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Informational Deep Into Christianity

Picasso

Picasso

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I Have a Story for Pope Francis About Priestly Celibacy

Who pays the price when a priest breaks his vow?

By Mimi Bull



Want the human story on priestly celibacy? Talk to someone who’s paid the price.

I am bitterly disappointed by the news that Pope Francis will not be relaxing priestly celibacy rules in remote parts of the Amazon. The idea — intended to make it easier to recruit priests in underserved areas — was supported by a Vatican conference in October, but in his papal document, released on Wednesday, Francis ignored their suggestion.

My interest in this isn’t the mild curiosity of a lapsed Catholic. I am the child of a priest who broke his vow of celibacy and left a legacy of secrecy that was devastating to him, to my mother and particularly to me.

To hide my father’s broken vow, I was told that I was adopted. I did not know until I was 35 that my “adoptive mother” was actually my grandmother and my “adoptive sister” was, in reality, my mother. But even then, I wasn’t told the whole truth. At the time, I was told my father had been a businessman from Pennsylvania.

If only I had known that my real father was the beloved young pastor of our local Polish parish in Norwood, Mass. He was a regular guest in our home, and we attended weekly Mass in his church. He died at the end of my freshman year at Smith College. I didn’t find out until the age of 50, on the day of my birth mother’s funeral, that the man I adored as “Pate” — my own nickname, short for the Latin “pater” — and the community knew as “Father Hip” was my father.

I was more fortunate than most children of priests. The man and woman I now know to have been my birth parents, chose to raise me, nurture me and, in the depths of the Depression, give me as normal a life as they could manage within a complex web of secrecy. My father chose to be involved in my life; he referred to himself as my “guardian,” and I found out after my mother died that he had held this title legally.

Nonetheless, all the secrecy took a toll on a sensitive child. I knew I was somehow different. I knew instinctively that there were things I could not mention casually — the frequency with which my mother, Pate and I got together alone, for instance, including trips to Boston for dinner. Secrecy became second nature.

I was well trained to revere priests, so the idea that Pate might have literally fathered me never occurred to me. I adored him and saw him frequently, but he was my parish priest and my “guardian.”

After he died, I paced the dormitory floors at night, experiencing something I had no word for. It was depression. At that point in my life, I had no idea he was my father, yet his death had a profound impact on me. Desperate to keep my scholarship, I kept my depression hidden — a lifelong habit that led to thoughts of suicide before I was able to be free of it. It affected my marriage, my parenting and my own creative use of a fine mind and education. I felt set apart and unworthy.

I also mourn how the secret affected my parents. My father died at 47, held back in a small parish and unable to fulfill his larger ambitions. Did my existence have something to do with the fact that he, as a mutual friend informed me later, was passed over for a position at a larger and more challenging parish? I’ll never know and can only speculate. My mother was burdened to her death with the truth she never shared with me or the husband she married six years after Pate’s death.

I am one of the 50,000 people from 175 countries who reportedly visit Coping International, a website for children of priests. I expect there is a vast spectrum of stories to be told, many much harder and more painfully unresolved than mine.

Some priests’ children are denied their identities and recognition by their fathers’ families. Others are rejected outright by their fathers and witness the hardships of their mothers’ complicated lives. These experiences shape us and stay with us.

I consider celibacy a serious and valid religious practice if it is entered willingly. It should be available to those who seriously wish to live a celibate life. For nine centuries, though, it has been the rule for all ordained Roman Catholic priests — and it must stop. To live alone and celibate is to deny the most basic drive. Not everyone who would make a fine priest is made for the celibate life.

While I was happy to see the church grappling with the issue, allowing married priests in remote regions would have been a tiny step. It would have done little to confront the root of the problem: the human toll that enforced celibacy has taken on priests and others around them.

What to do? We must lift the veil of secrecy and shine a light on the children born under rules of celibacy. Talk to us. Help us reclaim our identities, reclaim the halves of our families we have been kept from and help us remove the slur of “bastard.” Help us heal.

And join with us in urging Pope Francis to reform the celibacy mandate, so no other child has to suffer.

Mimi Bull is the author of “Celibacy, a Love Story: Memoir of a Catholic Priest’s Daughter.”


NYTimes
 
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  • Picasso

    Picasso

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    I Quit the Priesthood

    Interview by Danya Issawi


    Len Schreiner couldn’t help falling in love. So he wrote a letter to Pope John Paul II — and waited.

