Celibacy or Islamic teaching of Chastity: that is the question?

Epigraph:

Then We caused Our Messengers to follow in their footsteps; and We caused Jesus, son of Mary, to follow them, and We gave him the Gospel. And We placed in the hearts of those who accepted him compassion and mercy. But monasticism which they invented for themselves — We did not prescribe it for them — for the seeking of Allah’s pleasure; but they did not observe it with due observance. Yet We gave those of them who believed their due reward, but many of them are rebellious. (Al Quran 57:28)

Vatican City

Written and collected by Zia H Shah MD, Chief Editor of the Muslim Times

A week does not pass by when some news of child abuse or its cover up by the Catholic Church, makes headlines in national and international media.

In 2011, the scandal related to child abuse of up to 200 deaf children by a priest and the cover up by the Catholic Church’s bureaucracy has brought the institution of celibacy into question in the first half of 2010. I felt that it is prudent to freeze some teachings about celibacy as they exist in the church today, to preserve a snapshot for the posterity.

My interest in this issue is not to defame the Pope or the Church but to examine the institution of celibacy and if it contributes to sexual abuse. Some recent news and opinions on this issue are collected in this knol.

Wherever the Islamic teachings differ from those of Christianity, we can demonstrate the superiority of the Islamic teachings and their greater utilitarian value. See my other knols, including those on alcohol, gambling and HIV infection. When the dust will settle we will be able to high light the elegance of Islamic teachings pertaining to chastity over man made teaching of monasticism.

“Mohamedism is reproached with copying its morality from the gospel;”  Sir Godfrey Higgins wrote in the defense of the Prophet, “a philosopher, perhaps, may suspect that when the prophet was availing himself of the excellent moral precepts of Christianism, he had sense, not only to take the good, but to leave the evil; to adopt the morality, but to avoid the hired priesthood which, in his day, had filled the world with bloodshed and misery, and was rapidly reducing it to a state of the most debasing ignorance.”[1] The Holy Quran forbade monasticism in clear terms.[2][3]  Fourteen hundred years later the Catholic Church is following suit in their negotiation with the Anglican Church.[4][5]  Every time we contrast the Holy Quran with the Bible, the Quran comes out ahead.

 
According to Encyclopedia Britannica as it describes celibacy: 
Celibacy is practiced in a variety of different contexts. One type of celibacy is sacerdotal, the celibacy of priests and priestesses. A priest may be defined as one who, as a mediator, performs the sacred function of communicating through rites the needs of the people to heaven and the sacred power and presence from heaven to the congregation. His function is objective. Its efficacy is assured if the priest conducts the proper rite and has the proper qualifications of ordination and, perhaps, of ritual purity, regardless of whether he is particularly moral or fervent. Celibacy serves as such an objective mark of special state and ritual purity. Celibacy probably is derived from taboos that regarded sexual power as a rival to religious power, and the sexuality of the opposite sex as a polluting factor, especially in sacred or crisis situations.
Another type of celibacy is that associated with monasticism. The main purpose of the monk’s celibacy is moral and spiritual advancement, not the ritual purity required for sacerdotal rites. To this end, celibacy helps the monk to achieve inner freedom and affords him the opportunity for asceticism and meditation. These experiences, possibly together with the “new family” of the religious community, contribute to a sense of separation from the ordinary that facilitates the monk’s spiritual growth. Types of monasticism include the solitary—the hermit in the woods or the desert, the anchorite living in isolation in a church or monastery—the cenobite living a stabilized monastic life in community, and the mendicant ascetic who wanders from place to place gathering alms. In any case, the celibate state is viewed as an inseparable part of the monk’s way of life.”[6]
&
Institutional celibacy for women is also typically conceived of as an aid to spiritual advancement. Virginity and celibacy are regarded as assets in the attainment of spiritual goals. Most institutional female celibates are nuns in residential cloisters—though there have been occasional solitary figures, such as the anchoress (female hermit).[7]
According to Catholic Encyclopedia:
Celibacy is the renunciation of marriage implicitly or explicitly made, for the more perfect observance of chastity, by all those who receive the Sacrament of Orders in any of the higher grades. The character of this renunciation, as we shall see, is differently understood in the Eastern and in the Western Church. Speaking, for the moment, only of Western Christendom, the candidates for orders are solemnly warned by the bishop at the beginning of the ceremony regarding the gravity of the obligation which they are incurring. He tells them:
You ought anxiously to consider again and again what sort of a burden this is which you are taking upon you of your own accord. Up to this you are free. You may still, if you choose, turn to the aims and desires of the world (licet vobis pro artitrio ad caecularia vota transire). But if you receive this order (of the subdiaconate) it will no longer be lawful to turn back from your purpose. You will be required to continue in the service of God, and with His assistance to observe chastity and to be bound for ever in the ministrations of the Altar, to serve who is to reign.
By stepping forward despite this warning, when invited to do so, and by co-operating in the rest of the ordination service, the candidate is understood to bind himself equivalently by a vow of chastity. He is henceforth unable to contract a valid marriage, and any serious transgression in the matter of this vow is not only a grievous sin in itself but incurs the additional guilt of sacrilege.
Before turning to the history of this observance it will be convenient to deal in the first place with certain general principles involved. The law of celibacy has repeatedly been made the object of attack, especially of recent years, and it is important at the outset to correct certain prejudices thus created. Although we do not find in the New Testament any indication of celibacy being made compulsory either upon the Apostles or those whom they ordained, we have ample warrant in the language of Our Saviour, and of St. Paul for looking upon virginity as the higher call, and by inference, as the condition befitting those who are set apart for the work of the ministry. In Matthew 19:12, Christ clearly commends those who, “for the sake of the kingdom of God”, have held aloof from the married state, though He adds: “he who can accept it, let him accept it”. St. Paul is even more explicit:
I would that all men were even as myself; but every one hath his proper gift from God …. But I say to the unmarried and to the widows, it is good for them if they so continue, even as I.
And further on:
But I would have you to be without solicitude. He that is without a wife is solicitous for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please God. But he that is with a wife, is solicitous for the things of the world, how he may please his wife: and he is divided. And the unmarried woman and the virgin thinketh on the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and spirit. But she that is married thinketh on the things of this world how she may please her husband. And this I speak for your profit, not to cast a snare upon you, but for that which is decent and which may give you power to attend upon the Lord without impediment. (1 Corinthians 7:7-8 and 32-35)
Further, although we grant that the motive here appealed to is in some measure utilitarian, we shall probably be justified in saying that the principle which underlies the Church’s action in enforcing celibacy is not limited to this utilitarian aspect but goes even deeper. From the earliest period the Church was personified and conceived of by her disciples as the Virgin Bride and as the pure Body of Christ, or again as the Virgin Mother (parthenos meter), and it was plainly fitting that this virgin Church should be served by a virgin priesthood. Among Jews and pagans the priesthood was hereditary. Its functions and powers were transmitted by natural generation. But in the Church of Christ, as an antithesis to this, the priestly character was imparted by the Holy Ghost in the Divinely-instituted Sacrament of Orders. Virginity is consequently the special prerogative of the Christian priesthood. Virginity and marriage both holy, but in different ways. The conviction that virginity possesses a higher sanctity and clearer spiritual intuitions, seems to be an instinct planted deep in the heart of man. Even in the Jewish Dispensation where the priest begot children to whom his functions descended, it was nevertheless enjoined that he should observe continence during the period in which he served in the Temple. No doubt a mystical reason of this kind does not appeal to all, but such considerations have always held a prominent place in the thought of the Fathers of the Church; as is seen, for example, in the admonition very commonly addressed to subdeacons of the Middle Ages at the time of their ordination. “With regard to them it has pleased our fathers that they who handle the sacred mysteries should observe the law of continence, as it is written ‘be clean ye who handle the vessels of the Lord?’ “(Maskell, Monumenta Ritualia, II, 242).[8]

