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Bishop to defend celibacy in debate two days before Pope’s visit

By on Thursday, 22 July 2010

Bishop Malcolm McMahon of Nottingham will defend the Church’s teaching on celibacy at a major debate in London two days before the Pope’s visit.

The bishop will be joined by Jack Valero, spokesman for the Cause of Cardinal Newman and the co-ordinator of Catholic Voices, and Fr Stephen Wang, dean of studies at Allen Hall seminary.

The event will take place at the Odeon West End Cinema in Leicester Square, London, and will follow a screening of Irish feature film Conspiracy of Silence, about a priest who wishes to marry.

The motion of the debate will be: “Celibacy should no longer be a compulsory requirement for the Roman Catholic priesthood.”

The speakers for the motion are the theologian Professor Tina Beattie, human rights lawyer Helena Kennedy and Fr John McGowan OCD.

The debate will be chaired by Ernie Rea, broadcaster and presenter of BBC Radio 4′s Beyond Belief.

Set in Ireland and inspired by true events, Conspiracy of Silence tells the story of a young trainee priest torn between the love for his girlfriend and his vocation to the Catholic priesthood. Made in 2003, the film did not have a British or Irish release because distributors perceived it as too narrow a subject to warrant a cinema outing.

The film’s director, John Deery, was an altar boy and at one point considered the priesthood. He is a practising Catholic.

Jack Valero, who is also a spokesman for Opus Dei, said: “I thought I would stand with Bishop McMahon: it would be sad not to answer the challenge.

“I think they want to stir up the thing, but we will just put our point forward. I was listening to a debate on priestly celibacy on the Sunday programme last week and I found their arguments really shallow.

“The film is emotional blackmail, and the three of us will be trying to explain the issues and show that the Church does not stop you marrying. If you want to marry, you can marry, no one is forced into the priesthood.”

Mr Valero said: “This debate has been going on for decades, so we’re unlikely to convince anybody on the night, but it would be a shame if the Church didn’t explain its view.

“We’ve decided with Catholic Voices that we’re going to tackle head on all criticisms of the Church, and explain our position in a reasonable manner. People might not agree with the Church, but they’ll hopefully understand that it has a reasonable position, and is not living in the Dark Ages, as is claimed.”

  • Michael Kirke

    As Jack says, the important thing is to make sure that the reasons for this long-standing practice in the Church are heard.

  • Mark Chatwood

    I just hope everyone remembers to be calm and charitable. After all, it's not like they're debating the historicity of the Resurrection or anything.

  • Michael Kenny

    The point being raised by the 'liberals' is that priestly celibacy was not instituted by Christ – but was a man made tradition partially imposed at a later date, which goes against Biblical teachings…
    If God is calling married men to the priesthood – then why not discern that call, and then ordain them?
    The church is dying on its feet in this country due to a severe shortage of good leadership…. it's so frustrating

  • Tom Kelty

    It would help if someone clarified the brutal suppression of the married clergy. It continued for many years. Those who did not renounce their spouse and children voluntarily were slaughtered.
    It is reasonable to believe that there were very few voluntary renunciations. Bishops of that era
    were in control of the military. All of this happened so that the Bishop would have clear title to the
    parish patrimony when the pastor died.

  • Graham Briscombe

    Mandatory celibacy has complex emotional issues associated with it. Consider the Open Letter to His Holiness Pope Benedict XVl on the website

  • John

    I have great respect for Jack and for the conservative voices in the Catholic Church. However, I have to say that I am not trying to stir things up – the Church does that very well on its own! – what I am doing is that priestly celibacy needs to be discussed.

    The film I made was 'inspired' by real stories from real Catholic priests in the UK, Ireland and Italy. There is a serious issue here and the Church, it would appear, does not want to address it. My film simply highlights this dilemma. I am not out to bash the Church. That's why I have assembled such a great panel of speakers. I want to hear all sides of the argument. Jack and I happen to be on opposite sides but we are both Catholics and this issue is important to all of us.

    Come and join us on Tuesday 14th September. John Deery, writer/director, Conspiracy of Silence.

  • Chris

    How does celibacy go against biblical teachings. According to the gospels Jesus was celibate. Liberals just cannot accept that men may just be able to control and integrate their sexual behaviour as a 'sign of cntradiction' to wider society. Nobody forces a priest to be celibate; he embraces it as part of his vocation.

  • Rmeburgess

    Bishop McMahon was reported in the national press in November 2008 as saying: “There is no reason why priests shouldn't be allowed to marry.It has always been a matter of discipline rather than doctrine[...]It is a question of justice for those men who want to be priests and to have a wife. Marriage should not bar them from their vocation but they must be married before they are ordained. The justice issue also applies to communities which could be deprived of the Eucharist because there aren’t enough priests.” It will be interesting to hear in the debate why he has apparently gone back on this very sensible view.

