Social Question

JLeslie's avatar

Do you think part of the reason the Catholic church doesn't let priests marry is because they want to keep their gay club exclusive?

Asked by JLeslie (56889points) March 13th, 2010

I have heard that hundreds of years ago priests could marry, and that it was decided to forbid it because taking care of the families was very expensive for the church. I have no idea if that was the real reason?

Jump forward to modern times, and it seems many Catholic Priests are gay, and I figure they prefer not to have a bunch of women messing things up. I know gay Catholic men who go out with Priests, I think if the priest was seen out with a woman they are more likely to be asked to explain themselves, while gay priests kind of slip under the radar. Maybe it is also a reason they will not allow women to be priests.

I do not mean this question to be critical or negative about the church, just a matter of fact discussion. Also, I am not trying to imply their commitment to God and the church is a sham.

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27 Answers

janbb's avatar

(Oy vey)

JLeslie's avatar

@janbb LOL. Give it a chance. I gave you a GA.

KatawaGrey's avatar

Actually, the original reason for priests being unable to marry was a form of population control. In the past, it was fairly common for the youngest son to be carted off to the seminary to become a priest, As you can imagine, there were a bunch more priests back then than there are now. I don’t know if this was the only reason, but preventing priests from marrying did cut down on the birth rate.

La_chica_gomela's avatar

No, actually, removed. i’m not getting into this.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@JLeslie said: “it seems many Catholic Priests are gay”

You’re conflating homosexuality with pedophilia.

dpworkin's avatar

Pope Nazi XXIII seems to be implicated in protecting priests in his parish who were child sexual abusers, before he was elevated to Infallibility. The Vatican denies it, so it’s probably true.

Edit: Sexual orientation has nothing to do with pedophilia.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar


Nope. I take that back. You mentioned nothing about pedophilia whatsoever. I retract my earlier statement. My bad.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

And now I see @dpworkin‘s “edit”. You are correct. My bad.

JLeslie's avatar

Just to be clear: I am not talking about pedophilia at all. I see that as completely deviant abusive behavior, and I am not trying to imply in any way that Catholic priests are all pedophiles. I am not confusing being gay with being attracted to children.

And, just to add, I do not think all priests are gay, but I think a whole bunch of them are.

cyn's avatar

i’m sorry, but this question is very offensive.
I’ve known a lot of priests and from what I know, none of them are gay.

JLeslie's avatar

@cyndihugs I am not trying to say they act out their gayness (if that is really a word) sexually. Of the 4 people I know who go to church regularly, 3 of them are pretty sure their priests are gay. My BIL used to see his priest out at gay hang outs in Ft. Laud. My BIL is gay and has always been disgusted by the seeming hipocrisy in the church, but has been willing to attend when his SO’s have wanted to go.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

I don’t know any gay priests either. Never even heard of one openly gay. I have heard of numerous protestant ministers and politicians who are gay or have pursued gay experiences though. I would suppose there are gay men in all corners of life. So it wouldn’t surprise me to actually discover a gay priest.

JLeslie's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies When you say openly gay, I don’t mean they are announcing it. I mean if a person has an gaydar they know. In Gay communities it might be more obvious and accepted like Fort laud, FL.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Mother Theresa used to hang out with gang bangers in Harlem. That didn’t make her a gang banger. A priest that hangs out with gays doesn’t make him likewise. Priests usually depict gays as sinners, and priests hang out with sinners all the time.

Dog's avatar

Please note that I am in no way angry- I am just saying this:

This question is based on speculation and a very broad assumption. Even if they were Gay who is to say they are not committed to their vows the same as straight priests?

I am not Catholic. I just have a problem with sweeping generalizations that imply an entire collective group is deceptive and living a lie by their chosen profession.

To say all are in it as a “club” is as inappropriate as saying that all doctors are secretly sadists.

poisonedantidote's avatar

It all goes back to St Paul, who said he did not feel he could be married to someone as well as dedicating his life to god.

however, he never said that others should not and could not get married. i guess he just lead by example and others followed.

on a related note, i dont think many priests are gay. a lot of them are probably child abusers, after all Ireland alone has had 60.000 cases of child abuse from priests, but gay and pedophile are two totally different things.

not catholic, im an atheist (if curious)

Fenris's avatar

@cyndihugs : Welcome to the world, where offense and insensitivity are a part of life.

It’s a power play. At its inception, women had a lot of power. The club of guys that had convinced people an old Jewish myth had happened to give them hope, and that he’s pissed to keep them scared, and that they need money to keep the devil away, to keep them poor, didn’t want women to have power anymore. They didn’t want anyone but themselves to ever have any hope of power or control again. They controlled population spreading habits, they controlled education, philosophy, trade – it was a dictatorship the likes of which is matched only by the Cult of Time-Warner-Sony-Disney Trifecta.

syz's avatar

Please tell me that you don’t think that gay priests abuse children?!?

edit: Okay, I actually read the responses, and I see that you deny associating homosexuality with pedophilia. Good for you. But I still wonder at the wording of your question. “Gay club exclusive”? Do you somehow think that all priests are gay? Or that all gays become priests? What’s with this question? You seem to be making some sweeping (and unsubstantiated) assumptions.

Fenris's avatar

@syz : People are people, and if I’ve learned anything, a lot of people are capable of anything. Statistics can skew anything: if you look at a Catholic demographic, find all the abused children within that demographic, and cross-reference it with the number of gay priests, it’s not hard to make that data say what you’re agog about.

