Manifests for believers #2 Changing celibacy requirement

In the previous article Manifests for believers #1 Sex abuse setting fire to the powder  we saw that the role of the priest in the child and adult abuse has included cover-ups, neglect, and arrogance. In documents of the church, letters between victims and church, and in the media we could find enough proof the Church has contributed to the spirit of permissiveness. First there were not many attempts to bring everything in good order and to show guilt and reconciliation attempts have resulted in compromises that allowed for the deviancy to continue.

For decades, the problem of paedophilia has been badly managed within the church and now that everything comes out of the cesspool this brought the church in discredit and got even more people leaving their church and their faith. Some wonder if you can you blame Catholics for leaving the faith when these types of attitudes run rampant in the church?  The problem becomes bigger when they do take it that “the Church” is bad and that they should not go to any church or return to the Catholic Church because they get the impression that nothing is being done to prevent abuse from happening.  It certainly doesn’t seem that the Catholic church has a screening process that will eliminate paedophiles and child molesters.

2011-10-13 TEDxRotterdam 066
Steven van der Hoeven talks about his book in which he describes how the sexual abuse he suffered as a child changed his life - Photo Vera de Kok

The atheist Child & Family Therapist Katie from British Columbia, Canada, works professionally with children who have experienced sexual abuse and she is by no means claiming that most sexual abuse happens within the confines of religion, because it doesn’t. “However, religion has the tendency to override rationality and good judgment.” according to her. * “Parents need to acknowledge that religion does not make you any more moral than others and that bad people will do bad things… so teach your children to recognize those people.” And that is what we do agree with; everywhere you can find extreme cases and people who do the wrong things. It has nothing to do with God, except that you would call Him guilty of giving men free spirit and allowed him to do whatever he wanted.

Also the problem of priests not being able to marry made that many who wanted to do some churchwork did not come forward to offer their life for the Church.


The very planet revolves around actions, thoughts, and words that are fueled by ethics. By the years people and situations change.

With all the tribulations and sex scandals many have lost their faith. Many do claim God for what happens in the world, but then they forget that at the beginning of the world-existence God had given men liberty to go his own way. The first humans had doubted the good meaning of the Creator. They challenged Him and wanted to know the Good and the Evil. They wanted to know as much as God and wanted to direct their own thoughts and life. God did not want to play a dictator to whom everybody had to listen other-while he would vanish. But now that humankind wanted to go its own way it had to bear the consequences of its deeds itself and can not blame God because other humans do something wrong.

If a person lives a holy life and believes in God, he would be better off weather there was a god or not, because his life would be much happier and honourable. The same goes for ethics. If someone lives an ethical life, he or she is destined to be much happier than people who do not follow ethics.

But those ethics have to be fed.

In all religions there exists a connection between religious doctrine and social ethics. In Christianity one of the goals is the establishment of a holy, organized society, ideally based on eternal principles of righteousness and fair dealing, cleanliness and sobriety, honesty and helpfulness. Ethics have an impact on an individual, and they should come out of the Word of God for those who want to spread the Word of God. In such an instance they should work on their character and should try to live according to the Laws of God. The laws governing human conduct in the Bible define both social and economic justice, and the pursuit of a good life in society. Born out of the Judaic system with Hebrew code, the Christianic code of social ethics sets also forth spiritual guidelines regarding lawful and unlawful actions, and rewards for the virtuous and threats of punishment for the wicked.

A community should have people who take care to look at ways of living and to talk about them. There should be people in the world who would not mind helping others to find a good way of living, and to protect those who are not able to come up for them selves. In the previous centuries churches have taken most of that role on to them. But now the church has come in discredit.

Therefore, though the storm is not yet at its height, it can well be that the Roman Catholic Church has shot his bolt.

Trzebiatow St. Mary's Maternity Church 2010-06
St. Mary's Maternity Roman Catholic Church in Trzebiatów, Poland - Photo JDavid
The Roman Catholic Church has always proclaimed that it is the only Church which offers “special” access to salvation, by way of truly God’s servants. But those bulletproof  servants have received a real good roasting the last few months.

