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Mike Koepl wrote:

Interesting site.

I may find answers to questions here, like:

  • Why is Cardinal Law still so rooted in the Church, as to be voting for a new Pope, when he was the center of such a great sex scandal?
  • How do I explain him to my non-Catholic friends?
  • Having seen the History Channel documentary on the Papacy, and knowing it has been rocked by scandal and politics, how do I explain the need for priestly celibacy?


  { How do I explain Cardinal Law voting for a new Pope and how do I explain priestly celibacy? }

Eric replied:

Hi, Mike —

Thanks for the question.

Being a cardinal, and hence being able to vote for the Pope, is a privilege that virtually cannot be revoked. There is no provision to "un appoint" a bishop or cardinal. It would be like stripping a former President of his privileges. It just isn't done.

One question that is useful to ask is, whether Cardinal Law was just a negligent manager, or whether he was malicious in what he did. In other words, was he evil, or just weak? The Church makes a huge distinction between those who are intentionally evil and those who are merely weak or incompetent. However strongly you feel about Cardinal Law, he is not an evil person. He does not deserve to be totally stripped of his priesthood and cast out into the streets without a pension, which is about the only way he could be stripped of his right to elect the Pope.

Remember, the Pope didn't even want to accept his resignation, and only did so at Cardinal Law's insistence. Without a Pope to make a decision concerning him, there is no way that Cardinal Law could be stripped of any rights.

You said:
Having seen the History channel documentary on the Papacy, and knowing it has been rocked by scandal and politics, how do I explain the need for priestly celibacy?

  • What does being rocked by scandal and politics have to do with priestly celibacy?
  • Are married people free of scandal and politics?
  • Is there some way that celibacy makes the Papacy more scandalous or more political?

I'm confused.

Priestly celibacy is a need because we need single-minded men who have totally dedicated their lives to the service of others, to lead the Church. If you knew the life of a Catholic priest, you would see that they have no time whatsoever to dedicate to raising a family (and remember, from a Catholic perspective, to get married, at least to a woman below the age of menopause, is to expect a family). Raising a family takes a lot of time to do right, and is a full-time job. The life of a priest in a typical parish is just too busy to juggle both ministering to a parish and raising a family.

You might argue that if we had more priests, the workload would be lighter, and the priests would have time for their families, but the permanent diaconate has been around for a while. You'd think that if there were a pent-up demand of married men wanting to be clerics, they'd be rushing into the permanent diaconate, but that is just not happening.

Eric Ewanco

Mary Ann replied:

Mike —

First, he is a cardinal. Cardinals are bad and good. Cardinals vote if they are under a certain age. It's sort of like Rostenkowski [a scandalous politician] still voting while being disciplined. I think he should have had the good graces to resign (if that's possible). Also, he has seniority, just as Rostenkowski did. So you see his face. The Church has sinners in it. There are probably a lot of cardinals a lot worse than he is. Praise God that the Holy Spirit will guide them!

Second, the History channel story was not the full story, but institutions reflect the age they serve, and are made up of men from their culture. There have been bad Popes. They prove the point of the guidance of the Holy Spirit in the Life of the Church.

Priestly celibacy is a charism so that a priest might be totally devoted to the Church, as was Christ to the Bride. It is a discipline, not a dogma, and can be changed. Married priests will not, I think, appreciably affect the amount of sexual deviance and misbehavior. To see that, all you have to do is look at the record of married people — how much sex abuse and misbehavior goes on there? Most pedophiles are married, even those who abuse boys. Homosexuals are 12-19 times more likely to be pedophiles than are heterosexuals. (At 2-5 % of the population, they account for 33% of the abuse cases.)

Mary Ann

John replied:

Dan Rostenkowski?

I thought only political junkies, like me, remember him!!

Now let's get down to some business. From my understanding of the facts, most of the sexual abuse was not pedophilia, which is sex with children who are younger than the age of puberty. Hence, I'm sick of hearing about pedophilia:

  • it was abuse
  • it was shameful
  • it was sinful
  • it was predatory
  • but it was, for the most part, not pedophiliac.

Now as to Cardinal Law, I can't help but notice that most of the people I hear complaining about his participation in the conclave, and celebrating one of the Novena Masses, are the same ones praising the Pope for rightly taking a stand against capital punishment. So I find it amusing that these folks think it's terrific to show mercy to murderers, but don't believe in showing mercy to a bad administrator.

I might add that most of these folks are the same ones who support abortion. Hence, they are all a party to mass murder. They are also the same pundits clamoring for the Church to change Her teaching on birth control, which also makes them deviants.

Speaking as one who has always favored a liberalization of the celibacy discipline, I'm sick and tired of people trying to link the sex scandal with celibacy.

Think about the warped logic. According to them, abstinence causes men to become homosexual predators! Well, as a single male who has been celibate for the past 16 years, I resent the implication!! What's more, these are probably the same people who say homosexuality is a genetic condition and not a behavior, so how do they reconcile their positions?

A married clergy is not going to help root out predatory sex practices amongst those who have that inclination. If anything, it will encourage deviants to enter into marriages for the wrong reasons.

Finally, I have to wonder what would have happened if Cardinal Law had driven the deviant priests out of the priesthood, rather than shipping them out to different parishes. These same folks, who continue to vilify him, would have been screaming that he was discriminating against homosexuals.

I'm not defending Law, but I'm fed up with people trying to find a reason to perpetuate Catholic bashing, especially during the Pope's funeral and subsequent period of mourning.

John DiMascio

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