  • EditorCT


    Whether you want to face the fact or not, you are undermining Christ and His Church. This persistent attack on celibacy is diabolical – and I mean that, literally. It is from the Devil. I mean, who the dickens are you to decide that “priestly celibacy needs to be discussed?”

    Why this focus on worldly priests (for that is what they are) instead of giving us some wholesome filming on the lives of faithful priests? Now THERE'S a subject that really DOES need to be discussed.

    The point is well made in the article, that nobody is forced into the priesthood. Anyone who wants to get married, can marry – the Church doesn't force anyone to be a priest. There is a fashion abroad among many clergy, to argue that celibacy isn't integral to the priesthood, and they point to exceptions such as the (disgraceful) influx of Anglican married clergy to sustain their argument, and to the existence of restricted married priesthood in the eastern rites. I won't go on about the restrictions – any informed Catholic knows these. The point is that, like Christ Himself, Catholic priests are expected to be celibate, and again – for theological and ecclesial reasons – that should be known and understood by any Catholic worthy of the name.

    This persistent celibacy-bashing is an outright attack on Christ and His Church. And those responsible for promoting this dissent and encouraging worldly priests by keeping alive false hopes of a change in Church discipline and morality, will have a truly terrible judgment when their – your – time comes. The subject, recent popes have said, is not up for discussion so why waste time discussing it? Especially with the likes of Tina Beattie. I once heard her speak at a feminist meeting (I was an infiltrator) and she's good enough for a (sort of) laugh, but not for serious theology. I couldn't believe it when I read that she's now “Professor” Tina Beattie. No wonder parents are worried about declining standards in education.

    No prizes for guess that “Professor” Beattie will peddle the liberal view, celibacy was a later invention of the Church. Not true. Christ was celibate as were His first priests. The Gospels tell us clearly that the apostles gave up everything – they left all – to follow Christ. And Christ, the High Priest, is the model for every Catholic priest.

    Human rights lawyers ready to jump on every bandwagon, and faithless priests are ten a penny. So the speakers attacking priestly celibacy are no big deal. None of them, whether individually or collectively, will ever succeed in changing the teaching of Christ's Church. Shame on you for your part in the scourging of Jesus in His agony – for that is what you are doing by making this film.

  • Kevin

    If anyone wants to make a serious study of the issue of priestly celibacy in the Catholic Church – then I recommend that they read 'The Case for Clerical Celibacy: Its Historical Development and Theological Foundations' by the late, great Cardinal Alfons Stickler. It is available from

  • EditorCT

    Thanks for that, Kevin. I also recommend an excellent article which is posted on the Catholic Truth blog. The comments on that thread, of course, contain argument and counter argument, like any other blog, but the thread overall, together with the linked article, is academically sound – way above the heads of the likes of Tina Beattie, Helena Kennedy and the liberal elite in general.

  • John Deery

    Thanks for your comments, EditorCT, Kevin and others.

    I think it's very important that we are all able to have our view. I am sure Professor Tina Beattie will have something to say but I shall leave that to her. She is an intelligent, articulate woman. My point about priestly celibacy is a simple one: If a priest wants to be a priest AND be in a relationship, he should have a choice. These two positions should not be mutually exclusive. We – the Catholic community – have lost at least 100,000 priests (it's difficult to get full figures for obvious reasons) over the past 25 years because they left to get married or have some form of other relationship.

    These men could be serving Christ and the community as well as being in a sexual relationship with another person. I cannot see anything wrong in that. After all, humans are sexual beings. If a man wants to remain celibate, that's up to him. Let the priest have a choice. My film was 'inspired' from real stories from real priests. These were men who were angry at what was happening in their Church and wanted their stories told. I also had inside help from people very high up in the Catholic Church who wanted me to 'put the other side across' and this, hopefully, I did.

    Some people love my film (not just the 'liberals') but are too scared to speak out for the case of dropping celibacy. That, I think, is a great shame. Other people hate my film and what it says. Either way, I believe the Catholic Church will change its view on celibacy – maybe not whilst Pope Benedict XVI is in charge – but it will change. It has to. For a good deal of ordinary Catholics out there, there is no problem with married or gay priests. Why is the Vatican so hung up about it? How many gay men work in the Vatican? I know the argument about a man being gay yet not practising his sexuality. However, we all know that there are gay priests in the Vatican who do practise so what's all the fuss about? Let human sexuality take its course.

    I would encourage you to attend the debate and have your say. The more we talk about this, the better for the Church. Let's hear all views, right and left, for and against. In the end, the status quo will change and the Vatican will welcome married priests with open arms. The tide of change has already begun and is now unstoppable.

    John Deery.
    Conspiracy of Silence.

  • EditorCT

    John Deery,

    It comes as absolutely no surprise to me (or to any informed Catholic) that you would get “inside help” from people in high places – the bishops of the UK have long been in schism. They have lost the faith, so that's no surprise at all. When the faith goes, the morals quickly follow, so there will be those “in high places” who have come to the same conclusion as you, perhaps years a go, that they are “sexual beings” and, having put the cart well and truly before the horse, they are now where they are – quite possibly deeply ingrained in a life of mortal sin.