Today several Belgian believers, priests and even bishops do find that since the requirement for celibacy is not a doctrinal issue or dogma, but more of a disciplinary rule,  there is no reason why this requirement cannot be amended to reflect the changing times. The majority of parishioners, including many members in the hierarchy of the Church, believe that changing the celibacy requirement may prevent abuse from happening in the first place (National Catholic Reporter, 1998). Because of the decline in those entering the priesthood, there are fewer priests to serve their communities.

The discipline by which some, or all members of the clergy in certain religions, are required to be unmarried is not any more for this time. Considering deliberate sexual thoughts, feelings, and behaviour outside of marriage to be sinful, clerical celibacy also requires abstention from these, and as history has shown that does not seem to work on a lot of ‘spiritual men’. That the Roman Catholic Church demands sacred ministers celibacy because than they would be more able to adhere more easily to Christ with an undivided heart and dedicate themselves more freely to the service of God and humanity, is a superseded idea.

It is long our of date that people would not be able to do their job properly when they are married. As for a worldly job, the spiritual job can even make more use of the inside information a married person can get from the family members and his situation in a common form of living together.

In some Christian churches, such as the Latin Rite Catholic Church and some Eastern Catholic Churches, priests and bishops must as a rule remain unmarried, while in others, such as the Eastern Orthodox Church, the churches of Oriental Orthodoxy and some of the Eastern Catholic Churches, married men may be ordained as deacons or priests, but may not remarry if their wife dies. Since celibacy is seen as a consequence of the obligation of continence, it implies abstinence from sexual relationships. The Catholic Code of Canon Law prescribes: “Clerics are to behave with due prudence towards persons whose company can endanger their obligation to observe continence or give rise to scandal among the faithful.”

People should know that the rule of clerical celibacy is a law of the Church (the human institution) itself, not a doctrine and can not be found as a Biblical obligation. According to the Roman Catholic Church, a very few times exceptions can be made, and it can, in principle, be changed at any time by the Pope. Nonetheless, both the present Pope, Benedict XVI, and his predecessor, under pressure to change it, spoke clearly of their understanding that the traditional practice is unlikely to change.

Warsaw metropolitan orthodox church st Maria Magdalena
Warsaw - Metropolitan orthodox church of St.Mary Magdalene - Photo Rafal Klisowski
Clerical celibacy and monastic vows, made in Roman Catholic, Anglican, and Eastern Orthodox Churches, deprived the church of the services of many men who might have become shining stars. On the other hand, it has been calculated by Justus Möser in 1750, that within two centuries after the Reformationfrom ten to fifteen millions of human beings in all lands owe their existence to the abolition of clerical celibacy. {Ranke states this fact.} More important than this numerical increase is the fact that an unusual proportion of eminent scholars and useful men in church and state were descended from clerical families. Among distinguished sons of clergymen may be named Linné, the botanist; Berzelius, the chemist; Pufendorf, the lawyer; Schelling, the philosopher; Buxtorff, the Orientalist; Euler, the mathematician; Agassiz, the scientist; Edward and Ottfried Müller, the classical philologists; John von Müller, Spittler, Heeren, Mommsen, Bancroft, among historians; Henry Clay, Senator Evarts, and two Presidents of the United States, Arthur and Cleveland, among statesmen; Charles Wesley, Gellert, Wieland, Lessing, the brothers Schlegel, Jean Paul, Emanuel Geibel, Emerson (also the female writers Meta Heusser, Elizabeth Prentiss, Mrs. Stowe), among poets; John Wesley, Monod, Krummacher, Spurgeon, H. W. Beecher, R. S. Storrs, among preachers; Jonathan Edwards, Schleiermacher, Hengstenberg, Nitzsch, Julius Müller, Dorner, Dean Stanley, among divines; Swedenborg, the seer; with a large number of prominent and useful clergymen, lawyers, and physicians, in all Protestant countries.*

Many dioceses engage in the morally questionable practice of importing priests from the developing world despite even more severe priest shortages in those countries.

