Friday, 17 September 2010

My married friend, the Roman priest.

I did not want to talk about the Pope or Catholicism at all and yet here we are on day 2 of the Popes visit and I will share some of my thoughts mostly because they conflict with each other as well as with much of what is being written.
When I was child the Catholics in my street were treated like pariahs by the non Catholic community.They were thought strange creatures not because they went to church every Sunday because we all did that but because they were frightened of their priests. Rules were laid down and had to be followed. I had a boyfriend who once ran away down the road sooner than being spotted by the local priest. Roman Catholics were strange figures and very much misunderstood I think.
The notion of celibacy for priests did not help. They had no human relationships inside their communities which a spouse and children would have provided.
My early views were based on prejudice as well as observation so actually meeting some in later life was an eye opening experience. I have written elsewhere in his blog about my friend but what I did not say was that my friend  was that very rare thing in the Catholic Church, a married priest.
They do exist.
He had in fact been an Anglican priest,and had married before going over to Rome. The church could not break up his marriage so he had been accepted into the faith complete with baggage but had never been a parish priest. That would have been going too far. He had written his books and taught in seminaries.
When I met him his wife had died and he was happy to talk about her and about his relationship with her which had not been a celibate one.
I now know several Roman priests and would never dream of speculating on their state.
I do know though that in any discussion of family, sex, the role of women in the church they all address the subject with open minds and generosity.
Any institution like the Church of Rome or the Anglican church is going to have it's flaws, it's problems,and it's dilemmas but the people inside them are still people. As priests we have to try to demonstrate the love of God to all men. All of my Roman colleagues do that in abundance and I love all of them dearly.
One day a Pope may come who can address the issue with love and joy. Because that's what we were given this huge privilege for. Thank you God.

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