In this episode Trent updates his coverage of the controversy surrounding the Amazonian synod and also talks about the proposal to ordain married men in the region.
- Controversial Amazon statues stolen from Rome church, dumped in river
- Pope Francis-Feast of Saint Francis 2019-10-04 (the statue is called “Our Lady of the Amazon” at around 13:25)
- Where are all the single pastors?
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Welcome to the Counsel of Trent podcast, a production of Catholic Answers.
Be careful when you bring your kids to work. You never know what’s going to happen. Welcome to the Counsel of Trent podcast. I’m your host, Catholic Answers apologist and speaker, Trent Horn. I stopped by the office a few days ago to pick up some materials, and I had the little guys with me, my four-year-old and two-year-old. We came to the office, and I don’t mind, because they’re super cute and so I’m happy to parade them around the office and show them off to people.
Then we made our way over to my office, which is here in the center of the building at 2020 Gillespie. I love my office, by the way, to record things, but there are some things I don’t like about it. I love that it’s here in the center of the building. I don’t have any windows, which is fine. It’s like my little cave that I retreat to. I have a lot of books on bookshelves so it keeps it from sounding like an echo chamber in here.
The only thing that I have a hard time with, and maybe you deal with this too, is that there is one gigantic air vent above me here in my office. I’m staring at it right now. It’s got like four distinct vents in it, and it’s supposed to cool down this entire section of the building. I don’t know why this little office, it’s almost like a little closet that I’m in here in the center of the building. Well, it has a door.
For some reason, it has a giant air vent coming in like, “Did they use to store cryopreserved embryos or cryopreserved prisoners in here ala Demolition Man, which is a great Sylvester Stallone, Wesley Snipes movie by the way?” “Bad aim, Blondie.” “I’m a blast from the past,” so if you haven’t seen it with also Sandra Bullock. Demolition Man, a good guilty pleasure movie I recommend. It’s super cold in here. You might be able to catch this on the audio. I’m not sure.
Our wizard and the audio engineering book, Nick Chamberlain, could possibly clean it up. I hope that he can, but I can’t do it. I have my space heater turned on. It’s so cold. Otherwise, I feel like I’m going to turn into a popsicle in here, so which by the way, because you support the Counsel of Trent podcast, if you are a premium subscriber at trenthornpodcast.com, you make these episodes possible. You get access to bonus content, and you let me have people like Nick Chamberlain who fix up our audio.
I needed Nick because my kids came into my office, and they saw my mixing board for the studio. That’s why I was a bit delayed posting an episode today. Anyways, I was trying to get the board fixed with Nick, because we came into the office when I came in with my kids, I grabbed few materials, and they looked over and they saw my Behringer mixing board. It’s a 24-bit mixing board. I send a microphone in there. I send audio from my computer into there, and it mixes it together to create one clean audio copy.
It’s got a ton of knobs and dials and sliders on it, and that’s every toddler’s dream to find a box that has a bunch of knobs and sliders on it. I look out back over my shoulder, and they’re fiddling with every single knob and slider on there. I said, “No, no, no guys. No, no, no. That’s daddy’s for work. Here, you could play with this instead.” I came in to record the podcast, and I decided to just let me make sure.
I thought I had it fixed to its original factory setting, the original settings, but I figured, “Now, I’m going to do a test recording just to make sure.” I’m glad I did because this is what the podcast sounded like after my kids had to go up my mixing board. Testing one, two. Testing one, two, three, four. I’m not getting anything on my ear buds, but the levels are going up. Let’s try YouTube.
They basically put me at the bottom of a well. Thankfully, we’ve got Nick on staff here who’s able to fix up my board. Everything sounds great. That’s just a little update there. Also, my dialogue with Tim Gordon should be up probably at the end of this week or at the beginning of next week, so hopefully, we’re trying to tie in a few details with all of that. Very excited to share that with you all. Before that though, for today’s episode, I wanted to talk about the Amazonian Synod and the issue of clerical celibacy.
First, I want to say that I’m grateful to people who chime in on social media or at trenthornpodcast.com to correct me when I mispronounced things. There’s a big hubbub about the idea that there are idols dedicated to an Incan fertility deity or goddess Pachamama. On the previous episode, I was saying Pakamama, but it turns out it’s pronounced Pachamama. I’m glad there were a few people who correct me on that.
