PRIESTHOOD IS BEING CRUCIFIED ON THE CROSS OF CELIBACY.

PeterDaly

Fr. Peter Daly. National Catholic Reporter

We cannot bring about real reform of the Roman Catholic priesthood unless we do away with mandatory celibacy for diocesan priests in the Latin rite.
Why would that improve the priesthood?
It would make priests more honest about ourselves and sexuality.
With real parents in the priesthood, it would make us more aware of the vulnerability of children and more outraged at their abuse. (Does anybody really think that if bishops were also real fathers that they would have covered up so much child abuse?)
With husbands in the priesthood, it would make us more respectful of women and their opinions. Married priests would also break up the “old boys” clique that surrounds clerical culture in seminaries and chancery offices.
Optional celibacy would also substantially expand the pool of potential candidates for the priesthood. It would not only increase our numbers but improve our quality.
Priestly celibacy is not all bad. As St. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 7:32, unmarried men are free to be “anxious” about the things of the Lord. Celibate priests can, if they want, be more single-mindedly available for the service of the church, without the competing demands of a wife and family. However, this is not always the case. I have known many celibate clergy who were single-mindedly anxious only about themselves.
Celibacy will always have some place in the life of the Catholic Church. Men’s and women’s religious communities would not be possible without celibacy. And there will always be a place for those who wish to be voluntarily celibate in the diocesan priesthood.
But, having tipped my hat to the place of celibacy and the good things it can give to the church, I want to say in the strongest terms possible that I believe that celibacy harms the church and damages the lives of most priests.
How does it harm the church?
Celibacy restricts the pool of eligible candidates for priesthood and diminishes its quality. The requirement of celibacy eliminates many men who desire to have a wife and family and sexual intimacy as much as a religious vocation. Every priest who has ever suggested a priestly vocation to young men has heard the response, “I would become a priest, but I don’t want to give up falling in love or having sex or having children.” Makes sense.
Worldwide, the number of Catholic priests has “flatlined” at about 400,000 for the last 50 years. Numbers are way down in Europe and in the Americas, where priests are headed for extinction.
The Vatican recognized the challenge that celibacy poses to a eucharistic church in the recently released “working document” for the October 2019 synod on the Amazon, in which it opened the door to the idea of relaxing the clerical celibacy mandate in order to bring the Eucharist to that remote region of the world.
Celibacy is depriving the church of the Eucharist in many remote areas. The Amazon experience is replicated in dozens of places around the world
In the U.S., priestly vocations have fallen off a cliff, largely because of celibacy. When I was in high school (1968), there were 59,000 priests in the United States, according to the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate. Fifty years later, in 2018, there were 36,500 priests. That is a nearly 40% decline! The Catholic priesthood is like Sears & Roebuck, slowly going out of business.
Ordinations in the U.S. have been hovering around 500 per year for more than a decade. That is just over half of what we need to replace the roughly 900 priests we lose each year to death or resignation. More than 3,000 parishes in the U.S. have no resident priest. Parts of the U.S. are like the Amazon, without the Eucharist.
