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Disproving celibacy

The Beekeeper

By Pet Melliza

I never had an idea that the supposed re-union I would be attending had nothing  to do about tete-a-tete among alumni of a Catholic seminary.
It turned out to be a serious discussion on how to attract vocations, that is,  applicants to assure the continuity of a religious congregation that is in  danger of becoming extinct unless its ageing clerics had a line-up of young successors.
It was May 1 and my attention was roaming to the site of an earlier commitment,  the Iloilo Provincial Government parking lot where a crowd was gathering to celebrate Labor Day.

I was wondering why recruiting students to the seminary to eventually become priests and members of this religious congregation became such a problem.

The congregation, fresh from a split when majority of its Filipino priest opted to form a new order, already tried come-ons to entice young boys, particularly, high school and college graduates, and professionals.

It offered them free fares to its formation house in northern Luzon, free tuition to its university, incidentally one of the country’s top,  and lodging in a palatial residence that it also owns.

But it appears that it’s been overtaken by its rebellious offspring in attracting young vocations. The latter has scarce resources and merely depends on the generosity of dioceses whose bishops are sympathetic to its missionary vision. At any rate, it is able to establish a formation house of its own and new communities notwithstanding its financial limitations.

Back to the vocation generation gathering that yours truly attended. I felt like yawning listening to the talks. Its venue already scared me.  Right at the entrance screamed a streamer “Yes to Life, No to Abortion.  We oppose the RH Bill!”

The nuns who owned the venue, probably had a hand in displaying the streamer, too. Anyway, when my turn to share my thoughts on vocations came, the first lines of my delivery was:  I would be joining the May 1 rally at the Capitol in one hour and that I had browsed through the RH Bill and nothing appeared in there legalizing abortion. So, think no matter how much it hurts.

I did not speak out my mind though on how to attract young men to join the religious congregation. It was not the venue to do that when the stars of the show, the seminarians and their families, ecstatically thanked the heavens for showering them the blessing of having a member being admitted to become priests and members of the noble congregation eventually.

I asked “Karpov” seated beside me: Why are we here wasting time to solve a problem other religiouns already solved centuries ago?

Karpov has a different name and nickname. He got the moniker after his genius in chess. None of us in our time at the seminary ever beat him in the game. He just shot a smile anticipating (and he knew it) I might be in for another antic. And he got it when I told him that other religions had no problem raising the number of their clerics because they had no such animal called celibacy.

Roman Catholicism led by the Bishop of Rome who is mistakenly tagged “Supreme Pontiff” is the only religion in the world grappling with vocation because of celibacy.

Other Catholic rites – the Anglican, Iglesia Filipina Independiente, Patriotic Church of China, the Eastern Rites of Russia, Greece, Turkey, Middle East, etc. – don’t and never consider vocation a problem because they have no such animal called celibacy. Their priests, bishops and cardinals are free to marry or not.

Roman Catholicism is just a speck within the spectrum of Christianity. Other Christian churches likewise never consider vocation a problem for the same reason.

The majority religions in the world – Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Taosm, Shintoism – have high regards for celibacy but never impose that as requisite to priesthood.

Other Catholic priests already left the priesthood after opting for the ministry of parenthood.

One is “Pads” Elmer C who has enriched his life by joining the Iloilo media and the business of promoting solar energy, a new ministry in fact that assures Mother Earth continuity through the promotion of clean energy.

Pads Elmer C should be congratulated for disproving the doctrine of celibacy not just with words but with his own day-to-day life.


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