Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Fr. James Martin, S.J. Interviewed On The Diane Rehm Radio Show

Diane Rehm


Good morning.


Father James, do you think that people misunderstand chastity and celibacy?


Yeah, I do. I think almost completely. I think there's a misunderstanding of its role and, you know, its benefits and really, its history. And I always ask people, you know, do you know any celibates? And they say, no. And then you ask them, well, what about, say, unmarried aunts or uncles or single people and they say, oh, yeah, I guess I do. And, you know, I think most of -- most people would admit that many of history's most beloved people, I mean, you know, (word?), John Paul, Mother Teresa were celibates. And so, you know, when you get people thinking about it in concrete terms, it helps them a little bit more. But you're right, there is a lot of misunderstanding.


Why do you think the Catholic Church today requires celibacy for its priests? I recognize that the history going back hundreds of years had to do with economic inheritance questions, but why now?


Well, actually, that's just one reason. I mean, that's, as Father Albert Cutie' was saying, you know, a lot of it came from not wanting to pass on inheritances, you know, to priests' children, but I think the more importance reason is that it's really an imitations of Jesus. I mean, for a lot of different reasons, some known, some unknown, Jesus was not married. And we follow Jesus in his sort of total gift of Himself to the people. Now, that doesn't mean that it's better or worse or that it can't work for other religions, but, you know, in the Catholic Church, that's -- that's the other reason, that we're -- we're following Christ and we're trying to imitate Him as carefully as possible and as closely as possible. But once again, it's not for everybody, obviously.


Of course, there are married priests in the Catholic Church. How is this possible?


Well, as Father was saying, you know, we have people who were Anglicans or Episcopal priests who decided to join the Catholic Church and, you know, rather than saying, you have to get divorced, you know, we accept them as married priests. And so, you know, it's interesting that, you know, I wonder if more Catholics will become more familiar and more comfortable with the idea of married priests, but, you know, for the most part, you know, priestly celibacy, I think, you know, is what most Catholics are familiar with and, you know, and what most people are familiar with, with those in Religious orders as well.


When you hear about the priests who've struggled or even left the Church because of falling in love or when you hear about priests who've been removed, even bishops who've been removed from their posts because of sexual abuse of young men, what goes through your mind, Father James?


Well, I think those two things are separate. I would -- you know, I think it's important to say that celibacy does not lead to pedophilia. I mean, you know, most sexual abuse, as most people know, takes place within families and, you know, no one says that, you know, marriage somehow leads to sexual abuse. So I think there's celibacy and people not able to, you know, sort of follow that rule and there's also sexual abuse, you know, I mean, which is a whole other kettle of fish. I mean, when I hear of people who are leaving the priesthood, you know, I think of Jesuits who I know who have left the Jesuits and, you know, what happens is, you know, guys, you know, they fall in love and they have to make a choice.


Either you stay and you keep your vows or you leave and, you know, you get married and, you know, that's a part of a lot of peoples' journeys. But, you know, most of the -- well, I would say, I don't know anyone, for example, in the Jesuits, you know, among my friends, of whom there are many, who are in a relationship and so I think it's important to say something like, you know, the same way that the fact that there are many divorces in the Unites States does not negate the value or the beauty of marriage, the fact that there are some people with their vows of chastity or their promise of celibacy does not negate, you know, the chaste life or the celibate life in the priesthood, I would say.


Father James Martin, he's a Jesuit priest and culture editor of America magazine. Father Cutie', how do you feel about whether the Church is now outdates?


I think part of the thing, I think -- I agree with almost everything Father Martin said and I really appreciate his work -- his work in America magazine. As a matter of fact, America magazine wrote a beautiful editorial a few days after my pictures -- before my pictures were published, it was called "A Modest Proposal." It's online, America, "A Modest Proposal," saying that bishops should take leadership in asking Rome to allow for married priests. So I understand the dilemma that Father James and many people are in when they talk about these things. I think 100,000 plus priests have left to marry since the Second Vatican Council. Not all of them Religious, not all of them Diocesan, but from the priesthood. 
Link (here) to the full interview


Elizabeth said...

Oh my goodness, what a outrageous DISASTER. Unfaithful Jesuit appears opposite notorious scandalous unfaithful defector priest, and they are simply in agreement. Weak explanation of celibacy (nothing about the priest as image of Christ the Bridegroom of the Church?! nothing of sacrifice?), absolutely no explanation or defense of the good of chastity nor continence to which all unmarried people are obliged and all clerics obliged since apostolic times and in Canon Law to this day. Then Albert Cutie damning the Jesuits with their own unfaithful article from "America".

I am praying for both these priests. There are so many priests and even bishops who seem to be careening toward hell.

Maria said...

Mary, Mother of God and Mother of priests, we ask you to obtain from Jesus the light and strength for His priests to live a truly priestly life. So that, the priests that Jesus ordained might be priests who are living the lives of martyrs, who are ready to shed their blood for your divine Son.

Mary, Mother of the Church, beg your Son to inspire thousands of young men to embrace the vocation to the priesthood, and thus become the communicators of grace; to a world which is starving, starving for the truth that priests are to teach; to a world that is dying, dying for the love that priests are to bring; a world that is suffering, but a world that shall love the cross, because priests have taught this world that the greatest joy on earth is to love Jesus crucified. Amen.

--John Hardon SJ

Anonymous said...

Having Martin defend celibacy is funny. Because of course..celibacy implies sacrifice. A man is sacrificing the intimate singular love of a woman for the greatest Love.

How can someone who doesn't even desire that effectively defend celibacy? What is he "sacrificing?" Nothing - if he doesn't desire it in the first place. He is simply living the way he is supposed to be living anyway.