The requirement of celibacy apparently is not a major concern of Roman Catholic priests in the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis.
In fact, it ranks lowest among six areas that cause priestly anxieties, according to a profile of 241 archdiocesan priests made for the archdiocese.
Sixty percent of the priests reported anxieties due to "confrontations" as the largest area of concern.
Other areas causing anxieties were "loneliness," cited by 32 percent; "sexuality" 28 percent; "overwork" 28 percent; "use of time" 27 percent, and "celibacy" 25 percent.
Extensive testing revealed that priests of the local archdiocese, as a group, are "basically healthy persons," according to a report summarizing the results.
"Varying numbers of the priests in the areas examined, however, show much room for growth. Some appear to be hurting and need to become more attentive to their needs and feelings. The necessity for individuals programs of development for every priest is evident," the report concluded.
According to the report, demands made on priests today are the greatest in history. Priests are expected to be professionally competent in several areas and also to engage people they encounter on a deeply personal level, it was noted.
"Keeping a 'professional distance' is no longer sufficient as it may once have been, for many people no longer accord automatic respect to a man by virtue of his ordination," the report said.
Only the man who embodies the Gospel message of reconciliation and freedom in his personhood and in his relationship with others can mediate the good news to a generation that is suspicious of roles," the report said.
Among other findings were these:
Most of the priests have a well balanced level of self-regard, but almost one-fourth have great difficulty accepting the weaknesses that they see within themselves.
About 10 percent probably are experiencing a great deal of tension and anxiety because they find it difficult to act according to their own values.
A large number of priests have difficulty appreciating real authority. "These men most likely find it easier to adhere to structures and regulations, and, perhaps finally, follow orders rather than examine the situations and decide their actions according to what they feel is right or wrong," teh report said.
Ninety percent indicated they believed that it "is possible to obey all church and civil laws and still be immoral."
Priests are having difficulty being open and sharing with other people. Forty-eight percent indicated that they discuss their spiritual life with a trusted friend only occasionally or less often during the course of a year.
Priests have difficulty integrating the physical into their spiritual lives. Anger and its expression also causes them difficulty.
Priests tend to be too preoccupied with the past or the future to appreciate fully or use effectively the present.
Fifty-nine percent of the priests reported they sometimes have a direct experience of the transcendent in their lives while 22 percent say they frequently have such experiences.