The reason that you’ll find that I mispronounce things a lot here on the podcast is a lot of my learning, I don’t go to videos or to audio to learn about stuff. I way prefer books and articles, so I will go places and read things faster, or if there’s a podcast or a video, I way prefer to read the transcript then to listen to it in real time, so most of my learning comes from reading things. That’s why you’ll find on air, I often mispronounce things or my pronunciation goes all awry.
I mean, awry. I had that one wrong for a really long time, so I thought there’s a Pachelbel’s Canon, a pack of pachyderms, Pakamama, but I’m incorrect. It’s pronounced Pachamama, which is also harder when you’re doing pronunciations in foreign languages. There was a bit of an update on that. I did the podcast last week on the Vatican gardens ceremony where there was a people who were doing this indigenous dance, and they had these statues and trinkets, and other things related to the Amazon.
There were a stat… There was a wooden statue, two wooden statues in the middle of looked like a pregnant woman whose breasts are bared. I said in the previous episode that I did not think that that was the statue of the Incan deity Pachamama. One reason that I didn’t put forward in that podcast, what I thought about more, and Jimmy also came to the same conclusion, was that the Incas barely settled in the Amazonian basin. That’s not a place where their interactions with the Amazonians are not common, so we wouldn’t expect worship of that Incan deity among the Amazonians in the first place.
Though, as I mentioned in the previous podcasts, there is a lot of syncretism and folk Catholicism in the Andes, in the Andes mountain ranges, of people who identify the Virgin Mary with this goddess Pachamama, and so you’ve got this syncretism that you have to untangle as part of evangelizing these indigenous peoples. I find it really unfortunate that someone shared me a link from Taylor Marshall and Timothy Gordon’s show, TNT, where they talked about this, and Tim made an offhand comment.
He said that I said on my podcast that Pachamama just was our lady of Brazil, and then I just made that comment. I said no such thing on the podcast. I never mentioned our lady of Brazil at all on the podcast. I don’t know how Tim got that idea listening through it. Now, I did say that there are groups of indigenous people that identify Pachamama with the Virgin Mary. They’re either separate or they’re conflated. The Virgin Mary just is the one who brings us life and fertility and health and good luck or bad luck.
You had people on our trajectory towards the fullest revelation. You had to keep moving them towards that trajectory. You don’t want them to captain superstition or the things like that. Now, I think he might’ve been referring to the Vatican gardens ceremony where I did say, I thought that that would in statue, which was thrown in the Tiber. I’m going to read an article about that here in a second that happened yesterday. I said that I thought that that statue, some people have said that, “Well, maybe it is Pachamama.”
I still don’t see good evidence for that. It doesn’t look like other artistic depictions of that Incan deity that I’ve seen. Other people put forward the hypothesis that this is just a symbol of life, a symbol of fertility, and so it’s just more of an abstract symbol like how a tree might be something you don’t worship, but it’s a symbol of plant life of the earth or things like that. What I said in last week’s podcast was that I wanted to take these people at their word that they said that this was our lady of the Amazon.
Where I got that idea from is that when you look at the actual video of this garden ceremony that took place on October 4th at the beginning of the month at this [inaudible 00:08:13] we’ve been talking about now for a few weeks, that when one of these indigenous women comes to Pope Francis and gives him this wooden statue, you can hear her say in the recording, you hear her shout to everyone. There’s camera clicks, so it’s hard to hear in some parts, but she clearly says, “Nuestra Senora de la Amazonia.”
She either says… She’s speaking in Spanish or Portuguese or in Spanish that has a heavy Portuguese accent to it, but she shouts to everyone, “Nuestra Senora de la Amazonia.” Here, I’ll play the clip for you right now. Let’s get that set up here.
Nuestra Senora de la Amazonia.
You heard her say that. I’m going to try to back up a few seconds, boost the audio, so you can get a clear idea of it.
Nuestra Senora de la Amazonia. [Foreign language 00:09:07].
Then she says something about la Iglesia, the church. She says Nuestra Senora de la Amazonia something de la Iglesia, so it’s something of the church. I believe in just taking people at their word unless I’m proven otherwise. That was the conclusion that I reached last week, and I haven’t seen compelling evidence coming forward to dispute that, that it could be an abstract symbol of life. It could be an indigenous depiction of our lady of the Amazon.
