While it is not my intention to make anyone angry or hurt anyone’s feelings, especially my Catholic friends, I have something to say about Catholicism.
What I have to share seems evident to me, but no one ever talks about it. Catholicism is another example of the elephant in the room no one acknowledges.
There are four reasons for not discussing Catholicism. 1) There is an unwritten rule in our society suggesting we not talk among ourselves about religion. 2) The Catholic Church has conducted itself in its current manner for hundreds of years, so some think Catholics cannot possibly change tradition. 3) Catholics are taught to accept and obey and not to question the ways and teachings of the Church. 4) There is to be a separation of church and state.
What right do I have to write about the Catholic Church? I was born Catholic and reared in the Catholic tradition including attending catechism classes on Saturdays during all of my youth into my teenage years. Some of my dear friends are Catholic.
The Catholic Church and I parted ways in 1965.
My religious history gives me the benefit of insider knowledge, and I believe it puts me in a position to have an analytical and critical view of Catholicism.
With the above foundation granting me the authority to speak out, I believe most would agree there is too much prejudice, discrimination, hatred, and lack of moral behavior in our world. That being true, I suggest we can benefit by looking into every nook and cranny of our lives and the world to see what changes can be considered to create a better world where equality, fairness, and a high moral standard are the benchmarks of society. One large nook and cranny to be explored is the Catholic Church.
To help improve the Catholic Church, I am willing to volunteer to become the next pope. As pope, I will require only a short period of time to accomplish what needs to be done.
Let us start with the Catholic Church’s centuries-long historical views on marriage. The church declares marriage to be a holy sacrament and then turns around and discriminates against priests and women by refusing to allow priests to marry.
At one time the Catholic Church had no prohibition against allowing priests to marry. In fact, the Church existed a thousand years before taking a stand supporting celibacy. This problematic Catholic Church position occurred in the twelfth century in the year 1139 specifically. From that time forward, priests were forbidden to marry. This rule generated an unintended consequence of heightening the risk and danger for altar boys, Catholic school students of both genders, Catholic nuns, and seminarians studying for the priesthood. While unintended, yet predictable, these victims have been harmed by the results of forced celibacy during the entirety of the past 839 years.
“Celibate priests” is an unnatural lousy idea that has generated countless victims and unnecessarily destroyed some individual Catholic priests. The shame that radiates from the priest celibacy edict has also harmed many good loyal Catholic parishioners all over the world and in doing so disrupted the practice of their faith.
As a result, currently, the Catholic church is plagued with the negative consequences of artificially attempting to control the human sex drive. While the church does not believe in artificial birth control, it does believe in artificial control of the human sex drive. The conflict between these two different concepts makes no sense and ultimately has led to embarrassing and criminal supervisory inaction and coverups.
As pope, I will modernize the Catholic Church by immediately authorizing priests to marry. As pope, I will launch a series of actions designed to help eradicate an environment that allows and promotes sexual abuse including teaching potential victims what is acceptable and what is unacceptable behavior within the Church. In addition and most importantly, we will teach victims and witnesses how to report unacceptable behavior with honor.
These action steps will also help eliminate the problems related to shameful and illegal criminal cover-ups. I see no reason to work a solution to these problems at the typical snail’s pace currently produced by many in the hierarchy of the Catholic Church. Time is running out.
If Catholic men knew they could have a wife and family while serving the Church as a priest, it stands to reason more men would want to study for the priesthood.
No one talks about how the Catholic Church treats women in a prejudicial, discriminatory, and hateful manner, but it takes little investigation before concluding the Church is doing just that.
The Church does not allow women to become priests, which is ridiculous. Back in history, women were ordained. Women are a vast resource for a church currently suffering from staffing shortages. The Church cannot find enough men who are interested in becoming priests. While this problem robs the Church of its maximum effectiveness, 50% of the Church’s resources, women, are blatantly ignored and discriminated against.
Other churches allow women to serve as ordained ministers making equality for women a successful modern 21st-century concept.
If the Church were to wake up and reexamine its traditions, the Church could put itself in position to make some common sense decisions including allowing both men and women to become priests and allowing priests and nuns to marry. The Church would solve a lot of problems, gain a significant increase in talent and be able to lead by example by demonstrating that the Catholic Church treats men and women in a fair, equal, and nondiscriminatory manner.
While some may not wish to talk about the obvious, I think it is time to welcome changes that can bring ethical behavior to the Church and our world at large.
Catholic nuns ought to be able to enjoy equality too by being allowed to marry and have families simultaneously while serving the Church.
The Catholic Church needs to modernize to exemplify ethical and lawful behavior if for no other reason to avoid the possibility of legal prosecution. Time is running out.
The Catholic Church distinguishes between dogma and regulations. The male-only priesthood is a Catholic dogma, purportedly irreversible by papal decree. In spite of that position, the marriage of priests has been turned on and off throughout the entire history of the Catholic Church. There has to be a way to save innocent Catholic school children, alter boys, Catholic nuns, and Catholic seminarians from the harm that has become so obvious in today’s instant news communication world.
As the next pope, I promise changes will be made bringing the Catholic Church into the 21st century. In doing so, the suggested changes will improve and strengthen the Catholic Church.
While I have expressed a willingness to volunteer as the Catholic Church’s next pope, I need to double check with Rome to make sure the Catholic Church has not excommunicated me from the flock thereby making me unqualified to serve as pope. Hey, when I check, I will ask Rome what they think about having a woman as pope.
I wish to close with these final thoughts.
In spite of my critical comments and unsolicited problem-solving suggestions, I am eternally grateful to the Catholic Church for gifting to me the high level moral and ethical standards I have used my entire life to guide my personal decision making and behavior.
The purpose of my article is merely to ask the Catholic Church to practice what it teaches and preaches.
The priests and nuns I personally knew growing up were terrific people and excellent servants of the church and mankind.
Mary Hammond says
Excellent column, Joe. One of my two sisters-in-law (I think you’ve met her) was a nun until the mid-1960s, when she (and many of her sisters) decided they could continue to do their good works — teaching, in her case — outside the convent, in combination with marriage and children. She has shared thoughts very similar to yours.
Joseph Boyle says
Thank you for your real-life connected observation and comment.
Fred Willis says
The door is open to discuss the criminal conduct and lack of ethics of Islam.
Joan Campion says
Your observations and comments are well founded. I too knew of 2 who left, the Priesthood and Brotherhood, for those and other reasons. I parted ways with the church later than I would have liked to so not to upset my husband who was a lifelong Catholic and his past experiences within the church from his school days caught up with him the week of his death. While traumatic to watch him go through what I would call an exorcism for lack of a better term, which when over he was at peace after loudly calling on Jesus to help him . My gripe was that it was an inflated bureaucracy with no real connection to reality of the people it supposedly served. It did come out of the dark ages, barely, but the man made call for celibacy was not what God called for.
Great article! You know how I feel about the Church.
Which is it, Pope Joseph or Governor Boyle?
Joseph Boyle says
One sharp-eyed local lifelong Catholic lady, who is a dear friend of mine, challenged my statement, “The male-only priesthood is a Catholic dogma, purportedly irreversible by papal decree.”
She told me my statement was not accurate. When I wrote this article, my source for the dogma statement was study and research. My comment about dogma and regulation did not come from my personal experience or knowledge.
After conducting some additional research I found information supporting my friends suggestion that celibate priests is not the product of dogma. Thus my research provided conflicting answers to the dogma issue.
I hope she is right and I am wrong because if that is the case, the Catholic Church should find it easier to do the right thing and in doing so the Church will become more attractive to more potential parishioners, make for a stronger church, and will become an instrument for making our world a better place.