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Letter to the Editor: Celibacy is Misunderstood & a Handy Scapegoat

Letter to the Editor
The Catholic Standard, October 25, 1990

It’s interesting to note that whenever there is a lament about the lack of vocations to the priesthood or when a priest falls from grace (there but for the grace of God…) the cause is attributed to celibacy. The subtle meaning given to celibacy is that it is a negative promise not to do something.

On the contrary, celibacy is a gift, God’s invitation to give oneself as much as possible to God and His work by sacrificing some joys of married life to which God invites others.

But if celibacy is the solution to the problems, a recent study and book by Lloyd Rediger, who is an experienced Presbyterian minister and counselor for 19years, should give pause to the one with the quick solution to the problem.

Focusing on Protestant clergy who are married, he notes that 75 percent of them function “well”; 10 percent of the clergy are guilty of misconduct; 15 percent are on the verge – this, for various reasons: lack of discipline, theology in disarray and the milieu of society in which they have to work.

It is also estimated that between 10 percent and 12 percent of the caring professions, medicine, social work, psychology, etc., are guilty of sexual misconduct.

Deplorably, anywhere from 50 percent to 54 percent of marriages today end in divorce despite all our efforts, and 84 percent of second-time-around marriages are failures. I know of one seminary head who is dealing with 60 priests who thought that attempted marriage was the answer for them but now wish to return to the priestly ministry.
Please pray for vocations and for those who are asked to make the sacrifice it takes to answer the Lord’s call.

 Msgr. William J. Awalt
Pastor, St. Ann’s Parish
Washington

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