It could be some kind of pagan idol, but I don’t see anyone showing that someone in these churches from these indigenous groups has been offering worship to these idols or referring to them by these Incan names. I haven’t seen that. What I have seen though is people saying, “Yep, I’m definitely convinced it’s an idol, and I’m going to destroy it.” This is from Reuters yesterday, “Controversial Amazon statues stolen from Rome church dumped in river.”
The article says, “Ultra conservative Catholic militants…” There’s one I haven’t heard in a while. To be fair, Reuters does refer to other groups as militants, so this isn’t singling out Catholics, though, they’ll use the term Islamic militants. I’ve seen that in other contexts, though I would say this is far removed from Islamic militants actually blow stuff up and they kill people. These people are just… They’re destroying property.
“Ultra conservative Catholic militants admitted they stole statues they consider to be Amazon pagan idols from a church near the Vatican on Monday, and dump them from a bridge into the Tiber River. A video posted on the internet and given prominence on conservative Catholic media websites such as EWT and television and life site news showed the four-minute episode, which police said they were treating as a theft. The statues were on display along with other Amazon artifacts at the church of Santa Maria in Traspontina, several blocks from the Vatican.”
“The three identical statues of annealing pregnant indigenous woman were replicas of one used during a tree planting ceremony in the Vatican gardens in the presence of Pope Francis this month that conservatives found outrageous. Conservatives accused the Vatican of letting what they consider a likeness of a pagan goddess of mother earth, known as Pachamama, onto sacred Christian ground. The Vatican said at the time that the statue was a symbol of life.”
“Asked about the theft on Monday, the Vatican’s head of communications, Paolo Ruffini, said it was a stunt.” All right, so here’s my thoughts on this. If these really are pagan idols, if they really are pagan idols in a church that people worship, I wholeheartedly agree you should destroy them. I agree with that. Now in my previous podcast yesterday, I said that when you take decisive and vigorous action, you should always do so prudently.
For example, let’s say there is an indigenous village, and they’re worshiping idols, and this is your first encounter with them. You could go and smash all of their idols and say, “Worship the true God.” You could do that, but then you risk, well, a violent reprise and being shut out and kept from evangelizing these people anymore. There may be cases where that’s justified. There may be cases where it’s not justified. I’m just saying that just because we feel like something’s right, we also must be prudent.
We have to look at the cost-benefit of the situation. Here, would it be worthwhile if you destroy idols in a remote village? You are banned from ever coming back from that village. No Christian is ever welcome, and then they go back to worshiping the idols, and they may be lost. They may be damned, or would it be worthwhile that you go in there, you tolerate it for a limited amount of time, but you engage in persistent and gracious evangelism to get them to see that these idols are something that they should abandon and that the true God is who they really should worship, and that they can provide veneration to the holy women of God, including the Virgin Mary, the blessed Virgin Mary they should seek veneration from, and then after a process of doing that, they voluntarily relinquish the idols?
I think that’s a better solution that leads to souls being saved in the long run. Now, if you have just a church in the Western world that is ill-advisedly worshiping idols out of a sense of political correctness, that’s dumb. You shouldn’t do that. Here’s my thing. I don’t think this is such a great idea to throw these things in the river, because I don’t see good evidence that these actually are pagan idols that are worshiped. I’m willing to be corrected on that. I’m always open to the evidence, but what I see is that they just seem like symbols of life.
What I also want to ask people who are critical of those who are involved in the Amazonian Synod, I get being upset about religious syncretism and superstition. That is wrong, but a lot of these same people, they’re not upset about other evils that are present. For example, the evil of racism. I’m just going to say it, if you don’t like it, but I’ve seen this. In particular, it’s when some people have said, prominent people and other people on the internet have referred to indigenous people in the Amazon as savages.
Dude, you can’t call them that. It’s 2019, get woke, bro. You can’t call people savages just because they’re indigenous and they live in the global south. That’s like from Pocahontas, “Savages, savages, they don’t understand.” There are people who have been saying that. That is not appropriate, and that either is racist or it’s borderline on racism. All of us… I just want to take a deep breath and relax here. No, we should not be condoning or tolerating idol worship.
