WSJ Poll Alert, Should the Church Drop Celibacy?

[Update:  Great job TACers!  The poll has swung heavily to Catholic teaching.  It is now 83.3% wanting to keep to Catholic teaching, which was 44% previously.  See the updated poll below after the jump.]

The Wall Street Journal is running a poll on whether or not the Church should drop the requirement for celibacy by priests.

The results so far as of September 24, 2010 at 2:17pm US Central time:

We recommend our readers go visit the poll with fidelity to the Church.

Hat Tip:  Father Zuhlsdorf.

Update I: Here is the new poll (as of 7:34pm Central time) have the huge swing towards Catholic teaching.

30 Responses to WSJ Poll Alert, Should the Church Drop Celibacy?

  1. Paul Zummo says:

    Right now the poll is running 100% opposed in Vatican City, so tough noogies for the majority of the WSJ readership.

  2. John Henry says:

    This is a discipline, rather than a doctrine. As Pope Benedict could wake up tomorrow and change his mind on the subject, I don’t see the harm in expressing an opinion either way.

  3. Tito Edwards says:

    John Henry,

    I agree that this is a discipline.

    But my reasoning for making this alert is that I don’t like a secular newspaper asking non-Catholics what to do with our faith.

  4. Paul Zummo says:

    What Tito said. Who cares what secular libertarians think the Church should do?

  5. Eric Brown says:

    I didn’t vote, but I would actually vote yes. I won’t vote however because there is not an option for “Yes, when/if the Holy Spirit says it is time.”

  6. Tito Edwards says:

    Nothing wrong with voting “yes”. It does not go against any dogma of the Church.

  7. John Henry says:

    Who cares what secular libertarians think the Church should do?

    I don’t see any reason to care about that; just thought it was worth noting that faithful Catholics can come down either way on this one.

  8. Paul Zummo says:

    just thought it was worth noting that faithful Catholics can come down either way on this one.

    I understand that, and I agree (though personally I think it would be the wrong move, and it certainly should not be done for the reasons outlined at the WSJ link, but that’s for another time).

  9. Blackadder says:

    The three obvious points here are:

    1. Nothing prevents the Church from permitting priests to marry.

    2. Whether the Church will/should do this doesn’t depend on what the polls say.

    3. Internet polls are worse than worthless.

  10. Tito Edwards says:

    It can’t be worse than sticking a pencil in my eye can’t it?!


  11. Eric, any chance we can get a sketch of your rationale for why you’d voted yes? You’ve piqued my curiosity.

  12. redflags says:

    I get it. Marriage is bad, protecting pedophiles is a-okay. If Catholics are uncomfortable with others having thoughts on their practices, perhaps it is time for the RCC to butt out of politics. I am not a Catholic, and find it disturbing that money donated by the faithful is used to pressure my government to pass laws which will not pertain to Catholics. If you think abortion is wrong, fine. No argument. Don’t have one. And I’ll trust your god to judge me when my time comes.

    The word for religious people trying to legislate their doctrines onto non-believers while decrying reasonable attempts to stop the massive sexual abuses committed by Catholic clergy (all over the world!) is “hypocrisy”.

  13. Tito Edwards says:


    Why you butt out of our affairs.

    For that matter, let us take you argument to the next logical conclusion.

    Stop forcing your morals and ethics on us, the American people.

    Abortion on demand was imposed on us by an unelected judiciary.

    Gay marriage is trying to be imposed on us by an unelected judiciary.

    As for the pedophiles, why you don’t take a look at the rampant sex scandals in the public schools and clean up your own “secular” schools for that matter.

    Your own hypocrisy knows no bounds.

  14. Don the Kiwi says:

    Even though celibacy is a discipline, it has nevertheless deep theological roots, and it will never be discarded as a general rule. There have been several pronouncements throughout history regarding celibacy, starting with the council of Elvira.
    There are married Catholic priests – take Fr.Dwight Longnecker – and there will be many more like him with Anglicanorum Coetibus. And of course, the Eastern Rites.

  15. Don the Kiwi says:

    Wow. Check the updated chart – the ‘no s’ are in the ascendency.

  16. stceolfrithtx says:

    “Nothing prevents the Church from permitting priests to marry.”

    In my opinion, that is far more problematic than allowing currently married men to be trained and ordained for priesthood. It’s two different things. The Orthodox admit married men to priesthood, they don’t allow celibate ordained men to pursue a romance and get married in the course of their priesthood.

    I also want to point out that married Catholic priests are among the greatest promoters of the gift of celibacy. It is an AMAZING gift. It’s not very often accepted, though. I wonder, in the “mustard seed” Church to come, if this dispensation might be relaxed by necessity.

