Sacerdotal Rule: No Sex

By Larry V. Sipin
The Manila Times [Philippines]
Downloaded July 14, 2003

The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) recently announced having "approved in principle" the guidelines governing sexual misconduct of the clergy.

I don't see a need for guidelines.

The rule is clear–no sex.

On ordination, a priest commits himself to three vows: celibacy, obedience and poverty. Actually, poverty is a gray area because priests are allowed to own and enjoy things material provided they have a detached attitude over comforts and luxuries. Some religious congregations impose additional vows. For instance, the Cistercian Order of Monks, popularly known as Trappist Monks, threw a vow of silence into the deal.

The sacrament or rite of ordination as a Catholic Priest is called holy orders.

"No sex" is part of the holy orders.

No, I don't think the Reverend Bishops need to crack their heads to formulate guidelines against sexual misconduct.

If a priest gets caught fooling around, the consequence is laicization.

No, silly–that's not a form of castration. It means reversion from clergy to laity.

DURA LEX SED LEX. "Many are called, but few are chosen."

As a boy, I was called. But, sadly (or happily?), I was not chosen, lasting only four years at the seminary.

Had I become a priest, I don't think I would have problems dealing with the vows of obedience and poverty. But the vow of celibacy would drive me nuts. I'm not "manyakis," but, sex being a basic instinct, I don't think I can do without it.

I mean, I would be "tao lamang" even in the event that I became a priest.

But it's not as if would-be priests are not aware of what they're going into.

I don't know how antisex discipline and brainwashing are being imposed in seminaries nowadays, but, boy, in my time, they were super-duper strict.

To illustrate how strict they were, there was a full-blown scandal at my seminary over the discovery of a Playboy centerfold under the pillow of a seminarian, who was expelled on the spot. The incident didn't stop there. Our Prefect of Discipline launched a full-blown investigation. Each and every seminarian was subjected to intense interrogation, with the Prefect intent on flushing out all and sundry who as much as stole a peek at the bunny. On the Prefect's recommendation, the Rector didn't think twice about kicking out four or five seminarians who pleaded guilty. What the inquisition failed to uncover was that the pic went around and was ogled at by half the seminary population, this ex-seminarian included. We never knew what happened to the centerfold. My guess is the good seminary priests kept it, and not necessarily to preserve evidence.

It was harsh to expel the boys, but t'was part of the drill for a life sans sex.

If a seminarian who merely looks at a picture of the goodies is to be expelled, how much more a priest who actually tastes the goodies?

I know, the rule is harsh, suppressing, as it does, a basic instinct.

But then, dura lex sed lex.

MEA CULPA. If a priest is caught with his pants down, admits to having sired children, gets married, or otherwise violates his vow of celibacy, no if and buts–he should be defrocked. Good for him if a priest manages to keep his "sextra-curricular activities" secret, but still, he has his conscience.

The vow of celibacy is an integral part of the priesthood, or, at least, the Roman Catholic priesthood. As a matter of fact, it is the one vow that separates the Roman Catholic priest from ministers, rabbis, pastors, or whatever other religions and sects call their men of the cloth. A priest ceases being celibate (and gets caught), and he should be deemed having relinquished his priesthood, with defrocking a mere formality.

Alright, in the name of due process, let there be a cannon court or something similar to a court martial to try sexually errant Soldiers of Christ After all, it's different being a Bishop Yalung, who confessed to sexual activity, and a Bishop Bacani, who claims being framed.

But let the consequence be firm–a priest found guilty beyond reasonable doubt, or who bows in mea culpa to sexual indiscretions, has no business remaining a priest.

The problem is Holy Mother Church has been treating sex offenses as if they are not offenses.

AMEN. Mother Church likes to keep her priests, no matter what.

A typical case is Yalung, who, on admission of sexual relations and considering that he has two kids, should have been automatically laicized but instead remains a Bishop.

I know of priests from my native Ilocos Norte who were banished from the diocese for sexual offenses, only to resurface elsewhere, still as priests. Favorite dumping grounds are hospitals and military installations where sex-stained priests are recycled as chaplains. I know of errant Ilocano priests who got shipped abroad to serve the flock in parishes with strong "saluyot" communities such as Honolulu and other Hawaiian cities, Daly City in San Francisco, and Carson City in Los Angeles.

Why would the Church be so lax?

The only reason I can think of is shortage of priests here and worldwide.

The most current data on sacerdotal manpower in the country is found in the "1985-1995 Statistical Profile of the Catholic Church in the Philippines" compiled by the research office of the CBCP. The research paper showed that as of 1995, the country's 57.1 million Catholics (out of the then population of 69.7 million) were being served by only 6,654 priests for a ratio of one priest for about 8,600 Filipino Catholic faithful. I can imagine that the ratio is more disproportionate today considering that the population has grown by leaps and bounds even as priestly vocations have been on a continuing wane.

The Church simply can't afford to lose priests.

However, if a priest cannot remain true to his vows, the Church has no choice but let him loose.

Unless Rome changes the rules and allows priests to cohabit, marry, or otherwise enjoy sex, priests who indulge in worldly pleasure should be defrocked.

We can only pray that our priests persevere.

Father, lead not the fathers into temptation, and deliver them from evil.



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