Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Last Sunday Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin ordained a number of deacons at St. Patrick’s Seminary, Maynooth, Ireland and told them not to make seminary life their whole focus but to think of their training in the context of the whole church and a life time of priestly service.
However the problem is that the seminary model for priestly training is seriously flawed and is currently producing young priests who are unbelievably immature, doctrinally right wing and sexually all screwed up!
I keep in contact regularly with a small number of Maynooth seminarians. They tell me that most of their colleagues are forced to pretend to be people that they are not. Many of the seminarians are secretly gay and are involved in sexual relationships with each other and visiting gay venues and cruising areas in Dublin. One seminarian, who is not gay, has been in a three year relationship with a young lady and they are sexually active as a couple. But he has to pretend that he is celibate and is committed to a life of priestly celibacy. But his true intention in to be a good priest on the one hand and continue to have a relationship with his partner. A couple of weeks ago he told me that after his ordination they are planning to have a baby.  His long term hope is that the Catholic Church will change its laws on celibacy so that he can live openly as a married priest.
Forcing people, either “straight” or “gay” to live a double life is a recipe for disaster.
I do not believe that celibacy is a direct cause of paedophilia in the priesthood. However giving people a screwed up theology of sex – as the Catholic Church does – and forcing them to lead double lives has been, in my opinion, a contributory factor to paedophilia.
I know many young and not so young priests in Irish dioceses who feel forced to live double lives. Most of them are gay but some of them are involved with women. From the pulpit they preach Catholic Church teaching on contraception, sex outside marriage and homosexuality but when Mass is over they take off their collars and head for their love nests. Spiritually people who are forced to live like this are spiritual schizophrenics!  In the long term living like this has to lead to psychological and personality difficulties. It also prevents priests developing a healthy and life supporting spirituality.
To sort out these serious issues the Catholic Church will have to address the following issues:
1.     Its whole theology of human sexuality.
2.     Its insistence on every priest being a celibate.
3.     Its requirement that every candidate for priesthood live in a quasi- monastic seminary.
I see no hope of any of these things changing in the near future. And so the Catholic Church will continue to lurch from scandal to scandal and from crisis to crisis. As the old people in Belfast say: “Jesus wept”.
Bishop Pat Buckley

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