The Holy Spirit has been trying to tell us to abolish celibacy for the last 50 years, but we are not listening. There is no shortage of married men who want to serve the church. Witness the huge increase in the number of permanent deacons, from zero in 1968 to more than 18,000 permanent deacons in the U.S. today. Nearly all of them are married men. Why can’t they be priests?
Many men leave the seminary and the priesthood because of celibacy. My own seminary class is typical. We had 38 men in our class when we started in 1982. We ordained 23 four years later. Since ordination, eight more have left the priesthood. Nearly all of those who left before or after ordination eventually got married or found a partner. Clearly, celibacy (which is defined as abstaining from sexual intercourse and marriage) was a factor.
If the priesthood is to be reformed, it first must survive. The priesthood is being crucified on the cross of celibacy.
Even if we had enough priests, celibacy would still be damaging to the church as a whole and to priests in particular. Why?
Because celibacy is not normal.
Celibacy is not healthy for many people.
Celibacy fosters a culture of mendacity and secrecy, which contributes to sexual cover-ups.
Celibacy is not essential to holiness or to priesthood.
It is not mandated by the Gospels.
Celibacy contributes to a culture of clericalism.
The fact that celibacy is not normal is self-evident. The “norm” for human behaviour is sexual intimacy. Witness more than 7 billion people on the planet. Somebody must be doing “what comes naturally.” Every human being needs some physical intimacy in their lives. In adulthood, sexual intimacy is normal and a healthy sexual life is a sign of psychological and sexual maturity.
That celibacy is not healthy for most people is also self-evident. Sigmund Freud thought that many pathologies arose from sexual repression. Sexual intimacy is part of a healthy life. Healthline’s website reports that moderate sexual activity lowers blood pressure, increases heart health, strengthens muscles, reduces the risk of a stroke, helps with depression, builds up our immune system, improves sleep, and extends life span, just to name a few of the benefits. Even a cursory look at the literature on sexuality tells us that a healthy sex life contributes to a healthier person physically, psychologically, emotionally and spiritually. It also promotes healthy, loving relationships as in marriage.
There are some people for whom celibacy is a healthy option at least for some period of their lives. Young people who are dating and widows who are finding their way in life after marriage can benefit from a chaste life. Sexual activity can distort your judgment. But I agree with Frank Bruni, who wrote in The New York Times in 2013, “Celibacy is a bad idea with painful consequences.”
Does anyone really think that we would have so many shocking clerical sexual scandals if we did not require celibacy? The clerical scandals of the last 30 years have revealed the hidden pathologies of priestly celibacy. When men are forced to give up sexual intimacy, all sorts of bad behaviours emerge.
The church would argue that priests are not “forced” into celibacy, that we choose it freely. But that is not how it is experienced. A gift must be freely given, not mandated. Celibacy in the Roman Catholic priesthood is a mandate. If you won’t promise lifelong celibacy, the church won’t ordain you. It is not experienced so much as a “gift,” but rather as a “price” for priesthood. For many people, the price is too high.
Most men have trouble remaining celibate. This is hardly a new discovery. The scandalous sexual u of priests has been chronicled in Western literature since The Canterbury Tales. I think most men fully intend to live celibate lives on the day of their ordination, but few of us really appreciated at ordination how hard it is to keep that promise.
[Fr. Peter Daly is a retired priest of the Washington Archdiocese and a lawyer. After 31 years of parish service, he now works with Catholic Charities.]

