Thursday, September 04, 2014


Wrong and Very Wrong

So, Bill Keller writes in the NYTimes about how celibacy in Catholic clergy is a bad thing. This despite the fact that Keller left the church decades ago. James Martin chimes in with a fine recitation of the many facts that Keller got wrong. He concludes:
Overall, the article is rife with lazy stereotypes and flat-out guessing. (“The apostles had wives.” Really? Peter did--but all of them? Guess I missed those mentions of Zebedee's daughters-in-law. And, not to put too fine a point on it but Jesus was celibate.)

Ironically, Mr. Keller likes Pope Francis a great deal and speaks of his overall approach to the church approvingly. But he somehow missed the fact that Jorge Mario Bergoglio took a vow of chastity when he made his first vows as a Jesuit in 1960, and made a promise of celibacy at his ordination in 1969. In short, he has been living celibately longer than Mr. Keller has been away from the church. Does the Pope strike anyone as a sad and lonely guy?

All I ask is that the next time that any pundit writes on celibacy it might be a good idea to talk to some celibates.
Not being Catholic mys elf, I think it not my place to get into the specifics of the fight over celibacy - but Keller's piece is wrong on a lot of levels.

At base is the assumption that sacrificing is somehow wrong - that good things are supposed to simply arrive in a package with a bow. Keller assumes that our desires are the paramount thing in all creation - and left unfulfilled they become the problem. Such an attitude is, without question, making the self the god.

And yet that seems to be the mindset of so many Christians these days - "What can God do for me?" Now, in reality, God can do a lot for any of us, but on His terms, not ours. We cannot dictate to him what we need. Doesn't that strike you as a bit silly anyway? If God is indeed omniscience and omnipotent, how can we possible dictate to Him how to fix something that He, by definition, knows more about than we do?

The fact that this battle is so present in the church these days says that our proclamation of the gospel lacks two very important things. One,we do not give people a proper understanding of just who God really is - they don't understand omniscient or omnipotence. We have to teach them.

And then, of course, we don't let people know really, about sin. An understanding of sacrifice can only come when we understand that our desires are corrupt. So corrupt in fact that the only information we can glean from them is that we are sick. They tell us nothing about the nature of the illness or its prognosis. People are uncomfortable hearing about their sin, but in the end that's the point. Such discomfort teaches us just how broken we are.

People who do not feel pain often injure themselves further because the pain is telling them to stop doping certain things. When we spare people pain in sharing with them the news of Christ, we may keep them in the building, but do we actually help them?


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