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Austin Cline

Optional Celibacy for Catholic Priests

By July 8, 2003

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Sex scandals involving Catholic priests are not limited to the United States. Elsewhere they have become such a problem that radical solutions are being suggested. One solution which might normally be heard from American Catholics is the idea that priests should not be required to be celibate; now, however, we are hearing it from Roman Catholic Monsignor Nicanor Bautist of the Philippines.

Bautista's comments were made in the wake of the revelation that a bishop had sexually harassed his secretary - just six months after another bishop was revealed to have fathered a daughter. Vartland quotes Bautista as saying that he is not opposed to celibacy, just mandator celibacy:

"It's [celibacy] not a walk in the park, but I thank God for sustaining me. May I reiterate, I have upheld the Church's teachings, I believe in celibacy, I live it, and I'm ready to die for it."

Naturally, other Catholic leaders in the Philippines are not pleased - Manila Archbishop Jaime Cardinal Sin has told him to "desist from making public pronouncements against church universal order and discipline." As long as people keep talking about the possibility, however, reform will remain possible.

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