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More Voices: Should Priests Be Allowed to Marry?

Sunday, November 7, 2004;

Yes, I feel that priests need to be able to marry. These men are only human, and allowing them to marry woul probably eliminate the number of cases of child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. Although a large number of cases have come to light, you never know how many others have not.

Rosemary Clements
Washington, D.C.

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Definitely. It would avoid some of the damage caused by a cadre of individuals with emotionally stunted development regarding their relations with others, many of whom feel called to the priesthood. Further, why would a couple experiencing marital difficulties seek counseling from a man who has never been in a committed loving relationship and has, at best, a very limited idea of what goes on in such a relationship?

Geoffrey Cant
Upper Marlboro

Absolutely. But you should hear what my fellow Catholics say. When a student in my kid's religion class asked this question, the teacher said, "Because a family would be a distraction to him."

A family is a nuisance commitment? I thought we Catholics were pro-family. Others say a priest's work is too demanding to be a good husband and father. Ask the wife of a President, a CEO, a surgeon, an airline pilot, a superintendent, a coach, a principal, a teacher, a fireman, a farmer. Is it tough to be a good spouse and parent when you have a demanding role outside your family? You bet it is! And wouldn't all our bosses like us to be single and available 24/7, free to travel and relocate on a moment's notice? Mine said so right after I announced my first child would come in six months.

Being a priest or minister is a special vocation, yes, but exactly one that would benefit from the support of a wife and family. Don't undervalue the strength derived from having someone to come home and whine to, play cribbage with, and even play footsy with.

What do you get when you take our most gentle and learned scholars out of the gene pool for a few hundred years? Maybe all you get is a bunch of self-serving warmongers. Wouldn't it be great if the Church let them have families and lead by example; we could use a few more good ones.

We raise our kids to value intimacy and mature relationships; why can't the Church do the same for its priestly kids?

Eileen O'Brien
Beltsville

From what I've heard, the history of priests not marring had more to do with the division of assets upon death, and the church's unwillingness to assume responsibility for spouses and offspring in the event of death. I think that marriage is sacred in God's eyes and therefore should be allowed by anyone who finds love. There is nothing in the Bible that says priests shouldn't marry. No matter what the purpose for such a rule, the fact is that it's a man-made rule, not a mandate from God. Marriage takes nothing from serving God. If anything, it gives you a support system, and also takes away some of the inclination to sin that people become susceptible to when not married and committed to a partner.

Capris Barnes
Capitol Heights

Sexuality is a gift from God that should be cherished in the sanctity of marriage. The decision to enter the priesthood does not eliminate one's sexuality or desire for intimacy. Merely forbidding the practice of sexual intercourse does not eliminate the desire for physical intimacy. Despite the Church's reluctance to talk honestly about sexuality, sexual abuse has run rampant in the Church for decades. It's time that men who want to serve the Lord be given the opportunity to live in a normal, healthy, marital relationship where they can explore their sexuality and minister to fellow Catholics about the struggles and temptations of sexual behavior outside of marriage.

Kim Neely
Takoma Park, Md.

I actually view total abstinence as unnatural. God intended men to marry and I have seen noting in the Bible that requires a man to remain celibate in order to prove their faith in and their love of God. I believe that a lifetime of abstinence causes sexual feelings to be suppressed, resulting in behavior that is abnormal. Roman Catholic priests should be allowed to marry. There is nothing more natural than a good sexual relationship.

Maudese Jeffries
Silver Spring

Roman Catholic priests should be allowed to marry. Mankind is not designed to be celibate and, according to the Bible, was told to go forth and multiply. Anyone counseling people on relationship issues should speak with the voice of experience, not parrot what books tell them. Look back through history at the number of children born to the mistresses of priests. Obviously the command to live a celibate life is not working. Look at the number of people coming forward today who claim to have been molested by priests or nuns. Would those priests or nuns, if allowed a relationship with a spouse or partner, been so easily tempted into committing moral and physical crimes against vulnerable children?

Lisa A. Sokol
Washington, D.C.

Though I'm not Catholic, this has always been one of the most confusing parts of the Catholic Church. Would not priests be better able to help married couples if they could marry themselves? The Church seems set on confusing its members, since even priests cannot achieve all the sacraments, being unable to marry. This is ridiculous.

Alex Brick
Potomac


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