In recent years Pope Benedict XVI has made allowances for married Anglican ministers to transfer to the Catholic church after a number made the move in protest at controversial Anglican issues including the ordination of women priests, and acceptance of ministers in same-sex relationships. In 1980 married Anglican/Episcopal pastors were ordained as catholic priests in the U.S.; also in Canada and England in 1994, while simultaneously dismissing Catholic priests who marry and failing to recognize the vocations of Catholic married men. Some bishops are changing priests’ retirement age from 70 to 75. Many are embracing several of these strategies simultaneously yet none will arrest the steep declines looming ahead.

The stubborn Belgian knows the ropes and the celibate is something which is already sticking in his throat to long. They are at their wits’end what to do with it and with the scandals the church had to encounter. The clergy men became upset by the conservative and silent attitude of the Church leaders in Rome. According to many it is a myth that the vocation shortage is due to materialism and lack of faith. Research (1985 Lilly endowment) showed that  “there is no evidence to support loss of faith for less vocations…youth volunteer and campus ministry is rising.”

Jozef De Kesel
Flemish bishop of Bruges Jozef De Kesel

The Bishop of Bruges, Jozef De Kesel, has questioned celibacy for priests and called for an open discussion on the position of women in the Church. The bishop of Hasselt, Patrick Hoogmartens and Bishop Johan Bonny of Antwerp have also said that married men should not automatically be excluded from the priesthood.  (Reuters,9/22/10)

In several countries there is  a “Call To Action and FutureChurch” from Catholic lay people as well as priests and nuns, who respect the Catholic tradition and are working respectfully to effect change in the Church because they love it and want to make it better. Those ‘FutureChurch‘ members consider themselves parish-based because the resolutions which founded that church came from individual parishes and because so many of their members consider the parish their primary place of worship.

Priestly ordination
Priestly Ordination at the abbey of Fontgombault (France)
Jesus did not ordain anyone. Ordination was a practice that started to occur decades later in church history. Jesus had both male and female disciples and those who helped to spread the faith were men and women, who often had regular jobs and children. It were people who gathered around Jesus and went back to their own places to tell about this special man. Others became so much interested in the teachings of this master teacher from Nazareth that they loved to spread his teachings. Men and women continued to teach what they had learned from either Jesus or from his disciples. It were common people who continued the tradition of spreading the Word of God by coming together in each others houses or in synagogues. (So at first there where not even special build places to meet and to have the worship services.) Later when they were not welcome any more in the synagogues and their private houses became to small they came together in public places or they build meeting houses or ecclesiae to congregate , gather or meet.

The Flemish priests who were not afraid to let the Roman Catholic world hear their voice believe as many other priests in the world, that priests should be allowed to marry and that women have an equal right to have their call to ordination tested along with male candidates. Some of them believe also that celibacy is a gift of the Spirit, as is the call to marriage and the single life. Gifts cannot be mandated, so it is from a deep respect for the gift of celibacy that they request that it be made optional and not forced upon those who do not feel called in this way.

At the end of 2011 more Belgian priests urged Catholics and compatriots to start talking about what the priest shortage means to them and their parishes. Some ideas were written down in ‘A Manifest for Believers‘ so that the subject would become more known and that the public debate could bes started.  By the manifest they want to  encourage the formation of dialogue groups in parishes and small faith communities.

According to a survey taken between December, 2010 and January, 2011, seven out of ten Flemish priests are against celibacy for priests, are for the access of women to the priesthood,  (La Croix, 2/19/2011)

The Belgian Manifesto urges the  bishops to find solutions to the priest shortage and open discussion about ending mandatory celibacy as a requirement for the diocesan priesthood.

