September 12th, 2013
03:38 PM ET

Key Catholic official sparks celibacy questions

(CNN)–CNN's Eric Marrapodi reports on what a key Catholic official said about changing church rules on celibacy.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Anglican • Belief • Catholic Church • Christianity • Pope Benedict XVI • Pope Francis

soundoff (167 Responses)
  1. saggyroy

    I think celibacy for priests is a good thing. It keeps these lunatics out of the gene pool. (Paraphrasing Sagan)

    October 10, 2013 at 5:54 am |
  2. Prophecies


    September 18, 2013 at 6:48 pm |
  3. Douglas

    Celibacy is a means of keeping the priests focused on serving God and his people, not meeting the needs of a wife and children. We should honor the dignity of celibacy as a righteous act of commitment to God.
    The pressure to remove celibacy is coming from those who have lowered morality barrier in other areas including the concept of marriage, the use of narcotics, age of consent and public behavior.

    Defend celibacy! Honor our priests and nuns!

    September 17, 2013 at 6:40 pm |
    • Ralph Monkman

      Celibacy is merely a tradition which the Pope must declare voluntary not obligatory. The Pope must allow priests to marry because: 1) There is a serious shortage of priests because of the celibacy issue. This allowed pedophiles and deviants to infiltrate the priesthood, almost bringing the Church to its knees. No pun intended. 2) The wife of a priest or minister devotes countless unpaid hours in the service of her husband's parish. The diocese would be getting a 2 for 1 deal. 3) The married priest and his family would be an example to other Catholic families in the parish. 4) A married priest would have more understanding and credibility in counseling, etc.
      Further, the Pope must approve the ordination of women. If angels have no gender and if souls have no gender until they enter a human physical body then priests should have no gender either. The most forward thing the Anglican Church has done in the last 50 years is the ordination of women and this has worked out well. There are many devout, even saintly women in the Catholic Church who would make excellent priests. This would alleviate two problems: 1) the shortage of priests and 2) the prevention of pedophiles gaining a foothold again. Christ chose to be born of a woman and, in His lifetime, raised the status of women by counting them among his personal friends. In the Early Church there were women apostles, teachers and Bishops. In the 5th century, the Bishop of Rome declared himself Pope or Head Bishop over all. The Roman church thentook a giant step backward and abolished all female influence in Church matters. Pope Francis now has the (necessary) opportunity to rectify that shameful mistake. He has to demonstrate to Islam that the Roman Catholic Church recognizes the equality of women. How can he, as Pope, criticize Islam for the subjugation of women when his Church has been doing the same thing for 1600 years? Peace.

      September 17, 2013 at 9:46 pm |
    • Meredith S.

      Celibacy doesn't keep anybody from doing anything. It is a gift of god. One may devote all her energy to serving others. It doesn't prevent anything.

      September 18, 2013 at 7:37 pm |
  4. ronvan

    WHY? IF the RCC has been preaching the "word of God", and it is true & correct, why would you now, after so long, change things? Does it mean that they were wrong? OR, does it mean, like alot of faiths, that they were actually teaching
    "personal feelings" and because of todays views of religion & lifestyles they HAVE to adapt & make changes to keep their "flock" coming?

    September 16, 2013 at 5:59 am |
    • aldewacs2

      It's a membership drive issue.

      October 2, 2013 at 6:16 pm |
  5. Mona

    RC is a dying religion anyway; in not much more time they won't matter.

    Their decline began when birth control, education, better communications tech, and women's rights advances stopped the biggest means of Catholic propagation and continuance: large, poorly educated families.

    September 14, 2013 at 6:03 pm |
  6. Martin

    Lea, a Protestant critical of the Catholic Church, closed his long book with the following statement:

    "We may be on the eve of great changes, but it is not easy to anticipate a change so radical as that which would permit the abolition of celibacy. The traditions of the past must first be forgotten; the hopes of the future must first be abandoned. The Latin church is the most wonderful structure in history, and ere its leaders can consent to such a reform they must confess that its career, so full of proud recollections, has been an error."

