How do I answer the charge that letting priest marry would prevent scandals like the recent ones?


Full Question

Karl Keating has used 1 Corinthians 7 to explain how Paul felt about priests needing to be unmarried. But this statement bothered me: "If they cannot exercise self-control they should marry, for it is better to marry than to be on fire" (verse 9). Given this, how should I handle questions like, "Wouldn't Catholics have fewer priest committing adultery and—worse—molestation, if they were allowed to marry"?

Answer

There is no statistical evidence that unmarried people are more likely than married people to fall into the sins you mentioned. Most adulteries, for examples, are performed by married people (by definition, at least one party to adultery must be married—if neither is married, the sin is fornication, not adultery—and commonly the other party is married also). The moral defects that lead some into molestations are found in both the married and unmarried; those defects do not arise out of the state of celibacy—nor out of the state of matrimony. Among Protestant ministers we find cases of marital infidelity and, yes, molestations. Your non-Catholic friends surely would not conclude that a married clergy therefore should be rejected.


Karl Keating