Celibacy vow is akin to marriage vow

Dear Editor, A lot of the reaction to the resignation of Bishop Kieran Conry in Britain has tended towards the conclusion that he ought to be looked at sympathetically because of the burdensome vow of celibacy. Bishop Conry has admitted that he was unfaithful to his vow of celibacy. It’s hard not to be sympathetic to a repentant sinner. This is what God asks of us and God surely embraces Bishop Conry with open arms.

We must not, however, confuse sympathy with the idea that such unfaithfulness doesn’t really matter because celibacy is a difficult call. What Bishop Conry has done is akin to a married man who cheats on his wife – both have betrayed the solemn vows they made before God and before the community.

Celibacy is a difficult call, so is the call to chastity that is at the heart of Christian marriage.

I don’t think anyone would advocate as a legitimate response to marital infidelity redefining marriage so that an errant husband could have two or more wives. Why are people so quick to jump to the conclusion that the only answer for a priest who is unable to stay faithful to his vows is to lift the Church’s rule on mandatory celibacy?

One can’t help wondering whether there’s a certain clericalism at the heart of the discussion when priests and their representatives hold up infidelity as a reason to change the Church’s discipline on celibacy for priests and religious.

Yours etc.,

Anne Cunningham,


Co. Antrim.