    I grew up in a very Roman Catholic atmosphere in western Kansas and had always been drawn to the priesthood.

    I joined the Capuchin religious order in 1976, and I was ordained in 1978 at age 28. Almost immediately, the underlying tension I had felt about intimate relationships really came to the fore. I struggled greatly.

    I was in various flirtations with women, or little romantic relationships, but that’s a normal part of life. The Roman Catholic priesthood, though, with its mandatory celibacy, discourages any close contact with women.

    I would look at my brothers and sister and the families they raised, and I couldn’t accept the notion that I was making a greater sacrifice than they were in their jobs and raising children.

    I went on a leave of absence from the priesthood in 1989 and started dispensation two years later, which means I had to write up a paper to John Paul II in Rome to explain why I wasn’t able to continue. I wrote that there were two things that prompted my leaving: that I wanted to be more involved in social justice and peace work, and that I felt I could not successfully live a celibate life.

    I sought dispensation both for my own peace of my mind and for my family. I knew it would soften the blow for my parents — it was a heartbreak for them.

    A lot of priests did not get dispensations. Their applications would be in a pile someplace for years. One priest said to me, “They haven’t gotten back to me in 11 years.”

    In my case, by the grace of God, I received a letter and document in January of 1992 granting me “a dispensation from the obligations of priestly ordination, including celibacy, and from religious vows.”

    Then I was considered, in the eyes of the church, a lay person. I was free, and in June of that same year, I got married in a Catholic church in Seattle.

    I knew my wife for seven years before we got married. I had met her when I was still a pastor of a church in Denver. She had been in a religious order of nuns, but had left three years prior to our meeting.

    We became friends, and by the time I left the Roman Catholic priesthood in 1989 we were in a relationship. We weren’t married until 1992, and part of that was just my slowness to mature. I had to work through a lot.

    The transition was huge. I had gone to a high school seminary and a college seminary, where it’s a celibate atmosphere and an all-male atmosphere, and both psychologically and on a sexual level, I was quite immature. The first 10 years of my relationship with my wife, Nancy, were about learning how to be in a romantic relationship, and it was a long learning curve.

    By the grace of God we have been married now for 26 years. You have to learn how to be a “we” rather than a “me” — the celibate priesthood is kind of honing you to be individualistic, yet also an overly generous servant of the church.

    When you leave, you have very little financially. I worked in lots of labor jobs. I was a furniture laborer. I worked day jobs for $5 an hour. I dug ditches. I unloaded trucks. During what I call the 14-year hiatus, I wanted to get back to ministry as a priest, but there wasn’t an avenue to do that in the Roman Catholic church.

    It wasn’t until 2004 when I found the Ecumenical Catholic Communion that I could be a priest again.

    We are one of the expressions of independent Catholicism, which are churches that follow the practices, the beliefs and the teachings of the Catholic church but are not under Rome, not under the pope. The pope is not our superior. I’m still functioning as a priest because I was accepted by the founding bishop of this Ecumenical Catholic Communion.

    There’s another way of being Catholic. There’s another way of being to be complete. That’s what all transitions are about. I’ve taken everything that I learned in my life as a Capuchin and as a Roman Catholic priest.

    It’s with me all the time, but I have gone beyond the limitations of that to a much more extensive consciousness.

    NYTimes
     
    NewLeb

    NewLeb

    Member
    I‘m not sure why we have to ignore the obvious just so we don’t have to “offend” Christians. Their religion is pagan, clear and simple.

    I mean, these people kiss statues and seek help from dead humans FFS. The only reason they stick to their nonsensical religion is simply because of ego. These losers (especially Levantine Christians) attach to their religion simply because of pride, and not because it makes any sense.

    They are probably the most hypocritical and hate-filled of all religious groups. For example, I’ve never witnessed more hate-filled religionists than Middle Eastern Christians who’ve moved to the West. These nobodys are always seen kissing a picture of Jesus, but when you mention for instance “Islam,” they start frothing maniacally at the mouth.

    It’s no wonder why their religion isn’t taken seriously anymore in the West, but only by the village idiots who still inhabit the Middle East.
     
    Iron Maiden

    Iron Maiden

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    I‘m not sure why we have to ignore the obvious just so we don’t have to “offend” Christians. Their religion is pagan, clear and simple.