It may be a surprise that still so many people want to go for that institute which has received so much damage from people who were in charge of it. Strange also that they keep clinging at this institute which has betrayed so many people.  The manifesto can be an expression of a liberation movement. In civic culture we have seen the emancipation movement, and now perhaps time has come that we get such an emancipation movement in church as well.

But can this corroded pre-eminently paternalistic institute take off  its ‘old garments ‘ and transform itself in a contemporary, modern belief community, characterized by a basic democracy.

In this 21st century the Roman Catholic Church still seems to be a nearly dictatorial institution which by requiring at least some of its clerics and its religious not to marry, the Catholic Church falls under Paul’s condemnation in 1 Timothy 4:3 against apostates who “forbid marriage.”

The Catholic Bible writes: “the spirit expressly states that in the \@acharit-hayamim\@ some people will apostatize from the faith by paying attention to deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. such teachings come from the hypocrisy of liars whose own consciences have been burned, as if with a red-hot branding iron. they forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods which god created to be eaten with thanksgiving by those who have come to trust and to know the truth. for everything created by god is good, and nothing received with thanksgiving needs to be rejected, because the word of god and prayer make it holy.” (1 Timothy 4:1-5 CJB)
or in a Protestant translation:
“The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth. For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.” (1 Timothy 4:1-5 NIV)

God has created man and woman, told them to live with each other, to marry and have children. So why is it forbidden to those men and women to choose somebody of the other sex, marry, live with each other and have children from each other?

WordsIn the old times most Catholics married, but today most live together without having had a marriage, tough all Catholics are taught to venerate marriage as a holy institution—a sacrament, an action of God upon their souls; one of the holiest things we encounter in this life. A lot of Belgian Catholics also quite often switch partner. But the servants of God should know the Laws of God and should be the first ones to keep to them. According to the Laws of God the man or the woman who does not keep to the Laws of God and has not an ethic acceptable good honest life, should not be allowed to do some church work. In the New Testament are several writings were we can find women and man teaching the Good News of the coming Kingdom of God, and also writings from the apostles how they have to comply to the Law and how they have to comply with certain expectations. So, in the early church also women had their tasks and helped the church grow.

Even the old Father Edward Daly, who was the Bishop of Derry for 20 years during the Troubles, has become the first senior Irish Catholic cleric to call for an end to celibacy in the church. His intervention in the debate over whether priests should be allowed to marry is highly significant because he is still one of the most respected figures in the Irish Catholic church at a time when faith in the institution has been shattered by the paedophile scandals involving clergy. Challenging centuries of Catholic theocracy, Daly has said that allowing the clergy to marry would solve some of the church’s problems. “There will always be a place in the church for a celibate priesthood, but there should also be a place for a married priesthood in the church,” Daly writes in his book A Troubled See, Memoirs of a Derry Bishop, published in September 2011.

While Daly accepts he might be out of step with current Vatican thinking he points out that he is “not engaged in a popularity contest”. He says that during his time as a bishop he found it “heartbreaking” that so many priests or prospective priests were forced to resign or were unable to get ordained because of the celibacy issue.

Many young men who once considered joining the priesthood turned away because of the rule, the 74-year-old cleric argues. From most people who were interested to become a priest, but did not follow their vocation, the rule of celibacy was the main reason not to go for it. Because of that we do have to face the catastrophic shortage of priests and see a serious neglect of the Eucharist, and a widespread breakdown of pastoral care.

Merging parishes into “pastoral units” did offer less services to the believers who became less interested in worshipping in a far away church, ministered to by badly overworked priests who did seem to have lost the zeal and interest as well.

And this is something we can hear in many countries.

Though parishioners not receiving enough opportunities to go to mass or take part of the sacraments is against other writings in the Catholic Faith.