At the very least, the only time we could ever tolerate it is if that’s the only way we can evangelize an indigenous village, and then hopefully move them to the truth if the alternative is just being banished and these people are lost to idol worship and the worship of false gods. Now, there are some things, I think I might’ve mentioned this in the previous episode that we can’t tolerate. If there’s a village that is… In South America, there are indigenous tribes that practice infanticide including of twins, that twins are considered cursed, and so they’re buried alive.
I am going to rescue those kids. I don’t care what happens. That is a situation where I’m going to swiftly intervene because the lives of these human beings depend on it and their dignity demands it, but in other cases, we might have to take a more progressive form of evangelism. Much the same as I mentioned last week, that God Himself progressively led the Israelites to the fullness of truth about Him and tolerated them understanding Him in a limited way, that He tolerated that the early Israelites believed He was one God among many, instead of being the only God that existed, because He was eventually progressively leading them to truth.
There’s cases where we have to do that with indigenous populations, other cases where we have to take a swifter approach. All I’m saying in all of this is that we ought to be prudent. If it turned out that these were just symbols of things that the Amazonians care about, this is also hard for me to… Let’s say you want to say, “I want to share my culture with people here in Rome.” I want people to tell me what is appropriate for someone to share in artistic display, “This is the Catholicism we practice in the Amazon. What things are appropriate?”
Some people will be mad about the boats. Well, boats are a big deal in the Amazon. It’s how you get around. People should be allowed to share their culture as long as that culture does not contradict the truth. I know someone recently who said that, “Why do we have all these other rites? Why should we have these other rites in the church? We should just have one rite, one Latin rite and one language. Why should we?”
Well, because people’s traditions are important. It’s an important thing that they’ve grew up with and has formed them. If it is not contrary to the faith, we have freedom in Christ to practice them. St. Paul said the same thing in his letter to the Colossians. He said, “If you want to celebrate the festivals of the new moons, if you want to eat and drink a certain way, go right ahead. Just don’t impose that on your brethren.”
Now, Paul drew the line when people said that you had to be circumcised in order to be saved. He said, “Nope, you can’t impose that.” In his letter to the Colossians, in his letter to the Romans, Paul talks a lot about how we have freedom in Christ. That includes freedom to celebrate different kind of traditions provided that none of them are contrary to the faith. That’s why when it comes to the Synod, I think that… Well, one of the controversial things, I’m going to save the discussion about the diaconate women deacons here for a separate podcast.
We may even talk about that after the final report comes out to see what is said. Though, the far less problematic proposal about married priests, I would say that we should not get worked up about that. When it comes to rites and traditions, a view that I think is a good idea is Cardinal Luis Ladaria, who is the prefect for the congregation for the doctrine of the faith, so the highest teaching office in the church. He’s proposed that the pope should create a new rite.
Remember, there are about 23 different rites in the church. The most common one is there are Western rites and Eastern rites. I think there’s two or three Western celebrated rites, R-I-T-E, rites, so ways of celebrating liturgy and passing on the traditions of the faith. The largest one is the Latin or Western rite. When people think of Catholics, they usually think of that rite. The Eastern rites are different. One of the big difference is in the Western rite, you use unleavened bread like the kind that was used at the Passover to consecrate for the Eucharist.
In the Eastern rite, the eastern churches maintained the tradition of having leavened bread because the leaven of the bread is a reminder of the risen Christ. You have two different forms of symbolism. Even in the great schism in the 11th century, when the Eastern Orthodox broke off from Catholicism, from the church, one of the disputes was about whether you use leavened or unleavened bread, but that is not… It has to be bread. Bread is an essential part of the sacrament. That’s why I’m super concerned about some proposals at the Synod.
I haven’t seen them get much traction. I’m hoping they were dead on arrival, that you could use yucca for the matter of the Eucharist. No, yucca is not bread. You got to use bread. Even if it’s extremely gluten-free bread, has a microscopic amount of gluten for those who are gluten intolerant, it’s still got to be bread. Jesus gave us bread and wine. Now, whether it’s leavened or unleavened, that is something that is not dogma.
That’s something that’s a discipline or tradition that some people have failed to see that it’s something that we can have a multiplicity of views on and celebrate and live out. That’s why I think it would be helpful. I think the concern is that people are saying, “Well, we need to have celebrating the Latin rite in the Amazon, the Western rites, but we should ordain viri probati. These are proven men, older married men, ordain them to the priesthood in order to deal with the shortage of priests that are available in the Amazon to celebrate mass.