    I mean, these people kiss statues and seek help from dead humans FFS. The only reason they stick to their nonsensical religion is simply because of ego. These losers (especially Levantine Christians) attach to their religion simply because of pride, and not because it makes any sense.

    They are probably the most hypocritical and hate-filled of all religious groups. For example, I’ve never witnessed more hate-filled religionists than Middle Eastern Christians who’ve moved to the West. These nobodys are always seen kissing a picture of Jesus, but when you mention for instance “Islam,” they start frothing maniacally at the mouth.

    It’s no wonder why their religion isn’t taken seriously anymore in the West, but only by the village idiots who still inhabit the Middle East.
    looooool did you come up with this theiry while u were throwing rocks at the “devil”?😂😂
     
    JB81

    JB81

    Legendary Member
    There is no “devil,” silly. The devil is all the doubt and fear that is within man, not some red-skinned and two-horned creature.
    You know some so called none pagan religions practice it. I don't see you hating towards them.
     
    Iron Maiden

    Iron Maiden

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    There is no “devil,” silly. The devil is all the doubt and fear that is within man, not some red-skinned and two-horned creature.
    my good man, i was merely pointing out your hypocrisy in criticizing a “pagan” pratice while your biggest religious pilgrimage is a pure “pagan” practice 😂😂

    jeye tkhaberne la ele 3an el devil :)
     
    NewLeb

    NewLeb

    Member
    my good man, i was merely pointing out your hypocrisy in criticizing a “pagan” pratice while your biggest religious pilgrimage is a pure “pagan” practice 😂😂

    jeye tkhaberne la ele 3an el devil :)
    Dude, you haven’t proved how it’s pagan. The whole practice to begin with is symbolic in nature- DUH.
     
    Iron Maiden

    Iron Maiden

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    Dude, you haven’t proved how it’s pagan. The whole practice to begin with is symbolic in nature- DUH.
    all religions take up the practices of the ones they replaces to better assimilate its followers, rocket science, islam is not an exception and venerating the moonstone and throwing rocks at the devil is a clear continuity of pagan tradition with a twist

    In Mecca, pilgrims perform "the little pilgrimage," circulating seven times around the 50-foot-high structure of the Ka'ba, the building in which the revered Black Stone is set in a silver hasp. As they circumambulate, pilgrims stroke or kiss the stone, which is worn smooth from their touch.

    Stones have always played a significant part in the religions of desert-dwellers. Ancient Arab poets questioned the stones about the fragility of human life but recognized too that even stones, despite their solidity, will be eaten away by time. When Islam arose in the early seventh century in the Arabian Peninsula, many pagan customs and rites were absorbed into its practices, and stones played a signal role.
    u’re welcome :)

    @mods maybe you should move this discussion? i leave it up to you gals
     
    NewLeb

    NewLeb

    Member
    all religions take up the practices of the ones they replaces to better assimilate its followers, rocket science, islam is not an exception and venerating the moonstone and throwing rocks at the devil is a clear continuity of pagan tradition with a twist
    BS- Christians (or at least Catholics) actually believe that praying to and kissing a statue will get them an answer from said statue. Muslims know that “stoning the devil” is an entirely symbolic act. BIG DIFFERENCE.
     
    Iron Maiden

    Iron Maiden

    Paragon of Bacon
    Orange Room Supporter
    BS- Christians (or at least Catholics) actually believe that praying to and kissing a statue will get them an answer from said statue. Muslims know that “stoning the devil” is an entirely symbolic act. BIG DIFFERENCE.
    just throwing BS doesnt mean u countered my point i’m afraid :)
     
    My Moria Moon

    My Moria Moon

    Legendary Member
    Orange Room Supporter
    BS- Christians (or at least Catholics) actually believe that praying to and kissing a statue will get them an answer from said statue. Muslims know that “stoning the devil” is an entirely symbolic act. BIG DIFFERENCE.
    wtf did you just say? If the muslims religion was so superior, how come you find the most retarded systems and countries are being run under sharia while those inhabited by statue kissers have seen inventions like the internet, the telescope, the computer, the iPhone, Hubble, spaceships, penicillin wawawa... That fu**** devil you keep chasing with stones seems to have come to stay. About time you try kissing statues for a change, perhaps you'd get some answers and start producing something more useful than bomb belts.😜
     
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