    September 14, 2013 at 9:26 am |
    • Martin

      To which –we whole heartedly agree!

      September 14, 2013 at 9:26 am |
    • What does the Bible say?

      1 Corinthians 7:32-40

      I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord. But the married man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife, and his interests are divided. And the unmarried or betrothed woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit. But the married woman is anxious about worldly things, how to please her husband. I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord. If anyone thinks that he is not behaving properly toward his betrothed, if his passions are strong, and it has to be, let him do as he wishes: let them marry—it is no sin. ...

      September 14, 2013 at 9:33 am |
    • Isaac

      Regardless of how you served, we know what the scriptures say,

      If any man serve Jesus, let him follow Jesus; and where Jesus is, there shall also His servant be: if any man serve Jesus, him will the LORD GOD honor. (John 12:26).

      September 14, 2013 at 9:39 am |
  7. Universe

    Quran says (Islamic Scripture)

    “The example of Jesus, as far as GOD is concerned, is the same as that of Adam; He created him from dust, then said to him, "Be," and he was.” Quran [3:59]

    “They say , "We live only this life; we will not be resurrected. If you could only see them when they stand before their Lord! He would say, "Is this not the truth?" They would say, "Yes, by our Lord." He would say, "You have incurred the retribution by your disbelief." [6:30]

    “No soul can carry the sins of another soul. If a soul that is loaded with sins implores another to bear part of its load, no other soul can carry any part of it, even if they were related. ... [35:18]

    “They even attribute to Him sons and daughters, without any knowledge. Be He glorified. He is the Most High, far above their claims.” Quran [6:100]

    “Recall that your Lord said to the angels, "I am placing a representative on Earth." They said, "Will You place therein one who will spread evil therein and shed blood, while we sing Your praises, glorify You, and uphold Your absolute authority?" He said, "I know what you do not know." [2:30]

    It does not befit God that He begets a son, be He glorified. To have anything done, He simply says to it, "Be," and it is. [19:35]

    “We have honored the children of Adam, and provided them with rides on land and in the sea. We provided for them good provisions, and we gave them greater advantages than many of our creatures.” Quran [17:70]

    “O children of Adam, do not let the devil dupe you as he did when he caused the eviction of your parents from Paradise, and the removal of their garments to expose their bodies. He and his tribe see you, while you do not see them. We appoint the devils as companions of those who do not believe.” Quran [7:27]

    “O children of Adam, when messengers come to you from among you, and recite My revelations to you, those who take heed and lead a righteous life, will have nothing to fear, nor will they grieve.” Quran [7:35]

    “Losers indeed are those who disbelieve in meeting God, until the Hour comes to them suddenly, then say, "We deeply regret wasting our lives in this world." They will carry loads of their sins on their backs; what a miserable load! [6:31]

    Thanks for taking time to read my post. Please take a moment to visit whyIslam org website.

    September 13, 2013 at 11:34 pm |
    • Reality # 2

      What the Koran also says making it a book of terror and horror for all non-believers and why said book should be burned:

      http://www.muslimaccess.com/quraan/arabic/005.asp et al

      o "Believers, take neither Jews nor Christians for your friends." (Surah 5:51)
      "Believers, when you encounter the infidels on the march, do not turn your backs to them in flight. If anyone on that day turns his back to them, except it be for tactical reasons...he shall incur the wrath of God and Hell shall be his home..." (Surah 8:12-)

      "Make war on them until idolatry shall cease and God's religion shall reign supreme." (Surah 8:36-)

      "...make war on the leaders of unbelief...Make war on them: God will chastise them at your hands and humble them. He will grant you victory over them..." (Surah 9:12-)

      "Fight against such as those to whom the Scriptures were given [Jews and Christians]...until they pay tribute out of hand and are utterly subdued." (Surah 9:27-)

      "It is He who has sent forth His apostle with guidance and the true Faith [Islam] to make it triumphant over all religions, however much the idolaters [non-Muslims] may dislike it." (Surah 9:31-)

      "If you do not fight, He will punish you sternly, and replace you by other men." (Surah 9:37-)