Now, my contention though is that we should not rush to the idea that, “Oh, we will solve the vocation’s crisis by just lifting the requirement for celibacy.” I don’t think that that’s the case, because there’s an Eastern… I remember an Eastern Orthodox bishop said not too long ago, he said, “Look, we have married priests, and we still have a vocation shortage.” The priesthood is not a job. It is a calling. It’s to help men understand that they are called to this.
Remember though that priestly celibacy is not a dogma. It’s not an unchanging truth of the faith. For example, the truth that women may not be ordained to the priesthood, that is an infallible teaching of the faith that cannot change. Now, whether priests can be married or not, that has changed throughout church history. It is a discipline. In the Eastern church, priests can be married. If you are ordained though, you cannot get married after that.
If they ever change the teaching in the Latin rite to allow for married priests, I would say you should follow the eastern standards and say that bishops must still be celibate, and that if you are married, you can become a priest, but if you are a priest, you can’t get married. A friend of mine put it this way once, he said, “We can’t have priests going around dating people.” I agree. That’s weird. That would detract from their work and in serving the body of Christ so that if you are married, you could become a priest.
We have done that. Even in the Latin rite, there are Anglican priests who are married, who have converted and have been allowed to be Catholic priests, priests in the Latin rite, and still be married. It’s possible that the teaching on celibacy could change in the future, so don’t let your faith be shaken if it is changed. Now, I personally, I don’t think it should be changed because I believe that the witness of celibacy fully corresponds to what Saint Paul said in 1 Corinthians 7, I think it’s verse 35, where he talks about how the unmarried man is anxious about things to the Lord and wants to plead the Lord… please the Lord.
If you think about it, I was reading some articles by some protestants. There was one published a few months ago in 2019 from a guy from Ravi Zacharias’ ministries. His name is Sam Allberry. He wrote an article called, “Where are all the single pastors?” In a lot of Protestant denominations, it’s not just that they allow pastors to be married. It’s almost like they have an inverted rule. I think something only about 2% of Protestant pastors are unmarried.
They have a anti celibacy rule that many… Think about it. Have you ever been to a Protestant church where the pastor was not married? It’s extremely rare. There’s almost a requirement to not be celibate in order to be a pastor in a Protestant church, whereas in the Latin rite, we have a requirement for celibacy. I want to tie up a loose end. The pope has the authority to create a new rite of worship, and so an Amazonian rite that incorporated the traditions of indigenous Amazonian people as long as those traditions are not contrary to the teaching of the faith, allow them to live out the faith with traditions they’ve had ever since the faith was introduced to them 400 years ago, and you could allow for married priests.
Now, I would say that you should not just find the first married guy in the village and say, “You’re a priest now.” They got to be properly ordained. They should go through the diaconate first and then be ordained to the priesthood several years later. If that’s an approach you want to take, that might also be something people might open up for maybe an indigenous rite among the Intuit peoples in Northern Canada who also have a severe priest shortage.
If you did that, if you had married priests within that particular rite, just the Amazonian rite, then it’d be very similar to the over a dozen other rites in the Eastern church that also have married priests, and you wouldn’t have to touch or change the largest rite in the church, which should be the Latin or the Western rite. I think it’s a good solution. What I want to do just to close this out, I want to read this article, Where Are All the Single Pastors, by Sam Allberry, because he’s Protestant and talks about how this misconception of the Protestant church that married pastors are better.
I think it’s great to hear his perspective, because I think it’s a good answer towards people who say that we ought to have more married priests in the Catholic church because it would be better. Allberry says, “It’s not necessarily so.” He answers four arguments that people give saying why married pastors are preferable to single pastors. He says, number one, “Pastors need to be able to minister to those who have families.”
He says, “Yes, a married man will have much experience that will inform and aid his ability to minister to married church members, but that experience will be limited. His experience of married life will be very different to that of a great many of his church. It is not ultimately our personal experience that qualifies us to teach into a given situation, though it can undoubtedly help. It is our handling of the word of God.”
“It is not after all our wisdom that we are seeking to share, but God’s.” Similarly, our experience of parenting or marriage may provide additional firsthand insight into how to teach, so it’s not going to be determinative. No pastor has experience of every aspect of life on which he will be required to teach.” Just think about that. If we demanded a pastor had life experience on everything he ministered and help people within his parish, does he have to have a relative with a disability or a chronic illness in order to minister to people who have disabilities or chronic illnesses?
