We can start with the premise that some men (yes, in this case just men) are “called” to the priesthood, even while some are more or less groomed for that calling — whether to please one or both of their parents or the neighborhood priest who has always been a role model or “pal” of the young man.
No doubt there are several other reasons for choosing the priesthood, but this column is not about the reason for entering the priesthood — unless a man felt it would be a good place in which to keep his unacceptable sexual urges hidden or under control; it is about what happens to a man after he becomes a bonafide priest.
As with any career choice, one must agree to a list of certain behaviors that are requirements for that career choice. For example, if one chooses the military, one must stay within the weight limits, pass the required physical tests of strength and/or endurance and anything else of that nature that goes along with one’s particular MOS (military occupational specialty, and actually perform one’s job to the satisfaction of one’s superiors. If one chooses the medical field, in addition to having one’s basic degree, one must attend the additional schools required for one’s medical degree and one’s desired specialty, if any, and graduate, which would then allow one to place those assorted letters after one’s name and practice in that field.
One does not get to be a priest by just signing on for the job. One is expected to have a standard four-year degree — in practically any subject, but it is preferred that one have a background in philosophy, religion, communications, or English), and there is also a lot of questioning, to be sure the candidate knows what he’s getting into, and lots of prayer and meditation time to help prepare him for a life that is so different from what he’s known.
The seminarian (starter priest) stage requires four years of study in theology at a seminary. After graduation, the graduate priest serves for roughly one year as a transitional deacon, something comparable to an intern. It typically takes five years from college graduation to ordainment, provided the priest has studied philosophy at the undergraduate level.
To become a Catholic priest, you must be a devout Roman Catholic male willing to lead an unmarried, celibate lifestyle. Celibacy means you will not take a spouse or a partner and have no sexual relations of any kind. Surprisingly enough, the Church considers the law of clerical celibacy to not be a doctrine, but to be a discipline. I personally believe that’s because disciplines can be changed, but apparently, doctrine cannot. Integrity, virtuous character and close affiliation with a Catholic congregation will naturally also be expected of one wanting to be a priest. In most cases, applicants are
between the ages of 17 and 55 years old, but there are exceptions. A criminal background check, medical examination, and psychological screening are also usually required. If accepted, the candidate will be required to undergo rigorous theological study and a process of discernment to confirm his calling. Even if one passes all that, it is no guarantee that this is the right life’s choice for the man.
It has been said by many that it is just about impossible to lead a truly celibate life. “Truly celibate” includes no masturbation. Man (and that really means mankind, which includes women) was not made to be celibate. While some manage it, it is not easy. And for those men who entered the priesthood with known or suspected sexual proclivities for young boys, thinking perhaps they could pray away those proclivities, we now very sadly know that it was not possible for them. One wonders what kind of life they may have led if they were not living as clergy, and what other young boys would have suffered because of their living outside the church at large.
Women can also choose the celibate life; they are known as nuns — yet even some married people, for one reason or another, find themselves
choosing or living the celibate life.
If, as St. Paul the Apostle suggested, man does not need woman and would do well to avoid all women in any sexual way — as he himself did
— mankind would soon dwindle down to an unsustainable number. That was obviously not God’s plan, for which most of us are thankful. But be
that as it may, the sex urge is more or less ever-present, and while those of us who are fortunate enough to have a loving spouse— or even,
while it’s against the teachings of the Catholic Church, a loving partner— the desire for physical contact and closeness with a human being can be even more overwhelming than the pure sex urge.
Regarding those priests who have uncontrollable feelings that lead them to succumb to the pure sex urge with young boys, one can only pray that the vetting process for such inclinations will eventually be more thorough, which will narrow down the field of offending priests and lessen the number of young boys who end up with lingering psychological and mental problems that can cause lifetime problems with relationships (with men or women) or their ability to trust another priest or even any man ever again. And some even take that out on the church-at-large.
If one chooses to devote himself to God, to do God’s will and serve mankind in whatever way he is called to serve, one would think that Jesus would be his role model. While Jesus was a human man in every way, even as he was still the Son of God, he chose to live a fully human life during his brief sojourn on this earth. It is worth noting that he did not indulge in sex; it was never his plan to leave any progeny behind. If one cannot accept that celibacy is currently still the Church’s discipline required of priests, one should acknowledge that the priesthood is not for him.
Men can still live a Godly life and do God’s will while married and enjoying the warmth and human love of a woman. But it could never be God’s will or anyone’s will for a man, a priest, to take advantage of young boys for their own perverted sexual pleasure just because they have the “urge.” It may seem silly or even some kind of childish, but that is the very time for them to ask for God’s help by invoking WWJD, or asking “What would Jesus do?”
They know the answer.
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Maramis Choufani is the Managing Editor of the Las Vegas Tribune. She writes a weekly column in this newspaper. To contact Maramis, email
her at firstname.lastname@example.org.