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Ordination to the Catholic priesthood (Latin rite). Devotional card, 1925.

The ministerial orders of the Catholic Church include the orders of bishops, deacons and presbyters, which in Latin is sacerdos.[1] The ordained priesthood and common priesthood (or priesthood of the all the baptized) are different in function and essence.[2]

A distinction is to be made between “priest” and “presbyter.” In the 1983 Code of Canon Law, “The Latin words sacerdos and sacerdotium are used to refer in general to the ministerial priesthood shared by bishops and presbyters. The words presbyter, presbyterium and presbyteratus refer to priests [in the English use of the word] and presbyters”.[3]

The priesthood in the Catholic Church includes the priests of both the Latin Rite and the Eastern Rites. As of May 2007, the Vatican website stated that there were some 406,411 priests serving the Church worldwide. [4]

While the consecrated life is neither clerical or lay by definition,[5] clerics can be members of institutes of consecrated, or secular (diocesan), life.[6]

Contents

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History

The Priesthood is understood to have begun with the Last Supper, when Jesus Christ instituted the Eucharist. While the threefold ministry is recorded in the New Testament, it is believed that in many assemblies this complete articulation did not take place until the second century. [7] Until then, most small communities were led by an episkopos (overseer or bishop) or a presbyteros (elder or priest), hence in Catholic theology they are referred to as presbyter-bishops in this period. As communities grew in size and needed more ministers, the bishops became the highest level of minister in the Church with priests assisting them in presiding at the Eucharist in the multiple communities in each city. The diaconate (deacon means ‘servant’) evolved as administrators of Church funds and programmes for the poor.

Theology of the priesthood

Passover and Christ

The theology of the Catholic priesthood is rooted in the priesthood of Christ and to some degree shares elements of the ancient Hebraic priesthood as well.[8] A priest is one who presides over a sacrifice and offers that sacrifice and prayers to God on behalf of believers. The ancient Jewish priesthood which functioned at the temple in Jerusalem offered animal sacrifices at various times throughout the year for a variety of reasons.

In Christian theology, Jesus is the Lamb provided by God himself as a sacrifice for the sins of the world. Before his death on the cross, Jesus celebrated the Passover with his disciples and offered blessings over the bread (matzoh) and wine respectively, saying: “Take and eat. This is my body” and “Drink from this all of you, for this is my blood, the blood of the covenant, poured out for the forgiveness of sins.” (Matthew 26:26b-28 Jerusalem Bible). The next day Christ’s body and blood became visible in his sacrifice on the cross. Catholics believe that it is this same body, sacrificed on the cross and risen on the third day which is made present in the offering of each Eucharistic sacrifice which is called the Eucharist. However, Catholicism does not believe that the essence of the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist entails that the accidental features also change. For example, scientific analysis of the Eucharistic elements would indicate the physical properties of wine and unleavened bread (or leavened bread in the case of Eastern Rite Catholics).

