Turning to a Support Group to Deal With Celibacy

“Unfortunately, the church has embraced the notion that once you’ve chosen this profession your sexuality goes away,” Brother Patrick said. “But it doesn’t. God would never expect something so absurd as that.”

Instead, he added, you have to nurture it in different ways. “If you can’t and you’re afraid to talk about it, and your sexuality becomes a big, dirty secret, then eventually, somehow or other, it’s going to get vented in an unhealthy way,” he said.

The Rev. Shawn McKnight, executive director of the Secretariat of Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, said that celibacy, which is mandatory for Roman Catholic priests and religious, was “the commitment to renounce one’s natural right to marriage and to live a chaste life for the kingdom of God.”

“Sexual thoughts, temptations, attractions, are part of being human,” Father McKnight said. “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.”

Yet, in an ethnological study of celibate and sexual behavior of American Catholic clerics from 1960 to 1985, A. W. Richard Sipe, a psychotherapist and former Benedictine monk and priest of 18 years, found that half of all priests and brothers were sexually active at any one time. Mr. Sipe, the author or co-author of seven books on the subject, said those numbers had not changed much. Masturbation is the most frequent activity, he said, followed by liaisons with women, sex with male companions and Internet pornography.

“Sex is really very close to an addiction. It’s a drive that doesn’t go away,” Mr. Sipe said. “If you’re going to live without it, you can’t live like a normal person. You can’t just say one day, ‘I’m celibate.’ Celibacy is a process. The lack of training is a huge piece of the problem.”

I don’t understand what the point of this thread is.

For priests, other priests and their superiors are supposed to be their support group.

Anyone interested in how to choose celibacy willingly, out of love for God and in the freedom of free will which he has given us, may wan to read, “When God Asks for An Undivided Heart” by Andrew Apostolie, CFR. Benedict Groeshel wrote the foreward.

The book is written for priests, but as a celibate male, I have found much value in it.


The Archdiocese of Chicago approves of the support group. “Anything that would help priests in their struggle with celibacy and support priests in the commitment to celibacy is welcomed by the church,” said the Rev. John Collins, vicar for priests for the archdiocese.

I wonder what the nature of those support groups are. There is a support group near where I live, run out of a large Baptist Church, attended by many non-Catholic pastors and ministers go who have fallen into habitual sexual sin. I really can’t see priests going to something like that and saying, “Hi, my name is Father O’Mally, and I’m addicted to internet porn and masturbation.” Next thing you know, it would be on the front page of the newspaper. I have to believe that the Church is her own best resource.

The priests in our local deanery get together every Thursday afternoon for just this purpose, to support each other in their needs. They have lunch, pray, talk about what is going on in their lives and help each other out if one is getting a little burnt out or a little punchy.

Again, I wonder what the nature of those support groups are. You have not quoted that part from whatever article or website you are quoting from.

With all due respect, I feel like I am having a conversation with a newspaper article. ;):stuck_out_tongue:


I’m not celibate, so I only quote the experts:D:

Now 49, a California native with a singsong lilt to his voice and John Lennon-style wire rim glasses, he is a founding member of one of the country’s few celibacy support groups for priests and religious.

Allan Schnarr, a clinical psychologist who teaches at Loyola University of Chicago and former priest who spent 10 years in the Resurrectionist religious order, started the group in 2009 at the request of a client, a priest.

Monday mornings twice a month ever since, Brother Patrick and the three other brothers and priests in the support group meet in Hyde Park at the Claret Center, which offers psychotherapeutic services and spiritual direction. Seated in a circle in the center’s homey conference room, they discuss the spiritual and emotional struggles and joys of being true to their vows.

Hmmmm… it sounds organically and authentically Catholic… :hmmm:

But is run by a former priest? Like Melchizidek of old… No such thing as a former priest.

But I won’t judge. I think it is awsome that consecrated religious and priests get together to support each other. :thumbsup: We used to use words like “Friend” to describe such relationships. Whatever you call it, I’m just glad to hear that it is not the Archdioces recommending that Catholic clergy and consecrated religious just go to the SA meeting over at the local Methodist Church or something like that. My experience with such support groups is that they recommend an internet filter and then spend the rest of the meeting in “Small group” discussing techniques for hanging sheetrock or one guy crying over his divorce week after week.

By nature of their priesthood and their vows, there is pressure on the priest and consecrated religious not shared by the laity and pastors/ministers of other faiths. Priests are just different. They are… well… priests!

I’m glad to hear of it. Personally, for me, I just pray a whole lot. What else can one do?


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