Thomas Groome was an ordained Catholic priest in the late 1960s — the kind who preached about marriage without ever being married himself — but it wasn’t long before he began thinking seriously about the whole “priests can’t get married” and “you must remain celibate” things… it wasn’t just out of selfishness. He now believes a change to those outdated and unnecessary rules could help the Catholic faith:
I’ve worked at Boston College for 37 years, and I couldn’t count the number of young men across the years — I would literally say hundreds — who have said to me they’d love to be a priest but they don’t want to accept the celibacy requirement. They want to get married, have a family, which is a perfectly natural desire built into us by almighty God. And to be turning away such high-quality young people or to be sending away some of our finest priests because they wanted to marry seemed, at least, problematic.
This, to me, just speaks to the higher problems within the Church — the same ones Pope Francis is fighting against right now. As relatively progressive as he might be, it’s his Catholicism that holds him back from being even more of a force for good.
The Church has the potential to be a great institution (despite it’s illogical beliefs). It could be leading the charge for equal rights. It could be a leadership-churning machine for men and women who want to make a difference. It could be pushing for the application of science to poverty. Instead, it’s unable to budge, a dinosaur stuck in time. It sticks to the concepts of celibacy and bachelorhood for its leaders, both rules that contribute to the child abuse scandals. It refuses to allow women into the ranks of priests and bishops, even though Catholic women would be equally as capable of fulfilling those roles. It lobbies against safe sex and birth control, even in cases when condoms could save lives in third-world countries. It campaigns mercilessly against LGBT rights, plainly contradicting its own self-perceived image as a loving institution.
What Groome is saying makes perfect sense. And yet the Church would never even consider making those changes. It’s too committed to silly traditions to do the right thing. And for that, it’s driving people out of the Church for good.
As bad as I feel for Groome, I’m glad the Church is its own worst enemy. It makes my own goals a lot easier to achieve.