  17. Tito Edwards says:


    I’m confused at your comments.

  18. Karl says:

    The Orthodox in general promote adultery through their “penitential marriages” which should be anathemized, directly, ex cathedra, by the Pope.

    The dialogue between the Churches should have it CLEAR that this heresy must be stricken from their practices, no matter how far back it goes, BEFORE serious talks regarding “unity” can be taken with more than polite conversation.

    Obviously, since Jeuss had married Apostles

  19. Karl says:


    I think you got the wrong one(deleted post) but that is fine. Sorry.

    I do not separate the issues of marriage and celibacy as the priesthood and marriage are both sacraments relating to manifest sexuality and how it is addressed/practiced.

    Obviously, since Jesus chose married disciples any assertion that a married clergy is “wrong” cannot be defended. However, a married priesthood, in the current state of things, in my opinion, is lunacy. Marriage means nothing, inside and outside of the Catholic Church(big and little tent). The Catholic Church must restore itself regarding marriage or nothing really matters. Celibacy is secondary to marriage in my eyes. All the sacraments are secondary without people, who are supposed to get here through marriages.

    Perhaps a married clergy should exist but only with personal exemptions, very, very, very limited and granted only by a sitting Pope, in consultation with the bishops and laity, who have shown a dogged defense of marriages, not simply due to holy orders, or advanced degrees(both of which are increasingly meaningless as we see those with these “qualifications” exhibiting lack of wisdom, daily).

  20. Karl says:

    I know a married Catholic priest who I asked, begged is a better word, to intervene with a close friend of his who is a bi-Rite Catholic priest who supports the
    “orthodox” heresy of “penitiential marriages” and who supports my wife’s adulterous relationship, knowing she is MY WIFE. Both of the heretics know Rome upheld our marriage, TWICE.

    He refused. So much for the “wisdom” of marriage for a priest. I asked him to ask his wife about it or if I could talk to her about it. He refused!

    Corruption is corruption. Marriage will only divide the mind of a man. Only the truly exceptional man should even “think” about a married clergy.

  21. Alex V says:

    Marriage was only exception made because the woman would get everything. If you look back at the start the true reason they made marriage illegal was because women would start to take wealth from the church. In the modern day the church has means to protect itself better than in the past so .. it is dumb not to allow priest to marry may stop all those homos that enter the priesthood

  22. Tito Edwards says:

    Alex V.,

    It’s quite apparent you’re here to provoke rather than engage in dialogue.

    You are on moderation now.

  23. Karl says:

    I doubt the discipline of celibacy requires more from a homosexual than it does from a heterosexual man.

    It is simply folly to think that a man can give himself fully to, two vocations.

    I have lived as a married husband and father. I have lived as a single(divorced) celibate man who remains a father(and a married man if one accepts what the Church teaches, I do).

    I could not be a priest and be married and be free enough to function as both. That is clear to me. In a perfect world, I would believe, such would be possible, but not otherwise. There are too many demands, that are legitimate ones, upon the life of a priest. Both his wife and their children would suffer, to their detriment.

    Especially, the sometimes necessary intimate contact that priests must have with women in some pastoral situations, makes them(both) very vulnerable to temptation.

    The agony, that I live with everyday, because it never goes away(from our divorce, my abandonment and abuse), fully, reminds me, graphically, when I must be, by necessity, in very close, personal, contact with women, on occasion, of what damage I could do in weakness, through temptation, to another man or to the children of the woman I am close to at that moment.

    It is, primarily, my personal suffering, that protects(all of us), in such a circumstance. It stands guard, right next to discipline and respect for the teachings of the Church when I am in situations of temptation, which are, thank God, very rare.

    I never, ever, want to cause or precipitate in anyone else’s life, the hell that never ends for me, or for our children.

    I might consider a man who has been maliciously abandoned and who has learned to cope with it for many years, as a “possible” candidate for married priesthood, but not many others.

    May God save the Catholic Church and its clergy from
    such a “pastoral response” to declining numbers of priests. The answer is not an end to celibacy or an openness to a married priesthood. The answer is supporting marriage.

