Well that was interesting!

I thought Fr. Sullins acquitted himself very well.  And I was pleased the host actually attempted to deal with the question of “Why is this here in the first place?” He hit, I thought, the right notes in terms of doing due diligence with the NT text (particularly Jesus “eunuch for the kingdom of heaven” remark.) I of course had a lot more to say than I had time for (Wicked tempting question: Why do organs like HuffPo never have roundtables on the issue, ”Has the time come for the Episcopal communion to reinstitute mandatory celibacy?”).

I wish we could have touched on the “O’Brien resignation leads naturally to questioning celibacy” opener.  My reply is three words: “Mary Kay LaTourneau“.  The weird superstition that a male celibate priesthood leads to sexual abuse is countered by the huge amount of sexual abuse in public schools. O that woman could be teachers!  O that teachers could marry!

I was glad we were able to get past Fr. Cutie’s stuff about this being purely about medieval property rights and root it in NT revelation a bit.  (Also, I loved the host calling him on the ridiculous “vow vs. promise” distinction.) I wish I could have asked, “So who pays for a living wage and benefits for Father and family at St. Impecunious parish, where 1/3 of tyhe parish tithes their dollar in the plate each week?

I was surprised that Dr. Manson perceived this as a) sinister “conservatives” agreeing to waive celibacy (all Fr. Sullins and I really did was point out that it is not universal and only a discipline, not assert that it should be abolished) and b) that she somehow formed the conclusion that this was some grand scheme to beef up Catholic ranks with renegade married Episcopalian priests in order to keep out women and homosexuals.  I had no idea I was so devious.

Anyway, as my encounters with secular media always are, this was far too brief a chance to have anything like a really sound discussion and it was scattershot and confusing for most viewers I’d reckon.  But I did the best I could.  Thanks for your prayers!  And thanks to HuffPo for having me on.

UPDATE:  If you want to watch it, it’s here.

  • Harry Piper

    Dude, I missed it! Can I see it on video or was it a one time thing?

  • Will

    It must have been your “pathological altruism”.

  • Al

    That panel was nuts…NCR Feminist, Albert Curie, Female Priests…of course “Teh Gay”…Yale Theology Professor actually using the inference defense that “What is not explicitly mentioned in the Gospel” is okay…..Curie lies that celibacy was implemented because of “Financial Reasons” instead of a discipline that occurred from day one among many clergy and others…than mandated in 11th century

    Too many people on that panel and not enough time to respond to the craziness…and it needed another half an hour.

    Nice Job Mark…too bad you didn’t get more speaking time. I would have enjoyed more of your pithy responses to the assertions in there.

  • Al

    P.S Nice comment about “the Culture’s issues with Virginity being strange has more to do with a problem of the culture than rather the Catholic Church”…that was nice one.

  • Brian

    Nice job, Mark. Marc Lamont Hill was a good host. Very professional and very respectful, which was nice to see. But I agree that there were just too many guests booked for the time allotted. But it was definitely worth tuning in.

    • Katie in FL

      I agree. He is often on Bill O’Reilly’s show, and I think he was a good host for this forum, but it definitely could have been done with 3 guests, preferably ones who are part of the church that the debate is about.

    • Stu

      Concur. He surprised me but too many guests.

    • Claude

      Marc Lamont Hill was terrific. An interesting discussion but too short and too much bad tech.

  • http://remnantofremnant.blogspot.com priest’s wife (@byzcathwife)

    Why does it have to come down to money? Who says that a priest plus family would necessarily cost more? We don’t own a plane like the local monsignor (or even golf clubs- not that priests aren’t allowed to have hobbies) and I do all the secretarial work (and the cooking and cleaning, the girls lead singing….etc etc)- Now, because we are Byzantine Catholic, it is not really my place to comment and I don’t see the Roman-rite changing its tradition, but I think the ‘debate’ should be about tradition, possible moral problems (like divorce, etc), spirituality

    • SpasticHedgehog

      I disagree. It’s a real practical issue that would have to be worked out. The cost of family insurance premiums alone would be substantial.

      Source: I am also a priest’s wife.

