In many ways, the idea of a celibate lifestyle, as supposedly practised by the Catholic Church, is viewed with amusement and puzzlement among believers and non-believers alike. At best a sad and lonely state, at worst a twisted perversion of sexuality.
The idea of Catholic celibacy seems especially idiotic when you realize that the reasons behind it, as normally seems to be the case with the Church, were all about the MONEY. It had nothing to do with morality or adherence to doctrine.
Before the middle ages it was normal for priests to have multiple wives with a few 'concubines' thrown in for good luck. However, following concerns about protecting Church property from inheritance, marital and conjugal 'rights' were gradually withdrawn. The final blow coming, excuse the pun, in 1139 when Pope Innocent II voided all priestly marriages and ordered all new priests to divorce their wives.
The prevailing view of celibacy as both an imposed and perverted sexuality has led some people, including many within the church itself, to call for its end.
"Given the sexually liberated openness of modern society, we have seen a rapidly decreasing number of sexually inadequate and repressed young men seeking escape into the priesthood. I have no doubt that, at some future stage, removal of the celibacy vow will be a necessity, not just an option." said the only senior bishop who was willing to be interviewed.
Amongst 'lower' members of the clergy, comments indicative of the misogynistic and sexist culture inherent amongst the priesthood were commonplace. Typical of their remarks on the subject were:
"It's plainly absurd! If the church wants us to abstain from sex, I can't see why they don't just let us get married like normal people."
"Sure, the church offers us a life full of lavish luxury and more money than you can ever wish for, but what's the point if you haven't got a woman around to spend it for you?"
"How can I devote my time to the spiritual needs of my parishioners when I've got to spend time cleaning the parochial house and doing the washing up?"
A commonly held belief amongst those we spoke to was that the big problem for the church would be the outrage from the, admittedly small number, of its clergy who had managed to stick to their vows.
"Are they ever going to pissed off, excuse my French, when they discover that all those years of furtive and guilt-ridden masturbation were all for nothing. I certainly wouldn't relish being the one who tells them 'Sex is okay now'. As long as you get married first, of course." pointed out one priest.
Not everyone agreed that such an announcement would be greeted with anger. One nun we spoke to said, "In moments of weakness, I know I can count on the support of my sisters at the convent. We always have lots of fun together, especially at bath time: 'Where's the soap?' 'Yes, doesn't it!' never fails to bring a smile to my face. I don't miss having men around at all."
Another nun agreed, "I do sometimes miss having a man around to clean up after, but the visits by that horny old devil Father Leery, when he comes for his weekly 'private' audiences, certainly helps."
Few of the priests we spoke to were as positive about celibacy as the nuns we spoke to. The nearest that our reporter, photo above, was able to come was a short statement from an obviously shy young priest she managed to corner in the vestry.
"Hmmm, yes, ummm." he stammered, turning a bright shade of red and obviously very embarrassed by the encounter, "Celibacy suits me just fine."