“Mother Church earnestly desires that all the faithful should be led to that full, conscious, and active participation in liturgical celebrations which is demanded by the very nature of the liturgy, and to which the Christian people, ‘a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a redeemed people,’ have a right and an obligation by reason of their Baptism.” (Sacrosanctum Concilium)

“The laity have the right, as do all Christians, to receive in abundance from their sacred pastors the spiritual goods of the Church, especially the assistance of the Word of God and the sacraments.” (Lumen Gentium, 37).

“Christ’s faithful are at liberty to make known their needs, especially their spiritual needs, and their wishes to the Pastors of the Church.”(Canon Law 212.2 )

“They have the right, indeed at times the duty, in keeping with their knowledge, competence and position, to manifest to the sacred Pastors their views on matters which concern the good of the Church.” (Canon Law 212.3 )

Today that Church is not willing to provide the means to take care of their believers. In many villages there are no regular church services any more. At the village were our office is there is only once a month a service with Eucharist.  It is for such bad situations the priest ring the Alarm and want that the Roman Catholic Church does everything to let the parishes to stay open and the Eucharist to remain the centre of Catholic worship.

Internationally there is already a ” Save our Parish Community project” that has helped parishioners hold their bishops accountable by appealing mistaken decisions to close their vital, solvent parishes because of the priest shortage.

The Flemish priests and several important political and civilian figures plead in favour of having as well married men as women being permitted as priest in the Church office.  They do hope the permission shall be given very soon, because there is an acute shortage of priests and those who want to do some  religious work are now so much-needed.


*of Intro: Child Sexual Abuse within the Dutch Catholic Church

* Reflections on Clerical Family Life

To be continued: Manifests for believers #3 Catholic versus Protestant

Preceding article: Manifests for believers #1 Sex abuse setting fire to the powder


Read also:

  1. A Call for National Dialogue on the Future of Priestly Ministry
  2. Celibacy and the Priesthood
  3. Bishop of Derry calls for end to celibacy in Catholic church
  4. Tracing the Glorious Origins of Priestly Celibacy

In Dutch:

  1. Beminde gelovigen
  2. Gelovigen nemen het woord: Manifest van Vlaamse gelovigen Najaar 2011
  3. Manifest tot protestantse kerk


  • Child Sexual Abuse within the Dutch Catholic Church (
  • Sex, Celibacy, and Priesthood: A Bishop’s Provocative Inquisition (
  • Seducing Spirits – Can they live in the church? Pt. 2 (
  • Seducing Spirits – Can they live in the church? Pt. 2 (
  • Should Catholics return to an abusive home? (
  • Seducing Spirits – Can they live in the church? Pt. 2 (
  • Seducing Spirits – Can they live in the church? Pt. 2 (
  • Priest gives up his vocation, not his religion, for love(
    Like many Roman Catholic men who feel called to the priesthood, the Rev. Jim Hearne wrestled with whether ordination was right for him.
    The youngest of seven in an Irish Catholic family, he saw the joy of family life firsthand and never could quite extinguish the desire to one day have children of his own.
    But spurred to help stem the priest shortage and strengthen the integrity of the cloth, Hearne donned a priest’s collar in 2005 at age 25.
    Now he wonders if his six years in the pulpit as “Father Jim” might have been preparation to become Jim, the father.