  • http://www.google.com Mark

    “I wish I could have asked, “So who pays for a living wage and benefits for Father and family at St. Impecunious parish, where 1/3 of tyhe parish tithes their dollar in the plate each week?”

    Disappointing to see you fall into this nonsense. Thousands of Protestant churches pay their pastors a living wage and even support larger pastoral staffs than your average Catholic parish. Given a choice between “no priest” or “one overworked priest for 2000 families” and “you are going to have to give five bucks more a week to support a priest’s family” I ‘d guess most Catholics would choose the latter.

    Catholics don’t give because they don’t trust where the money is going and don’t want it going to support abusers or pay off lawsuits. Given a clear, transparent destination for their funds, Catholics give, and give generously.

    Mark, you can do better. There ARE married Catholic priests, remember, and with the growth of the Ordinariate, there will be more.

    • http://remnantofremnant.blogspot.com priest’s wife (@byzcathwife)

      True= my parents (Roman-rite) love that they are at a Dominican parish- so their money hasn’t gone to settle abuse lawsuits…they are generous with time and treasure

    • http://a-star-of-hope.blogspot.com JoAnna

      My parish issues a financial statement quarterly and invites parishioners to be on the Parish Finance Council. There’s complete transparency regarding the budget for both the parish and the diocese (and no abuse settlements to pay off of which I am aware) – yet we still struggle to pay the mortgage for our church building, along with other expenses. 80% of registered parishioners don’t regularly tithe, and the anonymous contributions aren’t so much to assume that the 80% just don’t use the envelopes (or pay via automatic withdrawal every week, as we do).

    • Pancho

      “Catholics don’t give because they don’t trust where the money is going and don’t want it going to support abusers or pay off lawsuits.”

      Actually, you can’t blame lawsuits, abusers, and not knowing where the money is going. Catholics have been giving less money for a long time, since long before the scandals broke. Check this out:

      “Using the 1987-1989 General Social Survey and a 1988 Gallup survey we looked at patterns of giving to churches. Conservative Protestants have the highest levels of giving, Catholics the lowest, and mainline Protestants in between.”

      From this report: http://www.purdue.edu/crcs/itemPublications/articles/Hoge-Yang.pdf

    • James H, London

      “Thousands of Protestant churches pay their pastors a living wage and even support larger pastoral staffs than your average Catholic parish.”

      In the first world, yes, but I can’t see a rural South American parish supporting a priest, plus wife and six kids in a manner to which they’re accustomed; and if the priest’s family is supported by the wider church, what will the locals think when those kids live lives visibly more prosperous than anyone else for a day’s walk in any direction? This has been an issue with American Evangelicals planting churches in Latin America – they end up exclusively catering to better-off, urban, lighter-skinned people, and the only Maya or Quechua people ever seen in their churches are the nannies or servants who come to collect their mistress’ kids from the youth group.

    • SouthCoast

      “Thousands of Protestant churches” have had years, decades, and centuries to model their finances and culture around married clergy. Imagine waking up tomorrow and finding that They have moved a wife (or an extra wife) and 4 orf 5 kids into your house overnight!

  • Dale Price

    Ah, Ms. Manson. She’s deathly afraid that married men being ordained would be entirely the wrong kind of married men (e.g., orthodox). Though she says, hey–we’ll leave it open to celibates, too–after listing everybody else.

    http://ncronline.org/blogs/changing-mandatory-celibacy-we-must-be-careful-what-we-wish

    I think she epitomizes your point about “the culture’s issues with virginity being strange has more to do with a problem of the culture than rather the Catholic Church” perfectly. Only weirdos don’t have sex.

    • http://remnantofremnant.blogspot.com priest’s wife (@byzcathwife)

      also very true- liberal types think that I would LOVE womynpriests because my husband is a priest (sorry- no- we have Mass ad orietem, no non-clergy distribution of Eucharist, all singing, etc, etc- just because this is the way that we traditionally celebrate)

    • Mike

      “Only weirdos don’t have sex.” – the motto of our time.

    • Mike

      “Only weirdos don’t have sex.” – the motto of our time.

