U.S. News & World Report has an ongoing poll asking: “A Miami priest is in the hot seat after being photographed with a woman on the beach. Is it time for the Catholic Church to end its celibacy requirement for priests?”, the results were surprising to me:
Obviously, the poll isn’t scientific, and it’s predictable in its support for an end to celibacy (when don’t people vote for more sex?). After all, this is USN&WR, not First Things. Even though this was in the religion section (I saw it on the God & Country faith/politics blog), the reader comments suggest a readership which is far from Catholic, and far from even being warm-towards-Catholicism. And of course, the poll results suggest that. Celibacy is weird, sex is natural, how can we resist our natural impulses, etc. That part was unsurprising.
What surprised me was that even amongst USN&WR readers who cared enough to vote in an online poll, over a third were clicking to defend the celibacy tradition within the (Western, at least) Catholic Church. It left me wondering whether there are a surprising number of coservative Catholic USN&WR readers; or if there are non-Catholics who “get” the celibacy thing, and what it’s good for; or if a lot of people (regardless of religious affiliation) are tired of the sex-crazy politically correct crowd telling religions what they’re supposed to look like.
I’d classify these three groups as, “this is the practice of my Church, which I will defend”; “this isn’t the practice of my Church, but I can see why it might help”; and “I find the celibacy thing weird and foreign, but I’m tired of having my faith determined by outsiders.” I have no idea how many voters fell into each group, or whether there is some fourth category I’m missing.