Thus priests (and bishops who are “high priests”) in presiding at the Eucharist join each offering of the Eucharistic elements in union with the sacrifice of Christ.[9] Catholic ordained ministers are known as priests because by their celebration of the Eucharist, they offer in a new moment in time the one eternal sacrifice of Christ.

Catholicism does not teach that Christ is sacrificed again and again, but that “The sacrifice of Christ and the sacrifice of the Eucharist are one single sacrifice.”[10]. Instead, the Catholic Church holds the Jewish concept of memorial in which “..the memorial is not merely a recollection of past events….these events become in a certain way present and real.” and thus “…the sacrifice Christ offered once and for all on the cross remains ever present.”[11] Properly speaking, in Catholic theology, expressed by Saint Thomas Aquinas, “Only Christ is the true priest, the others being only his ministers.”[12] Thus, Catholic clergy share in the one, unique, Priesthood of Christ.[13]

Education

The Canon law of the Catholic Church holds that the priesthood is a sacred and perpetual vocational state, not just a profession, and regulates the formation and studies of clerics. In the Latin rite, this legislation is found in canons 232–264. As a general rule, education is extensive and lasts at least five or six years, depending on the national Programme of Priestly Formation.[14]

  • Most frequently in the United States, priests must have a four-year university degree (which is usually in philosophy) plus an additional four to five years of graduate-level seminary formation in theology.
  • In Scotland, there is a mandatory year of preparation before entering seminary for a year dedicated to spiritual formation, followed by several years of study.
  • In Europe, Australasia and North America, seminarians usually graduate with a Master of Divinity or a Master of Theology degree, which is a four-year professional degree (as opposed to a Master of Arts which is an academic degree). At least four years are to be in theological studies at the major seminary.[15]
  • In Africa, Asia and South America, programmes are more flexible, being developed according to the age and academic abilities of those preparing for ordination.

Regardless of where a person prepares for ordination, it includes not only academics but also human, social, spiritual and pastoral formation. The purpose of seminary education is ultimately to prepare men to be pastors of souls.[16] In the end, however, each individual bishop is responsible for the official call to priesthood, and only they may ordain. Any ordinations done before the normally scheduled time (before study completion) must have the explicit approval of the bishop; any such ordinations done more than a year in advance must have the approval of the Holy See.

Rite of ordination

The Rite of Ordination is what “makes” one a priest, with the minister of Holy Orders being a validly ordained bishop.[17]

The Rite of Ordination occurs within the context of Holy Mass. After being called forward and presented to the assembly, the candidates are questioned. Each promises to diligently perform the duties of the Priesthood and to respect and obey his ordinary (bishop or religious superior). Then the candidates lie prostrate before the altar, while the assembled faithful kneel and pray for the help of all the saints in the singing of the Litany of the Saints.

The essential part of the rite is when the bishop silently lays his hands upon the each candidate (followed by all priests present), before offering the consecratory prayer, addressed to God the Father, invoking the power of the Holy Spirit upon those being ordained.

After the consecratory prayer, the newly ordained is vested with the stole and chasuble of those belonging to the Ministerial Priesthood and then the bishop anoints his hands with chrism before presenting him with the holy chalice and paten which he will use when presiding at the Eucharist. Following this, the gifts of bread and wine are brought forward by the people and given to the new priest; then all the priests present, concelebrate the Eucharist with the newly ordained taking the place of honour at the right of the bishop. If there are several newly ordained, it is they who gather closest to the bishop during the Eucharistic Prayer.

The laying of hands of the priesthood is found in 1 Timothy 4:14:

“Do not neglect the gift you have, which was conferred on you through the prophetic word with the imposition of hands of the presbyterate.”

Note that the word for presbyter or elder is not from the same Greek word as priest. Imposition of hands or filling of hands, or semicha, in Hebrew, was necessary for the installation of Joshua, and rabbis

Clerical celibacy

Before A.D. 1054

The First Ecumenical Council of the Catholic Church, which took place at Nicaea in A.D. 325, included in its legislation a discipline of the Priesthood known as clerical continence. This was the requirement of all priests and bishops to refrain from sexual contact with their wives and with all other women; for a married man to become a priest, his wife had to agree to abstain from sexual relations with him. This discipline was reinforced in the legislation of various local councils, such as the Council of Elvira in Spain; the date of this council cannot be determined with exactness, but is believed to be in the first quarter of the fourth century. While priests were required to refrain from all sexual contact by virtue of their presiding at the Eucharist, this was an exceedingly difficult discipline to maintain. As the priests of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem were required to abstain from sexual contact (in order to achieve ritual purity) briefly before the periodic performance of the sacrifices of the temple, so several Early Church priests of several areas were required, by ecclesiastical law, to abstain from sexual contact. However, because they presided at the sacrifice of the Eucharist on every Sunday and the annual feasts of the various martyrs, the Christian calendar did not afford them periods in which they could be sexually active with their wives.

In February 385, Pope Siricius wrote the Directa decretal, which was a long letter to Spanish bishop Himerius of Tarragona, replying to the bishop’s requests on various subjects, which had been sent several months earlier to Pope Damasus I.[18] It was the first of a series of documents published by the Church’s magisterium that claimed apostolic origin for clerical celibacy and reminded ministers of the altar of the perpetual continence required.