    Yes, no question about it, those in “high places” in the Church in the UK are Catholic in name only – if that. They're more comfortable with “Christian” so let me make myself clear: they are Christian in name only. And yes, you are right in that there are sexual scandals within the Vatican itself. There's a lot of dark stuff going on in “high places” so I'm very glad indeed that you have had the decency, at least, to bring that out into the open.

    But you are totally wrong in just about everything else you say. We are NOT “sexual beings” (otherwise, those of us who, for whatever reason, whether chosen or circumstantial, are not in sexual relationships have well and truly drawn the short straw) and Scripture warns us of the danger of “letting human sexuality take its course.”

    On the contrary, our fallen human nature means that we have to keep a tight rein on our desires or our human passions will enslave us. Interesting, that you give the very same argument for married priests (if they want to be priests, and want to be in sexual relationships, so be it – what they want, they must have) that adulterers give to excuse abandoning spouses for the latest, younger, slimmer, model to come onto the market – and too bad for the lonely wives and abandoned children who fall victims to this “let human sexuality take its course” mentality.

    Listen, thanks for the invite to the debate but you know perfectly well that it's already been stitched up. This is no “debate.” This is an attack on the Church with the vote safely in the bag.

    No doubt about it. You'll win the debate (which will come back to haunt you at your judgment) but the Church's authority to teach is God-given, and the ancient tradition of priestly celibacy will remain intact long after Tina Beattie is nothing more than a name in the phone book. Under “B” of course. No comment.

    You see, John Deery, we want holy priests. We don't want “ministers” – someone to console us when we have a bereavement (we'll manage along just fine, thank you very much) or to tell us, with monotonous regularity, to be nice to old ladies crossing the road, Oh and don't forget to give a few quid to Cafod and Sciaf….

    Thanks but no thanks. We want priests who are setting an example of holiness, not self-seeking pleasure hunters who want a wife and family with me paying the mortgage. No THANKS!

    Can you imagine – just imagine – St John Vianney or St John Ogilvie campaigning for the right to a sexual relationship? Please, if you ignore the rest of my post, answer that question. And give reasons for your answer, if you want full marks.

    Finally, contrary to your misplaced confidence, what you describe as “the tide of change (which) has already begun” is most certainly “stoppable.” It'll stop – like every other scandalous dissenting campaign – when the Pope, probably the next Pope, obeys Our Lady and consecrates Russia to her Immaculate Heart as she requested at Fatima. That's your problem, John. You have the support of this decadent world. We have God on our side.

    Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for priests.

  • Kevin

    It seems from your above comment that you are working to an agenda – and not just that of campaigning for married priests – as you also seem to have no problem with homosexual priests either. As for getting Bishop McMahon to defend priestly celibacy – this is somewhat akin to asking the fox to look after the chicken coop. Bp McMahon has often been – shall we say – somewhat amiss in his understanding of Catholic teaching on doctrinal issues, let alone disciplinary ones – see… and…. As for Tina Beattie – well, according to Tina's own publicly declared (various) dissenting stances, compared to (then) Cardinal Ratzinger's doctrinal commentary on the nature of assent that is due from Roman Catholics to Catholic teaching – it is strongly arguable that she is no longer in full communion with the Roman Catholic Church. And it seems like the entire British episcopacy has relinquished its responsibility to govern and teach, to the ubiquitous Jack Valero – just how many more pies can he have fingers in? Please!! Now, back to my original point, John. It may take you out of your comfort zone to read Cardinal Stickler's book on priestly celibacy, but for less than a tenner from Amazon (no, I don't work for them . . . ) I think it might be necessary if you want to seriously engage with this issue.

  • CathedralMan

    The paucity of your argument, editorct, is clearly evident by your personal attacks on those with whom you disagree. Why do you put the word 'Professor' in scare quotes? What evidence do you have that Professor Beattie's status is a sign of a decline in educational standards?

    You also say that the Catholic Truth blog is sound and way above the heads of Tina Beattie and Helena Kennedy. Are you seriously suggesting that the ramblings found on your blog would be in any way intellectually taxing for these people?

    If you cannot defend your position rationally without recourse to personal attacks, you should desist from posting anything at all.

  • Petrus

    This debate should NOT even be taking place, either online or otherwise. Bishop Malcolm McMahon should know this. The Church has spoken on this matter and it is NOT to be debated.

    “Although the teaching that priestly ordination is to be reserved to men alone has been preserved by the constant and universal Tradition of the Church and firmly taught by the Magisterium in its more recent documents, at the present time in some places it is nonetheless considered still open to debate, or the Church's judgment that women are not to be admitted to ordination is considered to have a merely disciplinary force.

