The Catholic Church has always required celibacy for its priests. It’s an absurd rule to deprive people of sex in exchange for admission into the brotherhood, and it’s one argument for why the number of priests isn’t as high as it could be. Other religions allow leaders to have families and a life outside church walls. The Catholic Church doesn’t.
But even priests break the vow of celibacy.
Michael Rezendes of The Boston Globe‘s Spotlight Team (yeah, that one) just published an incredible story of children whose fathers were fathers.
Their exact number can’t be known, but with more than 400,000 priests worldwide, many of them inconstant in their promise of celibacy, the potential for unplanned children is vast. And this also comes through loud and plain: The sons and daughters of priests often grow up without the love and support of their fathers, and are often pressured or shamed into keeping the existence of the relationship a secret. They are the unfortunate victims of a church that has, for nearly 900 years, forbidden priests to marry or have sex, but has never set rules for what priests or bishops must do when a clergyman fathers a child.
The stories are heartbreaking, in part because some of the priests have children only to walk out of their lives, back into the Church.
Maybe the saddest passage was a promise made by some of the priest-daddies:
… others consoled the women with assurances that it was only a matter of time before the church dropped the celibacy requirement, which pope after pope, including Francis, has declined to do.
The Church isn’t going to come to its senses anytime soon. Not on something like this. Which means many of these kids are growing up without a father for the sole reason that the Catholic Church forbids it.
Remember that the next time Catholic leaders argue against marriage equality or that their adoption agencies won’t work with same-sex parents. They’re hypocrites on the issue and the Church is nothing if not a control on people’s sex lives.
I doubt anything will change unless a mass of Catholics are willing to leave their churches over these policies. But if they haven’t done it up to this point, why would they start now?
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