After the Great Schism

Within a century of the schism of 1054, the Churches of the East and West arrived at different disciplines as alternatives to the very difficult practice of abstaining from sexual contact during marriage. In the East, candidates for the Priesthood could be married with permission to have a regular sexual relations with their wives, but were required to abstain before celebrating the Eucharist. An unmarried person, once ordained, could not marry. Additionally, the Christian East required that, before becoming a bishop, a priest separate from his wife (she was permitted to object), she typically becoming a nun. In the East, more normally, bishops are chosen from those priests who are monks and are thus unmarried.

In the West, the law of celibacy was universally required by the 11th century. This law mandated that, in order to become a candidate for ordination, a man could not be married. The law remains in effect in the West, although not for those who are Eastern Rite Catholic clergy, who remain under the ancient Eastern discipline of sexual abstinence before celebration of the Liturgy, as do Eastern Orthodox priests. The issue of mandatory celibacy continues to be debated, though successive popes have declared that the discipline will not change.

Duties of a Catholic priest

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia published at the beginning of the 20th century, there are two main aspects to the Priesthood: offering the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and forgiving sins.[19]. Whilst continuing to hold the importance of these two aspects of Priesthood, today the Church has a significantly broader understanding.

Among the duties of a Catholic priest are the celebration of Holy Mass, during which he acts as a vessel for Christ, (in persona Christi) or as a concelebrant. Indeed, the priest is called to make Christ present during every moment of his life. [20] The role of the Catholic priest is primarily to be seen in terms of service to all people, and the priest’s actions must ultimately be measured against those of Christ Himself.[21]. When he leads worship, or performs a sacramental act such as blessing, the priest acts in the name of the whole Church,[22] for “they are consecrated in order to preach the Gospel and shepherd the faithful as well as to celebrate divine worship as true priests of the New Testament.”[23] They are to preach God’s word in-and-out of season, are to be people of deep and regular prayer, be steeped in sacred Scripture, educators in the faith and work tirelessly for the glory of God through service to His People.[24] In order to fulfil these roles, a priest must be familiar with the lives of those to whom he ministers[25] and be ever-more-closely united to Christ.

Priests are also responsible for daily recitation of the principal and minor offices of the Liturgy of the Hours.[26] Catholic priests are the only ministers of the Sacrament of Penance[27] and Anointing of the Sick[28]. They are the only ones who can celebrate the Eucharist in the Catholic Church [29] (not to be confused with distribution of Communion by deacons or extraordinary ministers). They, together with deacons, are the ordinary ministers of Baptism and witnesses to Holy Matrimony.[30]

Catholic priest: East and West

Although the Catholic Church is frequently referred to as the “Roman Catholic Church” this is a misnomer as it encompasses not only the (Latin/Roman) branch (i.e. the Western Church) but also twenty-two Eastern Churches (sui iuris). Thus, the disciplines, liturgical practices and ordering of the Catholic Priesthood inevitably vary to some extent among the particular Churches which make up the Universal Church.

References

  1. ^ Catechism 1547
  2. ^ Lumen Gentium 10
  3. ^ Woesteman, Wm. The Sacrament of Orders and the Clerical State St Paul’s University Press: Ottawa, 2006, pg 8, see also De Ordinatione
  4. ^ Holy See
  5. ^ can. 588, CIC 1983
  6. ^ can. 266, CIC 1983
  7. ^ Catholic Encyclopedia 1913 Edition
  8. ^ 1913 Encyclopedia
  9. ^ Taylor Marshall, The Crucified Rabbi: Judaism and the Origins of the Catholic Christianity, Saint John Press, 2009 ISBN 9780578038346 page 91-2
  10. ^ Catechism paragraph 1367
  11. ^ Catechism paragraphs 1363 & 1364
  12. ^ Catechism para 1545
  13. ^ Vatican II Decree on Ministry and Life of Priests para.22
  14. ^ can. 242.1 CIC 1983
  15. ^ can. 235.1, CIC 1983
  16. ^ Presbyterorum ordinis 4
  17. ^ canon 1012 of the Code of Canon Law
  18. ^ apostolic origins ex – Christianbook.com
  19. ^  “Priesthood”. Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 1913. http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Catholic_Encyclopedia_(1913)/Priesthood.
  20. ^ Catechism para.1548,1549
  21. ^ Catechism para.1551
  22. ^ Catechism para.1552,1553
  23. ^ Catechism para.1564
  24. ^ Decree on Ministry and Life of Priests paras.4,5,6
  25. ^ Vatican II Declaration on the Ministry and Life of Priests para.3
  26. ^ Congregation for Divine Worship, Institutio generalis de Liturgia horarum Feb. 2, 1971
  27. ^ Canon 965
  28. ^ Canon 1003.1
  29. ^ Canon 901.1
  30. ^ Canons 861.1; 1072

External links

  • VISION Vocation Guide information about Roman Catholic priesthood and religious life with directory of men’s religious communities and diocesan links.
Spanish priest arrested over ‘21,000 child porn images’

A Catholic priest in Spain has been arrested over the alleged possession of thousands of images of child sex abuse.

Police said they found 21,000 images on computers inside the 52-year-old’s church in Vilafames, in the east of the country.

The priest, who has not been named, has been bailed and will appear before a judge in a fortnight, media say.

The Segorbe-Castellon diocese said it had suspended the priest and was ready to clarify the facts in court.

“If the accusation is true, this is something that hurts us deeply, that we sincerely regret and that we reject unreservedly,” the El Pais newspaper quoted a statement from the diocese as saying.

