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Junky journalism on celibacy — Umpteenth example.

January 14, 2015

Reuters just published a junky article on celibacy. It’s been awhile since I waded through one of these fact-free zones that masquerade as religious journalism, but some enforced leisure allows for a few minutes of diversion.  Article excerpts in black, my comments in red.

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Every Sunday morning, dozens of Roman Catholics gather … in the central Philippines to listen to Father Jess Siva share his personal experiences as a priest, and as a parent [As a parent? Not impossible. Let’s see…] … But while his small flock admire him, Church leaders in the Philippines consider him persona non grata for failing to adhere to one of the most important tenets of the priesthood – abstaining from sex. [Okay, even a stopped clock is right twice a day, so yes, as a matter of fact, priests are required to abstain perpetually from sex, but there is no way this cleric or the journalist writing the article know that or are aware of the debate surrounding that specific point. They will repeatedly confuse continence (abstaining from sex) and celibacy (refraining from marriage) for the rest of the article.]

“This is a very serious problem within the Church,” [No, it’s not a serious problem in the Church, it’s a serious, self-inflicted, problem for Siva (who doubtless knew the rules going into things but chose to flout them), for the mother of his kids, and of course for their kids; Siva might do better not to project his problems on the whole Church] Siva, who is the father of two boys from a relationship with a member of his congregation’s choir, told Reuters.

“I hope Pope Francis will recognize us.” [The Church, and the pope, do recognize Siva as a priest, but as one’s who conduct is so gravely contrary to canon law and moral teaching that he is not permitted to minister.]

In the Philippines, which accounts for about half of Asia’s Roman Catholics, Siva is not alone. A handful of priests have been asked to leave the priesthood for fathering children. [Actually, I doubt that; children are, here, evidence that a priest has violated canon law and moral teaching by having sex with a woman who is not his wife, and on that ground he might have been removed from ministry, but her getting pregnant is not what’s wrong with the picture.]

On Jan. 11 Siva baptized the five-month-old son, and fourth child, of fellow Catholic priest Hector Canto. [Okay, anyone can baptize validly, including “a cleric who attempts marriage, even if only civilly” contrary to Canon 1394, or one “who lives in concubinage” contrary to Canon 1395.] Siva officiated at Canto’s marriage in 1997. [That, or he thinks he did. If Canto was not laicized and if the impediment of Orders (c. 1087) was not dispensed, then whatever ceremony they participated in, it was invalid.]

… The archdiocese of Jaro, which includes the town of Lambunao, frowns upon his actions, saying the priestly activities of Siva, Canto and another priest, Elmer Cajilig, are “illicit”. [That’s putting it mildly. Most of these priests’ activities are “illicit”—which is serious stuff in canon law and moral theology—and some of it is likely “invalid”—which is even more serious. But I doubt these distinctions mean much to the priests involved.]

“They are on their own,” Jaro Archbishop Angel Lagdameo told Reuters. “They have violated our rules on celibacy. [Right, and on a few other things] We do not recognize them.” [Well, assuming their Orders are valid, they are doubtless ‘recognized’ as priests per se, but that’s pretty much it.]

But Filipino Catholic bishops have done nothing to stop the ministry of the three priests who have openly violated the Church discipline. [Exactly what else is there for bishops to do? The Church has no police force, it has no jails to put canonical criminals in. So what else, beyond making clear the canonical status of these men, does one think the Church can, let alone, should do?]

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