      "Prophet make war on the unbelievers and the hypocrites and deal rigorously with them. Hell shall be their home." (Surah 9:73)

      "Believers, make war on the infidels who dwell around you. Deal firmly with them." (Surah 9:121-)

      "Say: 'Praise be to God who has never begotten a son; who has no partner in His Kingdom..." (Surah 17:111)

      "'How shall I bear a child,' she [Mary] answered, 'when I am a virgin...?' 'Such is the will of the Lord,' he replied. 'That is no difficult thing for Him...God forbid that He [God[ Himself should beget a son!...Those who say: 'The Lord of Mercy has begotten a son,' preach a monstrous falsehood..." (Surah 19:12-, 29-, 88)

      "Fight for the cause of God with the devotion due to Him...He has given you the name of Muslims..." (Surah 22:78-)

      "Blessed are the believers...who restrain their carnal desires (except with their wives and slave-girls, for these are lawful to them)...These are the heirs of Paradise..." (Surah 23:1-5-)

      "Muhammad is God's apostle. Those who follow him are ruthless to the unbelievers but merciful to one another." (Surah 48:29)

      "Shall the reward of goodness be anything but good?...Dark-eyed virgins sheltered in their tents...They shall recline on green cushions and fine carpets...Blessed be the name of your Lord..." (Surah 55:52-66-)

      September 14, 2013 at 7:40 am |
  8. Atheist, me?

    One thing about celibacy in the RCC is that it is only for the Latin rite! There are other rites not just the Anglican rite priests who may be married. The Pope just makes it hard for the Curia to be staffed by the married and Latin rite children are made to think it is the only way but it has never been!
    Maraprodi should have researched better!

    September 13, 2013 at 7:23 pm |
    • Sara

      Yes, the eastern rite arried priests are every bit as much a part of the Roman church and supported by the pope. mWeirdly ignored hear, by bad research or to make the story look more dramatic.

      September 14, 2013 at 5:58 am |
  9. joncraft84

    Reblogged this on Handicap and commented:
    Should the Pope change the Catholic Church? I am for celibacy because priests brides are the church, if they were to have family of their own. The church would have even more conflicts than they do now. And we don’t need anymore conflicts. This goes back a long time, why change it now? I understand why, but I don’t think they should. As you can tell this is a big deal to me.

    September 13, 2013 at 1:30 pm |

      Godless Vagabond
      Why is it a big deal? Means absolutely nothing to me. I avoid Catholic churches like I avoid traffic and the plague.

      September 13, 2013 at 1:45 pm |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

      I'd like to be a fly on the wall the night that marriage is consummated.

      September 13, 2013 at 1:47 pm |
    • Snow

      why the big deal? there are a number of religions in the world where the priest must compulsorily be married in order to do some rituals..and there are not many conflicts there.

      Bottom line, its upto the people. if people want to bring up conflicts, they will, wherever they are. if they are actually as dedicated to their god as they claim to be, they would not bring it up.

      September 13, 2013 at 5:45 pm |
  10. Dyslexic doG

    Celibacy was to stop priests creating powerful dynasties. It was always just the con self policing itself.

    September 13, 2013 at 10:43 am |
  11. Agnostickids

    How the heck did Jesus find guys named Peter, John, James, Matthew, Andrew, Philip, Thomas and Simon in the Middle East???

    Think about it.

    September 13, 2013 at 9:46 am |
    • Dyslexic doG

      things that make you go hmmmmmm ...

      September 13, 2013 at 10:41 am |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

      Yeah, not an Ahmed in sight.

      September 13, 2013 at 10:42 am |
    • ttwp

      These were the English translations. Their names would have been Hebrew (John – Yohanan; Tom – Teom, Matthew's Hebrew name was Levi,etc).

      September 13, 2013 at 11:00 am |
      • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

        You aren't too perceptive to humor I see.

        September 13, 2013 at 11:02 am |

        Godless Vagabond
        Wow! Talk about going over your head!

        September 13, 2013 at 1:46 pm |
      • Seven Gold

        Translation for John would be Yochanan. Yes?