    Wherefore, in order that all doubt may be removed regarding a matter of great importance, a matter which pertains to the Church's divine constitution itself, in virtue of my ministry of confirming the brethren (cf. Lk 22:32) I declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church's faithful.”

    Pope John Paul II, Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, 1994

    “Definitely held by all the faithful”. Rome has spoken. This who insist on “discussing and debating” are undermining Christ and His Church.

  • EditorCT


    Well, well, well. The infamous Catholic Truth Troll Strikes Again! Up to his old trick of alleging “personal attacks” to cover up the fact that he cannot refute a single word I say. So, lest I make the mistake of failing to answer your (only) question, let me do so at the outset. Yes, I AM seriously suggesting that the theological truths found on the Catholic Truth thread posted by me above, would be intellectually taxing for “these people” as you describe the Mssssssssses Beattie and Kennedy. Their minds are set in the “liberal” direction and, ipso facto, by their dissent they demonstrate that they are unable to grasp the central importance of the basic, most fundamental concept of assent to Catholic doctrine – faith and morals. Goodness, only a couple of weeks ago Tina was busy undermining Catholic teaching on abortion in that “organ of dissent,” The Tablet – you don't get more fundamental than that, CathedralMan. Oh and the reason for the inverted commas is that The Tablet described itself as “an organ of dissent” in one of their anniversary editions. Silly beggars. They don't even know how to dissent properly – first rule: pretend you are NOT dissenting.

    In any event, I made no personal remarks about any of the speakers. I merely pointed out their liberalism and having listened (closely) to Tina Beattie some years ago, spouting forth about education (she was a humble schoolteacher then, like myself) I'm entitled to my opinion about her alleged academic credentials. Not many schoolteachers rise to the giddy heights of professorships – correction: not many orthodox or (worse!) traditional Catholic schoolteachers rise to the giddy heights of professorships.

    As for your latest assault on Catholic Truth (why not take up golf or football like other men?) if the Herald bloggers visit the Catholic Truth link above to one of our several threads on the subject of celibacy, they will be able to make their own assessment of your criticism. In that thread alone, they will discover indisputable evidence from irrefutable sources of the fact that celibacy is of Apostolic Tradition and – despite exceptions – will remain the norm for priests in the Latin Rite:

    “… in order that all doubt may be removed regarding a matter of great importance, a matter which pertains to the Church's divine constitution itself, in virtue of my ministry of confirming the brethren (cf. Lk 22:32) I declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church's faithful.” Pope John Paul II, Ordinatio Sacerdotalis.

    John Deery thinks Pope John Paul II is wrong and dear old Tina Beattie is right – what thinkest thou, CathedralMan?

    Let those who want sexual relationships go east – oops, I forgot, they're too late – priests are not allowed to marry after ordination in the eastern rites either.


  • Cathedralman

    “I couldn't believe it when I read that she's now “Professor” Tina Beattie. No wonder parents are worried about declining standards in education. “

    You said you did not make any persobnal remarks about the speakers. What is the above? A compliment?

  • Louise

    I would be very interested in knowing where Tom kelly found this piece of information by asking for refenced sources and not just hearsay which it amounts to.
    The only churches which will survive are those which follow closely to he churches teaching on celbacy or any other moral doctrines for that matter. One can see that if it were not for some of our foriegn incomers to the RC church (who have kept the true faith) it would be dying in the UK as it is in some places anyway except for a few grey haired members.

  • Kevin

    I used to read the Catholic Truth blog when it was active, and occasionally used to contribute. I remember your persistent hounding of the Editor of that blog, and without recalling any specific comments, I always felt that you were hair-splitting and/or trying to antagonise her and I could never understand why. I note that although you excoriate EditorCT for her comment on this thread, I said pretty much the same thing about Tina Beattie, but you didn't comment on this at all. Now, maybe you thought my observations weren't worth commenting on, in which case, fair enough. Or maybe you just want to make personal attacks on EditorCT . . . it's beginning to look like that . . .

  • EditorCT

    What's “personal” about that? I am perfectly at liberty to comment on the academic standards of the day and any particular public appointment, without having to go to Confession. Get a grip.

  • EditorCT

    Well, thank you kind, Sir, for your gallant defence of little (not so) old moi.

    Cheque in post.

  • Graham Briscombe

    I would like to attend. Where does one apply for tickets?
    Graham Briscombe

    Come and join us on Tuesday 14th September. John Deery, writer/director, Conspiracy of Silence.
    Link to comment:

  • John

    Hi Graham, the best way to book tickets is via: There is a direct link on the Home page to the Odeon website and you can pick where you want to sit.

  • John

    By the way, EditorCT, Kevin and everyone else. Thanks for all your interesting comments over the pas few days. I have been traveling to my holiday destination – beautiful West Cork in Ireland – and have been unable to respond. When i am settled, I will reply. Briefly, what i will say is that this debate is certainly not a 'stitched up' as per EditorCT's comment earlier. This is an open debate. I have no control who will attend. There will, no doubt, be people on both sides and some undecided. It's up to the panel to put across their arguments. Debate and comment are free. We must always be able to debate. It's healthy. More from me later. John.

