As a Protestant, and a conservative Christian, I took no delight in the CBS news, reported worldwide, that brought “sorrow and shame,” as Pope Francis said, to the Catholic Church recently, and to the name of Jesus Christ. For the past seventy years, more than 300 bishops in Catholic dioceses across Pennsylvania molested well over 1,000 children, according to a recently released grand jury report. What is even more disconcerting is that the Vatican was well aware of the scandal. The Catholic Church has been harboring pedophiles, and worse, protecting them from exposure, judgment, and jail. When the story broke, devout Catholics, such as Laura Ingram, and Sean Hannity, were sickened, and outraged.

It is true that many within the Protestant community are not without fault for their own transgressions. The Willow Creek megachurch in Illinois, according to The Chicago Tribune, paid $3.5 million in lawsuits over sex abuse of two developmentally disabled boys. In more recent days, their lead pastor, Bill Hybels, has been accused of sexual misconduct by former Willow Creek leaders as eight women felt violated by him over the years. When confronted, Billy Hybels said the women were simply part of the #MeToo moment. “The charges against me are false,” said Hybels of former friends and co-workers’. They are in “collusion.” So there is high profile sin found in the sanctuary in both the Protestant and Catholic communities.

However, there is a difference. There seems to be more immediate accountability and discipline within the Protestant Church. That may be a subjective statement, but it does appear that way. There are social reasons for this accountability.

Protestants do not respect their spiritual leaders to the same degree that priests, bishops, cardinals, and popes are respected, so it is easier for the Catholic hierarchy to cover up transgressions until, in the providence of God, the sins of professing saints are exposed for the purpose of repentance, cleansing, and healing, with a view to restoration to fellowship. “Brethren, even if a man be overtaken in any trespass, ye who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; looking to thyself, lest thou also be tempted” (Gal. 6:1, ASV).

Though I doubt if many Catholics would ask Protestants what could be done to help keep pedophiles out of the Church, I will still exhort practicing Catholics to insist that the position of celibacy be rejected. Forced celibacy is unnatural, unbiblical, illogical, unnecessary, and prior to the forth century, without precedent.

It is clear that the Apostle Peter had been married (Matt. 8:14-15), and that bishops, presbyters and deacons in the early church maintained families. It is equally clear, according to the testimony of the Church Fathers, synodal legislation, papal decretals, and other sources that for centuries the Catholic clergy led normal married lives. Many popes were known to have been married. One example is that of Pope Hormisdas (450 – August 6, AD 523), father to Pope Silverius (d. Dec. 2, AD 537) his successor.

Then came the Council of Elvira in AD 304. Canon 33 stated that all “bishops, presbyters, and deacons and all other clerics” were to “abstain completely from their wives and not to have children.” A short time later, in AD 325, the Council of Nicea, convened by the Roman emperor, Constantine, rejected a ban on priests marrying requested by Spanish clerics. But the idea of celibacy continued, took root, and came to fruition at the Council of Ancyra (AD 314), in Turkey, followed by the eight Apostolic Constitutions (AD 375-380), and Syrian Apostolic Canons of the late fourth century forbidding marriage.

The various motives and rationale as to why the Catholic Church enforced celibacy on priest need not be questioned at this time. What is questioned is the wisdom of their principles and practices of mandatory celibacy, for history has proven in every century this practice is unwise, unholy, and hurtful to the body of Christ. The Catholic Church has paid out more than one billion dollars of money given to God, to cover up the insatiable appetite of their priest who foolishly took vows of lifetime celibacy. The Catholic practice of forbidding priests to marry is condemned in their own Bible as being a doctrine of devils.

Using the Catholic Bible, the Douay-Rheims Version (AD 1582), the English translation of the Latin Vulgate, by St. Jerome, we read the following.

[1] Now the Spirit manifestly saith, that in the last times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to spirits of error, and doctrines of devils, [2] Speaking lies in hypocrisy, and having their conscience seared, [3] Forbidding to marry, to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving by the faithful, and by them that have known the truth. (1 Tim. 4:1-3).

Until the Catholic Church abandons its unbiblical, unholy, and unworkable policy and practice of forced celibacy, the Church will not get to the root as to why there are so many pedophiles in that structure. To ignore this reality is to condemn countless more children to a life of “sorrow and shame” (Francis, the 266th Catholic pope).

Unless something is done, let the Catholic people know that their monetary contributions are going to support a corrupt practice that molests children, drains money from legitimate helpful ministries, and supports the illegal cover-ups of the clergy.

The Catholic Church has always been supportive of every effort to stop the killing of unborn babies. This is to their eternal credit. Now let the Catholic Church be equally supportive of stopping the clerical practice of hurting the children that are born through molestation. May the Lord give grace to repent and reverse this practice for “He that hath found a good wife, hath found a good thing, and shall receive a pleasure from the Lord. He that driveth away a good wife, driveth away a good thing: but he that keepeth an adulteress, is foolish and wicked” (Proverbs 18:22, Douay-Rheims Version).

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