Saturday, March 20, 2010

Hans Kung on the Pope's responsibility in the Roman Catholic Church's Child Sex Abuse Scandal

Hans Kung is a controversial figure among Roman Catholics. Nevertheless, his latest post concerning the Pope's responsibility in the Roman Catholic child sex abuse scandal cannot be ignored.

Read it here.

One noteworthy statement from Kung's article:

"Why does the pope continue to assert that what he calls "holy" celibacy is a "precious gift", thus ignoring the biblical teaching that explicitly permits and even encourages marriage for all office holders in the Church? Celibacy is not "holy"; it is not even "fortunate"; it is "unfortunate", for it excludes many perfectly good candidates from the priesthood and forces numerous priests out of their office, simply because they want to marry. The rule of celibacy is not a truth of faith, but a church law going back to the 11th Century; it should have been abolished already in the 16th Century, when it was trenchantly criticized by the Reformers."


Zach said...

Hans Kung should always be ignored.

How can anyone claim that celibacy is "unfortunate" or "not holy" when the celibate author of the lion's share of the New Testament advised that "he who refrains from marriage will do better," and the celibate Lord Himself said, "Some . . . have renounced marriage for the sake of the kingdom of God. Whoever can accept this ought to accept it."

Marriage is a great good (I'm very fond of it myself), but according to St. Paul and Our Blessed Lord, celibacy for the kingdom is even better. The only quibbling question one might then advance is whether the Catholic Church has the right to restrict its ministerial priesthood to those professing a divine call to this great good. That's the same old question of whether the Catholic Church has true and binding authority in disciplinary matters.

You don't think she does. Fair enough, but let's not pretend this issue is about anything else.

A more interesting question is whether a celibate man would ever have a snowball's chance of being hired as the pastor of a Protestant congregation such as Redeemer. Were Paul or Jesus to apply for such a position, I think the search committee would eye them with suspicion and dismiss their applications out of hand.

Reepicheep said...

Zach, the same man who wrote the lion's share of the OT wrote of the great blessing marriage is. You know that. Further, he clearly permits the officers of the church to be married.

The RC child sex scandal is about sin first and foremost- something every church deals with at some level. However, the unnatural requirement for priests to be unmarried only makes it worse.

As for your last comment. The pastor before me at Redeemer was unmarried for the first 5 years of his ministry here. My pastor in Chicago, another PCA Church was unmarried and still is. A current minister of another PCA church in KC, Christ Presbyterian, is also unmarried, never been married.

You're dead wrong on your assumption.

There's nothing wrong with celibacy, per se', but it's an unusual gift. Kung's longstanding criticism of papal infallibility is right on.

Reepicheep said...

...and another thing :)

I have always loved how the alleged first Pope, Peter, was, in fact, married.

Luke 4:38 And he (Jesus) arose and left the synagogue and entered Simon's house. Now Simon's mother-in-law was ill with a high fever, and they appealed to him on her behalf. 39 And he stood over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her, and immediately she rose and began to serve them.

Paul mentions this in a most interesting way:

1 Corinthians 9:3 This is my defense to those who would examine me. 4 Do we not have the right to eat and drink? 5 Do we not have the right to take along a believing wife, as do the other apostles and the brothers of the Lord and Cephas?

It seems more than even just Peter may well have been married.

Again, there's nothing wrong with celibacy. Apparently Paul had the gift. But to be clear- it wasn't the norm, even among the Apostles.

Rick Calohan said...

That is why I never recognize the unmarried Popes as the good book says, he who has not sinned cast the fist Peter!

Zach said...

So "there's nothing wrong with celibacy, per se." I think St. Paul and Our Lord are a little more enthusiastic than that in their recommendation of celibacy in service to the kingdom.

However, my personal experience in PCA, Baptist, and non-denominational churches reflects your cautious endorsement almost exactly: We should by no means condemn those pitiable folks who haven't yet found anyone willing to marry them -- and in fact we should cater to their needs by establishing "singles" Sunday School classes and such -- but insofar as they may be seen as possessing a "gift" of celibacy, it's the gift that nobody wants. Nevertheless, it seems I was too sweeping in my generalization regarding celibate clergy in your particular orbit, and for that I apologize.

Your statement that clerical celibacy makes the sex scandal "worse" is completely unfounded. There's no evidence that clergy who have taken vows of celibacy are more likely to become involved in such sins than married clergy.

As for the biblical presence of married apostles, bishops, and the like, there were certainly many. Yet even from the earliest years of Christianity celibacy among the clergy was highly prized, and although married men were admitted to the priesthood, post-ordination continence was often the norm. The reason for this is articulated very logically by St. Paul: "He that is without a wife, is solicitous for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please God. But he that is with a wife, is solicitous for the things of the world, how he may please his wife: and he is divided." (1 Cor 7:32-33)

The writings of Ss. Abrose, Augustine, and Jerome (among many others) attest this dynamic in the early Church quite clearly. Even Our Lord seems to indicate that some of the married Apostles "hath left . . . wife, or children, or lands for my name's sake," and for doing so "shall receive an hundredfold, and shall possess life everlasting." (Mt 19:29)

Those words are uncomfortable even for me, but my point is that the evidence suggests a situation in flux for several centuries, but with a definite trend toward making clerical celibacy the norm and rule. I think we can agree that even before the Church made celibacy a prerequisite, it was much more widespread and treasured among the clergy than it has ever been in Protestantism.

