success stories

Posted January 24, 2003

Resigned Priests Speak Out
on Celibacy and Human Sexuality

From the Book: The First Five Years of the Priesthood

I think guys need to be challenged more with the celibacy issue. Guys talk about. Joke about it. Priests are guys like anyone else. Some of the young guys that are coming in have no real-life experience and should get some first. They know nothing about sex. How can a guy like this make a commitment to this life he knows nothing about? I think the seminary needs to talk openly about the relationship between celibacy and priesthood. When I was in grade school, I remember the nuns saying to us, "You don't need to worry about if you are called to priesthood, because if you are, God would never give you the call to the priesthood, without giving you the call to celibacy too."

What does that mean? I don't know, but that's our modus operandi still: we don't need to discuss it, because if you have a call to the priesthood you have a call to celibacy. And I think that the Church needs to be realistic with guys in the seminary and say, "You know what? It is perfectly all right for you to feel absolutely called to the priesthood and not feel called to celibacy. There's nothing wrong with that. It's absolutely fine. We're not going to let you be a priest, but it's absolutely fine. There's no problem with that." Be that clear. Now we have the presumption that you are called to the priesthood and also want to live celi bately. Nobody ever talks about, "Do you really want to live celibacy? What does it mean?"

There's a lot of talk at the spiritual level about intimacy, intimacy with other people. It's not wrong. It's absolutely correct. You have to have that intimacy with God and intimacy with other people. But marriage and intimacy with a single person is totally different from any of that. With all due respect, the guys that are doing the talking about it have no idea.

There is a lot of emotional garbage when you really get intimate with a person and have to deal with that person. As a priest you can avoid that so easily. You have all the intimacy you want on your terms without having to deal with your own stuff.

Another Resigned Priest Comments

Experience in a seminary can be very different than the experience in a parish. That is, a lot of my affective needs were met in a seminary, especially in our seminary, which was related to a university, where you are meeting lots of people and engaged in lots of different things.

There were women my age in my classes that were friends, that met some of my affective needs for relationships with women. Then I get into a parish that is mostly elderly people and a few younger people, and those needs weren't met. The experience was very different for me. In seminary I think I could have done celibacy for another decade. But in the parish, I was dying on the vine. We must help guys have an experience somehow, somewhere, of real parish life for a couple of years where they are working in a parish, if that's at all possible.