It said it would also offer the priest “the necessary means for a fair defence”.

Spain has arrested hundreds of people for distributing child pornography in recent years.

In May, police carried out almost 100 raids across the country after uncovering a network sharing abuse images.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-11748428

References

  1. Sir Godfrey Higgins Esq, An apology for the life and character of the prophet Mohamed or the illustrious. Year of publication 1829. Pages 30. Printed by G. Smallfield, Hackney.
  2. Al Quran 57:28.
  3. Al Quran 58:23.
  4. http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/news/2009/11/091121_anglicans_nh_kv.shtml
  5. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/8405437.stm
  6. “celibacy.” Encyclopædia Britannica. 2010. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 07 Apr. 2010 ca.com/EBchecked/topic/101371/celibacy>.
  7. “institutional celibacy.” Encyclopædia Britannica. 2010. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 07 Apr. 2010 ca.com/EBchecked/topic/289309/institutional-celibacy>.
  8. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/03481a.htm
  9. Al Quran 58:23.

20 replies

  1. Former bishop of Derry Edward Daly agreeing with some of my ideas
    Former bishop of Derry Edward Daly calls for scrapping of celibacy rule for clergy amid decline in number of young priests.

    A high-profile bishop who tended some of the dead and wounded of Bloody Sunday has called for an end to celibacy in the clergy.

    Edward Daly, who was bishop of Derry for nearly 20 years, said allowing the clergy to marry would solve some of the church’s problems. He is the most senior figure in Irish Catholicism to challenge the ban.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/sep/13/irish-bishop-celibacy-clergy

  2. US Jesuits agree to school sex abuse pay-out
    An order of US Catholic priests has agreed to pay $166.1m (£103.3m) to hundreds of Native Americans sexually abused by priests at its schools.

    The former students at Jesuit schools in five states of the north-western US said they were abused from the 1940s through the 1990s.

    Under a settlement, the Society of Jesus, Oregon Province, will also apologise to the victims.

    The order had argued paying out abuse claims would cause it to go bankrupt.

    “It’s a day of reckoning and justice,” Clarita Vargas, who said she and two sisters were abused by a priest at a Jesuit-run school for Native American children in the state of Washington, told the Associated Press.

    “My spirit was wounded, and this makes it feel better.”

    The province ran schools in the states of Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington.

    Most of the alleged victims were Native American. Much of the alleged abuse occurred on Native reservations and in remote villages, where the order was accused of dumping problem priests.

    “No amount of money can bring back a lost childhood, a destroyed culture or a shattered faith,” lawyer Blaine Tamaki, who represented about 90 victims in the case, said in a statement.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-12868046

  3. Cardinal Ad Simonis accused of protecting abuser priest
    Feb 2011

    A senior figure in the Dutch Catholic Church protected a priest who sexually abused children, Dutch media reports say.

    Cardinal Ad Simonis is accused of knowing of the allegations made against the priest when he transferred him to another parish, where he abused again.

    According to AFP, Mr Simonis said that at the time he believed that the priest – who has not been named – had changed.

    He said the priest’s renewed abuse in Amersfoort was “lamentable”.

    The priest was moved from his parish in Zoetermeer to a parish in Amersfoort after the local bishop complained about his abuse, Radio Netherlands says.

    Ad Simonis – who served as archbishop from 1983 to 2007 – Radio Netherlands reports, did not tell the new parish of Amersfoort about the allegations against the priest, or monitor his behaviour.

    Dutch officials say six of the priest’s victims reported incidents to the police from 1987 to 2008, the radio station reports.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-12429539

  4. My take on Prof. Bart Ehrman
    Prof. Bart Ehrman is an agnostic scholar of the New Testament. If the agnostic and the religious scholars of the Bible, hold honest discussions about the Bible, the Holy Quran wins! What does this mean? If we preserve the best and accurate in the Bible and Christianity what survives is Islam!

    Try me, and read the different books of Prof. Bart Ehrman and listen to his interviews and debates available on the Youtube. And, of course, if you are not a Muslim and do not know about the Holy Quran, you have to learn about it from the Muslim sources, in addition to the usual Christian experts on Islam. Here is a Google Knol for starters:

    http://knol.google.com/k/zia-shah/the-holy-quran-as-the-miracle-of-the/1qhnnhcumbuyp/55#

    My Christian friends have to remember that they have to spend enough hours in learning the Holy Quran to overcome their decades of pre-conceived biases and centuries of Islamophobic propaganda. And remember, according to Confucius, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

    Also read my review of a book of Ehrman:

    http://www.muslimsunrise.com/dmddocuments/2010_summer.pdf#page=37

  5. Sex abuse victim learns of Pope’s role
    Matt McCormick was in the seventh grade when Father Alvin Campbell gave him a ride home from a baseball game. As they were driving along country roads, Campbell put his hand on McCormick’s thigh and “just left it there.”

    It was the first time the priest had touched him. During the next three years, McCormick says, the abuse would go much further.

    Ryan brought the case to the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, headed by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who today is Pope Benedict XVI. Ryan asked Benedict to forcibly remove Campbell from the priesthood.

