Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Father Tom Reese's Prediction for 2019: Catholic Church Will Loosen Celibacy Requirement for Priests — My Response

The series that Religion News Service is now running with predictions of what will happen in the world of religion in 2019 from various religion gurus in the U.S. has a statement by Father Tom Reese entitled "Catholics will loosen up on clerical celibacy — but for real thi …" Father Reese notes the growing shortage of priests in Catholic communities around the world (a problem that has been with the Catholic church for quite some time now), and predicts that there will be a loosening of the requirement that priests vow themselves to celibacy as a way of addressing this crisis.

Here are my reflections on Father Reese's proposal:

There are other ways to imagine the Catholic church than as dominated by a clerical elite — celibate or non-celibate.

There have always been other ways to imagine the Catholic church.

Nothing inherent in its make-up or core doctrine requires the clerical system as the primary way to structure and govern the church's leadership caste.

If the people running the church were serious about wanting to address the crisis of waning numbers of priests, they'd seriously consider ditching the clerical system altogether, not tinkering with it by considering whether to permit priests to marry or not.

The whole clerical system needs to be dismantled, right to the ground, and something more viable and rooted in the gospels and Jesus' words and example built up.

One can dream.

One must dream.

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