Pope Celibacy Rule: How Priest Abstinence Affects Psychological Health

The Pope celibacy rule is being scrutinized due to how long term priest abstinence might affect the psychological health of a person.

As previously reported by The Inquisitr, there is much speculation that the new Pope is softer on the celibacy rules for priests, with the pope celibacy rule being scrutinized. Pope Francis even advocated civilian unions for gay couples in Argentina while he was Bishop in that country.

Due to these relatively liberal attitudes, Pope Francis has already been called “the hope and change pope” by some in the media. Pope Francis recalls in a Spanish-language book, On The Heavens And The Earth, how he was “dazzled” by a girl he met and how this meeting effected his prayer life, bringing him to the point of distraction.

This particular passage is what is making some believe the Pope’s opinion on the celibacy rule may not be completely orthodox:

“When something like this happens to a seminarian, I help him go in peace to be a good Christian and not a bad pries … In the Western Church to which I belong, priests cannot be married as in the Byzantine, Ukrainian, Russian or Greek Catholic Churches. In those Churches, the priests can be married, but the bishops have to be celibate. They are very good priests.”

Pope Francis also clarified these comments by saying that the priest and pope celibacy rule “is a matter of discipline, not of faith. It can change.”

Critics blame the priest and pope celibacy rule for “enforcing an unrealistic purity, suggesting that priests and nuns inevitably suffer psychologically from trying to remain abstinent.” The active denial of sexual impulses over the longer term are said to damage the psychological health of an individual.

Long term studies have found that half of all priests are sexually active at any particular time, with masturbation beings the most frequent sexual activity. The Catholic Church teaches that masturbation is a “grave moral disorder,” and this not-so-priestly activity is closely followed by affairs with women, homosexual sex, and Internet pornography.

Frank Bruni of the New York Times called the priest and pope celibacy rule “a bad idea with painful consequences.” Married Catholics who later desire to focus on God would be excluded from the priesthood, limiting the pool of potential candidates.

Pedophile priests in the Catholic Church have become infamous over the last several decades. But the priest and pope celibacy rule cannot be blamed, since a John Jay study from 2010 found no evidence that priests abuse children at a higher rate than the general population.

While priest abstinence obviously protects against STDs, studies have shown that engaging in regular sexual activity can increase longevity, fight off headaches, and promote weight loss, immunity, prostate function, heart health, blood pressure, mood, prostate function, pain sensitivity, and sleep quality. Still, a 2011 survey of 2,500 priests found that priests are among the happiest members of American society.

Reverend Shawn McKnight spoke about how the priest and pope celibacy rule affects his daily life:

“Sexual thoughts, temptations, attractions, are part of being human. But it’s how you respond to them. We don’t do things or engage ourselves in things where sexual gratification will be the end.”

What do you think about the priest and pope celibacy rule?