Last week, the Huffington Post published a story about Dr. John Weafer‘s book Thirty-Three Good Men. The book surveys thirty-three Irish priests, both current and former, and examines a number of issues related to life in the priesthood. Recurring themes are celibacy and sexuality.
Weafer, a sociologist, examines the lives of men from different walks of life, choosing priests of “diverse backgrounds, personalities, behaviours and attitudes.” While his findings are not groundbreaking, they do provide a view of the dismal reality for priests resulting from the church’s attitude on celibacy and homosexuality.
Speaking of the isolation a life of celibacy entails, the Irish Independent quotes a
… parish priest, who was ordained in the 1970s, [who] said: “Because of a Church law that is a ‘kind of a deformity’, [priests] now lack the support that other men receive from their wives and families. It is an unnecessarily lonely life.“
The book also recounts the story of a gay priest, “Fr L.” While he later discovered a ‘clerical gay scene in Ireland,” his struggle with mandatory celibacy was compounded by the church’s stance on homosexuality.
[Fr L] was ordained in the 1990s and later ended up sleeping with another priest.
“Although we both vowed it would never happen again, it did and I was really very confused,” he said in the book.
While he has not read the book in question, the Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, concedes that the church’s celibacy requirements can be difficult for priests. Still, he maintains, “I don’t think if people fail that you abolish celibacy.”