"As an ordained Roman Catholic priest of more than 59 years — 12 years as a celibate priest and now 47 years as a married priest — I would like to share these observations about the sexual scandal found among some priests in the Catholic Church.
There is a real need for cultural change in the Roman Catholic Church. Leaders of the church cannot be serious about remedying this crisis unless they address the issue of the treatment of all women as equals in the Catholic Church. There are two main issues of the Roman Catholic culture that need to be changed.
The first issue is the need to return to the practice set up by our Lord of calling both married and single persons to ministry and priesthood in the church. For more than 1,100 years priests in the Catholic Church were able to marry or remain single if they so chose. It was after the imposition of the man-made rule of obligatory celibacy — remaining single — for all priests that there developed widespread sexual immorality and infidelity among priests in the Roman Catholic Church. This immorality contributed to the Protestant reformation a few centuries later.
God created the human species as male and female and they have bonded as husband and wife since creation. This bonding is natural, and, when you prohibit something that is natural, you are going to have problems. In the marriage relationship, lovemaking is both natural — designed by God — and blessed by God as a way of growing in the love of your spouse and of God. It also is the natural way, God’s way, of bringing new life into the world.
What often is overlooked and not mentioned is that lovemaking with your spouse also is a way designed by God to reduce or quiet passion. Passion also is a beautiful and God-given gift to every person to bring them to desire lovemaking with their spouse. The married priest or married minister of any faith has this beautiful gift of lovemaking with their spouse, growing in deeper love of their spouse, deeper love of their God and also receiving a quieting of their passions. The single priest or minster does not have this gift or blessing to quiet their passions when faced with the arousing of passion because of life experiences.
It is my conviction that this thwarting of nature is a contributing cause to the problem of sexual abuse among priests in the Roman Catholic Church. It is not the only reason, but it is one of the contributing factors. Men and women look naturally for closeness and intimacy as found in marriage. To frustrate this natural expression of love is to cause problems for the single individual.
In the United States at the current time it has been reported that more than 25,000 Roman Catholic priests have left the active ministry in order to marry. The number exceeds 125,000 worldwide. Most, like myself, would have stayed in and ministered in the active church ministry had we been able to follow our God-given vocation to marry and also minister in the active ministry.
In its place, my wife of 47 years and I have followed our motto since the time of our marriage, which is: “May we serve the Lord better together.”
The second area of cultural change that needs to take place in the Roman Catholic Church is the allowing of all women members to be ordained to all levels of priesthood and ministry. My reading of sacred Scripture and church history point out that women led liturgies in their homes during the first centuries.
Our Lord chose Mary Magdalene to proclaim the resurrection to the early church community. She was the apostle to the apostles. There are women in the Catholic Church who verbalize that they prayerfully discern that they have a vocation to be a priest minister in the Catholic Church. It is time to end this discrimination and unequal treatment and let them be ordained. I have attended, over the years, several church services led by women in other denominations. Women ministers bring an insight and empathy to such ministry that is commendable and different from men.
When women are not given the same opportunities as men, they are looked upon as not equal as their male counterparts. Women have told me that they feel this inequality to their fellow male human beings. When men feel and act superior to women, they often act out those feelings by taking advantage of or abusing women and others who are considered not equal to themselves.
Over the years I have known and still know many good and faithful Roman Catholic priests. Some never have felt a call to marriage as well as priesthood, while others struggle to this day with a call to marriage, family and also the vocation to priesthood.
It is time to return to the practice and example of Our Lord of allowing both married men and single persons to enter the priesthood and also to treat all women as equal in answering their call to serve in the ministry of priesthood.