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Ugandan Priest Suggests Catholic Priests Should Marry

The Ugandan Catholic Church has suspended Fr. Musaala for suggesting that Catholic priests should marry.

Below is the full letter which Fr. Musaala wrote and led to his being fired.

AN OPEN LETTER TO BISHOPS, PRIESTS AND  LAITY:  THE FAILURE OF CELIBATE CHASTITY AMONG DIOCESAN PRIESTS.

It is an open secret that many catholic priests and some bishops, in Uganda and elsewhere, no longer live celibate chastity.

From the numerous cases on the ground one might be forgiven for saying that   most diocesan priests either don’t believe in celibacy anymore, or if they do, have long since given up the struggle to be chaste.

In any case it still seems important for priests  to vow  even a woefully imperfect celibacy, if only for the sake of  the hallowed ‘priestly image’.

The church however still maintains the fable that most catholic priests persevere in celibate chastity fairly well, which fiction begs belief.

ALL IS NOT WELL

All is definitely not well with what I call ‘administrative celibacy’, in the catholic church. It is a celibacy which is more forced than consented to, and  its effects are anything but good.

I suggest  that now more than at any other time, we must begin an open and frank dialogue about  catholic priests  becoming happily married men, rather than being miserable and single, either before or after ordination.

Although this may be quite a shock to many, but the alternative may be far worse. What do you think  happens when lapses and scandals by priests, sisters, brothers and bishops continue unabated , whether hidden or not?

My forecast is that we will have  a few more years of catholic self-deception; perhaps ten, telling ourselves  and the world that  everything is Ok, nothing serious. Then more scandals will surface.

As people become more enlightened (as in Europe)  there will be a crisis of faith, perhaps a sudden  collapse, with many leaving the church, either to join other churches (whose pastors may be no better, but who appear to be less hypocritical about it), or to become agnostics, especially the middle classes.

One must remember that there are other challenges facing the church, such as general weakening of faith, loss of sacramental life, low incomes, dull liturgies, and the challenges of the media. Many of the youth ( not the children) are already alienated from Catholicism and are easy prey to proselytizing groups.

FACING THE NAKED TRUTH

The number of catholic priests and bishops who are [intimately] active in Uganda is unknown, but almost everywhere   unedifying stories  of priests ‘[intimacy]’, are not hard to come by. These stories are told in counseling or as anecdotes,or by the media. They are told within the parishes and beyond. They are told at home in families, in  taxis, in hair salons and in the markets.

What is talked about? Priests’ secret and not so secret liaisons with  girls and women,  coerced [intimacy] with house-maids, with students, with relatives;  priests ‘wives’ set up in well established homes;  priests involved with a parishioner’s wife;  of priests romantically involved  with religious Sisters;  priests offering money for [intimacy], and so on…

If you add to this, a fair  number of priests’ and bishops’ children scattered around the nation,  who are carefully hidden from view (and not so carefully!), not to mention children who are  aborted at  priests’ behest, we begin to get the true picture of human weakness, whose consequences are nothing less than catastrophic both for the priest and his partners, and which cannot be concealed by  taking a vow of celibacy, or by retreats and more prayers.

LETS LEARN FROM EUROPE AND AMERICA

While in Europe and the States, the scandal of numerous pedophile priests, whose victims  are rightly suing the catholic church is widely reported in the media, very little by contrast is heard about priests and bishops in Africa who continue abusing female minors (or vulnerable women) with no legal action taken [intimately]

Obviously time has come for serious measures  to be undertaken,  similar to those in Europe and America. Apart from legal action in civil and ecclesiastical courts aginst offenders, strict  ‘child protection’ codes and practices, must be enforced, by the state which for instance should prohibit young or vulnerable females from residing in parish houses, where some of the abuses occur.

THE SINS OF DECEPTION AND SILENCE

Thus the unnecessary and unpalatable deception  about celibate priests, that they are chaste when they are not is clearly  contradicted by what is on the ground. The deception is of course not tenable for much longer.

Surely we must first tell ourselves the truth as a church, that is to say, that celibacy has failed or is failing us, and then also tell the world which we have been deceiving  the naked truth, before we are completely overtaken by events.

Unfortunately there is  an ominous unhealthy conspiracy of silence  about these matters among the Ugandan clergy and faithful alike, probably because priestly celibacy might  be seen to be a hollow shell, which it mostly is nowadays.

The  laity for all their good will, are also co-opted into this unwholesome silence, sometimes for lack of information, sometimes  because they believe that they have some ‘moral’ duty to be loyal to an imperfect church. In truth  their silence shores up the sins of priests and the destroys many lives.

MARRIED PRIESTS NOT WANTED FOR THE WRONG REASONS

When I ask lay people whether catholic priests should have the option to marry the answer is always NO; since they say, that would make catholic priests like Anglican reverends! As if that was the worse possible  fate, yet Anglican clergy who are married certainly do not have  the same levels and same kinds of [intimate] lapses as their catholic counterparts..

Most lay people in Uganda would not like their priests to have the option of marriage, yet it is their very own children, sisters, wives who are  being used  and abused by the clergy!