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PAT SAYS

Father Daly is right. Priesthood and celibacy are two separate gifts from God and they should not be tied together by the church.

A man (we will talk about men for now) may have a vocation to priesthood but not to celibacy. 

Anyone can have a charism for celibacy but not necessarily for the priesthood.

I think the imposition of celibacy on every priest has been one of the things that has led to the homosexualisation of priesthood.

A man who wants to be a priest, but not a celibate, will either simply not enter, or live a double life when he does.

Priestly celibacy is a great place for gay seminarians and priests to hide. It mean people will not presume they are gay as people will think they are not married as they have promised celibacy.

Then as they hide behind that presumption they can have sex like rabbits. 

A married priesthood would return the priesthood to a greater heterosexual/homosexual balance. 

 

59 thoughts on “PRIESTHOOD IS BEING CRUCIFIED ON THE CROSS OF CELIBACY.

  1. MournemanMichael 21st Jul 2019 — 2:14 am

    +Pat: this brings up the interesting subject of the origins of the celibacy “requirement” for the clergy of the RC church Latin rite. I’m no biblical scholar, less likely an expert on debating the significance of those supposedly centrally mandatory early biblical texts. And I say that even with acknowledgement of the dubious authenticity and reliability of those texts in the first place! I place little reliance on them as guidance for living, but if I take them as central for following the orthodxy, for what it’s worth in the debate: here goes!
    It seems to me that much of the western RC church’s preoccupation with sexual matters originated in the psyche and preoccupations of Paul. Preaching after Jesus’s death, Paul promoted a messianic cult which became a significant popular movement. Paul seems to have been a rather odd individual; one very conscious of his own rather insignificant physical presence as per 2 Corinthians 12:7-10. It’s readily credible that he himself was a rather unattractive specimen, with little “success” with the opposite sex and a corresponding distaste for them, or indeed any matters related to physical intimacy. Paul resolutely believed in his mission to promote his vision of the messianic role of Jesus, and allied to that, and which greatly influenced this promotion, was his own personal distaste for all things related to intimacy, sexuality or physical pleasure. From this deep seated psyche came his denunciation of sexuality, and corresponding praise of abstinence, chastity etc (1 Corinthians 7-8). Largely influenced by Paul’s writings, the early origins of Christianity relegated women as somehow inferior, and bodily pleasure as something to be resisted and striven against. Resisting the weakness of the flesh became a mark of excellence.
    This, for me, became the origins of the Christian church’s preoccupation with sexual matters. Previous and contemporary Greek and Roman cultures do not appear to have had the same “hang-ups” which have since become the hallmark of Christianity.
    Now there’s something for all you more proficient scholars to get your teeth into.
    MMM

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    1. A very good post, MMM.
      Your analysis is impressive, but it overlooks one, fundamental and seminal feature that is responsible more than any other, I believe, for Paul’s prioritising celibacy: his belief in the imminence of the Parousia (Christ’s second coming). Evidence for this general belief in the early Christian communes can be found not only in some of Paul’s letters, but also in other, New Testament missives.
      Effectively, Paul was telling early Christians: ‘Listen! What’s the point of nuptial hook-ups when Jesus could return any day? Any hour, for Christ’s sake! Hooking up for sex (whatever that is) would be just a distraction. Focus hard on what really matters here: Jesus himself. But look: if you really can’t exercise genital continence, then don’t go extra-marital, for heaven’s sake! Hook up to make it all morally legit. That’s what marriage is for, right? Legitimising sex? Forget all that ‘go forth and multiply’ stuff in Genesis. (God really hasn’t a clue sometimes.) No; hooking up (I mean ‘marriage’) is all about legitimising that…sex thing. So hook up in a hurry if you can’t keep it in your loin cloth.’
      This belief in the imminence of the Second Coming must account also, to some extent at least, for the occasional ecstatic joy expressed in certain letters by Paul.
      Basically, these guys deceived themselves, and their delusion about the Second Coming left many of them, especially Paul, with an overworked otherworldly orientation. No wonder the Romans mistrusted them, such was the parochialness and insularity of these early communes: they had ‘sedition’ written all over them.
      What interests me in particular about these ‘parousians’ is their psychology. Can you imagine the psychic devastation when time hammered home the truth that Jesus was in no hurry to return bodily to the planet, thank you very much. It must have shattered the increasingly brittle faith of many; in effect, made athiests of them.
      Much modern understanding of the New Testament is misshapen, even distorted, by a failure to factor in the nutty belief that Christ was going to pop his head round a wattle door some day, very soon, and say: ‘Honeys, I’m home!’
      I have had to point out to people this essential feature of early Christianity when some, sighingly, asked: ‘Why can’t I be as joyful as those early Christians?’
      Well, they would, if they unshakeably believed that Christ was going to walk through the door any day, any hour; but joyful, perhaps, for more than pious reasons: Forget about your debts! Forget about mortgage repayments! Forget about that bank loan! Forget about repayments on your car! Forget about growing old and frail! Forget about that receding hairlaine, that expanding waist, those shaky teeth!
      FORGET ABOUT IT ALL!
      Can you imagine the psychic devastation of those ‘parousians’? Can you?

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      1. MournemanMichael 22nd Jul 2019 — 11:09 am

        Thanks for that perspective Magna. Indeed awaiting an imminent Parousia appears to have featured highly in writings of the early christian era. The panacea of relief from earthly worries, and especially release from Roman oppression seems to have presented an attractive, if illusory attraction. And yes they seem to have believed it imminent. (1 Cor. 7: 29).
        But despite the inference in the latter that sexual concerns should not impede preparations, I prefer the weight of Paul’s constantly repeated derogation of women, things of the “flesh”, and physical intimacy in general as the more significant factors in the genesis of the infant RC church’s attitudes to sexuality.
        I suppose it’s a case of “De gustibus disputandum……….!”
        MMM

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  2. But how would it be balanced, Bp Pat, when the straggets could marry and faggets could not?

