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PostWelcome the next married Pope! (Ronald Hilton, USA, 04/30/02 12:01 am)
David Pike sees light at the end of the papal tunnel: "Over these 2,000 years, popes have frequently reversed the doctrines of their predecessors, but reversing their own is what they all avoid. Pope John-Paul II would surely never change his position on priestly celibacy, but there is every reason to suppose that his successor will feel bound to do so because there is no alternative. Nor should it be difficult. The Church has adopted celibacy as a matter of discipline, not as a matter of doctrine.
To get the debate started, consider the basics. We can suppose the disciples were all married; Jewish tradition frowned on celibacy. The first 30 or 40 popes were free to marry, and most did. St Paul took a neutral position, calling it a charisma, and useful only if the decision was voluntary. It was not until the 12th century that it became an obligation. The first problem with celibacy that surfaced in our own time was the realization that the clergy was useless when it came to advising married couples on sexual problems. (On this subject, we now know that one or two priests have offered more in the way of advice than their experience properly allowed.) Priestly celibacy is now about to be recognized as an unnatural state, an action akin to sexual self-mutilation. Courageous priests are speaking out, witness one in Italy who recently proclaimed, "Colui che ha i testicoli infranti o tagliati, non entri nell'assemblea del Signore."