        September 13, 2013 at 8:36 pm |
    • Reality # 2

      One answer from the Christian Forum, April 13, 2013 via a five Google search:

      Those names are the english translations...

      "Apostle's names:
      Simon was Sh-imon. James was Yakov (that is, Jacob). John was Yochanan. Bartholomew was Bar-Talmai (son of Ptolemy). Matthew was Matti-tyahu, meaning, “gift from God.” Thomas was Tau’ma, an Aramaic name. Thaddaeus was a variant of Theudas, which was a Grecian version of Judas or Yehuda.

      Andrew and Philip are interesting because those are clearly Greek names—Andreas and Filippos; there are no Hebrew equivalents.

      September 13, 2013 at 11:00 am |
      • Reality # 2

        Oops, make that " a five second Google search".

        September 14, 2013 at 12:17 am |
    • SouthernCelt

      It's called translation. The Bible wasn't written in English. It was a combination of letters written in Aramaic, Greek, Latin, and whatever other language the letter written in. St. Jerome translated the whole thing between 380 AD and 410AD into Latin which was the language of commerce just like English is today, and bound it into one book now known at the Latin Vulgate. That is The Bible.It is still in the Vatican Archives. I has been translated into every language where it has been sold. Still the best selling book in the world. Before the naysayers climb all over me, yes some erroneous copies (bad translations) were destroyed to keep the message as pure as possible. If you really want purity, go back to the original language or accept your current translation approved by whatever authority. Keep in mind the Original Bible has more books in it than the one the Protestants use.

      September 13, 2013 at 1:53 pm |
      • Doc Vestibule

        Only Schlafly's "New Conservative Bible" is the absolute, inerrant, perfect translation of the Word of God.
        We all know that Jesus would never use terms like "comrade".
        "Better dead than red – so sayeth the LORD"
        – McCarthy 19:53

        September 13, 2013 at 2:05 pm |
    • JoeSpo

      I hope you're not serious....those are the English translations from Hebrew.

      September 17, 2013 at 3:46 pm |
  12. To remain celibate or not?

    That is a free will choice that a person makes for themselves and the Bible is clear on this.

    September 13, 2013 at 9:03 am |
    • Sea of Galilee

      1 Corinthians 7:32-40

      I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord. But the married man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife, and his interests are divided. And the unmarried or betrothed woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit. But the married woman is anxious about worldly things, how to please her husband. I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord. If anyone thinks that he is not behaving properly toward his betrothed, if his passions are strong, and it has to be, let him do as he wishes: let them marry—it is no sin. ...

      September 13, 2013 at 9:09 am |
      • Xander

        What is best for the ministry-Unmarried ministers.

        Not all can remain unmarried and therefore they choose to be married and serve in the ministry-their time is divided between the call of duty to their wife and children and the works of the Lord.

        September 13, 2013 at 9:15 am |
  13. Andrew

    Celibacy is doctrine, not dogma, and thus can be changed. It would be difficult for a priest to raise a family, though, when he works 12 hours a day, six days a week.

    September 13, 2013 at 8:50 am |
    • Sara

      They only work so hard right now because there aren't enough of them because of the silly celibacy rule. Drop that and the numbers will shoot up. In most other Christian religions we've actually seen a rise in priests and clergy relative to the populations.

      September 13, 2013 at 9:17 am |
    • SouthernCelt

      It is also a Tradition dating back to the Apostles. Pope Paul VI also wrote an Encyclical on the subject. Any change would ignore or destroy that which isn't likely. What is Dogma is that the Priests always stands "In loco Christie" or in the Place of Christ, which can't be done if you are married, or a woman. The only key Catholic "official" you should be listening to is The Pope.

      September 13, 2013 at 2:00 pm |
  14. saggyroy

    I like the idea of celibacy for priests. Less idiots in the gene pool.

    September 13, 2013 at 8:39 am |
    • Dipstick

      Should be a rule for televangelists too.

