Saturday, 21 January 2012

opinion

Alain de Botton, writing in the Comment is free belief section of The Guardian asks Should art really be for its own sake alone? “If art museums are the new churches, perhaps they should end the veneration of ambiguity and start serving our inner needs.”

Also at Comment is free belief Diarmaid MacCulloch writes that Compulsory celibacy is wrong and damaging for all clergy – straight or gay. “Not everyone called to the priesthood is also called to celibacy.”

Giles Fraser writes in the Church Times that A regiment forms a moral soldier.

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 21 January 2012 at 11:00am GMT | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Opinion
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What a lovely, insightful & challenging article by Professor (Sir) Diarmaid McCulloch on clerical celibacy. Having been at the sharp end of the hypocritical stance of the Church of England on the subject of Gay Clergy, Diarmaid is well equipped to speak on the problem of sexual discrimination in the Church.

His reasoned argument asking for a review of the official attitude towards Gay Clergy, so that the current impasse on the ordination of faithful, monogamous and partnered Gay Clergy may proceed, ought to be welcomed by both bishops and intentional clergy.

Once this culture of hypocrisy is put to death, together with that existing on the status of women in the Church; there might be a renewed vigour in the Church for the propagation of the Gospel, which is what we're here for.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Sunday, 22 January 2012 at 3:04am GMT

According to Diarmaid MacCulloch, the imposition of clerical celibacy in the Church of Rome has resulted in 'efforts at emotional compensation through irresponsible exercise of clerical power and unprincipled sexual activity'. He needs to be more specific.

If he doesn't mean to suggest that the rule of celibacy has resulted in the sexual abuse of minors, he should say so. If he does, it would be interesting to take a straw poll of those who comment here who believe that a *causal* link exists between the rule of celibacy (that exists in several holy orders that we acknowledge) and the incidence of sexual abuse.

Rhetoric aside, I also wonder at his declaration regarding Issues in Human Sexuality: 'which bishops today treat with more reverence than they do the Thirty-Nine Articles'.

I would have actually preferred his own 'article' to be based more on truth than hyperbole.

Posted by: David Shepherd on Sunday, 22 January 2012 at 2:23pm GMT

David
"If he does, it would be interesting to take a straw poll of those who comment here who believe that a *causal* link exists between the rule of celibacy (that exists in several holy orders that we acknowledge) and the incidence of sexual abuse."

I'll take the bait.
I don't think that enforced celibacy encourages or creates abusers, but I do believe that people who have a less healthy attitude to their own sexuality can be drawn into a profession that appears to protect them from themselves or that protects others from them.
Sadly for everyone, the reality is that there is very little actual protection as people are not encouraged to confront their own difficulties and to work through them but to cover them up with the sheen of respectable celibacy.

There has to be a reason that in percentage terms more abusers are found among priests than about any other profession.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Sunday, 22 January 2012 at 4:34pm GMT

It wonder if Giles Fraser has had his critical faculties dulled by too close an involvement with the Army, his praise of "stories of former glory and oil paintings in the mess" make me wonder if he has been captured.

He argues that in the formation of a properly moral soldier it is the community of his regiment "with its traditions and practices — its pride and self-understanding. . . . . that is the moral context for decision-making."

But the regimental community will only make a moral soldier if the regiment is itself moral, and that is not a given.

The Baha Mousa enquiry "http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-14825889" tells of a regiment in which the soldiers committed awful abuse on Iraqi prisoners, including one death, but the Regimental Officers looked the other way. When police enquiries started those regimental members who knew about the abuse protected the honour of the regiment by keeping silent and refusing to tell what they had seen. In this case the Regimental system was not a force for moral good.

Giles Fraser ends his piece with "Morality is much more than the law." Agreed. But when looking at Iraqi abuse the Regiment was not a force for moral good, and it was the law, wielded by a few persistent solicitors against the might of the Army and the Government that held the day.

The Regiment fought the law, and the law won.

Simon

Posted by: Simon Dawson on Sunday, 22 January 2012 at 5:42pm GMT

David S: I think Diarmaid MacC was being more subtle than the position you ascribe to him here. The irresponsible exercise of clerical power (and also unprincipled sexual activity) engaged in by RC clergy is not just about child abuse, but a whole unhealthy celibate clerical culture, similar to that which we gay Anglicans are now having commended to us, nay laid down for us, by our high-ups!

