Celibacy in Crisis: A Secret World Revisited

By A. W. Richard Sipe | Go to book overview

13

THE ACHIEVEMENT OF CELIBACY

What would happen if men remained loyal to the ideals of their youth?

-Ignazio Silone

If you had cut Andrew Pengilly to the core, you would have found him white clear through. He was a type of clergyman favored in pious fiction, yet he actually did exist.

-Sinclair Lewis

Classical literature about celibacy is fraught with presuppositions about the achievement of the ideal. The assumption that the ideal achieved is the ordinary state is the starting point of most presentations. The reality of this assumption is not so easily taken for granted by the serious practitioner of celibacy. "How is it possible?" was a question posed by many students in their last years of training for the priesthood. The majority of our informants are witness to a stretch for the ideal rather than a firm grasp on it.

This report has tried to avoid assumptions in favor of an accurate portrayal of the state of celibacy as it exists. We remain convinced that such a representation is more supportive of those who strive for the fulfillment of the ideal than are depictions that avoid the real difficulty in its attainment or that offer simple ascetic schemes for success.

I estimate that at any one time, 2 percent of vowed celibate clergy can be said to have achieved celibacy. By that I mean they have successfully negotiated each step of celibate development at the more or less appropriate stage and are characterologically so firmly established that their state is, for all intents and purposes, irreversible. These truly are the eunuchs of whom Christ spoke in the New Testament (Matt. 19:12). They made the decision for celibacy from the beginning. They

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Celibacy in Crisis: A Secret World Revisited
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Foreword ix
  • Acknowledgments xv
  • Part I - Background and Context 1
  • 1 - Why Study Celibacy? 3
  • 2 - What is It? 21
  • 3 - How Do Those Who Profess Celibacy Practice It? 43
  • Part II - Practice Versus Profession 55
  • 4 - The Masturbations 57
  • 5 - Priests and Women 81
  • 6 - When Priests Become Fathers 117
  • 7 - The Homosexualities 131
  • 8 - Sexual Compromises 171
  • Part III - The Heart of the Crisis 197
  • 9 - Priests and Minors 199
  • 10 - Who Abuses? 227
  • 11 - Can Clergy Sexual Abuse Be Prevented? 245
  • Part IV - Process and Attainment 269
  • 12 - Living with Celibacy 271
  • 13 - The Achievement of Celibacy 301
  • Epilogue Dlmensions of the Crisis 321
  • References 325
  • Index 341
  • About the Author 351
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