Troubles continue to deepen for the Roman Catholic Church with credible accusations that Pope Francis himself is involved in the cover-up of abusive priests.
Cardinal Thomas McCarrick was disciplined by Pope Benedict for misconduct with teenagers and young seminarians, but Pope Francis reversed all of the disciplinary measures when he became pontiff in 2013. He not only removed all restraints on Cardinal McCarrick, he actually promoted him and made him his confidant when it came to nominating American leaders for the Church.
The problem goes back to the 60’s when the church made the terrible decision to deal with its priest shortage by admitting known or suspected homosexuals into the priesthood. With the indisputable connection between homosexuality and pedophilia, and a constantly available pool of potential victims in altar boys, a major, world-wide scandal was inevitable.
The issue exploded into public view recently when a grand jury report revealed that over 300 priests in Pennsylvania had abused more than 1000 innocent victims in dioceses all over the state since the 1960s. A full 80% of the victims of sexual abuse by Catholic priests have been males, confirming that pedophilia and pederasty (the abuse of post-pubescent boys) are pathologies linked without question to homosexuality.
It’s worth noting that the celibacy requirement for the priesthood does not go back to the origins of the Catholic Church but only back to the 2nd Lateran Council of 1139 AD. A proposal was made to impose a celibacy requirement at the Council of Nicea in 325 AD, but it was roundly rejected.
The man Catholics consider to be the first pope, the Apostle Peter, was clearly married. Jesus healed Peter’s mother-in-law, according to Mark 1. “Now Simon’s mother-in-law lay ill with a fever, and immediately they told him about her. And he came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, the fever left her, and she began to serve them” (Mark 1:30-31). And Paul remarks in 1 Corinthians that Peter, also known as Cephas, traveled with his wife, as did all the rest of the apostles and the brothers of the Lord (1 Corinthians 9:5).
In fact, Paul lays it down as a foundational principle that a man is not qualified to serve in God’s church as an elder or a bishop unless he is a married man. “An overseer (lit. ‘a bishop’) must...be the husband of one wife...He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church?” (1 Timothy 3:2-5).
The Church, it’s worth remembering, already does have married priests. If a married Anglican priest converts to Catholicism, he is allowed to stay married and yet still serve as a Catholic priest.
So if the Catholic Church follows the counsel of Scripture, and follows the example of Peter, it will quickly move to remove homosexual priests from every parish in the land - “Cleanse out the old leaven” (1 Corinthians 5:7) - and make room for married priests who can know the joys of marital intimacy and fatherhood while serving the Church at the same time.
(Note: while I have a number of other theological differences with the Catholic Church, I have set those aside solely for the purpose of this column.)