Public Lynching of the Priesthood

Deal W. Hudson

Let me ask you a question: Do you really think that the media, and The Boston Globe in particular, are really interested in strengthening the Church? I think we all know the answer to that.

It should be very clear from the coverage of this scandal that the real object of the media feeding frenzy is the priesthood itself-the “unnatural” state of unmarried men living in a celibate state.

I’ll give you an example. Last week, I was asked to participate in a live cable TV news show on the recent scandal where I responded to comments like, “If there were married priests, they’d have a better gene pool!” and “If married men were allowed to enter the seminary they’d have better character to start with.”

As for “media objectivity,” the first twenty minutes of the hour-long show were given over to a barrage of comments against the unmarried, male priesthood. This included man-on-the-street interviews (all but one of which advocated a married priesthood and included insightful comments like, “If priests were married, they’d stop molesting children”); subtitles running across the bottom of the screen (with helpful notes like, “The celibate priesthood is a manmade institution); and an ongoing TV poll asking viewers whether or not priests should be allowed to marry (“You don’t have to be Catholic to participate!”).

The first guest was your typical Catholic-school-educated angry journalist who kept waving his arms furiously while squealing, “It’s unnatural! It’s unnatural!”

When I pointed out that “humans are not just animals, and it’s natural for human beings to guide their actions by intelligent choices,” he replied that “we are just animals.” I’m sure the nuns didn’t teach him that.

The other guests were equally as helpful…a former priest who left to marry, and a psychologist who treats pedophile priests. My only ally on the panel was an evangelical Christian who kept pointing out that pedophilia is not a celibacy issue. While I’m not sure why he was there, I’m certainly glad he was.

The show’s moderator, Lynn Doyle, told me that she had a difficult time getting anyone on the show to defend priestly celibacy. I said that celibacy should be rather easy to defend, especially in a culture where sexual behavior has damaged so many people.

The fact that you have 46,000 men in the U.S. and 100,000 men around the world who have dedicated themselves totally to the service of Catholics is a powerful witness to a generation addicted to genital satisfaction.

There’s certainly no way for the Church to excuse what happened to the many victims of priestly pedophilia. But the Church can defend herself against the charge that the priesthood is somehow to blame. Lets make sure, in the midst of all the shrill reporting, that the truth doesn’t fall victim to the media’s agenda.

By the way, despite the best efforts of the guests and the show’s producers, at the end of the program, the TV poll showed that 80% of the viewers agreed that priests should remain celibate.

Published during the furor over the priestly “pedophile” scandal.

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