virus: Nonbelieving priests (was Re: Hosts)

Vicki Rosenzweig (
Tue, 15 Oct 96 13:13:00 PDT

I can think of a few other reasons why someone might stay
in the priesthood if he (or she, but there are still a lot more
male than female clergy) lost his faith in the teachings. Once
upon a time, priests were the only people allowed to hold
certain jobs. A person might value the opportunity to teach
(anything from history to arithmetic) more than he minded the
need to affiliate himself with a theology he had doubts about.

Alternatively, someone could have serious doubts about
the cosmological parts of Catholic theology, but still think the
moral teachings had value, not only as a matter of social
order, but (for example) because they encourage charity.
He might even be doing charitable work in that church context,
and feel that his doubts about (say) the virgin birth were outweighed
by the simple fact that people who would otherwise go hungry
were being fed.

I've noticed that these reasons suggest that the person's main
work is not teaching religion.

From: owner-virus
To: virus
Subject: Re: RE[3]: virus: Hosts
Date: Tuesday, October 15, 1996 11:10AM

Martin Traynor wrote :-

> can a brilliant thinker fail to notice the inherent flaws and
> inconsistencies in Vatican teachings? The conclusion I initially came
> to (and held for a number of years) was that beyond a certain point
> they were all liars and hypocrites..

The following is pure conjecture on my part and has more to do with
human nature than memetics :-

I agree with Martin's initial conclusion (even though he has since
soften his views) but instead of the drastic terms "liars and
hypocrites" I suggest that we look for motives. Reason would suggest
that some of the brighter men who make up the priesthood would question
church teachings and it's possible that they might even be atheists! Why
then would they remain in the priesthood and even rise up in its ranks?

The answer might have something to do with the church's mission to guide
and control the ignorant masses (no pun intended). Regardless of a
priest's personal convictions, if he believes that society would crumble
into chaos without religion to glue it together, then he would continue
to dispense church dogma for that purpose. Then there's the secondary
aspect of employment and living standards. After all it's a "job" to be
a priest with a salary, housing and benefits like nuns obeying your
every beck and call.

The laity is taught to regard priests as being somewhat closer to God
than they, but a thin veil of superstition is all that separates them
from their flocks. Every so often, the veil is pushed aside by (say) a
sex scandal and not only do we see that they are equally human but
actually more human than others (to paraphrase Orwell).

* *
* Hakeeb A. Nandalal *
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