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People and Politics Forum 16. 05. 2008

"Should Catholic priests be allowed to marry?"

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More information:

Priests without Women - Celibacy Comes Under Attack

Anton Aschenbrenner was a devoted priest. But he also lived, secretly, with his girlfriend Birgit. When she became pregnant and the truth became visible, the church authorities advised him to leave his girlfriend and serve as a priest in a new location. The church suspended the father-to-be when he refused to abandon his partner and child. This is not an isolated case, with conservative estimates suggesting one priest in three breaching the celibacy rules. The new chairman of the German Conference of Catholic Bishops has made waves by publicly expressing doubt about whether celibacy for priests makes sense.

Our Question is:

"Should Catholic priests be allowed to marry?"

Lea Norris, in Australia, writes:

"Are not priests human beings? I can't imagine God demanding they forego that which life is truly about - love and family."

Hassan Munir Khan,in Ukraine, agrees::

"..I think they should be allowed to marry because they are also humans like others, and they have the same rights as others. Marriage is a good thing that accords to natural principles."

Gunnar Voigt, in the Philippines, says:

"It´s up to organisations such as the Catholic church to decide for themselves what they expect from their members. And the members must decide if these expectations suit them. It gets difficult when others have to suffer.I can only advise the Catholic church to take the concerns seriously."

A clear view from Horst Michael Thiel,also in the Philippines:

"Celibacy is organised hyprocrisy, showing how far the Catholic church has distanced itself from reality and Mankind`s problems."

In Canada, Heinz Dieter Chiba writes:

"As an atheist, I harbour respect, in a roundabout way, for so-called Catholic "priests". But I oppose international celibacy as imposed by Rome, because we cannot arrange our lives according to a fictional,humdrum,over-moralising compendium (called the Bible)from days long gone..."

Theo Pitsch, in Thailand, makes a simple point:

"Why not, if they love each other?"

Gerhard Eustergerling, in Brazil, says:

"Priests should be allowed to choose whether they want to marry or not. I share the happiness of all Catholic priests who follow the call of their heart and live with their woman. It's a shame it nearly always has to remain secret. The church authorities should ask the Catholic faithful if they insist on priests´ celibacy,in a democratic vote, with the majority deciding: the way the Pope is elected."

José Aranha Diniz, in Brazil, writes:

"Lifting celibacy would have a disastrous effect on the Catholic church, and its credibility could receive another blow. Once you have priests who are married you will also have divorces, with all the usual unpleasantries. This is not compatible with a priest´s consecrated position. Better to keep up appearance!

Rajendra Raja, in India, disagrees:

" Celibacy is a discipline of detachment, which is essential for human self service of high order. Otherwise why should people call them father, archbishop etc and confide in them as symbol of God. It is a pity that debates have come to such a low, and that we are talking of the relevance of celibacy. All religious gurus of high order must show detachment with material things and mind discipline to be celibate. Having sex on one hand and teaching godly things and discipline to young girls and boys do not go together."

A view rejected by Norman Higginson, in the USA:

"The Catholic church opposes many forms of birth control as "unnatural" yet asks its employees to forgo the "natural" state of marriage. In some ways this is an internal matter but when priests harm their parishioners because of the rules of the institution then I think the institution should change. The Pope just spoke to American Catholics about the abuses of priests but, of course, allowing marriage was not mentioned. As a gay male, I sympathize with Catholic priests, who must decide whether to conform to church rules or follow their natural feelings. But I have no tolerance for those who chose to abuse young people as a way to satisfy those feelings. Let's allow priests to be human beings, and not for some of them to become predators."

Martin Burmeister, in Venezuela, says marriage has other pluspoints:

"Why not? The creation of the Protestant church can also be traced to clergymen being allowed to marry and start a family. These marriages often produced celebrated offspring all over the world. The Catholic church should take this as an example."

In New Zealand, Waltraut Maassen writes:

"...A priest is also a man. If celibacy stopped, then the children of secret loves could be legitimised. But Rome and the Pope are so rigid!"

Some tough rhetoric from René Junghans in Brazil:

"I say celibacy is antiquated and totally ridiculous. Every man needs a woman to feel respected, and nobody is an island in the ocean of life. Priests are no exception. Expecting a father-to-be to abandon his woman and child is so unseemly and impertinent that you have to agree with the priest who decided to stay with his family. Priests who live in complete celibacy often turn to same sex relationships, or worse: they abuse children, as reflected by the cases in the USA."

Mario Schwark in Paraquay sees things similarly:

"I am absolutely in favour of priests marrying. God created man AND woman. Celibacy is a cover for rejecting a part of creation. Loneliness can't be God´s will."

Paul Stadelmann, in Venezuela, has a rallying cry:

"... Let priests marry and have families so that the (Catholic) church can become, perhaps, a little bit more humane."

Anneliese Brunner, in Argentina, says:

"Of course priests should marry. It's a mystery to me how priests can hear a confession without knowing a thing about normal life, like family problems, troubles but also happiness. They aren't of this world, yet offer advice, even help."

The People and Politics desk reserves the right to edit and abbreviate texts.