By Conor Ryan
The Irish Examiner
03 March 2008
More than a dozen serving Catholic priests have told a radio poll they have broken their celibacy vows, but continue to work in parishes.
A survey of ordained priests by Newstalk 106’s Moncrieff Show also revealed an atmosphere of dissatisfaction with the Church’s rules on its clergy abstaining from sex.
It asked 15 questions of 584 priests by phone and letter. However, only 80 agreed to respond.
Of those 12 priests said they had broken their chastity vows since their ordination.
“I am a human person liable to sinfulness and weakness like all humans,” one man replied.
One priest admitted he had “struggled, fallen and risen again” while another replied “if chaste means not involved in a genital sexual union — no”.
The majority of priests said they had kept their promise to abstain from sex.
“I took a vow of chastity at ordination. It’s like any other commitment you live by it, you remain faithful to it,” a celibate priest said.
When asked if they supported the removal of this condition by the Church and should ordained men be allowed to marry, 48 priests said they did, although a similar amount felt Pope Benedict XVI would never change the rule even if it was contributing to the decline in the number of people pursuing vocations.
“The celibacy issue has been one of the occasions for many priests who have much more to offer leaving the active ministry. It is also a fact, I believe, in the decline in numbers offering themselves for consideration as candidates for ordained ministry,” a priest said.
However, many of those who responded felt the celibacy issue was being overplayed and used as a rod to beat the Church.
“I get the impression that those who talk most about it only want to get a dig at the Church. They are not concerned about the welfare of the Church or of individual Catholics,” said one man.
According to the survey team many of the priests contacted opted out of questioning when asked about celibacy.
A slim majority supported the call to allow women to become ordained ministers.
The full results of the survey will be carried on the Moncrieff Show today at 2pm to 4.30pm.