  • EditorCT

    London, John? Two days before the Pope arrives in Scotland? Are you mad? I've more to do than the bishops, to get ready for this major event in our lives up here where priests who want to marry are like Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion – ten a penny. No, much as I appreciate your call to arms (and part of me would LOVE to be there) I'm mindful of all the warnings across the internet that, when he arrives here, the Pope will be in danger. He sure will – in danger from our schismatic bishops.

    A girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do, John. But, hey, if you're ever looking for someone to debate with Tina Beattie, give me a call. I'll be there!

  • CathedralMan


    EditorCT's comments were as per usual – just an attack on someone without any justification whatsoever. What evidence did she provide that Tina Beattie was unworthy of her professorship? She did her usual with snide remarks, and putting the word 'professor' in quotes. At least you tried to jutstify your position rationally, a concept alien to EditorCT.

  • CathedralMan

    Your currency is nothing more than snide remarks and insinuation. You never were renowned for your rational debating skills.

  • EditorCT

    Awe, CathedralMan, come on. You like me really, don't you? Or maybe not.

    Listen, Tina Beattie is all grown up and on a professorial salary – she doesn't need a Knight in Shining Armour from Motherwell (which she's probably never heard of, Professor or no Professor) charging to her defence. If she thinks I'm out of order, she'll come on and sort me out. Or let me re-phrase that: she'll come on and tell me and then I'll sort HER out!

    And Kevin's not rational. I believe he's English. Say no more…

  • Marty

    John Deery

    It is overly simplistic, actually downright childish, to argue that the Church’s rule on celibacy is at the root of the present decline in the priesthood. This becomes quite evident when we consider that the numbers of Anglican clergy were decreasing throughout the 1940s and 50s while the ranks of the Catholic clergy were swelling to record levels. So this modern crisis in the priesthood has nothing whatever to do with sex, or the absence thereof.

    What we are facing in the Church today is a universal loss of faith and a consequent rejection of things eternal.

    Since the soul is created by God to desire happiness, the true fulfilment of which is in a supernatural union between the soul and its Creator by means of sanctifying grace, it stands to reason that when a soul declines in spirituality it will naturally gravitate towards carnality. It has to fill the void left by the absence of God, and so it seeks its happiness in temporal pleasures, illicit or otherwise.

    For some, the acquisition of wealth is considered to be the ultimate source of happiness. For others it’s fame, and for others yet it’s drugs or sex. None of these things, though, can satisfy the soul’s innate desire for the happiness that God alone can give. That’s why a good many famous millionaires who tried everything that money could buy eventually committed suicide.

    St. John of the Cross is the example that all priests must imitate. Referred to in the Gospels as “the disciple whom Jesus loved,” he maintained his celibacy from birth till death.

    Since none of the other disciples are singled out by Christ in this way, it seems fair to conclude that they were not celibate men when first called to the service of God. They were afterwards, though.

    At any rate, note that St. John is the only one at the foot of the Cross. All the other disciples are hiding in fear, which is a natural inclination in the carnal man. Furthermore, it was to the celibate St. John that Our Lord confided the care of His most virginal Mother. And it was to the same celibate St. John, on Patmos, that God confided the sublime mysteries concerning the end of the world.

    The message is clear. A man who dedicates his life to God in the priesthood must be like Christ in all things. He cannot be a man divided between the spiritual and the carnal. He cannot run both a parish and a family. He wears black, or should do, to signify his death to the world. This is what God has deigned and revealed through his Holy Church.

    Few have the taste for self sacrifice these days, the age of martyrs has passed. We live in a world that is more pleasure-seeking and more imbued with secularism than at any time since the foundation of Christianity. The world, in fact, has gone back to its pagan roots.

    The Popes have warned us of it, Sister Lucy of Fatima has warned us of it (of the great apostasy), and Sacred Scripture announces it. God is out, suffering for the kingdom of heaven is out, purity is out, indifference and carnality reign. This is the real root of the celibacy controversy.

  • Leprechaun

    Is there any point in debating whether the Rock of Gibraltar would look better facing in another direction, or whether it ought to be sited somewhere else? Of course not. It is where it is and no amount of debate will move it. Similarly with the Church's teaching on Celibacy. It is what it is, and no amount of debate can or will ever change it. People who want to waste their time debating this issue are tilting at windmills, and would be far better off using their film-making skills and debating skills to campaign for the restoration of all things to Christ.

  • Leprechaun

    Is there any point in debating whether the Rock of Gibraltar would look better facing in another direction, or whether it ought to be sited somewhere else? Of course not. It is where it is and no amount of debate will move it. Similarly with the Church's teaching on Celibacy. It is what it is, and no amount of debate can or will ever change it. People who want to waste their time debating this issue are tilting at windmills, and would be far better off using their film-making skills and debating skills to campaign for the restoration of all things to Christ.

