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Catholic News Service
As the Year for Priests moves into its final phase, a chorus of Vatican officials and experts has defended priestly celibacy and rejected the idea that celibacy has anything to do with sexual abuse by priests.
The latest to take on critics of celibacy was Manfred Lutz, chief of psychiatry at a German hospital and a consultant to the Congregation for Clergy.
Speaking at a theological convention on the priesthood in Rome March 12, Lutz said people who view celibacy as "unnatural" fail to understand the positive value of self-control in human sexuality.
"Science now tells us that there is no correlation between celibacy and pedophilia," Lutz told an audience of about 700 priests at the Pontifical Lateran University.
The assumption that celibacy represents a warning signal for psychosexual imbalance is also wrong, said Lutz, who helped organize a Vatican conference on sex abuse in 2004. On the contrary, he said, it's the wider society that misunderstands sexuality and that promotes an "idolatry of the body" that has left millions of people unhappy.
Lutz said there was no question that celibacy "is certainly not something for weak characters." The commitment to celibacy usually falters in a priest when his spiritual life weakens, or when he becomes too focused on himself. For that reason, it may be a good idea to have priests live in communities when possible, he said.
Lutz said it was not true that married priests would be better able to pastorally guide married couples. For one thing, he said, there is a risk that a married priest will unconsciously and inevitably apply his own personal marriage experiences to the problems faced by others, whereas a celibate priest has a wider viewpoint.
Filed under: Religion
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