Busted Halo
April 27th, 2009

What Does a Celibate Priest Know About Sex?

The Princess, The Priest and the War for the Perfect Wedding Episode 4

by and Dr. Christine B. Whelan & Fr. Eric Andrews CSP


Episode #4 — What Does a Celibate Priest Know About Sex?

Dr. Christine B. Whelan, is an Iowa-based social historian, professor, journalist and author. She is the author of Marry Smart: The Intelligent Woman’s Guide to True Love, and Why Smart Men Marry Smart Women.

Fr. Eric Andrews CSP is the pastor of Blessed John XXIII parish, which serves as the Catholic campus ministry for the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. Prior to entering the priesthood, he worked for Jim Henson and the Muppets on a variety of television productions.

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  • fraggle

    People, if you are really that uptight about virgin, celibate priests (fyi, I know many priests who are widowed), go see a married permanent deacon for advice. Or go see a Byzantine Rite Catholic priest who is married. Why do people make mountains out of molehills?

  • moose

    Of course, what was I thinking of?
    Please continue to dream on while the Church hierarchy is populated by sexual deviates. The Church is morally bankrupt until true reform occurs. See below.

    TORONTO ‚Äì A Roman Catholic bishop who oversaw his diocese’s settlement with victims of sex abuse is facing child pornography charges, police said Wednesday.
    Bishop Raymond Lahey had his computer and other unspecified media seized after authorities found something troubling during a random search of his laptop computer at Ottawa’s airport on Sept. 15, Ottawa Constable J.P. Vincelette said.
    Police charged Lahey, 69, with possession and importation of child pornography 10 days later. A warrant has been issued for his arrest and police are still looking for the bishop, Vincelette said.

  • Cristy

    It seems like some people are missing the point of this video (and a lot of others). In and of themselves, they are intended to be discussion starters, and while they are ‘starting discussions’ those discussions are “he should have mentioned such & such” or “he doesn’t know squat about x, y or z” or “because he’s a priest he must ____”

    The title of this video was “What does a celibate priest know about sex?”. I think the video answered that question.

    moose: completely off topic

    Stephanie: he didn’t seem uncomftable at all to me

    Ken: I’ve never heard of any priest attempting to ‘teach a couple how to have sex’… that seems like the work of a sex therapist or perhaps a gynecologist. it seems to me that Fr. Eric is trying to emphasize that couples tend to avoid talking about hard stuff. that’s a fact of being newly married and/or immature. a priest brings up the topic of sexuality within marriage prepartion because its 1)necessary 2)relevant to encourage couples to be open to talking about all important issues of married life including sex.

    Greg- I agree completely and would even suggest that from what a priest hears in the confessional he gains superior knowledge about how sex is relevant, experienced, and misused in marriage. Very important to be able to discuss/have knowledge of these issues.

  • Joe

    Greg- read “Gail’s” May 23 comment posted in Saying Yes to Sex. She says that Catholic men are clueless about sex.

  • Greg Keuter

    Don’t forget that priests hear confessions and are privy to hearing the ‘mistakes’ that married couples have made in their relationships. Just with that background alone, not to mention their education in theology and phycology, I would think (no I DO think) that priest can be an excellent resource for advice on all aspects of marriage, sex included.

  • Cynthia

    Stuart/Alison, great comments.

  • Alison

    Bill – I don’t understand the point of your question. Of course the marriage prep sessions are for couples that are engaged to be married. I’m sure our priest talks about these issues (boundaries, NFP, parenting) with those looking to date or get engaged, but they’re even more important to discuss with a couple that is already engaged. Are you suggesting that only the issue of healthy communication is something that should be talked about with engaged couples? Honestly, that topic seems to be even more important to single people and dating couples. If you haven’t learned to communicate by the time you’re engaged, what are you doing being engaged.

  • Bill

    Alison – Are the marriage prep sessions with the priest open to all (singles, couples beginning a dating relationship, etc) or are they restricted to those who have decided to get married? If not, why?

  • Alison

    Sorry – I hit “enter” before I meant to. Obviously this topic has hit a nerve with me and I could go on and on. My marriage prep sessions with our priest were excellent… first we talked about boundaries (physical and emotional) of an engaged relationship, then NFP and good reasons for postponing pregnancies in marriage, then some hints and tips that he’s picked up from older couples on how to raise holy children. These are issues for a priest to talk about… if he doesn’t who will? Not the secular marriage counselor that talks to the couple 10 years down the road when they’re thinking about divorce. These is probably the priest’s only shot to talk one-on-two with most of these marriage prep couples, don’t waste it with fluffy stuff.

    Perhaps Fr. Eric has read TOB and does talk about these sorts of important specifically-Catholic issues, but he certainly did not give any hint of that in this video.

  • Alison

    Boomer – I agree that communication is very important part of marriage. But if the communication going on about sex in marriage is “What kind of birth control do you want to use?” “I’m good with the pill.” then the priest is not doing his job. A secular marriage counselor can aid couples to have that basic communication. Fr. Eric says, “I’m there to make sure the couple is able to talk to each other about all kinds of things – finances, in-laws… what I’m really trying to do is help them communicate honestly and openly… that’s my job, to facilitate.” A priest’s top priority should be to a pastor, to guide the souls of his parishioners (and their future children) to heaven. If a couple is communicating well but they’re leading themselves away from the path to heaven, then it doesn’t matter if they’re communicating well.

    Fr. Eric also says “Sometimes the sex is real good while they’re engaged.” WHAT!? Of all people, how can a Catholic priest call pre-marital sex “good.” Pleasurable, consentual, sure… but not good! Not moral and not holy.

  • Rebecca

    The Church is the bride of Christ. A priest is married, in a sense, to Christ.
    When it comes to having sex, you don’t need to be taught by someone experienced. Your body knows what to do–God made us that way. Teaching a couple how to do what their bodies already know how to do is not priest’s intention. Not everyone has the privilege of being able to sit down and read all these books and learn all that they ought to know about tying sex into their marriage, whereas it is the priest’s job to teach his parishioners about the Catholic faith. He has to make sure that they understand what the Church teaches and can communicate with each other based on that.
    And the time to pray is not, as you say, after a couple has decided on some solution. The most important time is before the solution, so that they actually form the right one.

  • Ken

    Mary – Neither was I referring to how to have sex. My example was to illustrate the difference between the abstract and the practical. I agree the priest was talking about communication and how we relate to each other sexually. And all he is doing is repeating something he read in a book. Big deal. Anyone can do the same; just get the book and read it. So just what unique contribution can a celibate priest can make to the discussion? Nothing. Do you have to have a great marriage to be a successful marriage councilor? You said, “No.” I agree, but priests are not even married – they have no marriage.

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