    In a personally signed letter, Ratzinger, citing Canon law, said he couldn’t defrock Campbell without Campbell’s permission – and instead suggested a local church trial, which would have taken years. It would be three more years before Bishop Ryan could persuade Campbell to request his own defrocking.

    http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2010/09/24/sex-abuse-victim-learns-of-pope%e2%80%99s-role/?hpt=C1

  6. From Hindustan Times
    Present Pope’s dealing with the priests guilty of abuse.

    The future Pope Benedict XVI refused to defrock an American priest who confessed to molesting numerous children and even served prison time for it, simply because the cleric wouldn’t agree to the discipline. The case provides the latest evidence of how changes in church law under Pope John Paul II frustrated and hamstrung US bishops struggling with an abuse crisis that would eventually explode.

    Documents obtained by The Associated Press from court filings in the case of the late Rev. Alvin Campbell of Illinois show Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, following church law at the time, turned down a bishop’s plea to remove the priest for no other reason than the abuser’s refusal to go along with it.

    “The petition in question cannot be admitted in as much as it lacks the request of Father Campbell himself,” Ratzinger wrote in a July 3, 1989, letter to Bishop Daniel Ryan of the Diocese of Springfield, Illinois.

    With the church still recovering from a notable departure of priests in the 1970s to marry, John Paul made it tougher to leave the priesthood after assuming the papacy in 1978, saying their vocation was a lifelong one. A consequence of that policy was that, as the priest sex abuse scandal arose in the US, bishops were no longer able to sidestep the lengthy church trial necessary for laicization.

    New rules in 1980 removed bishops’ option of requesting laicizations of abusive priests without holding a church trial. Those rules were ultimately eased two decades later amid an explosion of abuse cases in the United States.

    Campbell’s bishop had requested that he be quickly defrocked, in part to spare the victims the pain of a trial, but Ratzinger’s response was in keeping with church law at the time. Bishops retained the right to remove priests from ministry or to go through with a trial and recommend to Rome a cleric’s defrocking, and nothing prevented them from reporting such crimes to police as they should have done, the Vatican has argued.

    “Nothing in the new code prevented a bishop from exercising his discretion to restrict ministry or to assign a priest to a job where he was out of contact with the public,” said Jeffrey Lena, the Vatican’s attorney in the US.

    Campbell’s is one of several decades-old cases to emerge in recent months raising questions about Ratzinger’s decisions and the church law he was following involving abusive priests as head of the Catholic Church’s doctrinal watchdog office, a position he took in 1981. The round of scandals worldwide left the Vatican initially blaming the media and groups supporting abortion rights and gay marriage, but recently Benedict has denounced the “sin” that has infected the church.

    http://www.hindustantimes.com/world-news/world/Future-pope-refused-defrocking-of-convicted-priest/Article1-551069.aspx

  7. Bolivia’s Morales urges Pope Benedict to scrap celibacy
    Bolivian President Evo Morales has handed the Pope a letter urging him to allow priests to marry.

    Mr Morales also asked the head of the Roman Catholic Church to admit women to the priesthood.

    Relations between Bolivia’s president and the Church had been strained after Mr Morales accused Bolivian bishops of lying to the people.

    The Vatican did not mention Mr Morales’ comments on celibacy in the communique it released after the meeting.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/8690458.stm

  8. US man names Pope Benedict in Milwaukee abuse lawsuit
    A man who says he was the victim of an American paedophile priest is bringing a lawsuit against the Pope and the Vatican in a US federal court.

    His lawyers want the Church to release any files it has on abuse cases involving priests.

    The alleged victim, whose identity has not been disclosed, says he was abused by the late Father Lawrence Murphy.

    Fr Murphy is accused of attacking up to 200 children during his 20 years at a school for deaf children in Milwaukee.

    He was finally moved from the St John school to another diocese in 1974, but was never prosecuted or defrocked.

    A Church trial was opened after the Vatican received a letter from Fr Murphy’s bishop in 1996, but it was not concluded by the time Fr Murphy died in 1998.

    The alleged victim’s lawyer, Jeff Anderson, says the Vatican has been negligent. “What we want the Vatican to do is step up to disgorge the secrets that they have in their files,” he told the BBC.


    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/8638798.stm

  9. Cardinal praised bishop’s silence over abuse priest
    BBC online reports:

    The Vatican has confirmed the authenticity of a letter in which a cardinal praised a French bishop for not denouncing a paedophile priest.

    The letter, originally published in the French press, was written in 2001 by Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, then in charge of clergy around the world.

    A Vatican spokesman said the letter showed the wisdom of a 2001 decision to centralise the handling of abuse cases.

    The case comes amid a continuing child sex abuse scandal engulfing the Church.

    Allegations of abuse and cover-ups have emerged recently from countries across Europe as well as the US.

    The letter from Cardinal Hoyos was addressed to the bishop of Bayeux-Lisieux in northern France, Pierre Pican.

    Father Pican had just been given a three-month suspended prison sentence for not denouncing Rene Bissey, an abbott who was sentenced to 18 years in prison in 2000 for paedophilia.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/8624763.stm

  10. Vatican defends Pope in paedophile letter row
    The Vatican has defended the Pope against allegations that he was responsible for delaying Church action against a US paedophile priest.

    A spokesman said the claims, which stem from a letter signed by Benedict XVI when he was a senior Vatican official, had been taken out of context.

    AP published a letter, signed by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger in 1985, resisting Stephen Kiesle’s defrocking.

    The Vatican says he was exercising due caution before sacking the priest.

    A leading British Catholic commentator said the issue had exposed an ongoing power struggle between senior Vatican cardinals that started during the papacy of Pope Benedict’s predecessor, John Paul II.

