Students debate celibacy
While the Catholic Church is being ravaged by numerous allegations of sexual abuse acts committed by Catholic clergy, students of different faiths discuss whether the underlying problem may be celibacy.
Celibacy is a lifestyle assumed by some religious clergy in which one refrains from marriage and sexual relationships. Leaders of many faiths, including Christianity, Hinduism and Buddhism, practice this religious tradition.
“As far as celibacy in Christianity, the Roman Catholic Church has more of a culturally instituted precept that says priests and nuns cannot marry,” management information systems junior Ossy Ebadan said. “But from the Bible, from beginning to end, you will never see a scripture or a command that says that.”
Though the Apostle Paul did encourage others to remain celibate, Ebadan said, it was not a practice mandated in the religion.
“Celibacy is only within the Roman Catholic rights,” anthropology senior Franklin Romero said. “In the Roman Catholic Church around 1013, Pope Gregory mandated the concept of being celibate.”
Romero, a practicing Catholic, said there were a few reasons why it was mandated.
“It was to emulate Christ, to sacrifice like Christ, because the Christian faith in general believes that Christ did not get married, that he lived a celibate life,” Romer said.
Another reason, he said, was fear.
“There was also the fear of succession with the pontiff.” he said. “They feared if Pope Gregory had kids, his kids would be the pope, and the Catholic Church didn’t want that because it would take away its argue of divinity and its legitimacy.”
Regardless of its legitimacy, Romero said the recent sexual abuse scandals should not be blamed on celibacy or the Catholic Church.
“It’s a perversion. These people should have never been priests,” Romero said. “But I don’t believe that it has to do with the actual act of celibacy. If you’re celibate, how does that make you want a little boy? It wouldn’t. There’s a perversion that pre-existed in them. Had they been a Jew, Muslim, Atheist (or) Agnostic, they would have still done what they did.”
Romero said within the last 30 years there have been about 200 sexual abuse allegations against priests. Compared to the thousands of priests out there, Romero said, 200 makes up a small percentage.
Today’s society makes celibacy even more difficult, broadcast journalism junior Christina Hilderbrand said.
“It requires a lot more strength these days to remain celibate,” Hilderbrand said. “Especially with the society we live in, we are basically bombarded with sex day in and day out. But that doesn’t mean celibacy is an outdated rule; I just think people are not turning to God when need be.”
Besides Christianity, Buddhism and Hinduism also have traditions of celibacy, mainly as a sacrifice of worldly things.
“Most Hindu priests actually get married,” freshman Sravya Chilukuri said, “but the priests that don’t get married seem to be more praised.”
The problem with celibacy, Chilukuri said, is that it contradicts human nature, causing many who attempt it to fail.
“Just recently, a rumor spread that a Hindu priest was having an affair with this actress,” Chilukuri said. “It was true, and he was humiliated in front of a lot of people.”
Contrary to the other three major religions, adherents of Judaism and Islam rarely practice celibacy.
“Marriage is an important aspect in Islam. It’s half of your faith,” computer information systems junior Hani Khan said. “The Prophet Muhammad — peace be upon him — married, and he encouraged us to as well.”
Though historically there were some Muslim scholars who chose the path of celibacy, they had to be exceptionally strong, biology sophomore Salimah Huq said.
“It’s not mandatory for a Muslim to marry, but you have to have a lot of strength,” Huq said. “Islam trains Muslims to have that strength through fasting. We have to stop ourselves from the necessities of everyday living like food and water. So if we can abstain from those needs, then hopefully we can abstain from other wants, like physical desires.”
Whether or not celibacy is the problem, all students agreed that the sexual abuse occurring is intolerable.
“It just shows that many people have really strayed from what they originally believed,” Hilderbrand said. “A church or any religious place is supposed to be for families.”