      September 13, 2013 at 8:42 am |
    • Sara

      There are actually a number of geneticists who believe the centuries in which the more intellectual had to choose between learning and marriage significantly drained top IQs in Europe,

      September 13, 2013 at 9:18 am |
      • Alias

        I didn't know geneticists had all decided to agree on what intelligencs is, or how much influence genetics has on it.

        September 13, 2013 at 12:19 pm |
        • Sara

          I never mentioned either agreement or "intelligence", only IQ, which is just a number on a test, so we know exactly what it is.

          September 13, 2013 at 4:17 pm |
  15. Dyslexic doG

    yep ... it's all the unchangeable, unchallengeable word of god until someone says "hey, let's change the rules" and then somehow it's OK to change it.

    what a con game religion is!

    September 13, 2013 at 6:45 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      Show us where celibacy is an unchangeable, unchallengeable rule or any time any pope or bishop has said it is so.

      September 13, 2013 at 10:28 am |
      • Dyslexic doG

        then why has celibacy been mandated then? And by whom? And when you answer that, tell me by who's authority that person or person mandated it? In religion, it always ends up with someone saying "god told them that this is the way it has to be".

        So Bill, please try harder. from one as patently intelligent as you, your comment was very disingenuous.

        September 13, 2013 at 10:40 am |
        • Bill Deacon

          Do your own homework junior

          September 13, 2013 at 1:13 pm |
      • SouthernCelt

        It is in an Encyclical written by Pope Paul VI and called Sacerdotalis Caelibatus. Search Pope Paul on Celibacy and it should come up.

        September 13, 2013 at 2:06 pm |
        • Bill Deacon

          Celt, it might be useful to clarify for DD and others that Encyclicals are not dogmatic nor infallible. Which means they are not unchangeable or unchallengeable. Thanks.

          September 13, 2013 at 2:46 pm |
        • northerncult

          Dying religion anyway – soon no one will care.

          September 14, 2013 at 1:09 am |
    • SouthernCelt

      The only person that can "change the rules" is The Pope, not his assistants.

      September 13, 2013 at 2:04 pm |
  16. prophet

    we are praying for all of you.

    September 13, 2013 at 5:43 am |
    • Dipstick

      We'll think for you, since you can't do so correctly.

      September 13, 2013 at 8:41 am |
    • Dyslexic doG

      you are free to waste your time as you see fit. 🙂

      September 13, 2013 at 10:41 am |
  17. prophet

    there was recently and old catholic clergy who said that children would want to be with these dirty old men catholic clergy and they encouraged this and this interview was on cnn and cnn got a doctor to assess this person and what he said and the doctor said that this is exactly what abusers say to give them the excuse to abuse.

    September 13, 2013 at 5:38 am |
    • Dipstick

      and you need to learn what run-on sentences are and stop using them and get a brain stupid.

      September 13, 2013 at 8:41 am |

      Godless Vagabond
      Prophet seems to be "punctuation challenged."

      September 13, 2013 at 1:48 pm |
    • Meredith S.

      With all due respect, I am skeptical of your story. Can you please link that, because I don't quite believe this happened as you've stated.

      September 13, 2013 at 9:07 pm |
  18. prophet

    a lot of catholic clergy don't even believe in God.

    September 13, 2013 at 5:27 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      Name one.

      September 13, 2013 at 1:28 pm |
      • Sara

        There are probably some, but I suspect the number is small and would be difficult to accurately count. This article claims membership of some Catholics in an atheist group but I doubt it's verifiable:


        September 13, 2013 at 1:33 pm |
      • Doc Vestibule

        Father Jude Bullock, from Islington, North London.

        September 13, 2013 at 1:35 pm |
      • Doc Vestibule

        This article is speculative, but provocative:

        September 13, 2013 at 1:37 pm |
        • Bill Deacon

          I won't respond to provocative speculation, I'm sure you understand. But, here is a quote from Fr Bullock:

          According to Fr Jude, 37, there is no God "out there". His confusing explanations range from: "God is nothing and god is everything", to "God is being in itself".