THE CAMPAIGN

A campaign for optional married priesthood in the catholic church is now required. This  campaign is primarily a form of education and purification. It is not be construed as a rebellion against  established doctrine but a reading of the signs of the times

Since there are no fundamental theological arguments against a married priesthood (there are already some married priests in he UK and Uniate catholic churches) but only arguments from tradition and church discipline, I believe that it is a matter of time before common sense prevails and marriage for the clergy in the latin rite (i.e. catholic) church is accepted..

I am aware that  there is a big struggle ahead. Unfortunately celibacy also serves certain vested interests in the power structure of the church, and of course celibate priests are cheaper and easier to deal with, even to manipulate, by ecclesiastical authority, but I believe that in time we will be freed from this unecessary yoke, unhelpful as it is, which is all the more severe in Africa where family and family ties are so crucial to one’s psychological equilibrium..

PERSONAL INTEREST

One factor which has prompted me to take up this campaign  is my own biography. I am one of a handful of several priests who had the misfortune of appearing in the press for supposed [intimate] trespasses.

In my case, which was 2009, it was cited that I must [engage in unnatural intimacy], because I had [unnatural intimate] friends and went to [their] gatherings. Not that I cared much whether or not someone thinks that I am [a pervert]. Certainly I have been called worse things than that.

In my defence  I tried to point out that I didn’t actually recall having had [unnatural] relations with any of my rabid accusers, neither did they; which meant that  hearsay alone became the evidence .

What I found troubling is what followed.  Apart from all the pain and scandal caused to all concerned, I found that even though all the allegations were based on hearsay, I was being treated, by my superiors as the biggest sinner in Nineveh.

Up till now  judgements   are being made against me by ecclesiastical authority in the light of  those events, which I suppose  is to be expected. I wondered about this and came to the conclusion that priests who ‘get caught.’  like me,  have to pay for the sins of all those who don’t get caught.

In other words failed celibacy requires scapegoats. Some clergy are able to get away with the grossest behaviour, because of their age, position, influence or  even because of financial inducements.

So while I appear to have little moral authority to talk about celibacy as a priestly virtue because of what may or may not have happened to me in 2009,  nevertheless I can point out the systemic immorality of the institutionalized hypocrisy called celibate diocesan priesthood, which severely punishes lapses when they appear, but condones the secret crimes of  many more.

I believe that there must be a new openness at whatever  it takes. The point is  not that diocesan priests should  leave the priesthood and get married, but compel the church to offer the option of a married priesthood. This will put an end to the double lives so many priests  are forced to live.

SOME CASES HEARD

Case One

I spoke with a 21 year old young man last week. He is one of seven children of  a catholic priest who happens to still be serving within the Province of the Archdiocese of Kampala. The young man, who is willing to testify, lived in a parish house with his father priest, even serving on the altar with him, but having to pretend to be a visiting nephew.

At times he was assisted by his father to go to school, but was later abandoned. On one occasion  he drank poison in order to end his life, due to the trauma, but was taken to hospital before he died.

Case Two

Another is a personal friend. He was fathered by a missionary priest of the White Fathers 58 years ago but is still suffering the trauma of no real identity or home.

Although he has since  received some minimum compensation from the White fathers , he still feels that there was an injustice to his  mother who is still alive , who was [intimately] assaulted by the said White father priest in his office when she was only sixteen. He wishes to sue.

Case Three

Another case is of a priest who seduced a member of  my youth group who happened to be in need of school fees, at Old Kampala,  She soon became pregnant by the said priest, disappeared from church activities and from her home to be established in a ‘home’.

Case Four

Another lady tells of  how she went to confession, only to be [intimately] molested by the priest, who fondled her breasts during confession

Case Five

When I was at secondary school, it was common knowledge that various Brothers were having [intimate] activity with the boys. It was called ‘jaboo’. As a pubescent teenager, my first [intimate] encounter was actually with one of the brothers who invited me to his room on the pretext of doing some extra chemistry equations. I was sixteen at the time. Later I heard that several others had been through the same thing..with the same Brother and with other ones..Some are still alive to this day.

ACTION REQUIRED

I do not believe either that these cases are just a few ‘bad apples’ in the barrel, but rather they are symptomatic of a sick system which has lost its integrity in this one area, but won’t admit it.

Some of these cases are clearly criminal in nature, especially those of [intimacy] with children. They should be dealt with in a normal fashion and legal action  taken in civil courts either against the church, or against those priests who offend.

I am therefore compiling cases from all over Uganda. I believe that if the all the  victims of clearly  molestations were to  come out and sue the church in civil courts, such abuses would sharply decrease.

I am also  helping to set up a Victims Support Group, independent of the church for obvious reasons, with guidance and help from similar groups in Europe and the States.

I have also engaged a Human rights lawyer to advise on the wider implications of clergy abuse on the basic human rights of individuals, especially women.

Join me in this exciting challenge to bring fundamental change and renewal  to the catholic church.

Happy Easter

FR. ANTHONY MUSAALA

 

2 responses to “Ugandan Priest Suggests Catholic Priests Should Marry

  1. bedsidereadings

    March 24, 2013 at 1:32 am

    Luke 8:17 NIV
    New International Version
    For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open.

    http://www.biblestudytools.com/luke/8-17-compare.html

     

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