  • SpasticHedgehog

    “I wish I could have asked, “So who pays for a living wage and benefits for Father and family at St. Impecunious parish, where 1/3 of tyhe parish tithes their dollar in the plate each week?”

    Winner Winner Chicken Dinner, Mark!

    Those that agitate for this change seldom want to pay for it.

  • Terence M. Stanton

    A.M.D.G.

    Great job, Mr. Shea!

  • Katie in FL

    The remarks from the lady who writes for NCR regarding how the modern longer life span makes celibacy more difficult to live with are laughable. Giving up something so precious for the Kingdom of God is something laudable, and it would seem definitely more difficult to adhere to when one is younger, not more difficult as one ages. Holy hormones, Batman!

    • Mark Shea

      Yeah, because everybody knows that a 70 year old is filled with raging hormones.

    • Mike

      Yeah that makes no sense. Maybe lonliness might become an issue but raging hormones, unlikely. Plus I’d argue that that stops being a problem way earlier than we think.

    • Jamie R

      Also most of our gains in life expectancy have been in reduced child mortality. If you lived to 20, you probably lived to 70. I.e., a vow of celibacy was always a vow for a long time.

      • SouthCoast

        I believe you are correct on that one. I’ve been doing genealogy for the past several years, going back, in some cases, more than a millenium. One thing that surprised me early on (other that the appallingly bad behavior of some of my ancestors) is that the accepted “everyone died at 30″ just was not true! (One of the reasons I’m transferring my data into an actual database is so that I can do demographic analyses, e.g., is it a fact, of just a false impression, that my first-generation immigrant ancestors either could not adapt and died relatively early or else thrived to a tough old age?)

    • enness

      As a habitual abstainer, I personally don’t see a difference between 20 years and 200 years. It has not gotten more difficult. If anything, simple inertia means that it is getting easier.

  • http://remnantofremnant.blogspot.com priest’s wife (@byzcathwife)

    A return to a strong monastic mindset and spirituality would be of great benefit to celibate clergy

    • http://www.google.com Mark

      Thank you so much for your valuable contributions here and at your own blog, Byzcathwife!

    • Mike

      I don’t know I am married but sometimes I swear I think life might be easier actually if I were alone. Don’t take this the wrong way, but being able to focus all your time without “distractions”, on what you love, is tempting. Another point: we forget too how many married people are lonely, especially women it seems these days.

  • bob

    “O Merciful Lord, visit and heal Thy sick servant, (name), now lying on the bed of sickness and sorely afflicted, as Thou, O Saviour, didst once raise Peter’s wife’s mother and the man sick of the palsy who was carried on his bed: for Thou alone hast borne the sickness and afflictions of our race, and with Thee nothing is impossible, for Thou art all-merciful”
    — From every Orthodox Christian layman’s daily prayerbook. Not one any Roman Catholic will ever likely use, it reminds one that there have been married clergy for *2000 years.* And still are. When you have a given number of men who might be considered as clergy candidates and choose from about 1/10 of 1% of them as actual candidates (the ones who will never marry) you pick from a very bad pool. But it’s important! Sure. Pick your plumber, roofer or bricklayer the same way. That’s important too. Pick your neurosurgeon only from among celibates, because you want someone doing that because they’re particularly decicated to their patients. Not distracted by a family. It doesn’t work, didn’t ever work, never will work. It seems there are lots of clergy from overseas. My grandmother grew up in rural Wisonsin. The priest there now has two parishes and is from India. I’m sure a swell guy, but rexruiting from THERE for THERE? It’s aproblem that has a solution that’s been there as long as Christians have been.

    • Stu

      “It’s aproblem that has a solution that’s been there as long as Christians have been.”
      ——————
      Yes, holiness and orthodoxy.

    • rakowskidp

      And yet, Bob, your bishops are celibate. Why is that?

      • bob

        Excellent question. Virtually all Orthodox see it as a problem for the same reasons as above. I can’t think of any Orthodox clergy who wouldn’t rather have a bishop chosen for holiness & wisdom rather for the pure accident of staying single.

        • Stu

          But they believe having a wife will make things better?