  • leprechaun_himself

    Is there any point in debating whether the Rock of Gibraltar would look better facing in another direction, or whether it ought to be sited somewhere else? Of course not. It is where it is and no amount of debate will move it. Similarly with the Church's teaching on Celibacy. It is what it is, and no amount of debate can or ever will change it. People who want to waste their time debating this issue are tilting at windmills, and would be far better off using their film-making skills and debating skills to campaign for the restoration of all things to Christ.

  • leprechaun_himself

    Is there any point in debating whether the Rock of Gibraltar would look better facing in another direction, or whether it ought to be sited somewhere else? Of course not. It is where it is and no amount of debate will move it. Similarly with the Church's teaching on Celibacy. It is what it is, and no amount of debate can or will ever change it. People who want to waste their time debating this issue are tilting at windmills, and would be far better off using their film-making skills and debating skills to campaign for the restoration of all things to Christ.

  • Tina Beattie

    I don't mind you casting aspersions on my academic credentials – after all, people can read my books and make up their own minds. However, I am deeply offended by the suggestion that I haven't heard of Motherwell, given that my mother grew up in Paisley and my father in Barrhead, and my mother now lives in Fairlie. Shame on you for being so insulting. And I would never turn away a Knight in Shining Armour, not even one from Motherwell.

    Tina Beattie

  • Tina Beattie

    Just to ensure that inaccuracies don't go unchallenged on this high quality blog, I must point out that I've never been a school teacher.

    Dear Old Tina Beattie

  • EditorCT


    Then we have a mystery on our hands. Certainly, there’s no information that I can find on either of your websites, about your career prior to becoming a Professor. There is a reference to TEACHING undergraduate courses at Roehampton but no mention of you having been an ordinary, plain as a pikestaff teacher yourself (the troubling aspects of which state of affairs, I leave to the great minds around me for their reflection – we'd worry, would we not, if laymen went about the place teaching surgeons how to operate?) and

    Unusually, your qualifications are listed as Phd. Lesser mortals are normally required to complete a degree before doing a higher research degree. Indeed, normally they’re required to do an Honours degree – at least that’s what they told me when I applied to do my M.Th. But there you go – the feminists have a way of reaching the parts the rest of us have to get to by beginning on the bottom rung of the ladder, meow, meow…

    The day course I attended at Warwick University was organised under the auspices of a feminist group (can’t remember which one – would it be the National Board of Catholic Women since I remember good old Angela Perkins being in attendance, trying to ignore me, best she could?)

    And, last but not least, the Tina Beattie I remember had a Liverpool accent and was a hoot (until you realised what she was actually saying – outright heresy, most of the time)

    Well, Tina? Is dear old Patricia making history here, by being wrong – at last? Were you or were you not, the speaker at that meeting in a university somewhere in England sometime in the nineties? Did you tell us that pupils (from cohabiting homes) would be interested to hear Catholic teaching about marriage and think “I must go home and tell mum and dad about this…”??? Words to that effect?

    Or is there another Tina Beattie in the Church in England? Please… no!

  • EditorCT


    I live in the Diocese of Motherwell myself and, believe me, it's no insult to wish the rest of the population be spared knowledge of the place: this is the original case of blissful ignorance.

    But if your parents are Scots, how come you had a Liverpool accent when I heard you speak at Warwick University? Don't say you're in the charismatic movement as well as being up close and personal with the feminists? Paisley, Barrhead, Fairlie and Liverpool? You don't get more speaking in tongues” than that.

    And as for casting apirins on your academic credentials – I haven't, I must confess, read any of your books, partly because the last time I agreed to read a book written by a feminist “theologian” I almost missed Christmas (two years later.)

    Whatever, and with all the respect absent in my previous posts, I have a very serious problem with people who describe themselves as “theologians.” No matter how many degrees I had in the subject, I wouldn't dream of describing myself as a “theologian.” So, why does every Tom, Dick and Tina do it?

    Unfortunately, the ignorant regard “theologians” as authority figures, and you and I know perfectly well that that is not the case. We've both got theology degrees and you're no theologian, our Tina.

    No “theologian”, however, well qualified, has any authority to teach definitely on faith and morals. That is reserved for the teaching office of the Church, the Magisterium.


  • ilovemybobby

    This should hopefully help in a big way, I am not going to London but, I do agree with what the film is all about, the VERY, very best of luck with who made the film, and credit to all involed.

    Something certainly needs to be done NOW!!!!!

    Take care.

    Philomena Carolan

  • Anthony

    Leprechaun, the main difference between a rock in the middle of the sea and the Catholic Church is obvious for all to see. The rock won't move but the Catholic Church will. The Berlin wall came down, The USSR fell apart and SA got their first black president. The CC is no different. It's just 50 years behind the rest of us. We all of the terrible scandel that the CC is involved with it has no right – moral or otherwise – to lecture people. It is a disgrace. We all know that most priests are not celibate – it's obvious. I have not seen the film in question but it seems to me that anyone who points out the hyprocrisy needs a pat on the back. If I were in London at the time I would go to the debate and say what I have just said here. Roll on change!