    “They can teach you all they want” about celibacy, he said. “You can read all the books about it that have been printed _ volumes and volumes. Until you live it and experience it, it’s a far different thing.”
    Returning to the rectory after a busy day of work or a joyful day with family became increasingly difficult.
    “There was something nice about entering into the quiet rectory. But there was also something kind of sombering,” he said. “No one was there waiting for me. It was silent.”
  • The 6th Floor Blog: Reintroducing Joe Eszterhas (
    The church’s position on homosexuality is awful and hypocritical, antimoral, especially when you consider that such a huge percentage of priests are gay. It’s just nuts, as is the church’s position on celibacy. There are reasons why the Catholic church is dying.
  • LA Bishop With Secret Family Resigns (
    A Los Angeles bishop has resigned after he revealed to his superiors that he has a secret family. Mexican-born Auxiliary Bishop Gabino Zavala, 60, is the father of two teenage children who live with their mother in another state, reports the BBC.
    “It’s self-evident—celibacy does not work,” said Father Richard McBrien, a professor of theology at the University of Notre Dame.
  • Being a Catholic Priest – and Married (
    My experience as a married Catholic priest for 28 years brings to mind several thoughts, both practical and spiritual. First, the church must support new priests’ families financially. During my first years as a married Catholic priest, there were times when we could not pay the heating bill. When I was ordained, it was made quite clear to me that I should not look to the church as my main source of income but rather to a full-time job outside of the church. My parish duties have thus always been secondary.
    I am a firm supporter of the celibacy of the Catholic clergy. Its basis is not found in councils or popes but rather in the person of Jesus Christ. The heart of the Catholic priesthood is sacrifice, and celibacy, in imitation of Christ, frees the priest to give himself totally to the church and its people.
    Reform of the priesthood is sorely needed today. The answer is not married priests. The answer is priests who understand the sacrifice that is at the center of their lives—whether they are married or not…
  • Vatican warns on sex abuse (
    The Vatican has asked national bishops’ conferences from around the world to submit by May their guidelines on how to deal with abusive priests and co-operate with local law enforcement.”In some cultures, it’s hard for victims to come forward. We are debating how to change a culture that favours silence over denunciation,” he said.
  • Thousands abused by Dutch priests, says report (
    About 20,000 children have been sexually abused by 800 Roman Catholic priests or lay workers in Holland since 1945, an independent inquiry has estimated.
  • Thousands abused by Dutch priests, says report (
  • Tens of thousands of children abused in Dutch Catholic institutions, report says (
    Children in institutional care, regardless of religious affiliation, in the Netherlands were at substantial risk of being abused during the period, the molestation rate – 20% – being twice that of elsewhere. The investigation led by Wim Deetman concluded that several tens of thousands of children had suffered sexual molestation.
    A powerful “We Are the Church” movement in Austria has gained broad support, challenging the Vatican and raising schismatic potential. Earlier this month in Belgium, a new movement was founded by dissident priests, dubbed “Believers Speak Out”, calling for the ordination of married men and women, the lifting of curbs on divorcees, and other reforms.“The Belgian church is a disaster,” said Father John Dekimpe when launching the new organisation. “If we don’t do something, the exodus of those leaving the church will just never stop.” While officially the church refuses to admit that priestly celibacy is in any way connected with priestly abuse, Deetman on Friday made the link. “We do not consider it impossible that a number of cases would not have happened if celibacy was voluntary,” he said. His report said that compulsory celibacy in the priesthood made priests more likely to engage in “transgressive conduct”.

29 thoughts on “Manifests for believers #2 Changing celibacy requirement

  1. […] Manifests for believers #2 Changing celibacy requirement ( Share this:EmailPrintTwitterStumbleUponFacebookMoreDiggRedditLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. This entry was posted in 2012_ELECTION, 99%, DEMOCRATS, FAMILY VALUES, HUMAN RIGHTS, INDEPENDENT VOTERS, PROJECT365, RACISM, Religion, REPUBLICANS by goodolewoody. Bookmark the permalink. […]


  2. […] Manifests for believers #2 Changing celibacy requirement For decades, the problem of paedophilia has been badly managed within the church and now that everything comes out of the cesspool this brought the church in discredit and got even more people leaving their church and their faith. Some wonder if you can you blame Catholics for leaving the faith when these types of attitudes run rampant in the church?  The problem becomes bigger when they do take it that “the Church” is bad and that they should not go to any church or return to the Catholic Church because they get the impression that nothing is being done to prevent abuse from happening.  It certainly doesn’t seem that the Catholic church has a screening process that will eliminate paedophiles and child molesters. + With all the tribulations and sex scandals many have lost their faith. Many do claim God for what happens in the world, but then they forget that at the beginning of the world-existence God had given men liberty to go his own way. […]


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