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Celibacy and Sexual Abuse

Question: Every day lately there has been something on the news or in the paper about the priests molesting kids. Newsweek has an article about it this week. I went to visit my mom tonight and she just shakes her head and wonders if any of her boys were molested as we were very close to all the priests who lived here throughout the years. And still she wants to remain Catholic like a devout wife married to a bummer.

Answer: Your mother is right not to judge a system on the basis of the abuse by some of its members and leaders. What would you do if some prominent Evangelical or Protestant leaders are exposed as hypocrites and perverts? Would you give up Christianity because of them?

As for the Catholic priests, I really pity them. They have been forced by the Vatican to remain celibate, an unnatural state for many of them.

The Lord Jesus and the apostle Paul speak about some who have been given the gift of celibacy, and these, by the grace of God can lead a fruitful and pure life (Matthew 19:12; 1 Corinthians 7:7,8). However, other ministers have been given the gift of marriage. The apostle Paul was single; the apostle Peter and the other apostles were married. "Do we have no right to take along a believing wife, as do also the other apostles, the brothers of the Lord, and Cephas?" (1 Corinthians 9:5). The Word of God gives liberty to all Christians, including Christian ministers, to choose their marital state.

In the apostolic church, bishops (also known as elders, presbyters and pastors) were generally married. "A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach; not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but gentle, not quarrelsome, not covetous; one who rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence; for if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?" (1 Timothy 3:2-5). At the very least, we can safely conclude that the New Testament allows church leaders to marry.

The Roman Catholic magisterium has the audacity to ignore the Word of God and establish canon laws contrary to the Bible. Yet people continue to trust them as faithful servants of God. The Bible has very strong words against the Catholic magisterium and anyone else who forbids marriage: "Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron, forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth" (1 Timothy 4:1-5).

Priests are men with normal sexual desires, but since they are forbidden to marry, some of them end up expressing their sexuality in perverted ways such as pornography, fornication and homosexuality. (I am not convinced that there is a strong association between paedophilia and celibacy). Obligatory celibacy may not be the direct cause of sexual sin, but it is most likely an important factor contributing to the moral and spiritual fall of many priests.

May God rescue many of them from this evil system, and grant them salvation through simple faith in Jesus Christ, the One and only Priest who offered Himself for the sins of His people and who is ever living to intercede for us. May God also grant them the liberty to enjoy life and His good gifts, including the love of a woman in marriage.

Dr Joseph Mizzi