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    1. I’d love a faggot and a cream horn. I wonder is the bakery open

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  3. Fr Daly looks a bit gay.

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    1. … or big.

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      1. What has his size honestly got to do with what he’s saying? Or frankly his sexual orientation?

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  4. Priesthood is being crucified on the cross of hypocrisy.

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  5. I think it is a case of dualist thinking. Priests are spiritual and lay people are sexual. The church is a very unhappy place as the priests are also sexual and their needs are not being met. The laity are also very unhappy. They are also spiritual and need an adult prayer life and adult spiritual education. Their spiritual thinking is stunted at age 7 which is not good for an intelligent adult. Every one is going through the motions and getting nothing out of it.

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    1. Their priestly sexual needs are more than adequately provided for by gay bars, saunas, truck stops, meadows, and… well, let’s just say, other facilities.

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  6. This debate has already been convincingly argued and won. The only problem is the obstructionist attitude of the hierarchical Church which is failing to implement what is a no brainer and something that would help to bring the Church, its ministry and clergy in to some healthy functionality. In the meantime severe damage is being done. Other questions remain, namely the role of women, the hierarchical clericalism structure and governance of the Church, and a dysfunctional and unhealthy view of sexual morality and relationships. These too are doing incredible damage to the Church and the faithful. I hope that change in all these areas will not come too late. We are being held up by a hierarchy that is rooted in outdated, damaging and dysfunctional ways of being and thinking.

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    1. Have you thought of being true to yourself and becoming an Anglican? You’d be happier in that crowd, which despite implementing all the things you seek is in a death spiral.

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      1. That’s cos its a made up religion.

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      2. All religion is made up as a result of how one views salvation and revelation Jesus revealed. The churches created and marketed the package hi but

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      3. 10:53
        Anglicanism in a death spiral?
        So, too then, is its wingman, Roman Catholicism.

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      4. Anonymous at 10:53am
        Absolutely spot on.
        Evviva Maria!

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  7. Best wishes to Michael Router who will be ordained auxiliary bishop of Armagh this afternoon!

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    1. Michael Router will make an Excellent Bishop I watched his farewell Holy mass from his last parish it was very moving and a local guy made his crozier paid for from the laity as a Thank You.
      Last night Archbishop martin bless his crozier, ring, mitre and cross however +martin was stunned when Michael Router said he has a personal chaplain and that must be a first for the Bishops as none have chaplains but all have many private secretary’s
      As todays topic yes Pope Francis may allow married clergy as even last week the bishop of East Anglia ordain two guys one married and one single however I think the bishop got it wrong as the married guy should have been in the ordinate and was quite bad as at first blessing the queue for the single priest was long and not so much for the married priest.
      The Church is mixing us Catholic up with this current situation in East Anglia and Lancaster and needs sorted.
      Sorry to disappoint a lot of blog readers if Pope Francis allows married clergy he will still not allow gay clergy as that is against the Church teachings.

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      1. A couple of married Priests in Lancaster. One is a Prison Chaplain (who draws a Prison and Parish salary) and lives in a Parish with his wife and kids, the other is an Ordinariate who is in a regular Parish in Blackpool as the Ordinariate never took off here. He doesn’t say Mass in the Ordinarite rite either and is a regular Priest with a wife and kids, the only difference is that he can have sex and then others cannot. He draws a salary from being Hospice and Hospital salary as well as Parish salary. Bloody mess.

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      2. It just highlights the pomposity of Router already by declaring he has a personal chaplain and a degree of arrogance before the mitre is eve on his head. Then again he’s from Cavan God help us. The last import into Armagh from Cavan wasn’t exactly a great success in the wounded healer.

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      3. It is not a Church teaching that gay candidates should not be ordained.

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      4. I can see both the beauty of the ideal of a celibate priesthood for those who are called to it and the practical advantages of allowing married clergy.
        I do feel for those who believe they are called to both and end up as celibate priests. It must be challenging when they see Anglican converts can have both. It seems monstrously unfair however merciful it’s intention was.

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  8. 10.53 I have seriously thought of Greek orthodox. Their priests marry. The thinking of the Church Fathers is absolutely fascinating.

