Priestly sexual conduct

The Herald reports:

Yesterday, the Catholic church in Scotland quoted O’Brien as saying that there had been times “that my sexual conduct has fallen below the standards expected of me as a priest, archbishop and cardinal”.

I would have thought any sexual conduct at all was ipso factor below the standards of being a Catholic priest?

The ban on Catholic priests having sex of course didn’t apply at the beginning. St Peter, the first Pope, was married.

The ban appears to have been first promulgated in the Synod of Elvira in 305 AD. Here’s some of the other canons or laws it laid down:

  • If a woman beats her servant and causes death within three days, she shall undergo seven years’ penance if the injury was inflicted on purpose and five years’ if it was accidental.,
  • Christian girls are not to marry pagans, no matter how few eligible men there are, for such marriages lead to adultery of the soul.
  • Catholic girls may not marry Jews or heretics, because they cannot find a unity when the faithful and the unfaithful are joined. Parents who allow this to happen shall not commune for five years.
  • Christians are to prohibit their slaves from keeping idols in their houses.
  • Landlords are not to allow Jews to bless the crops they have received from God and for which they have offered thanks.
  • If any cleric or layperson eats with Jews, he or she shall be kept from communion as a way of correction.
  • Christians who play dice for money are to be excluded from receiving communion.A woman may not write to other lay Christians without her husband’s consent.

I think it is fair to say that the Church has dropped some of their other edicts from 305 AD, and one day may do the same with the ban on priests marrying.

I always enjoy the quotes in the Southpark episode 6-08 where Father Maxi tries to persuade the Cardinals to stop priests sleeping with young boys.


What exactly do you suggest we change,Father Maxi.


Well, for one, no sex with boys.


The Holy Document of Vatican Law states that a priest, bishop, or cardinal cannot get married, so where are we to get our sex?

There’s some wisdom to those words.

And in case people say it unthinkable to change the church law, interestingly in 1970, nine German theologians wrote a letter calling for a discussion on the law of celibacy for priests. One of those nine was Joseph Ratzinger, now the Pope Emeritus.

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