  • leprechaun_himself


    The difference between the Catholic Church on the one hand, and the Berlin Wall, the USSR and South Africa on the other is that the Catholic Church is Divine in its nature, having been created by Jesus Christ. As a consequence, the contents of its Sacred Magisterium, having been underwritten in their truth by the Holy Ghost, cannot be in error. So the Catholic Church IS different.
    The Catholic Church cannot and will not change its teaching on Celibacy, and no amount of talking, film-making or other tools of propaganda will bring about a change.
    Whilst there may be a few black sheep amongst the clergy, they are far fewer that the media would have us believe, and their appalling behaviour does not have any bearing on the Church's stance in this matter.
    Please also consider that the Catholic Church is divinely mandated to lecture people having been instructed by Christ Himself: “Go ye and teach all nations”.
    Long live Tradition!

  • EditorCT

    Well, this is a really important contribution to the topic. Thanks for this.

  • EditorCT


    Even in the liberal Tablet, but a few weeks ago, a lady who worked in a centre, housing and caring for abusive clergy, said, in a letter, that they had way many more Protestant ministers in there than Catholic priests. So, don't fall for the media talking up the problem. It's quite bad enough that any priest would abuse a child, but it's dishonest to spread abroad the impression that it's a widespread problem in the Church. It isn't.

    And you can't go about the place, either, alleging that “we all know that most priests are not celibate.” I know no such thing. Where do you hang about, then? I know some very good priests indeed. I hear priests in their homilies, very casually, referring to the books they've read that week – “I was reading the life of St John Bosco and he said…” and later in the same sermon: “I've been reading the life of (an obscure saint I'd never heard of but now want to find out more about him) …. So, switch to a traditional chapel, Anthony, if you want to meet sound priests, who are self-evidently seeking holiness. They're not perfect, of course, but they're a whole lot more perfect that the characters you seem to hang around. All the priests I know (including quite a few in the modern church) are appalled at the minority of priests who have been convicted of abusing children and they are doing their best to be good priests in the midst of this the worst crisis ever to hit the Church. And it doesn't help them to meet people who look askance at them, question them about their celibate life, and make them out to be some kind of oddball because of their God-given vocation.

    Then, too, a friend of mine from years ago, who'd married a C of S Minister divorced him following his infidelity.

    If you think a married clergy in the Catholic Church is going to solve the problems that arise when, to quote John Deery, “human sexuality takes its course” then you had better think again.

    The Church's authority to teach on faith and morals, and her permission to “bind and loose” (i.e. make and change her own laws) comes from Christ. Canon Law, disciplines, do sometimes change – when the Teaching Church mandates it so. Fasting laws, for example, can and do change – 24 hours down to 3 hours down to 1 hour (and still folk don't keep the fast, self-indulgent beggars) but there will always be a law on fasting.

    Similarly, just as the priests of the Old Testament abstained from sexual relations with their wives the night before their annual visit into the holy of holies (where they did NOT believe God, in his Real Presence was housed…) the priests of the New Testament – the apostles – were celibate from the beginning as is very clear from Scripture. I mean, name the woman who would live that itinerant lifestyle, hanging about with her husband's fellow priests day and night for the rest of her life. Oh and, name the woman who wouldn't get jealous when her husband locked himself away with another woman for some counselling – especially marriage counselling? Exactly. No way. Indeed, this kind of jealousy is a cause of friction in Protestant clergy marriages, according to at least one article I read some years ago in Life & Work (Presbyterian publication) – some years ago; can you imagine the situation now, with infidelity almost part of the wedding vows?

    All the evidence in the Church points to celibacy from the beginning and while there are some exceptions, in various rites, there are absolutely NO cases of priests being allowed to marry after ordination, so all that the likes of Fr Stephen Wang and his wonky think a likes can (fondly) hope for, is that future generations of seminarians be permitted to marry before ordination to the diaconate. Not going to happen, but that has to be the focus of this campaign because the Church has never, and never will, permit ordained priests to marry.

    And that will stand when the Rock of Gibralter has moved to Berlin and the USSR lays territorial claim to it and when the next SA President is an oriental.

  • Marty


    Your comments betray a person who is uncomfortable with holy purity. That is very worrying for any Catholic. You should remember the warning Our Lady passed on to the little Fatima seer Jacinta Marto, concerning modern times and the explosion of impurity that marks them. She said “More souls go to Hell through sins of the flesh than by any other sin.” This generation is obsessed with sex, which it idolises in much the same way as the Pagans did before Christ. The only other time in history when sex took centre stage in the hearts of men to such an obsessive degree was when the Freemasons of the French Revolution enthroned a naked woman on the altar of Notre Dame Cathedral and worshiped her as the 'Goddess of Reason.'