Posted by: Fr Mark on Sunday, 22 January 2012 at 5:59pm GMT

@David Shepherd: Prof MacCulloch's comment that Issues in Human Sexuality is treated with greater reverence than the 39 Articles is entirely reasonable. At no point in the current ordination selection process is it expected that candidates will have discussed the 39 Articles (or indeed any other of the historic formularies of the Church of England) with their DDO. It is, however, explicitly required that a conversation will be held concerning 'Issues in Human Sexuality'.

Posted by: Hannah on Sunday, 22 January 2012 at 9:25pm GMT

"I would have actually preferred his own 'article' to be based more on truth than hyperbole." - David Shepherd -

I guess in this - as well as many other situations - one man's 'truth' can be another man's 'hyperbole'. Considering the story of Diarmaid's treatment at the hands of the Church - which he actually did experience - is a pretty good basis for the truth of his article.

Simply because we disagree with someone else, it doesn't mean, necessarily, that that person is engaging in hyperbole. There is such a thing as 'a different point of view'. I believe Diarmaid's version.

Posted by: Father ron smith on Sunday, 22 January 2012 at 9:57pm GMT

Just to be clear: I was surprised that the attempt to link between celibacy with 'unprincipled sexual activity' in the Roman Catholic Church would find favour amongst Thinking Anglicans.

Although the actual word 'abuse' was introduced by way of my own question regarding the interpretation of 'unprincipled sexual activity' among Roman clergy, perhaps, Diarmaid MacCulloch meant something else by it. I'm open to alternative suggestions.

Posted by: David Shepherd on Monday, 23 January 2012 at 9:16am GMT

Father Ron, as Dcn MacCulloch was knighted after his ordination, I believe he does not take the honorific.

I don't think it's going out on too much of limb to say that the culture of the closet fosters the kind of perpetual adolescence that is associated with pædophilia.

Posted by: Geoff on Monday, 23 January 2012 at 6:06pm GMT

If Prof MacCullough were a Roman Catholic living in the US and wrote that article he'd be denied communion before he could turn around twice.

Posted by: Daniel Berry, NYC on Monday, 23 January 2012 at 11:04pm GMT

"There has to be a reason that in percentage terms more abusers are found among priests than about any other profession."

This is a completely inaccuarate statement - I must challenge you to support your comments with some evidence. What statistics are you referring to?

Posted by: William on Monday, 23 January 2012 at 11:14pm GMT

"I don't think it's going out on too much of limb to say that the culture of the closet fosters the kind of perpetual adolescence that is associated with pædophilia." - Geoff, on Monday -

Geoff., I do hope you are not trying to perpetuate the often-held myth that paedophilia is concomitant with homosexuality. They are two rather different phenomena. For instance, Paedophilia is open to predation upon both sexes of children. Whereas the 'closetted' gay person is rarely attracted to children.

Paedophilia may be an illness; whereas homosexuality is a neutral condition.

Posted by: Father ron smith on Tuesday, 24 January 2012 at 12:42am GMT

William
I have read this statement in a report, either in The Times or in the Sunday Time recently and also in a German newspaper that published actual statistics.
I don't have the time at the moment to search the archives for back copies to give you the precise quotes but I will do as soon as I can.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Tuesday, 24 January 2012 at 8:03am GMT

William,
I spent a few minutes trying to find the references but I really haven't got the time to do this properly and it's more complicated to find them than I thought.

So for now I'll retract that statement.

Should I find the references and should the topic come up here again (or the thread still be live when I get round to it), I'll come back to it.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Tuesday, 24 January 2012 at 11:54am GMT

Concomitant phenomena are not necessarily causal, so there is no evidence that links mandatory celibacy to whatever is defined as 'unprincipled sexual activity'.

It is the intoxicating mix of connivance, relative freedom from critical scrutiny and a well-documented history of self-serving solidarity and impunity that attracts those already predisposed to abuse authority: 'because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil' (Eccl. 8:11)

Posted by: David Shepherd on Tuesday, 24 January 2012 at 6:45pm GMT
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