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Big News: Catholic Priests, Condoms & Gay Sex

Big News – Ageing Catholic Priests, Condoms And Gay Sex

The Catholic priesthood is dying – literally. It is estimated that by 2005, the priesthood in the UK will be cut in half due to priests dying and not being replaced. In Wellington, where I live, there are 48 Catholic parishes. Six parishes are cared for by religious orders, with the remaining 42 staffed by 58 diocesan priests. So far so good – until you realise that half the priests are over 65 and will retire in ten years if they don’t die beforehand. What’s worse, if religious orders maintain their presence and priests are only lost through retirement at 75, then in 2010 there will be 33 priests for 42 parishes and just 12 will be under 65. Some parishes will be without priests and most priests will be closer to death than the average retirement age of their congregation.

“Let’s encourage young men to be priests, boost up the numbers, and lower the average age!” they cry. But many men don’t want to, and here’s why: priests are not allowed to marry, have sex, nor are they supposed to have a romantic relationship. The Catholic Church ordains only celibate men as priests, citing Jesus’ choice of men as apostles. Women are out, but apparently gays are in, so long as they stay in and don’t “come out” until well after ordination.

Although fewer priests are joining the priesthood, many of those who do join have had all their sex beforehand, some raising families, some just having fun – or so it may seem. Not all priests are virgin priests – in fact some priests lose their virginity in the priesthood – some as a result of a little gay sex, maybe?

A recent US survey of 3000 American priests conducted by the Kansas City Star revealed that 15 percent of them were gay, implying they were not celibate, and priests were dying of AIDS at a much higher rate than the average US population. Of course they are more likely to get infected – they are not allowed to use condoms, they’re not “ethically permissible” – but then again they are not supposed to be having sex either, let alone gay sex!

Some priests gained a bit of public exposure when media reports revealed that they were raping nuns to avoid getting infections through prostitutes. Nuns were considered “safer”. However one unfortunate priest failed to wear a condom and impregnated a nun. So he told her to have an abortion. She did and he arranged it. Then that priest had the audacity to arrange and preside over the funeral of the aborted child. Sex, condoms and abortion – the trinity of Catholic priestly sin – all done by the same priest. It makes you wonder what is the lesser of the two evils – condoms or abortion.

The Vatican isn’t doing much about it except admitting it and bemoaning the fact that the priesthood is shrinking, with young people leaving the church in droves. But it is these young men that they hope will replace deceased priests and many who have left the clergy. Incidentally, the Vatican released a statement this month saying that 20 percent of priests who leave the ministry eventually return to full service – without a scrap of evidence.

In the US, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia are splashing out NZ$250 000 for an advertising recruitment campaign through cable TV. Ordinations have dropped 42 percent since 1975, while the Catholic population in the US has increased 23 percent. They need more priests. The “Philadelphia Priest Call” has the slogan of “ordinary men called to do extraordinary work”, but the emphasis of their stories was on the extraordinary.

“I climbed Mt Kilimanjaro in Africa,” says one. “I sold Japanese cars to American soldiers in Germany,” said another about his pre-ordination life. “I’m having gay sex in San Franscisco,” was the statement one priest did not say about his post-ordination life.

The weird thing is that the priesthood actually increased by 383 in 1999, according to data recently made public at the Annuario Pontificio 2001 – but the Catholic population also increased – by 16 million. I wonder how many of them go to church? I also wonder how rapidly the priesthood has decreased sine 1999.

The Vatican is worried about the priesthood plunge, but say it is not a crisis – yet. However they did say it is time for “lay people to be involved”. Time? If the priestly attrition rate carries on at the current rate, it won’t just be time, it will be essential.

What the Vatican should have said was that it is time that their priestly celibacy rule was relaxed, allowing priests to marry and raise families as God created them to. They may just get a few younger priests, lowering the average age of priests below the average retirement age of the rest of the populace.

It’ not over yet – more about church unity next week - G’bye.

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