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A Protestant liberal defends clerical celibacy

Frank Bruni’s recent op-ed on clerical celibacy states in no uncertain terms that “celibacy is a bad idea with painful consequences.”

“The pledge of celibacy that the church requires of its servants is an often cruel and corrosive thing,” he writes. “It runs counter to human nature.” People need companionship, including bodily companionship, and it’s plainly unnatural to ask them to forego it for an entire lifetime. He also sees it as a sort of spiritual neon sign that attracts people who are uncomfortable with their sexuality, usually because it falls outside the one-man-one-woman pattern. “It’s a trap” for those who stray from cultural norms, whether gay men or pedophiles, “falsely promising some men a refuge from sexual desires that worry them.” Thus he concludes that celibacy is a large factor in the sexual abuse of children within the Church.

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