Celibacy and Other Vows by John Cali

posted in: Articles, Blog | 2

You may have heard about the recent controversy surrounding Reverend Alberto Cutie (pronounced koo-tee-ay), a popular Roman Catholic priest in Florida. It seems Father Cutie was caught on film in some steamy scenes with a lovely lady in a bikini.

John Cali

As a former Roman Catholic who almost became a priest, I found Father Cutie’s situation interesting, to say the least.

The celibacy debate within the walls of the Vatican and beyond has been raging for centuries. Yet the church has stubbornly stuck to its requirement of celibacy vows for new priests.

The Catholic Church is no stranger to sex scandals, and this is just the latest of a long litany of them. Should they allow men who want to be priests also to be married? Most of the people in the outpouring of love and support for Father Cutie think so.

I don’t know the answer. But I do know how it affected me personally.

Many years ago I was a devout Catholic who loved the Church and all its pomp and circumstance. I was determined to become a priest. But twice, literally at the 11th hour, I backed off. I simply did not want to take vows to live my life without a woman, or to mindlessly obey my superiors.

Those were my only reasons for backing off, reasons that disturbed some who thought I’d make a great priest.

So I understand, and have the greatest compassion for, priests like Father Cutie. Is it realistic to require people to take vows of celibacy (or vows of anything else) and expect them to live out the rest of their lives faithful to those vows?

I don’t think so. We all change and grow as we move through the years. To refuse to change and grow is to choose stagnation and death.

Here’s Spirit.


Humans, in our view, are often obsessed with vows. Whether we’re talking about priestly vows, marriage vows, patriotic vows, etc., it doesn’t matter.

Vows are, as John said, unrealistic, especially if you live a life many years long. You change and grow through those years — as you should, as your higher selves intended when you incarnated.

That is a good thing. After all, you cannot not grow. You can choose how to grow — through joyful experiences or painful experiences. But you cannot stand still.

So to impose upon yourselves or others vows (of whatever — celibacy, fidelity, obedience, poverty, patriotism, etc.) is simply not a good idea.

Instead we would propose setting realistic expectations for yourselves, acknowledging you will grow and change continuously throughout your lives.

When you get married or become a priest or anything else, you certainly have great intentions to make it the very best experience you can. We applaud that.

But do you expect also you will never change? If you do, that is not only unrealistic and shortsighted, but it simply does not fit with how your human lives always “play out,” if you will.

Friends, we’ve often said “Live in the moment.” That’s all you have. Your human minds do not know where you will be ten years from now, or fifty, or more. All your power is now. And only now.

So to impose vows and promises on yourselves is to deny you will change and grow. You can deny it, but you cannot avoid it.

Live fully in every present moment. Do not tarnish your joy with unrealistic expectations. Vows and other long-term contracts, if you will, are simply not part of who you really are.

Who you really are is God. God needs no restrictions, goals, or anything else that limit your growth.

You are God. You are Joy. Live in the full awareness of that every moment of the rest of your lives

2 Responses

  1. Angel Warrior

    Before Constantine became a self-appointed Pope and changed the Church… Priests were married and had families. The reason behind the change for priests to be celibate was this…Constantine did not want to share the monies from tithing with the spouses and family when a priest left this world. The church used to look after the priest’s immediate family before.

    I believe that having married priests would be beneficial once again for the Catholic church.

    As for marriage vows…. I look upon them as a promise to one another. We are not to enter into marriage lightly, but many do. We are to grow and change together. To be there for each other through good times and bad times. Unfortunately if one person in the marriage fails to abide by the promises they made… it makes it very difficult to maintain the marriage. It takes both partners to work at it. If this can’t be done, then it is best that they part ways….

    Just my two cents worth… 🙂

    • John Cali

      Thanks very much for your comments. I studied theology and Catholic history for eight years, and I agree with your views on the church.

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