    Didn't Lucifer deceive Eve with the same false promise regarding reason, assuring her that she would become like God? And what was the result when Adam and Eve fell from grace? They covered their nakedness in shame before their Creator.

    Our Lord, His Holy Mother and St. Joseph were pure and celibate. The Church has a 2000-year history of priestly and religious saints, a heavenly army fostered on celibacy and the other Christian virtues. Only a Catholic with a very dulled conscience, or lost faith, would reject that divine tradition in favour of Protestantism. You'll note that both Martin Luther and John Knox, not to mention others, went for sex when they apostatised. Rebellion against the institutions ordained by God is a downward spiral from one sin to another until there is nothing holy left.

    One wonders why so many worldlings today, many of them, sadly, Catholic in name, are so utterly disposed to rid the Church of her priestly celibacy. It is one of the few holy things left in the world, yet you and others would wipe it out. Why is that? Is it a troubled conscience?

    Yours is not the Catholic spirit. Rather, you have the spirit of rebellion against a precious jewel before God (chastity) in His chosen souls. You would have them repeat Lucifer's non serviam (I will not serve) in respect to this sacred discipline.

    Yes, it is true that some priests and religious have betrayed their vow of celibacy and have fallen from grace. But I believe the majority continue to persevere happily in this sacrifice of themselves in union with Christ to God. You may wish to re-read the beatitudes uttered by Our Saviour, Particularly this one: “Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.” The carnal man will never comprehend the beauty of the chaste soul in God's eyes.

    The absence of celibacy is blessed by God only in Christian marriage, wherein the object of sex is the procreation of children. Marriage, however, is not now, nor has it ever been, the vocation of the Catholic priest or religious because theirs, says the Church, is a more perfect union with God in the perfect sacrifice of themselves for the salvation of souls, just like Christ Our Lord. Some of the married Anglican priests recently received into the Catholic Church have already confirmed the absolute incompatibility between the married vocation and the priestly/religious one.

    I suggest you do some research into these matters touching Catholic Faith and morals before making future comments. A reasoned argument would at least show objectivity on your part, not just blind passion.

  • Richard

    Are you lot mad? I have just come across this site and have read some of the ridiculous comments? Don't you all know that religion is just made up? It's there to supress and control people, usually the poor. Have none of you read Richard Dawkins' The God Delusion or Christopher Hitchens' work? Or are you all too scared to read something that does not fit in with your own thinking? Grow up, please. Get a life. This life. Not a life after the one you are supposed to be living NOW. Jesus was a man like anyone else. He lived, was married, had two children and did not die on the cross. Please, get real and start living.

  • leprechaun_himself

    Moderator – please remove this post which is out of sequence, and which I hope has now arrived in its correct sequence as a response to Richard. Thank you.

  • Raoul3456

    So the fullness of revelation is to be found in the works of Dawkins and Hitchens. Thanks for that insight, Richard. It's interesting that, as someone who presumbly prides himself on his rationality, you espouse a Dan Brown view of Christian history.

  • leprechaun_himself


    No, not mad – just better informed about certain things that really matter, such as ensuring that our immortal souls spend eternity in Heaven rather than in Hell.
    You have made some rather sweeping statements in your post, and you have mentioned two authors who have expressed their personal opinions on matters that might ensure them plenty of sales of their books.
    What evidence do you have to support your claim that “religion is made up and is there to control and suppress people”? Or your other claims about Jesus being married, et cetera?
    You ask us to “get a life”. That is exactly what we are using this current life for – to ensure that the eternal life we get in the next world will be to our liking. Richard, open your eyes whilst you still have the opportunity, and see if you can get a life.

    The same goes for dissidents and for those priests who have betrayed their sacred vows and who are attacking the Church's teaching on Celibacy.

    And do please try not to stray off topic when blogging.

  • Richard

    Leprechaun, just like your name, religion is man-made-up. There are no such things as leprechauns (apart from you) and there's no such thing as 'divine' religion. Are you so sad that you have to have some hokey-kokey idea to get you through your life? How about just living the ONE LIFE you have and enjoy it? There have been millions of deaths all in the name of religion. Some religion that, eh? Clearly some of the people who have written on this blog are intelligent but what I fail to understand is why they waste their name peddling such purile NON-sense. Whay not put their brain to better work and help the world in some other way. This religion obsession – especially the Catholic faith – is both warped and weird. Grow up or, in your case, grow taller!

  • leprechaun_himself


    Which part of: “And do please try not to stray off topic when blogging” did you not understand?

    This blog is about Celibacy, not about me being vertically challenged nor even about you being cerebrally challenged.
    It would be off topic to advise you that Catholics do not regard themselves as being on earth to get as much enjoyment out of this transitory life as possible. Rather, they are here to know God, to love Him and to serve Him in this life, and to be happy with Him in the next, but as I do not wish to go off topic, I will leave you to mull over that thought in private.