Edit: noting the increasingly and unsurprising hostility of the Telegraph in recent times is interesting, especially in reading Damian Thompson’s diatribe against priestly celibacy. The boyish, single and industrious editor is now insisting that something which has worked for centuries no longer works. Like the most annoying heathen media personality, he’s taking a very censorious tone indeed.
We’ve noted earlier that he’s been slyly pushing the envelope on the Gomorrah front for a while. Did Damian Thompson receive Holy Orders recently?
Thompson insists that having a married clergy was an ancient tradition of the Church, but what he fails to note is that clerical celibacy is of Apostolic origin, as Cardinal Levada himself insists. Indeed, the Apostles, though married, took up their staffs and followed Christ, leaving their families behind.
Yesterday, Cardinal O’Brien was in the headlines for a different reason. He has been reported to the Vatican for alleged “inappropriate acts” with three priests and one ex-priest of his diocese. The papal ambassador to Britain, Archbishop Antonio Mennini, has forwarded the allegations to Rome.
It’s important to say that the Cardinal has not been charged with an offence. But the juxtaposition of these allegations with his claim that universal celibacy is an unrealistic ideal illustrates the sexual tension that is pulling apart the Catholic priesthood. To put it bluntly, the new Pope must confront the suffocating hypocrisy of the Vatican and Bishops’ Conferences on this subject.
For example, I’ve never heard a bishop acknowledge what is obvious to so many of us: that in certain large cities in the Western world, a majority of Catholic priests are gay, albeit celibate.If the Vatican were to enforce its current ruling that homosexuals per se are unsuitable for the priesthood, then it would have innumerable empty urban churches on its hands. And furious parishioners, too, since discreetly gay men often make wonderful priests. On the other hand, you don’t have to be a homophobe to wonder whether it’s healthy to have such an imbalance between the sexual instincts of priests and their flocks.