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Laocoon

By Diogenes (articles ) | May 29, 2003

Andrew Sullivan on pram-pushing priests:

A parish in Lansing, Michigan, gets a married priest. He is a convert from, well, I don't know, because the church won't say and he has been forbidden to talk to the media. He's not just married: he's been married for 25 years and has three sons. There are, apparently, 200 married priests in the United States, proof that there is no good reason that married men cannot be good Catholic priests. So why continue the mandatory celibacy policy which has led to such a collapse in vocations in our current world, and has successfully selected some of the most sexually-screwed-up people on the planet to be priests? There's no good answer - none, except bloody-mindedness from reactionaries and institutional inertia. Meanwhile, the Church is dying in this country for lack of good priests. And the Vatican would rather see the American church die than ever concede it could change its mind.

No argument with Andrew Sullivan that the priesthood includes some of the most hopelessly crossed-threaded wretches one is ever likely to meet. No disagreement that many married priests are holy men and conscientious pastors (though it's hard to see how their numbers constitute a "proof" of this possibility). Yet one reason for being wary at the married priest proposal is precisely that the Andrew Sullivans are in favor of it. Astute, politically aggressive gays realize there's no theological connection between the discipline of celibacy and the Catholic doctrine on homo-sex that they wish to torpedo; but they understand the huge symbolic impact of a change that -- by terms of the culture wars -- could only be seen as a concession to sexual appetite.

An analogy from another field: as warfare becomes more high-tech in the front lines and more paper-driven in the rear echelons, many tasks performed by the uniformed military can be done as well by women as by men. One could argue, in good faith, that a limited and sensible integration of women in the armed forces was necessary for the good of military efficiency itself. But the people who were out to force VMI to go co-ed were not interested in making the Army better at what armies do, nor is Anna Quindlen's love for the officer corps the motive behind her call for house-cleaning at the Air Force Academy.

I fear the Greeks.

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