Commentary, OpEd

Celibacy in the Catholic Church is unbiblical to priesthood

By Joseph Akim Gordon

Catholic Church also known as the Roman Catholic Church is the largest Christian Church and largest denomination, approximately there are 1.3 billion baptized Catholics worldwide as of 2019. The statistics of all the religious beliefs in South Sudan is as follow: Roman Catholics 37.2 %, Episcopal churches and other forms 36.5%, traditional African belief and animism 19.7% and Islam 6.2 %.

The Catholic church has contributed a lot in socio-economic development. The current challenges confronting the church is the dwindling number of priests and nuns. It is now a challenge because the Africans or South Sudanese families are reluctant to send their children to seminaries. Because of the fact that the young man and woman must get married for the continuity of the family.

But the Catholic church allows only those who can adhere to the principle of celibacy. Young men and women who would like to become a priest or a nun, must abstain from sexuality and marriage relationship. South Sudanese cultures do not accept this condition. That is why in the seminaries there are very few seminarians. Sometimes young priests are regarded as being impotent, how can a young man suppress their sexual desire, others think that those who go to seminaries are abnormal because they do not have sexual desire, since it is unbiblical why subject young men and women to celibacy.

To make it worse, there are priests who have reached the retirement age and there are those who left the priesthood and sisterhood for various reasons creating a vacuum in the church. Those few priests who are active in the service of God and are overworked. The condition of celibacy is to commit not to marry, in that the celibacy is today a prerequisite for ordination to the priesthood. If the issue of celibacy is not reviewed, this will very much affect Catholic church programs. Over the years, it has caused sexual scandals with minors, the Vatican was obliged to pay billions of US$ as compensation to the victims of these crimes. In many parts of the world there is still cover up, but eventually the truth will prevail. In the face of worldwide sexual Scandale, it would be appropriate for his holiness the pope to consider reviewing the celibacy rule. So, save the catholic church from the embarrassment of sexual crimes committed by some clergy worldwide. It will be difficult for the church to implement church programs. You preach what you do not practice, the faithful will doubt the preaching of the clergy in the light of sexual crimes. We are not making judgement for crimes committed by some clergy. We have no capacity to make judgement. But this negative development in the church must be stopped and appropriate amendment of the law is necessary so that the church programs are not affected. The introduction of celibacy laws in 11th century was not necessary as it was not biblically proclaimed. It was decreed by the Vatican and it is the same Vatican that can amend the celibacy law.

Marriage is mandatory, celibacy is unbiblical or unnatural, every man must obey the biblical injunction to be fruitful and multiply Gen.1:28 and St. Paul commands that each man should have his own wife and each woman should have her own husband, 1 Cor. 7:2 argued that celibacy causes or at least correlates with higher incidence of illicit sexual behavior or perversion.

Celibacy was established in 11th century. It was a measure that priests and nuns should concentrate in the service of God not to be diverted by marital concerns of wives, husbands or children. The concern now is that we are in 21st century and more over the years many priests and nuns ignored the celibacy laws and abandoned their positions in the church.

Moreover, celibacy was not mentioned in the bible. It is high time that the celibacy is reviewed because over 1500 priests and nuns have left the church for the last 25 years, and also because of sexual crimes committed by some church hierarchy. The Vatican is now obliged to compensate thousands of victims of sexual exploitation by some individuals in the Catholic churches worldwide.

The best option is for the holy sea to review the celibacy doctrine. Many countries including South Sudan have fewer priests and nuns. The parents in our families do not accept their children to join seminaries as they will not be able to marry. This means the family will not expand given the restriction of the celibacy law. I am sure in the next quarter of century if we do not adjust the celibacy laws, some churches will not be able to function properly.

This will affect all the developmental and faith programs of the catholic church. Now in South Sudan the priests are already overworked because they are required to cover some parishes or prayer centers that do not have priests to conduct regular Sunday services. The protestant churches are doing well because they are allowed to marry and have children and serving the church very well. They do not experience shortage of priests as in the catholic church and no sexual scandals reported in the protestant churches. So, it is for the good of Catholic church that his holiness the pope should examine the rule of celibacy and readjust so that the catholic church continues to serve the people of South Sudan.

The writer can be reached via E-MAIL: No: + 211 921 37011.


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