Above all, gay Catholic priests, like everyone else, and before all that, are people – and people can sometimes be fuckin’ crazy.

breedmitch's avatar

During the 20th century in large catholic families, the gay son was always encouraged to become a priest so the parents wouldn’t have to explain him to their friends.

phillis's avatar

Damn! My jaw dropped to the floor when I read this. That never happens! Brilliant question. On the whole, I don’t believe priests who molest are gay. I think they are merely predators.

Buttonstc's avatar

To answer the original question, ahem…

The following info about the origins of priestly celibacy is a condensed version of info from a website authored by a former nun who did extensive research into many historical traditions of the RCC.

The requirement for celibacy was begun in the middle ages. It was motivated by property inheritance customs.

The person who mentioned that it was the eldest son who entered the priesthood was right about that part. Of course it was the eldest son of the wealthy families.

The primary means to wealth in those days was land aquisition and the power it bestowed.

When the patriarch of the family died the inheritance passed to the eldest son. If the eldest son was a married priest (as it was originally) then upon his death the property passed to his son etc.

However, the church woke up to the fact that if there were no legitimate heirs, then the wealth and property was passed on to the church. The overwhelming wealth and vast land holdings of the RCC are legendary.

This also explains why the large numbers of priests (and even Popes) down through the ages who failed to keep their celibacy vows and sired numerous illegitimate children were never disciplined or expelled. Everything was just hushed up. After all, if they got kicked out, their property inheritance went with them and would not revert to the church.

As long as the kids were officially illegitimate they could not inherit. So everybody got what they wanted.

BTW yes, Paul mentions his personal choice to not marry but made it very clear that he was speaking for himself only.

And he added the caution for others “better to marry than to burn” making it clear that people shouldn’t be copycatting his choice.

The grace to live celibately is a gift of God and it’s certainly not for everyone. He expected most people to marry.

I think the primary reason the Catholic Church maintains the celibate priesthood has nothing to do with gay or straight issues at all.

For centuries they have covered over the original pecuniary motives with this facade of a superior spirituality and total dedication to God without the distraction of wife and family.

How can you back down from that lofty perch without getting egg all over your face, so to speak.

In order to be able to make a convincing argument for abandoning the celibacy requirement, they would have to make some logical case for abandoning decades of superior spirituality.

Other than coming clean about the original inheritance laws being no longer applicable to today’s customs, there is no logical position. But I don’t really see them really coming clean about this, do you.

They’ve basically painted themselves into a corner on the celibacy issue and there is just no graceful way out of it.

That’s my take on it and I think its the most logical one.

JLeslie's avatar

@Buttonstc Yes, I think that is most logical. They painted themselves into a corner. Thank you for the history.

@all I wanted to say that I was not making this assumption, just asking the question based on something someone had said to me and what I know in a limited way from friends and family who are Catholic. I agree the wording of my question was a little too sweeping, but I do think there is more gay men in the priesthood by percentage, then in the population overall. Meaning if 5% of men are gay in the world, I bet in the priesthood there might be 20%. It makes sense in a way. If you are a Catholic man, religious, and feel you are gay and know society and your family will not accept you, wy not go to the church where being asexual is a requirement, and no one will question why you have not married. As society is more accepting of gay people, this is less likely it would seem. Of course if it is simply the eldest son becomes a priest, then that would refute my theory somewhat.

I did not intend to assert all are gay (I totally made up those percentages). And, again, I was not saying that priests, if gay, are any less committed to the church or God. And, I did NOT mean they are going to bath houses and having orgies behind closed door. I would guess they take their vow of celibacy seriously. Homosexuals can be celibate just like heterosexuals. The question was not supposed to be about the act of sex. maybe I did not emphasize that enough seeing as many people were offended or jumping to pediphilia assumptions – not my intent at all.

JLeslie's avatar

I actually did a google search just now, and there are all sorts of articles about gay priests, AIDS in the church 10–15 years ago in the US occuring at 4 times the rate of the general population, but that AIDS related deaths were covered up, “clergy nights” at some restaurants and bars. Not saying I believe all of what I read, I never do, but this does seem to fit with what I have heard. Just sayin’ it is not the first time it has been discussed from what I see online.

I should have done a search before posting the question. But, still, none of the articles really talk about keeping celibacy as a way for gay men in the priesthood to stay “hidden.” So, my question/theory again seems to not be valid. There was one article written by an expriest who had fantasized about gay priests “coming out” he left the priesthood though, and he did not say why he had become a priest in the first place. This implies to me that the priesthood was not a safe haven for him as a gay man. Or, maybe he was just uncomfortable living a lie or the hipocrisy.

Most of the articles imply that the church ignores sexuality, which is also consistent with everything I hear about a Catholic upbringing (I don’t mean parents, I mean Catholic school; and also that celibacy would, or could mean there does not have to be a discussion of sex, because you are supposed to be asexual).

mattbrowne's avatar

Many priests are not gay, but the cavemen in the Vatican are afraid of sharing power with women. A married priest might listen to his wife once in a while. Good Lord!

Buttonstc's avatar

Unfortunately the dang iPhone won’t do Flash videos.

I tried the search on YouTube but maybe they no longer post on there or I’m not smart enough to find it.

Anyone have a different link without Flash?

Or just a brief synopsis of the clips content?

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