        • rakowskidp

          Should we also do away with celibate life in monastic communities? Are there no Orthdox minastic communities? Does celibacy somehow rob people of the ability to pursue holiness, and does matrimony somehow make one more capable of doing so?

          I know there are efforts at pursuing union between Catholicism and Orthodoxy and I haven’t heard a single high-level Orthodox objection to our discipline of priestly celibacy.

          • bob

            No, monastics are monastics. In the Orthodox Church they generally stay in monasteries, of all places. The bishops are generally *not* monks, but unmarried clerics who take entry level vows when they are elected bishop of someplace. In the experience of most clergy I know the best bishops have been widowed clergy. There’s no barrier to holiness because of celibacy (who ever said that?) but none because of marriage either. The objection to *universal* priestly celibacy has always been a great difference between the Catholics and Orthodox.

            • rakowskidp

              I noticed some rather curious generalizations in your responses… “Virtually all Orthdox” … “In the experience of most clergy I know.” Do you have anything more than anecdotes?

              You state that “most clergy” you know regard widowed clergy as the best bishops, and yet claim that neither celibacy nor marriage make one’s path to holiness any easier. Isn’t there a bit of a contradiction in here?

        • rakowskidp

          “Virtually all Orthodox see it as a problem for the same reasons as above.”

          Using that logic, every single teaching of Orthdoxy is questionable. If “virtually all Orthodox” were to agree that women should be priests, or that Doritos and Coke were valid matter for the celebration of the Eucharist, or that life shouldn’t be protected from conception to natural death, or that the Bishop of Rome really held supreme authority in the Church, would that justify changing Orthodox teaching on these subjects?

          • bob

            No, in fact the orthodox are just as firm on the idea of women’s ordination as are Catholics. Your examples are bad ones. The practice for now is celibate bishops and the deficiencies of it are all over the place. I don’t expect to see it change anytime soon. It is one place Catholics and Orthodox are quite alike; suffering the lack of actually talented men because of the lack of merely unmarried men. We both pick the people to fill the most important positions from the tiniest pool of candidates imaginable and then express *shock* when they turn out to have very little ability beyond having decided to stay single. Sometimes for reasons that we don’t want to know. Surprised?

            • rakowskidp

              Why did this supposed lack of qualified men only become a significant problem in recent decades? I think there’s something other than celibacy – like, oh, I don’t know, a lack of commitment to holiness, capitulation to the demands of secular culture and possibly a poor candidate screening process – to blame. So am I surprised? No. Because 1) I reject the claim that these men are universally scoundrels and 2) all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Celibacy never enters my mind when I think of these realities.

              • bob

                Certainly, not universally scoundrels and all have sinned; married ones too. I have no idea why the lack of men actually embracing a monastic or celibate life. That doesn’t enter my mind as much as the need for priestly ministry. Making the celibate life a requirement will simply make the candidates, for whatever reason, much rarer and the possibility of good ones lower. It’s hard enough as it is. There’s a Catholic parish in Olympia with 6000 (I can’t get my head around that figure) people and in recent years from one to occasionally three total clergy. In Bremerton the big 2000 member place has *one*. That just isn’t ministry. In the Orthodox Church that would get cut into about 5 parishes and probably two clergy each. Something that wouldn’t enter the mind of an Orthodox bishop would be telling a congregation of that size (if he had one!) would be that they had to wait for a single guy to come along to be their priest. It hasn’t for 2000 years.

        • R. Howell

          I am Orthodox and I don’t have a problem with the discipline of celibacy for bishops, nor do I personally know even one Orthodox Christian who does. “Virtually all” seems quite a stretch.

    • enness

      My plumber doesn’t act in persona Christi.

  • Stephen Sparrow

    “Anyway, as my encounters with secular media always are, this was far too brief a chance to have anything like a really sound discussion and it was scattershot and confusing for most viewers I’d reckon.”

    Good assessment Mark & good for you & Fr Sullins for trying to anchor the debate in The New Testament in contrast to the others blathering on about practicalities.

  • enness

    ‘My reply is three words: “Mary Kay LaTourneau“. ‘

    My thoughts EXACTLY!


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