    Series of scandals

    In the letter, Cardinal Ratzinger – who was at the time the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which has responsibility for tackling abuse by clerics – said the “good of the universal Church” needed to be considered in any defrocking, AP reported.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/8612787.stm

  11. Valentinus: the defender against priesthood
    What Valentinus could not succeed in achieving fell on the shoulders of Martin Luther 1300 years later.

    The main nemesis of Valentinus were Irenaeus and Tertullian, whose success spelled the political failure for Valentinus and formation of the Church hierarchy, that gathered momentum a hundred or so years later with the conversion of Constantine.

    See my knol about Valentinus:

    http://knol.google.com/k/zia-shah/valentinus-the-defender-against/1qhnnhcumbuyp/163#

  12. Does Catholic celibacy contribute to child sex abuse?
    With the Roman Catholic Church facing a series of paedophilia scandals, some observers have begun to ask whether the tradition of celibacy in the priesthood has contributed to child abuse. The BBC’s Paul Henley raises the question with Catholics in Cologne.

    In Pope Benedict XVI’s home country, Germany, the Catholic Church could have hoped for a better Easter in terms of public relations.

    While the media deal, nearly daily, with fresh allegations of priests sexually abusing children, opinion polls published by Stern magazine suggest almost a fifth of German Catholics have considered leaving the Church because of the abuse scandal and only 17% of Germans now trust the Church as an institution.

    Typical of the kind of comment Catholic leaders would have preferred not to have faced,was a contribution to a recent ZDF television discussion programme by Professor Klaus Beier, head of the Institute of Sexology and Sexual Medicine at Berlin’s Charite Hospital.

    “If you are already struggling with a conflicted sexuality, including paedophile tendencies, then it is attractive to become part of an institution that obliges you to be celibate,” he said.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/8604800.stm

  13. History of Celibacy according to Encyclopedia of Catholic Church
    In the history of clerical celibacy conciliar legislation marks the second period during which the law took definite shape both in the East and in the West. The earliest enactment on the subject is that of the Spanish Council of Elvira (between 295 and 302) in canon xxxiii. It imposes celibacy upon the three higher orders of the clergy, bishops, priests, and deacons. If they continue to live with their wives and beget children after their ordination they are to be deposed. This would seem to have been the beginning of the divergence in this matter between East and West. If we may trust the account of Socrates, just quoted, an attempt was made at the Council of Nicaea, (perhaps by Bishop Osius who had also sat at Elvira) to impose a law similar to that passed in the Spanish council. But Paphnutius, as we have seen, argued against it, and the Fathers of Nicaea were content with the prohibition expressed in the third canon which forbade mulieres subintroductas. No bishop, priest, or deacon was to have any woman living in the house with him, unless it were his mother, sister, or aunt, or at any rate persons against whom no suspicion could lodge. But the account of Socrates at the same time shows that marriage on the part of those who were already bishops or priests was not contemplated; in fact, that it was assumed to be contrary to the tradition of the Church. This is again what we learn from the Council of Ancyra in Galatia, in 314 (canon x), and of Neo-Caesarea in Cappadocia, in 315 (canon i). The latter canon absolutely forbids a priest to contract a new marriage under the pain of deposition; the former forbids even a deacon to contract marriage, if at the moment of his ordination he made no reservation as to celibacy. Supposing, however, that he protested at the time that a celibate life was above his strength, the decrees of Ancyra allow him to marry subsequently, as having tacitly received the permission of the ordaining bishop. There is nothing here which of itself forbids even a bishop to retain his wife, if he were married before ordination. In this respect the law, as observed in the Eastern Churches, was drawn gradually tighter. Justinian’s Code of Civil Law would not allow anyone who had children or even nephews to be consecrated bishop, for fear that natural affection should warp his judgment. The Apostolic Constitutions (c. 400), which formed the principal factor of the church law of the East, are not particularly rigid on the point of celibacy, but whether through imperial influence or not the Council of Trullo, in 692, finally adopted a somewhat stricter view. Celibacy in a bishop became a matter of precept. If he were previously married, he had at once to separate from his wife upon his consecration. On the other hand, this council, while forbidding priests, deacons, and subdeacons to take a wife after ordination, asserts in emphatic terms their right and duty to continue in conjugal relations with the wife to whom they had been wedded previously. This canon (xiii of Trullo) still makes the law for the great majority of the Churches of the East, though some of the Eastern Catholic communions have adopted the Western discipline. In Latin Christendom, however, everything was ripe for a stricter law. We have already spoken of the Council of Elvira, and this does not seem to have been an isolated expression of opinion. “As a rule”, remarks Bishop Wordsworth from his anti-celibate standpoint, “the great writers of the fourth and fifth century pressed celibacy as the more excellent way with an unfair and misleading emphasis which led to the gravest and moral mischief and loss of power in the Church.” (The Ministry of Grace, 1902, p. 223). This, one would think, must be held to relieve the papacy of some of the onus which modern critics would thrust upon it in this matter. Such writers as St. Augustine, St. Ambrose, St. Jerome, St. Hilary, etc., could hardly be described as acting in collusion with the supposed ambitious projects of the Holy See to enslave and denationalize the local clergy. Although it is true that at the close of the fourth century, as we may learn from St. Ambrose (De Officiis, I, l), some married clergy were still to be found, especially in the outlying country districts, many laws then enacted were strong in favour of celibacy. At a Roman council held by Pope Siricius in 386 an edict was passed forbidding priests and deacons to have conjugal intercourse with their wives (Jaffe-Löwenfeld, Regesta, I, 41), and the pope took steps to have the decree enforced in Spain and in other parts of Christendom (Migne, P.L., LVI, 558 and 728). Africa and Gaul, as we learn from the canons of various synods, seem to have been earnest in the same movement, and though we hear of some mitigation of the severity of the ordinance of Elvira, was enforced against transgressors than that if they took back their wives they were declared incapable of promotion to any higher grade, it may fairly be said …

  14. Pope’s preacher compares abuse row to anti-Semitism
    Pope Benedict’s personal preacher has compared criticism of the pontiff and Church over child abuse to “collective violence” suffered by the Jews.

