Wednesday, September 14, 2011


FORMER NORTHERN IRELAND BISHOP - Former bishop of Derry Edward Daly calls for scrapping of celibacy rule for clergy amid decline in number of young priests.  A high-profile bishop who tended some of the dead and wounded of Bloody Sunday has called for an end to celibacy in the clergy.  Edward Daly, who was bishop of Derry for nearly 20 years, said allowing the clergy to marry would solve some of the church's problems. He is the most senior figure in Irish Catholicism to challenge the ban.  The number of Catholic priests in Ireland is in sharp decline as older clergy die out and very few young men choose to take up a celibate life. In some parishes the church has transferred priests from Poland and the developing world to fill the gap.  "There will always be a place in the church for a celibate priesthood, but there should also be a place for a married priesthood in the church," he said. "I'm worried about the decreasing number of priests and the number of older priests."

"I think priests should have the freedom to marry if they wish. It may create a whole new set of problems but I think it's something that should be considered. I think it's an issue that needs to be addressed, and addressed urgently."  Daly accepted he might be out of step with current Vatican thinking but said he was "not engaged in a popularity contest".  He said that during his time as a bishop he found it "heartbreaking" that so many priests or prospective priests were forced to resign or were unable to get ordained because of the celibacy issue. Many young men who had once considered joining the priesthood turned away because of the rule, the cleric said.  Daly, now 77, became a recognised figure around the world in 1972 when he was seen waving a bloodied white handkerchief in front of British paratroopers in Derry during Bloody Sunday.

Catholic priests have been unable to marry since the Gregorian reforms in the 11th century made celibacy compulsory. Historians have contended that the move was partly for spiritual reasons, but was mainly to ensure estates held by clerics would pass back to the church upon their deaths rather than to offspring.  According to the Vedic scriptures, without celibacy we can never realize that we are a spiritual soul, whose nature is different to the body. Sex reinforces the illusion that we are these bodies.

The highest benefit that can be awarded to a human being is to train him to be detached from sex life, particularly because it is only due to sex indulgence that the conditioned life of material existence continues birth after birth. ... Birth, death, old age and disease are related to the material body, and they have nothing to do with the spirit soul. But as long as the bodily attachment for sensual enjoyment is encouraged, the individual spirit soul is forced to continue the repetition of birth and death on account of the material body ... Any form of religious principles in which the followers are trained to pursue the vow of celibacy is good for the human being because only those who are trained in that way can end the miserable life of material existence.

Śrīla A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda :
Śrīmad Bhāgavatam - 2.6.20
Canto 2: “The Cosmic Manifestation”  
Chapter 6: “Purusa-sūkta Confirmed”
Verse 20 - Bhaktivedanta VedaBase

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