After a few (too few) voices were raised last week from within the church’s establishment suggesting, ever so cautiously, that perhaps the insistence on clerical celibacy should be reviewed, the Vatican was quick to stamp down hard on this unaccustomed sign of dissent within the ranks. Pope Benedict described celibacy as “sacred” and a sign of “full devotion” to the Catholic Church. The first thing that strikes me in this, is that once again the emphasis is on devotion to the “Church” , and not to the Gospels, or to the people who have been damaged by the whole sorry mess.
German theologian Hans Kung has a sound rebuttal to Benedict’s stance. Writing in National Catholic Reporter, he points out the contradiction between Benedict’s claim, and he evidence of both Scripture and Church history:
Why does the pope continue to assert that what he calls “holy” celibacy is a “precious gift”, thus ignoring the biblical teaching that explicitly permits and even encourages marriage for all office holders in the Church? Celibacy is not “holy”; it is not even “fortunate”; it is “unfortunate”, for it excludes many perfectly good candidates from the priesthood and forces numerous priests out of their office, simply because they want to marry. The rule of celibacy is not a truth of faith, but a church law going back to the 11th Century; it should have been abolished already in the 16th Century, when it was trenchantly criticized by the Reformers. Read the rest of this entry »