    The Rev Raniero Cantalamessa was speaking at Good Friday prayers in St Peter’s Basilica, attended by the Pope.

    In his sermon, he quoted a Jewish friend as saying the accusations reminded him of the “more shameful aspects of anti-Semitism”.

    His comments angered Jewish groups and those representing abuse victims.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/8601311.stm

  15. Fresh abuse claims in Pope’s former Munich diocese
    March 19, 2010

    Pope Benedict XVI’s former diocese in Germany is facing daily allegations of physical and sexual abuse, the head of its new sex-abuse task force says.

    “It is like a tsunami,” Elke Huemmeler told the Associated Press news agency.

    She said about 120 cases had come to light so far in Munich, about 100 of them at a boarding school run by monks.

    The Roman Catholic Church has been rocked by scandals involving priests in Germany, Switzerland, Ireland, Austria and the Netherlands in recent months.

    Pope Benedict has written a pastoral letter to the Catholics of Ireland, to be read at Sunday Mass, with guidelines on preventing and punishing sexual abuse of children by priests.

    It is unknown if the letter includes an apology.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/8577252.stm

  16. Vatican Declined to Defrock U.S. Priest Who Abused Boys
    By LAURIE GOODSTEIN
    Published: March 24, 2010

    Top Vatican officials — including the future Pope Benedict XVI — did not defrock a priest who molested as many as 200 deaf boys, even though several American bishops repeatedly warned them that failure to act on the matter could embarrass the church, according to church files newly unearthed as part of a lawsuit.

    The internal correspondence from bishops in Wisconsin directly to Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the future pope, shows that while church officials tussled over whether the priest should be dismissed, their highest priority was protecting the church from scandal.

    The documents emerge as Pope Benedict is facing other accusations that he and direct subordinates often did not alert civilian authorities or discipline priests involved in sexual abuse when he served as an archbishop in Germany and as the Vatican’s chief doctrinal enforcer.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/25/world/europe/25vatican.html

  17. Is Celibacy Linked to Pedophilia?
    Jason Berry, author of Lead Us Not Into Temptation: Catholic Priests and the Sexual Abuse of Children, says celibacy can be a cloak of supposed purity that allows unhealthy priests to hide their sexual dysfunction.

    “The problem is that no one in the church in a position of leadership is asking the question, ‘Why? Why are there so many of these cases? Why has celibacy become such a contentious issue?’ ” says Berry.

    Church Sees No Link

    The Catholic Church maintains there is no link between the vow of celibacy and pedophilia. But Eugene Kennedy, a former priest who left the priesthood 25 years ago to get married, says celibacy can aid and abet pedophiles. “For them, celibacy is a wonderful cover,” he says.

    Father Canice Connors, a Franciscan priest who has spent years counseling priests accused of pedophilia, says that making celibacy optional might be a good move.

    http://abcnews.go.com/WNT/story?id=130473&page=1

  18. Cardinal tells pope: Faithful not influenced by ‘gossip’
    April 4, 2010

    (CNN) — In a rare move, a senior cardinal spoke before the pope’s Easter Mass address at the Vatican on Sunday, saying the pontiff maintains the support of Catholics around the world “who do not let themselves be influenced by the gossip.”

    “Today, with you are the cardinals from the Roman Curia, all the bishops and priests around the world,” said Cardinal Angelo Sodano, former Vatican secretary of state and the dean of the College of Cardinals.

    Speaking at the beginning of the Easter Sunday ceremony, Sodano did not specifically mention the sexual abuse scandal that has engulfed the Catholic Church in recent months.

    But his remarks clearly referred to those who have criticized Catholic leaders, including Pope Benedict XVI himself, for not having done much more during his years as a top official.

    http://www.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/europe/04/04/vatican.easter/index.html?iref=allsearch

  19. From BBC online:

    Pope Benedict has accepted the resignation of Gabino Zavala, an auxiliary bishop of Los Angeles, the Vatican said.

    The Archbishop of Los Angeles, Jose Gomez, wrote in a letter to worshippers that Bishop Zavala told him in December that he was the father of two teenage children.

    The children, who are minors, live with their mother in another state.

    Archbishop Gomez said that the archdiocese was offering the family “spiritual care,” as well as funding to help the children with college costs.

    In his letter he described the news as “sad and difficult” and said Bishop Zavala had been living privately and not participating in ministry since resigning.

    Bishop Zavala is 60 and was born in Mexico. He has campaigned against the death penalty and for immigrants’ rights.

    The Vatican did not spell out the reason for Bishop Zavala’s resignation in its statement, but made reference to canon law which allows bishops to step down before normal retirement age if they are ill or unfit for office for some other reason.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-16413105

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