, the priest about whom I spoke, previously elaborately, explicitly and emphatically spoke about his total abstention from sex…which turned out to be an elaborate, explicit and emphatic total lie.
If he blusters, calmly remind him that his clerical brotherhood fixates on sexual morality so you feel obligated inquiring about his sex life. Good leaders lead by example so you just want to understand the example he sets.
By the way, the code word often used in lieu of saying “sex” is “celibacy lapse.” Help him understand that they are the same thing. If he’s had a celibacy lapse, he’s had sex. Point out that many remarried divorced people are probably just having celibacy lapses themselves. Likewise for homosexual couples…just celibacy lapses.
Mind you, I disagree with the clergy celibacy/chastity requirement. But, it is the current requirement and is certainly no secret to any man entering the priesthood. It’s a rather universally known fact amongst Catholics and non-Catholics alike. And, spiritual credentials and privileges are often instantly granted based upon this sham of a “sacrifice.” Thus, though I disagree with the requirement, I firmly believe a sexually active priest should leave the priesthood and enter a healthy, honest, committed relationship. If all sexually active priests did this, we would be left with precious few priests, driving the crisis needed for change. I applaud the 125,000 or so priests since the 1960s who have done this already.
As previously mentioned, I think secretive relationships are categorically unhealthy. Furthermore, I worry about children conceived in these relationships who are either aborted or raised without knowing truthfully who their fathers are. But, I find the hypocrisy and deceit the most difficult to swallow. Sexually active priests, having only secret, dishonest, unhealthy sexual relationships revile the laity for their sexual practices, especially those in "irregular" situations who do so in an open, honest and healthy manner.
I have more respect for my homosexual relatives and friends who publicly affirm their commitment through marriage than I have for any priest who skulks around in secret having sex while pretending he doesn’t, trying to hide his partner, deluding himself that his situation is special because he has a “holy calling” but still has this irresistible need to have sex. Become an Anglican priest and answer your calling while engaging in an honest sexual relationship. That’s assuming the priest wants to have a committed relationship versus being what the kids these days call “a player,” one who prefers sex in non-committed relationships, freely moving from partner to partner. Sorry, but players’ values conflict with Christian leadership moral guidelines. Please just leave the priesthood if you're a player..
Bottom line regarding Abp Chaput’s sex related guidelines: I say, “You first.” You priests recuse yourselves from ministry based upon your sexual practices first and then worry about the laity after that’s all tidied up. In the meantime, Cardinal Sarah’s new suggested guideline for celebrating Mass with priests’ backs to the congregation might be so priests shamefully hide from facing the people they regularly dupe. Or, maybe he just thinks priests’ asses are so darn attractive that we’d rather see them than the host.