Would he need to have 10 kids to help a father who’s struggling with his very large family? It does help, but I will tell you some of the best marital advice that I have received, some of the best advice I’ve received has actually come from priests that they know this from personal experience because they’re the ones who counsel and speak to hundreds of hundreds of couples with children, and they could help me.
Whereas for me, if someone came to me, “Hey, I need marriage advice,” what’s hard is even though I’m married, I have kids, I’m still figuring it out. I mean, even by the time my wife and I, God willing, we make it to 40 and 50 years and both of us are still here on this earth. I’ll probably have to kick my Dr. Pepper habit before that. Laura, you’ll have to kick your diet Dr. Pepper habit before that. We’re both going to make it to our 40th or 50th anniversary.
I may not have that insight, but what I do have is truth, and if truth is ultimately what people need, then an unmarried pastor and a married pastor are both capable of delivering that. He says, “Number two, with a married pastor, you often get two for the price of one.” This is funny. He says, “It tends not to be stated quite so abruptly, but churches assume, Protestant churches, assume a married pastor will come with an additional staff member who will work for the church for free. Why hire one single person when you can get two for the same price?”
It’s a common assumption, but not a fair one. Not every pastor’s wife will be gifted in pastoral ministry. Furthermore, not every pastor’s wife will be able to give the equivalent hours of a full-time job towards working for the church. There may be other family commitments in other parts of her family, such as elderly parents that need caring or a sibling with a difficult family situation or unusual health needs like a special needs child.
She may have to work on that and can’t serve the church. I would also add that a challenge… Remember, if you have a celibate priesthood and a married priesthood, there are challenges with both, absolutely. A celibate priesthood, those men need community. I think many men who end up becoming abusers, one, the first step on that path for many of men who are celibate is that they become isolated. They become isolated from others. They turn inward to themselves, and they have no accountability.
That’s why I think it’s so important for us to pray for priests, to be friends with priests, and to make sure priests live in community with one another so they can hold one another accountable. Of course, that’s the same thing when you have married men who become abusive. Ironically enough, even though they are married, I believe a lot of times, they’ve isolated themselves. They don’t seek out friends or mentors when they’re struggling. They cut themselves off from their wives.
They don’t share intimate things they’re struggling with with their wives, and so married men may seem like they have a support network, but they’ve cut themselves off from other people, and they end up towards a sinful path or an abusive path. It’s something to keep in mind that that’s one of the struggles of celibacy. Married life can alleviate that, but also if you have married pastors, I’m sorry, you want to have a church people that say, “We got to have married priests. We should have that.”
How much do you throw into the collection plate every month? We would seriously have to consider that as a church if we were to move towards… Like I said, the church has the authority to do this. The question is, is it prudent to do that one, that should we lose the beautiful symbolism that celibacy shows that the priest who is dressed black, he is dead to the world, that the world has no hold on him? He serves Christ. He, like Christ who is celibate, takes the church as his bride, would die for the church, and nothing in this world has a powerful force over him more than Christ does, including sexual desire, that celibacy is a countercultural sign to a sex saturated world.
I sincerely hope that we don’t lose that. The church may change on that. You never know. It could change after the Synod deliberations. I don’t know, but if it does change, wake-up call for Catholics. You’re going to have to put a lot more in the collection plates and have a moral responsibility to care for the pastors, their families, and their children. It’s something that has to be taken into account. Number three, the Bible seems to require pastors to be married.
Now, most Catholics obviously don’t believe this, but you might come across protestants who think this. They’ll go to 1 Timothy 3:2, where Paul says that a bishop must be blameless, the husband of one wife. What he says here is that Paul is writing what he does, not because he requires pastors to be married, but because he expects them to because most people at that time were married. If you were a priest who is ordained, most people were married. They hadn’t been called to the vocation of celibacy, of serving Christ as a celibate priest.
They just already were married. Peter had a mother-in-law, for example. The focus is therefore that as married men, they be faithfully married. Paul is particularly targeting those who have more than one wife, not those who have none. There was polygamy obviously that grew out of Judaism. There’s polygamy in the old Testament. Notice in 1 Timothy 3, Paul doesn’t say a bishop must be married. He says, “He must be the husband of one wife.”