          So, it would seem the statement that he does not believe in God is a little over simplified. It appears the good father is engaged in a deeply theological conversation on the nature of God that should not be reduced to anything like "There are clergy who don't believe in God"

          It may well be that the Sea of Faith is determined to be a heresy but if it is, it won't be the first time the Catholic faith has weathered that storm either.

          September 13, 2013 at 1:49 pm |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          He sounds like an agnostic polytheist. It doesn't exactly fit in with doctrine, does it?

          September 13, 2013 at 1:51 pm |
        • Doc Vestibule

          At the very least, he rejects core aspects of Catholicism like the resurrection, the virgin birth and the immaculate conception...

          September 13, 2013 at 1:57 pm |
        • Sara

          'According to Fr Jude, 37, there is no God "out there". His confusing explanations range from: "God is nothing and god is everything", to "God is being in itself".'

          You can theoretically call anything you want "God", from an ant to all the matter in the universe. Many, who are usually termed pantheists (though mostly not actually theisits), use "God" as a fill in for "all that is" – either because it is diplomatic or because they want to maintain the sense of awe about the world.

          I don't think you can look at the use of the word "God" as a determining factor for whether someone is an atheist, as any one can say "Yes, I believe in God, she's half-Spaniel and half-Dachsund and curled up on my lap right now." The determining fact to being an "atheist" is whether you believe in something that is generally considered a God, and which would at the very least have to have consciousness in its own right. I would go a step further and want a "God" to have, at least at some point in history, some power to either create or affect change. Otherwise the term just become meaningless and you get silly things like the Scientific Pantheists who are really just materialist atheists.

          I don't know what Jude believes, but nothing he has said in your quotes indicates anything that implies more than that he uses the word "God" where others say "Universe". If he doesn't think this god has consciousness, then the term is fairly meaningless. And if he does think it has consciousness but that it has no power, I don't think the vision aligns much with the traditional use of the term God.

          September 13, 2013 at 4:09 pm |
        • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

          The ruler of the Universe waited for as long as he could. When he heard the faint sound of the ship's engines starting he spoke to cover it.

          "It's nothing to do with me," he said, "I am not involved with people. The Lord knows I am not a cruel man."

          "Ah!" barked Zarniwoop, "you say `The Lord'. You believe in something!"

          "My cat," said the man benignly, picking it up and stroking it, "I call him The Lord. I am kind to him."

          "Alright," said Zarniwoop, pressing home his point, "How do you know he exists? How do you know he knows you to be kind, or enjoys what he thinks of as your kindness?"

          "I don't," said the man with a smile, "I have no idea. It merely pleases me to behave in a certain way to what appears to be a cat. Do you behave any differently? Please, I think I am tired."
          (The Restaurant at the End of the Universe)

          September 13, 2013 at 4:28 pm |
        • Sara

          Thanks, GOP, I only remember the talking cow from reading book what must be (yikes) 30 years or so ago. Great to see I still find it good stuff.

          September 13, 2013 at 4:34 pm |
      • ME II

        @Bill Deacon,
        Tom Rastrelli, ex-priest, a member of the clergy project (http://www.clergyproject.org/)

        While most, if not all openly agnostic or atheist, priests are likely no longer priests, it is not unreasonable to assume that there are at least some active priests who do not believe.

        Asking for their names is a bit ridiculous, since that would likely get them defrocked, excommunicated, or whatever. It's like asking to name one active undercover cop, or one active clandestined spy, somewhat self-refuting.

        September 13, 2013 at 2:44 pm |
        • Bill Deacon

          I think you're probably more accurate than prophet MEII. Any cleric who has a crisis of conscience and leaves the priesthood, I could believe. However, with the thousands of examples we could post of priests who gave their lives in defense of the faith, surely we could come up with a few who were willing to risk careers for their deeply held convictions, no? As to the specific and detailed beliefs of certain priests, it is possible that they depart from dogma. In which case they will probably be declared heretics. But, at the same time, Fr. Bullock is correct when he also sates that the Catholic Church is universal and accommodates a wide range of inquiries and discussions prior to making determinations. The secular world decries the deliberate pace of the Catholic hierarchy but it serves well to discuss at length and pronounce only after the issues are clear. At this point Fr. Bullock is still ordained and I suspect there are others who are in conference with their Bishops who will help decide if the priest should remain in the cloth or not. However, I would say that, when all is resolved, one would not nor could not remain a priest without the willing assent to the creeds and dogmas of the faith. It's really just an unsubstantiated ploy to slander the priesthood.

