IN DEFENSE OF UNMARRIED CELIBATE MALE ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIESTS AND FEMALE NUNS AS MARRIAGE AND FAMILY COUNSELLORS: MUST I KILL SOMEBODY BEFORE I AM QUALIFIED TO BE A PRISON COUNSELLOR, AND MUST I LAY AN EGG BEFORE I CAN SPEAK AUTHORITATIVELY ABOUT EGG FARMING?
We hear a lot these last several decades about how and why the Roman Catholic Church and its priests and religious are so ‘not with it’ when it comes to all of the elements of post modernity such as human sexuality, the LGBTQ2S issues, divorce, abortion, and so on. If only we would let Roman Catholic priests get married and have children, then they would actually know what it is like to have a spouse and a family and then could legitimately be able to put up their shingle as marriage and family counsellors, right? Well, I’m a Social Service Worker, member of the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers, and a practicing Roman Catholic who originally wanted to become a priest before puberty took over the agenda and I became sexually active for a number of years, hoping to find my ‘soul sister’ whom I could marry and have 2,1 kids, a station wagon (or later, a minivan), a house in the suburbs, a job or career with benefits, a pension plan, and paid vacations, a peptic ulcer, and quadruple bypass in my late fifties or early sixties before retiring, then getting cancer and inevitably dying before my wife!
So much for that plan. The best laid plans of mice and men, or a funny thing happened on the way to the forum, as Stephen Sondheim said. As it stands now, I just turned 54 on February 28th or March 1st (actually February 29th, because I am a Leap Year baby, so I am actually 13,5 years old and just on the cusp of my adolescent rebellion. So if I appear to suddenly become impudent or passive aggressive, you’ll know why I am acting like your annoying little info-cyber techno geek nephew to whom you would just love to give a good slap upside the head!), so technically I do not get a birthday this year. What I am saying is that I am now a celibate proto-geriatric white single heterosexual male who has not been in a relationship for almost twenty two years now, and who has reaped the benefits of celibacy quite significantly. Celibacy has ultimately chosen me, and not I it.
So when I hear the secular humanist wags yapping on about how Roman Catholic priests have no business giving out advice or admonitions to families, much less women regarding reproductive issues, I just have to stop and smile to myself and think: What if I were a prison counsellor? What would I say to the inmates I was delivering service to regarding my qualifications to work with convicted murderers? ‘Yup, I murdered ten people, buried the bodies real good, nobody ever found them, so I hear ya there buddy, I know what it’s like to have that on my conscience!’ Like duh!!! What? Seriously? And what about if I were to give a presentation to an egg producers’ cooperative about egg production? What would I say? ‘Yup I just laid an egg a couple of minutes ago, and it’s still nice and warm there folks. Pooped ‘er out right good I did! Yupper! Yes sirree Bob!
So obviously we can see just how ridiculous that argument is about ‘you have to have actually done it yourself and lived it first before you can legitimately talk about it to somebody else.’ I hope that all prison counsellors do not first have to serve at least one life sentence for first degree murder before they can be qualified to help other convicted murderers cope with their issues in prison! Wow, that either would really increase the female prison population dramatically, or it would dramatically increase the male social worker population! I’m not too sure which would come first, but I’m guessing that fewer women would feel compelled to go out and wack somebody as a prerequisite for admission to university than would an existing male convict’s desire to take distance ed courses or adult ed courses after he is released from prison to become a prison counsellor. Just riffin’ here folks!
Same deal for the eggs. I’m really hoping that going forward, we do not oblige our students in agricultural sciences in universities like Guelph and Laval to have to genetically alter their internal organs so as to be able to perform such a complex act of agro-technical legerdemain as laying an egg before they are able to legitimately speak with authority concerning egg production with their fellow agriculturalists! Man, that would be a rough!
And so it is with Roman Catholic clerics and nuns by the way. Their charism, as it is called in the Church, or gift of ministering to their fellow human beings in the helping professions, is one of a metaphysical and spiritual form of paternal and maternal instinct towards their charges. The people who are in their parish communities, as well as all others who seek out their guidance from outside the strictly Roman Catholic sphere, are all drawn to these people precisely because of their spiritual and metaphysical charism of gift of the spirit, which is, if it is legitimate, utterly detached from the ways and means of the temporal world and its carnal preoccupations and concupiscent proclivities which often lead to perdition. The celibate priest or nun is an omniscient non-participant observer who is a dispassionate, disinterested and ultimately altruistic stakeholder in the process and outcome of their charge’s lives from both a temporal and spiritual perspective.
The celibate priest or nun has no stake other than the greater glory of God and of humanity in insuring that each marriage and family member is able to dwell fully in the presence of divine grace and mercy and be privy to its benefits in real time, through the instrumentality and instrumentalization of their charism through a Roman Catholic, compassionate and empathetic approach to marriage counselling and family therapy. The celibate priest and nun is also usually the product of a Roman Catholic family structure themselves, wherein and whereby a mother and father and siblings, including themselves, have grown up being exposed to all of the postmodern psychosexual, psychosocial, social-emotional, socio-religious and secular pressures, pop-cultural influences in music, film, television and the internet, socio-economic pressures to put bread on the table, and squabbles over politics, and linguisto-cultural identity issues.
However, the advantage that the celibate priest and nun have which the secular person does not, who arrives in their office, emotional, mentally, physically and metaphysically bereft and spiritually drained, with often no previous socio-religious liturgical praxis of a positive nature to back them up, is that they have a ‘tool box’ of spiritual and socio-religious and metaphysical beliefs and practices which come from the Bible and from over 2000 years of Church history of saints, sinners (and often those who were the latter and became the former), and men, women and children of faith and good conscience, imbued with the charism of ministry in the helping professions. With this tool box of knowledge, skills, sayings, adages, practices, rituals, beliefs, norms and values, which have stood the test of time, and which are backed by the purity of mind, body and soul of celibacy, the Roman Catholic priest and nun are eminently well-equipped to act as marriage and family counsellors and to speak as spokespersons for the human family.
Otherwise, the murder rate would have to rise even higher than it already is, and a whole bunch of us would have to lay an egg before we could be admitted to university, and I think we can all admit that that whole process and outcome is difficult enough as it stands right now. So like the old expression goes: KISS, which stands for Keep It Simple Sweetheart!!!
P.S. I hope nobody gets wacked because of this, and last but not least, I hope I didn’t just lay an egg by writing this!