Swilliams said...

Such a tough topic, and one that appears to have no end. The evil continues.

I agree with the assertion that the early recruitment of men-children into seminary, that is, those who are psycho-socially immature, is a likely precursor of this horrible dysfunction of priestly life. I do not agree that celibacy is to blame. The men committing these acts are not heterosexuals with no outlet for their raging hormones. The acts of rape and molestation are primarily men on boys. There are the occasional dalliances with a grown female, many times these lead to a priest leaving the priesthood and marrying, or switching to the Anglican or Episcopal or other similar church where they can "transfer in" so to speak and enjoy both pastoral and married life. The state of un-marriage is not the cause of pedophile priests. The thought process of a man who committed to ordination, whose fingers were consecrated, who lifts the host for the miracle of transubstantiation, who agreed to devote his life to serve others, etc., etc., must be so warped, so vacuous, so amoral that he will not exercise self-restraint and seek help. Rather, it can only be considered to be intentional and pre-meditated and that person found his way to an environment with abundant opportunity. He is the Deceiver at work.

To put it in simplistic terms, the prospect of living in common with other men, first in seminary, then in rectory, has been an open invitation to those who find that lifestyle a bit thrilling, not to mention a convenient outlet for their sexual tastes, whether from a voyeuristic perspective that does not require overt commitment to the act, or to open homosexual activities with many willing partners in a quasi-cloistered safe haven. There is no doubt that the homosexual agenda has thrived and expanded in the liberal leaning mainstream Christian churches for decades. And one of the arms of the gay rights movement is pedophilia - or in their vernacular, man-boy love. One of the founders of the NAMBLA group was Paul Shanley, a Catholic priest from Boston. There are so many stories and case studies in this regard. I think one of the most insightful and detailed studies can be found in "Good Bye Good Men."

I do agree with the assertion that should the Catholic Church return to a non-celibate priesthood, (and a screening process that employs a rigorous battery of psychological testing), the available pool of candidates would vastly improve. But again, if you do the research, including the material found in "Good Bye Good Men" it will be apparent that the screeners and the hierarchy who are committed to the progressive movement will not clean up their act because they are realizing their goals of destruction of Christianity from within and a hedonistic utopia. Consider the fact that for decades the pedophilia problem in the Church has not been minimal or remote - it has been rampant and extends across continents. And it has been hidden and enabled by Bishops, maybe higher. How else could it have persisted for so long. How could any reasonable, common sense based, responsible adult who learns that a subordinate in his organization is molesting children would keep such offender on staff, refrain from criminal prosecution, and shuttle the offender to another job site where they continue their evil deeds. The contemplation of that reality alone can only lead to truly disturbing conclusions. And that is only one, a very huge one, of evils manifest in the Catholic Church. Catholic detractors do not have to reach back into history for talking points. They only have to read the headlines.

The following URL gives a nice summary of the history of primogeniture and the move to celibacy in Church history:

Reepicheep said...


Whoa dude...did you just say "PCA, Baptist, and non-denominational churches in the same sentance"? Oh man. Now who's slinging the slurs!! :)

If by "unfounded" you mean I can't absolutely prove my contention that the requirement for celibacy in the priesthood has made the child sex scandal worse, I'll grant you that.

I can't prove what I think is the case- the priesthood attracts many sexual deviants who think the vow of celibacy will keep them from "acting out". Of course, it doesn't. Further, celibacy is generally unnatural. There are times when God gifts people with it. When God does give celibacy as a gift it should be celebrated, I just don't know how to identify that gift. Does the gift mean you don't want to have sex? Just taking a vow doesn't mean a person has the gift. I confess to not understanding much about it. Again, however, the bible doesn't make celibacy a requirement for church office, so neither should any church governing body. Marriage is everywhere celebrated, celibacy is barely mentioned. I don't think someone is pitiable for being celebate, unless they don't have the gift and are celebate, I guess. I don't know, I'm a simple guy on this- sex good. No sex bad. (in marriage, of course).

In all seriousness, Kung's comments in this regard shouldn't be dismissed. Certainly the celibacy requirement has contributed at least a little.

From a practical standpoint I can see how celibacy is great for an itinerate missionary like Paul, but not so good for a local pastor. Local pastors are generally better counselors when married than otherwise, etc. That's just my opinion, I grant God has done much with many single people. Praise Him for that.

Really the most disturbing feature of the RC Child sex scandal are the apparent efforts to cover up the evil deeds. Evil deeds are committed by all sorts of churchmen. The cover up from the higher ups (possibly even including the Pope himself) is the sicknening thing.

Papa Ratzi needs to issue a mea culpa. Of course, I'm not holding my breath...

Woody Woodward said...

It is an awful thing! And to think of the thousands of innocent children that have been scared for life. What God has in store for those who are guilty of such heinous crimes, for those who would ignore or for those who choose to cover up or try to make flimsy excuses. The flames won’t be hot enough.