Last Updated on 2020-01-14 by Joop Beris

It would be funny if it weren’t for the many Roman Catholics who take this seriously. Apparently, retired Pope Benedict has gotten his panties in a twist over plans of his successor, Pope Francis to maybe relax the rules concerning priestly celibacy. So what exactly is going on?

In some parts of the Amazon, the Roman Catholic Church can’t find enough priests. Personally I think this is a good thing because the fewer priests there are, the better. To get around the shortage, South American bishops proposed to allow older, married men to be ordained. Pope Francis may allow this relaxation of priestly celibacy. So current Pope says “maybe” while former Pope says “no”.


Mandatory celibacy for priests has been around for some 900 years. It was established at the Second Lateran Council in 1139 CE. That’s a long tradition to break with but we shouldn’t forget that priests can marry in many other churches, like The Eastern Orthodox Churches or most Protestant denominations. Isn’t Christian consistency a lovely thing?

So we have two elderly men wearing dresses who disagree about if other men wearing dresses should be allowed to marry. Like I said: it would be funny if people didn’t take this stuff seriously.

I can’t help wonder how this relates to the dogma of Papal infallibility. Francis, the current Pope, is supposedly incapable of making an error but the same was once true of Benedict. Is this a case of “unstoppable force meets immovable object”? If the two meet and get into a discussion about this, do they cancel each other out like matter and antimatter? Maybe both of them disappear in a puff of smoke. One can only hope.

It’s ridiculous for a mere mammal to claim infallibility and it’s even more ridiculous that other mammals accept such a claim. The hubris of the one and the gullibility of the other are almost palpable.

I’m also forced to wonder if allowing priests to marry may help the Roman Catholic Church with another problem: the widespread and endemic child abuse. Celibacy is against human nature after all. We are genetically predisposed to pass on our genes and to procreate. Abstaining from sex may have some benefits but there are also negative side effects. We have indications that clerical celibacy contributes to sexual child abuse.

Maybe it’s for the best?

Perhaps though, it’s best if the ban on celibacy stays. The Roman Catholic Church already doesn’t have enough priests and by making the office unattractive to younger men, we may hope that the priest shortage gets worse. So much so that entire parishes will go without priests, meaning less religious nonsense is spread and children are safer. Or maybe Francis and Benedict should settle their differences Mortal Kombat style?


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