          September 13, 2013 at 2:55 pm |
        • ME II

          @Bill Deacon,
          I don't know about Fr. Bullock, nor the thousands who may have died in defense of their faith, or at least appeared to do so. What I am saying is that priests are human like the rest of us and likely encompass a whole range people. There are many priests who have lost belief and left and just by statistical probability, I'd guess, there are at least a small number of active priests who do not believe.

          I would disagree that anyone "could not remain a priest without willing assent", although "would not" is dependent on many factors, which is why the Clergy Project was started.

          September 13, 2013 at 3:09 pm |
        • Bill Deacon

          I am using "could not" in the sense of would not allow oneself to. As in I could not remain an agnostic once I faced the crucifixion.

          September 13, 2013 at 3:58 pm |
        • ME II

          @Bill Deacon,
          As @Sara points out below (and left) it is not always so easy to give up a way of life, especially if one has no marketable to speak of.

          p.s. The crucifixion wouldn't have been that remarkable. A good resurrection though would be hard to beat.

          September 13, 2013 at 4:54 pm |
        • Bill Deacon

          If you think the crucifixion of Christ wasn't remarkable that tells me you've probably not been to a passion play.

          September 13, 2013 at 5:40 pm |
      • Sara

        In talking to my aunt who is a Catholic nun, I get the sense that among the women she knows, and many priests (I don't remember ever discussing monks) people's beliefs often verge from the main line dogma as they age. But when you've been in the order all your life and decide at 60 that it really isn't for you, the reality is that there's nowhere really to go. So mostly people just keep their mouths shut except to friends, but realistically carry a much broader set of beliefs than you'll ever hear about.

        September 13, 2013 at 4:14 pm |
        • Bill Deacon

          Are you saraswati? We've discussed your aunt before. She reminds me of a statement attributed to Mother Theresa who supposedly said she didn't believe in God any longer or something like that. I suspect it's true that people who've devoted their lives to a religious order and who have applied a great deal of time and effort into seeking might come full circle, so to speak, in terms of faith. I also suspect that when they say those things, they mean something a little different than the 20 year old psych major or ten year old self aware atheist. I myself would tell you that I do not believe in God, if by God you mean the God I might have believed in 10 or 20 years ago or if you mean the God they described for me when I was young. None the less, I believe in God today and I believe He will reveal more things to me about Himself which will cause me to say in 20 years "I don't believe in the God I did then."

          September 13, 2013 at 5:45 pm |
        • Sara

          Yes, I'm saraswati. I agree that all those God's can be different things, but I suspect (though I could be wrong) that your gods were all conscious beings who paid some heed to the workings of humans? When the scientific pantheist says God = Nature, and nature is matter, do you want say he isn't an atheist? I think that waters down the definition of theism to something almost meaningless (ignoring the poor choice of word "pantheism" in the first place).

          September 13, 2013 at 8:28 pm |
        • truthprevails1

          It seems there are a lot of people within who stay due to the risks associated with leaving. For some it is the only life they have ever known (ie; financially-career wise); for others it may be the fear of rejection. Jerry Dewitt speaks of this on The Clergy Project's website, hearing/reading his story makes it easier to understand why people stay after they realize they no longer accept it.

          September 14, 2013 at 7:16 am |
    • Sara

      In interesting survey of Catholic priests in Ireland. I couldn't figure out if it was anonymous or not, so the 100% "belief in god" for the n=114 survey can't be interpreted too strictly. Interestingly 92% of priests believe in the "Catholic church's conception of god" and 60% thought they should allow women priests. 78% thought priests should be allowed to marry. The methodology isn't great, but it's a little insight.


      September 13, 2013 at 5:27 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.