Is it realistic to lead a celibate life?


As the Catholic Church prepares for a new pope, there are the usual calls to relax the rules on celibacy for priests. We hear from three people - not all priests - with their own complicated, conflicted and ultimately rewarding relationships with celibacy.

Catholic priest, Father Dwight Longenecker

Cardinal Keith O'Brien -- the highest ranking Catholic leader in Britain -- resigned from his position as Archbishop of St. Andrews and Edinburgh, after admitting that his "sexual conduct fell below the standards expected of him." The resignation came amid complaints by three priests and a former priest that O'Brien had acted inappropriately toward them.

O'Brien isn't the only one questioning the wisdom of celibacy. As the Catholic Church gets ready for a new Pope, there are renewed calls to allow priests to marry and have sex. Today, we're asking if it's realistic to expect people to lead a celibate life and we'll be hearing from three people, all of whom have complicated but ultimately positive experiences with celibacy.

First up is Father Dwight Longenecker. He is a married Catholic priest at the Our Lady of the Rosary parish. Father Longenecker used to be an Anglican priest. He was celibate for seven years before he got married and then converted to Catholicism. Father Longenecker was Greenville, South Carolina.

Father Dwight Longenecker's blog is called Standing on My Head.

Panel: Elizabeth Abbott / David Holland

Celibacy is not an issue that's confined to the Catholic church. Other religions -- Buddhism and Hinduism for example -- also embrace the practice in various forms. And people can choose celibacy for non-religious reasons as well.

For their thoughts on the value of celibacy and the challenges associated with it, we were joined by Elizabeth Abbott. She's the author of several books, including A History of Celibacy. She was in Toronto.

And David Holland is a freelance writer whose blog is called My Celibate Life. He was in London, England.

This segment was produced by The Current's Dawna Dingwall and Hassan Santur.

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Last Word - To Bear Arms Documentary Promo

We ended the program with an excerpt of a documentary freelance journalist Sarah Richards will have for us on Monday's program. It's about the consequences for one American man acting on his right to bear arms.

Twenty years ago, Johnny Slaughter shot and killed a man who had broken into his home. He was never convicted of anything. But that action has haunted him ever since. You can hear the full documentary on The Current Monday.

Other segments from today's show:

Aboriginal Justice Report: Whose justice system is it?

Blogging & Revolution: Syrian human rights activist Razan Ghazzawi

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