Thursday, February 16, 2012

Deadly Forced Celibacy

As tho the seemingly unending series of reports of Catholic priests molesting children weren't evidence enough of mandated celibacy's damage, now comes the tragedy of two Catholic priests from south Bogotá killed last year in an apparent robbery.

But now investigators say the killings were actually a suicide pact, in which the priests had paid their killers and an intermediary 15 million pesos for the double shooting.

The two long-time companions were evidently gay - El Tiempo reports that they were seen frequently in Chapinero gay bars - and one of them was suffering from AIDS and syphillis, diseases to which priests supposedly should not be vulnerable.

One of the priests also reportedly had been accused of sexual harassment.

It's hard not to imagine that if these men had not been forced to hide their sexuality from society and, presumably, their church, as well as live a lie about their celibacy, they could have resolved their troubles in healthier manner.

I read a letter in El Tiempo lamenting how these men failed the church. But after their deaths members of their congregations praised their services as priests. Perhaps it was rather the church which failed them by imposing unnatural and inhumane requirements on them.

Clerical celibacy in the Catholic Church developed only after the 11th century, and was formalized into canonical law only in 1917, according to Wikipedia. If Catholicism survived so long without requiring celibacy, then ending the rule would likely not harm the religion. In fact, ending the celibacy rule could resolve the global shortage of Catholic priests, which has contributed to the religion's decline relative to Protestant faiths whose ministers can marry.  

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

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