That either means he should not be a polygamist, who has more than one wife, or he not be remarried. He not be someone who is married, and then divorced or widowed and then chose to remarry. That’s probably what Paul means. Also, the problem is the passage says that he should have obedient children. Note the plural. If we’re going to be consistent, then we should also require… Ask your Protestant friend this who thinks the Bible says pastors must be married.
If we’re going to be consistent, then we should also require plural children alongside being married. Secondly, pastors who become widowed would apparently need to resign the pastorate. They would no longer be the husband of one wife. That seems very clear. The Bible does not require pastors to be married, and if anything, it promotes their celibacy and points to them as an example, Jesus is the prime example. St. Paul would be another one.
When you come across Protestant friends who say that the unmarried Catholic priesthood is unbiblical, show them what Saint Paul said in 1 Corinthians 7, and show them how Jesus is our model. When Saint Paul says in 1 Corinthians 11:1, “The imitators of me as I am of Christ, why not imitate Paul, who imitates Christ, some of us to choose to not marry to serve the body of Christ either as a priest or in the religious life?” Finally, he deals with this argument that he thinks is undergirding a lot of Protestant opposition to single pastors, unmarried pastors.
Number four, there might be something wrong with them if they’re still single. He says, “Perhaps the most significant reason churches prefer married pastors is the suspicion that there must be something wrong with someone if they’re not married,” which I find it funny because I have met many single people who are wonderful. They are a joy to be around. They lift me up, especially priests that I know are not married. People think, “Oh, well if you’re not married, there’s got to be something wrong with you.”
Do you know how many… Think of the people in your life, acquaintances or friends, who are married, who found someone, and there is something wrong with them, people who have personality disorders, people who are just bizarre or strange or just come off in a terrible way. The problem is that marriage does not prove that somebody is a completely healthy, well-dispositioned person, because it just may be the case that two people are married. They’re both not well, and they have problems, and they become codependent on one another.
Marriage is oftentimes a way to maturity. I’ve seen this in my own marriage. It can be a trial by fire. It helps you grow in maturity. It can be that, but it can also be a place where you double down on immaturity, especially if both of you enable one another in various immaturities and deficiencies in your growth as a well adjusted human being. That’s one thing to say here that marriage is not proof that somebody is a healthy, insane individual by any means.
He talks about that, but he says that… Well, just to go on here, it’s the same point that he’s making in here, that that’s not an indicative sign that a person is all right. Some people think, “Oh, if they’re single, they’re more likely to be abusive.” That’s not true at all. I read a recent report here. This is back in May of 2019 in Christianity Today. The headline was, “One in 10 young protestants have left a church over abuse.” There’s been a lot of research.
This was a study conducted by LifeWay Christian Resources saying, “10% of Protestant church goers under the age of 35 left the church because of sexual misconduct they thought was not being taken seriously.” This is not a Catholic problem. This is not a celibacy problem. This is a human problem and a sin problem. There’s no quick fixes. If there is sin in the church, there is no quick fix, bandaid, silver bullet solution to get rid of it. Jesus said, “Sometimes, only prayer and fasting can drive out these evils.”
When you hear people who put forward simple solutions to problems within the church, they’re probably wrong. That’s similar to other things that we have in life as well. Here’s what I’d recommend. Don’t let what’s happening… You see in the news, or you see on the Synod, there’s always going to be… The devil’s always attacking our faith, and he will sometimes use malicious people to do that, and he will sometimes use people who are ignorant to the things they are doing to do that.
Don’t let it take your peace. As the Synod draws to a close here, let’s just pray. Pray for the deliberation between the bishops there that it goes well and that they reach solutions that are true, holy and good. It may not be our preferred solutions, but let’s just pray for a good solution to come from that. Remember, it’s not binding what comes from that. It will ultimately be delivered to Pope Francis for him to consider or completely reject in a post-synodal apostolic exhortation he’ll release probably several months after this.
Let’s just pray for that. Pray for our church. Pray for me and my podcasts, help it to keep going and to edify and educate people. I hope this has built you up in your faith, and I hope that you have a very blessed weekend. I mean, week. Look at me, [inaudible 00:34:43] not all there. All of you have a blessed day. Thank you guys so much.
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