  24. Susan says:

    Allowing priests to marry is definitely not the answer to a declining priesthood. The priesthood and marriage are reflections of each other – the priest being the good example to married couples with his fidelity to the Church and all of her teachings and a constant service to his flock, and the married couples supporting the priest in his vocation by their fidelity to each other and to the Church. There is a decline in all self-giving professions, (protestant ministry, OB doctors, nurses, etc.)of which only the Catholic Church requires celibacy. It is our self-serving versus self-giving culture that has caused the decline. We have become materialistic and do not tend to pursue any vocation that isn’t about making money or conferring status, which has made it very hard to hear the call of God to a vocation. A good friend of mine who is a very holy priest has often told me about how his parents taught constantly about selflessness. This man is always other-serving so as to serve Christ. He would absolutely have no time for a wife or children. He keeps his schedule busy 24/7 serving others. (When I need some direction from him, I often find my emails were answered at the early hours of 2 or 3 a.m. as it may be the only time he had that day to get to his email) He does a holy hour and says mass every single day. He comes from a household of 11 children from which came 2 very holy priests (out of the 3 boys) and 1 cloistered Carmelite nun (out of the 8 girls)! They were constantly focused on prayer and on others. They learned early about redemptive suffering and how to offer it to God and not place too much emphasis on their own problems – that to focus on others to serve Christ was the best way to deal with any problems. In our pursuit of wealth, our families have shrunk, leaving many parents loathe to plant the seeds of religious vocations in their own children so as not to lose out on their own possibilties of grandparenthood etc. It’s all about fidelity to all of the Church’s teachings, not just the ones that are comfortable for us…

  25. c matt says:

    OB doctors, nurses

    The decline at least in these professions is not just the lack of selflessness. Liability issues (and for nurses, the rather low wages compared to the effort invested) have as much to do with it.

    As for the celibacy practice, I can certainly see the good reason for having it. Being a husband and father, I don’t see how one could handle well the familial role as well as the priestly one. Some professions I suppose fall into a similar category (ER docs, criminal defense attorneys, police/firefighters) – where you have to give priority of one over the other because conflicting duties will inevitably occur. Perhaps some sort of limited role for married clergy to relieve some of the pressure off the parish priest (eg, hearing confessions, hospital ministries, last rites, etc.) might be a good idea. I don’t care much for the “part time” or “on call” priest inuendo that would develop from it (thus making the married priest appear less than a “real” priest”), so I can also see arguments against it. As always, the Church should take her time with such an important issue.

  26. Patrick says:

    Don’t you understand that this WSJ poll is unscientific and that its results, therefore, are worthless?

  27. Tito Edwards says:



    Catholics can have fun too.

  28. Alex V says:

    It is said that this is an open forum to discuss our opinion yet you would censor my thoughts. It is fine since it is your blog, but I only stated what I said to stir discussion. I honestly believe that priest should be allowed to marry. I would challenge you to look up the history of this from the church. When did it start? Why was it done? That is all I am asking. I believe in a lot of teachings of the church, but some I do not. Not because I pick and choose, but because i look at logic and the church has gone back and forth in many other things. You cannot say that the modern church is the same church my grand parents grow up in. I am catholic because i believe Jesus founded this church even with its flaws (it started out good because of jesus) but remember it is still ran by men no matter how good the intentions.

  29. Tito Edwards says:

    Alex V.,

    Your views are similar to Truthers and Birthers line of reasoning.

    Hence why you put on moderation, plus your insults didn’t help much either.

    You’re off moderation and can post all you want without moderation.

  30. Alex V says:

    I guess I deserve that slap. My apologies, in the future I will get into more detail than just slap mud on your blog. I will be the first to admit that I am quick to insult and not explain. Thank you for taking me off moderation, I will try not to insult but explain my point of view better.

    In this case I remember the history of the church:
    “Peter, a Galilee fisherman, whom the Catholic Church considers the first Pope, was married. Some Popes were the sons of Popes.

    The first written mandate requiring priests to be chaste came in AD 304. Canon 33 of the Council of Elvira 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 325, the Council of Nicea, convened by Constantine, rejected a ban on priests marrying requested by Spanish clerics.

    The practice of priestly celibacy began to spread in the Western Church in the early Middle Ages. In the early 11th century Pope Benedict VIII responded to the decline in priestly morality by issuing a rule prohibiting the children of priests from inheriting property. A few decades later Pope Gregory VII issued a decree against clerical marriages.

    The Church was a thousand years old before it definitively took a stand in favor of celibacy in the twelfth century at the Second Lateran Council held in 1139, when a rule was approved forbidding priests to marry. In 1563, the Council of Trent reaffirmed the tradition of celibacy.”
    I think that they should allow marriage. It may bring more men into the priesthood. They have already opened other priests from other faiths that allow marriage to convert to be a catholic priest why can’t roman catholic priest be permitted to marry.Outside the modern reasoning of the church why would it be bad?

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