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    1. 11:23
      Fascinating…abhorently so.
      Much of their ‘thinking’ has landed today’s Church in the moral gutter.

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      1. 12.50: Magna, what’s responsible for bringing you to the nor gutter? You vile sewer.

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    2. Orthodox priests cannot marry. However an already married man may be ordained deacon and subsequently a priest. Only unmarried priests may be ordained bishop.

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  9. It was a false poster trying to cause more discontent between the Church and Bishop Pat.
    There is NO Archdiocese of Armagh changes announced as it will be in mid August.
    Some people must get a thrill at causing disharmony or trying to undermine + Pat

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    1. Thanks@ 11.41am. Good to see clergy in Armagh read this blog and have set the record straight for us. Who else would know that clergy changes are due in mid August. Thanks for clarifying that for us and for falling into the trap.

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      1. Certainly amazing as we have very talented clergy and Archbishop martin knows who is who.
        Tune in and see Armagh in its glory.
        https://www.churchservices.tv/armaghcathedral
        Don’t be shy guys we all know you love the Church.
        Cardinal Brady has been given a side seat thought he would have been to the left of Archbishop Martin or concelebrating.

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  10. Sure celibacy has ruined the church hi but it’s far from the whole story. It’s also history theology hierarchy and a mindset going back to Plato which isn’t part of revelation but

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  11. Pat didn’t read the blog but you watching the golf today?

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  12. I disagree with Daly that celibacy is depriving people of the Eucharist in remote areas. That’s a deeply clericalist opinion, and it shows that Daly’s solution for reforming Roman Catholic clergy misses the mark by a country mile. Underlying his belief is the self-assurance of that gargoyle-esque little French fool, Jean Vianney, who saw the priest as ranking ever so slightly in importance below Christ himself.

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    1. Poster at 1:34pm
      How dare you speak of the Cure d’Ars in that manner you really are the lowest of the low, I’m surprised that Patsy printed it. This great Saint who is the patron of Priests, I thought even Patsy might still have a devotion to him but seems not.
      Evviva Maria!

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      1. Pat loves the Cure and has celebrated Mass in Ars.

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  13. Read an interesting book by Bishop Bill Morris of the Diocese of Toowomba. That Diocese is spread over thousands of miles and he dared raise the subject of the possibility of women or married Priests. Guess what – Pope Benedict kicked him without any trial at 66 and said he had no right of appeal against the successor of St. Peter.

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    1. Ok Paul

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    2. Great read Paul. Benedict fired him as you say without any trial or process. Shocking.

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      1. Shocking?
        Why?
        Didn’t you know that papacy is absolute monarchy? And that the Unholy Father can do whatever the Hell he wants?

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    3. Patsy at 2:09

      Patsy I am delighted to hear that and glad to know you still have a devotion to this great Saint. I have heard Mass at his Shrine and was able to venerate his Relics, a wonderful experience. St Jean Marie Vianney pray for our priests
      Evviva Maria

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      1. Bellarmine you must be from the old school….
        You do not hear the Holy Mass you take part in the Holy Mass.
        You must not sit as a listener but take active part in the Holy sacrifice of the Holy Mass.
        Maybe you are lapsed or unable to attend however you can watch the Holy Mass online in 2019.
        However most of your comments do not relate to a Good Holy catholic as they would never speak never mind write your comments.
        I read constantly that you are speaking up for the Church however there is no need today we celebrate not listen to the Holy Mass for Saint Mary Magdalene
        God Bless

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  14. I doubt whether Daly thought through (or at all) the psycho-sexual and the moral repercussions of his declaring sexual intimacy essential (and, er, seminal) for healthy human living; one of these from that open pandora’s box of his is masturbation, and the single guy or gal. Morally right or wrong?
    If the need for human sexual release (which is more fundamental, humanly speaking, than sexual intimacy) is primal, and essential for healthy, HOLISTIC human living, then the Church’s traditional and uncompromising prohibition of masturbation is (implicitly from Daly’s view) contrary to what is measurable from natural law and should carry a health warning.

