Thursday, March 11, 2010

Priestly Celibacy Under Attack

So Cardinal Schoenborn apparently agrees with Hans Kung that priestly celibacy is the cause of the sex abuse scandal sweeping the Roman Catholic Church. Cardinal Schoenborn used to be thought of as a successor to Benedict XVI, his former university professor, but lately it seems that Schoenborn has chosen to throw in his lot with the pro-homosexual, pro-sexual revolution forces in his own diocese even to the point of pressuring the Vatican to rescind the appointment of an orthodox bishop in Vienna.

Meanwhile, the Roman Catholic Church in Austria lies in ruins with attendance declining, vocations almost non-existent and services celebrating homosexuality in the cathedral.. Clearly, this disaster is the result of post Vatican II liberalism, sexual libertinism and a drift away from tradition and Scripture. Yet the solution from people like Kung is always more extreme liberalism, pushing the boundaries of sexual ethics and more novelties to make the Church "relevant" to an increasingly pagan society. You can almost hear the secular journalists hyper-ventilating with excitement at the thought of how high in the hierarchy the sexual revolution propaganda has now reached! (bolding is mine)

"A cardinal seen as a future candidate for the papacy has broken a Vatican taboo by raising the possibility that priestly celibacy is among the causes of the sex abuse scandal sweeping the Roman Catholic Church.

Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, the Archbishop of Vienna and a protégé of Pope Benedict XVI, wrote in his archdiocese's magazine this week that the Church must make an "unflinching examination" of the causes of the scandal.

He said that these included "the issue of priests' training, as well as the question of what happened in the so-called sexual revolution of the generation of 1968".

He added: "It also includes the question of priest celibacy and the question of personality development. It requires a great deal of honesty, both on the part of the Church and of society as a whole."

His remarks came days after Father Hans Kung, the dissident Catholic theologian, blamed the Church’s “uptight” views on sex for child abuse scandals in Germany, Ireland and the US.

The cardinal's spokesman, Erich Leitenberger, later issued a "clarification" claiming that the cardinal was not "in any way seeking to question the Catholic Church's celibacy rule" after headlines in the German and Italian press such as "Schönborn says priestly abuse is the fault of celibacy" and "Celibacy must be reconsidered, Schönborn says".

The cardinal's office said that he had been misinterpreted. Some observers said that he had been obliged to issue his "clarification" under pressure from the Vatican."

Now about this argument that priestly celibacy causes sexual abuse. Why would that be? Is it because we cannot expect people to practice self-control (not even with the help of the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit), so therefore we have to give the imperialistic, uncontrollable, sexual drive an outlet? That is a common post-Darwinian view of human nature and it fits best within a completely materialistic worldview that sees humans as highly evolved animals. But it denies that to be human is to exercise rational control over the bodily instincts.

Is the only possible solution to rape to make women let men have their way with them so the men won't need to force themselves on them? Are men not supposed to control their urges? Are they not supposed to be civilized? Here we see a curious thing: Western liberals and Muslims seem to agree that men cannot be expected to practice self-restraint. Muslims therefore order women to wear the burka, while Western liberals order women to go on the pill and be ready to put out on demand. But neither order men to zip it up and act like adults; only Christianity treats men like responsible persons and not like irresponsible children.

If a priest has a problem with pedophilia, how exactly is marriage supposed to help? Is he supposed to marry a child? If a priest is homosexual how is marriage supposed to help? Oh, wait, of course, right after the epic struggle to end priestly celibacy is won the next item on the agenda is same-sex marriage. So, actually, what seems to be about the question of priestly celibacy is actually about normalizing homosexuality.

More laxness in the area of sexual activity is not the answer. That way lies only more deviations, more heartache and more social problems. Priestly celibacy is under attack in our society for exactly the same reason that pre-marital virginity and marital fidelity is under attack - because the ideology of the modern, autonomous self and fulfillment through indulgence hates both as impediments to its so-called "freedom." But this is a false freedom, which must be countered by the true freedom of the Gospel in which we are set free to be persons made in God's image and capable of the sincere gift of the self and personal communion like that of the Triune God.

"If the Son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed." (John 8:36) If you fall for the "freedom" offered by Hans Kung you will find yourself enslaved by your sinful nature.


nojremmil said...

I find it stunning that a Catholic theologian would have such a lack of grounding in theology that he blames sin on cultural realities and centuries old moral restrictions on priests. I know this doesn't cite his complete view on this issue, so I have to ask: Does he say nothing of the depravity of man and our inherited sinfulness from Adam?

David said...

I honestly don't see anything in the Cardinal's comments that in any way indicate a critique of celibacy. The issue of celibacy should be addressed, that is how to live a celibate life, what kind of virtuous practices need to be implemented to strengthen the celibate life which is, properly understood, erotic, in the Augustinian sense. I wrote a piece for a Catholic newspaper recently about the sex abuse issue in ireland which made this very point. Our sexual life as understood in Catholic tradition makes sense precisely within the Augustianian and Thomistic traditions of moral theology. Professors in seminaries in Ireland have essentially been teaching casuistry and forms of modernist, largely Kantian, ethics for 50 years and so priests have not the theological capacity to practice celibacy properly. They've been deprived of the teaching that helps them shape their desires appropriately and live lives of erotic devotion to God through celibacy, as the lay people in Ireland have been robbed of the theological teaching that helps them practice biblical marriage. A coherent understanding of sexuality and desire can only be found through the biblical exegesis that fuels the Augustinian and Thomistic traditions. Deprived of this, the priests were robbed of tools that should have helped them shape their desire, be faithful to their vocations and be the men Christ has called them to be.
So this question (the question of celibacy, especially contra the modernist ethics that fuel the "sexual revolution") needs to be addressed! The Cardinal did not imply that the question of whether celibacy causes pedophilia should be addressed as only an idiot (Hans Kung for example) would assume that it does. I know many married couples who are living celibate lives - do I keep my children away from them!
I admit that I have heard a couple of minor things that shakes my confidence in Christopher Cardinal Schönborn (the fact that he thinks that Rahner has something to offer Catholic theology for example and that Rahner is reconcilable with Von Balhthasar). But I don't see anything in his actual quotes that leads me to lose my faith in him altogether. The journalist putting him alongside Kung is being shamefully disingenuous. Until we start suing these journalists they'll keep looking to whip the Catholic Church for the pleasure of secularists.

Gordon Hackman said...

I just discovered your older post "Singleness and the Christian Vision of Marriage and Family," through the suggested readings at the end of this post and want to say thank you for presenting such a sensible and balanced position on the issue. There are some voices in the evangelical church who have, in the last few years, taken to attacking adult singleness as sinful or spiritually inferior. I have thought there was something off about their view. Your post addresses and articulates some of my own thoughts and intuitions on the matter.