A survey has suggested that more than half the country’s priests wished to have wives and families.
It indicated that 54 percent of Polish priests favoured an end to celibacy while it said 12 percent claimed already to be living with women.
A third of the clerics had admitted to “loose contacts” with women, or “sex without obligations”, said Baniak. He said he had received “many letters” from priests explaining their “need for personal relations” with women.
“This is becoming a problem for younger priests a few years after ordination, especially those with unformed emotions and sexualities,” said the researcher, who specialises in the sociology of religion and morality.
“School leavers often enter seminaries facing serious problems with their faith and religiosity. In addition, celibate priests have stopped being the only moral authority and model to follow,” Baniak noted.
The survey follows a 36 percent drop in enrolments to Poland’s 84 Catholic seminaries since 2004, with 953 students enrolling in 2008, compared to 1500 four years previously, and 362 women applying to join religious orders compared to twice as many in 2004.
Outlining his findings to the Gazeta Wyborcza newspaper on 30 January, Baniak said more than half the 823 surveyed Polish clergy had reported a “deep and protracted crisis in their priestly identity”. They cited problems with celibacy as the most common cause, well ahead of conflicts with church superiors or doubts about the faith.
The deputy dean of the Poznan theology faculty, the Rev. Pawel Bortkiewicz, was quoted as saying by Gazeta Wyborcza that Professor Baniak’s “views and positions” contradicted Catholic teaching. Baniak had been asked to “modify his position”, said Bortkiewicz.
“I know it’s not true that every second priest wants a child,” Bortkiewicz stated. “If someone asked me whether I missed a warm family, I couldn’t deny it. But that doesn’t mean I’m for abolishing celibacy.” [ENI]