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    1. Hi Hun, you ok? x

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      1. 💋

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  15. Bishop Patrick, I tuned into Armagh Cathedral webcam for the Router enthronement at 3pm after reference to it earlier on your blog. Turned off 15 mins after Eamon Martin welcomed the usual x rays plus a big welcome, of course, to the Nigerian and to Cavan Brady (even though Eamon doesn’t want to be seen with him in public). What wanton sheer hypocrisy. When Eamon started to shrill and sing the Opening Prayer like a girl and effeminate queen I switched off. I hear Router has a personal chaplain and his crozier is hand made – bless him!! It reminds me when cockroach and suave Arnold of Westminster were ordained as Auxiliaries to Westminster they had their Mitres handmade in Italy courtesy of aristocratic Italians. Router – a Cavan upstart who thinks he’s in grandeur before he takes up Office, here we go again. Armagh is in a total mess and the Nigerian was there to witness it. No surprise as his big native mate Arinze is well known for humiliating people including those who serve his Mass.

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    1. Sadly I spent over two hours watching it all and how I was not amused as they think they are Kings and above the laws of the Church.

      First we had all the young queens running about all trying to please and look important but did the queen bee not know everyone on this blog and Ireland knows about his lifestyle.

      Then + Martin got it wrong he said to + Michael that he will assist him in Dromore under Canon Law Dromore has nothing to do with + Michael so mistaking.

      So it gets worse over 100 Priests and around 20 Bishops all sat on their A*** while the laity gave out Holy communion even + Martin sat on his A*** and they do not get it the laity has only to be used for distribution in clergy shortages.

      Then the icing on the cake by + Michael about the Church for the future and the role of women oh well I just hope Rome does not hear that or he will be like Bishop Bill Morris and out quickly.

      Our Lady please help the Archdiocese of Armagh and save it.

      Very Sad Day in the Church

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      1. Paul, God love ya! You’ve little to be worrying about 🙂

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      2. Bishop Morris read this blog and I am sure he will appreciate the mention! He was well shafted by the rotten institution for daring to mention the possibility of female Priests. Google his story.

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      3. 7.17: Get a life Paul . You are too swayed by the poison of this blog. Your comment is ignorant. Are you another disgruntled ex seminarian/priest or just a big queenie bitch? The latter I suspect.

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      4. 7.17: Poor old Paul D…..A moaning Minnie. Get a life, you fool. If the priests and bishops did everything you’ d find complaint. You’re one of those stupid, annoying idiots who just moan, moan, moan.

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      5. You really are talking nonsense.
        One of Pope Francis’ priorities is promoting the role of women in the church – offsetting an imbalance. You must be greatly out of touch.
        Secondly, how do you know Eamon Martin doesn’t know something about the Holy See’s plans for Dromore and Armagh, which you don’t know?

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  16. Well dear Magna we already knew you to be a wanker, you’ve just confirmed it. Quelle surprise!!

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  17. ”Pat loves the Cure and has celebrated Mass in Ers”
    I’m surprised you weren’t struck down with lightning

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    1. I celebrated Mass there for 10 nuns and three other ladies.

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  18. Any news from Lourdes this week?

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    1. Just the usual discarded French ticklers and tissues in the meadow.

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  19. Bishop Pat, you censored a comment of mine SUGGESTING self -stimuation, while publishing others that directly expressed it. WHY?
    Neither intelligent nor fair, Bishop Buckley.
    If you must censor comments (despite your protestation, a year or two ago, that you ‘HATE CENSORSHIP’), then please try to do so CONSISTENTLY. Otherwise it makes you look the utter fool and control-freak of the church you obviously despise. (Apparently.)

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    1. Dear Nagna Cartax,
      It makes Pat look nothing of the sort. What it does do though, is to expose your inability to forego or even to defer gratification of your desires.

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  20. I have never heard of an altar GIRL being molested (though I suppose there must have been a few). So priests being unable to marry will not improve the situation at all. The guys who have been guilty of molestation have almost all been, (as my mother used to describe homosexuals) ‘not the marrying kind’. It isn’t the priesthood that turns men into homosexual molesters it’s that the priesthood is an excellent route to trusted access to adolescent boys and so attracts a certain kind of person.

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