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.

The Author : The Editors

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Please note that the editorial staff reserves the right to not post comments it deems to be inappropriate and/or malicious in nature, as well as edit comments for length, clarity and fairness.
  • Mary Jansen

    “Priests are teaching married couples how to have sex?” Ken, your driving a car analogy doesn’t work. Do you have to have a great marriage to be a successful marriage councilor? No. They are not talking about the mechanics of sex but how we relate to each other sexually. We are all sexual people, even priests. You don’t have to be having sex to be able to talk and give advice about sexuality.

  • Ken

    First, a celibate priest knows diddly squat about sex. I can have read all the books on how to drive a car, have memorized all the road signs, and have talked to the best drivers and mechanics in the world, but unless I actually drive a car all I have is abstract and not practical knowledge. And without practical knowledge I can’t teach someone else how to drive a car. The priest lacks in the essential practical application of his knowledge. Second, when a disagreement arises between a couple, “Do you pray about this together” is used as a cop out. A couple should be able to come up with a solution and then pray about their solution.

  • Stuart Wilson-Smith

    “… commentary on this video.”

  • Stuart Wilson-Smith

    It’s not about agreeing or disagreeing moose, I gave you my e-mail so I’m obviously happy to continue the discussion in a place that is not intended for the commentary on this. What I object to is the insult and uncalled for inference that all priests are pedophiles. In each and every instance moose I object to that kind of anti-clericalist garbage in a big way, and I hope every Catholic starts to do the same. Unless you think you are doing more to solve the problems of this abhorrent crisis, leave alone those who have stepped up to the plate and decided it was time to change the face of the priesthood in America.


  • moose

    You expressed your disagreement with my comments which you have every right to do.
    I’m sure that anyone reading this exchange will get my point whether they agree or disagree.
    Now you say that “out of respect for the mission and purpose of Busted Halo I would say this is not the right place…”
    I read many comments in Busted Halo where people agree/disagree with other comments. This is called an exchange of ideas!
    You seem to be just one contradiction after another.

    In the spirit of this festive day, my final comment to you is adiós

  • Stuart Wilson-Smith

    I’m not quite sure you’re making the point you want to make here moose and out of respect for the mission and purpose of Busted Halo I would say this is not the right place to do it either. Feel free to e-mail me at linus.wool@hotmail.com if you object to my taking issue with your comments.

  • moose

    Looks like your “rage” about sexual abuse by the clergy must have slipped your mind when writing your earlier message.
    Unfortunately, what I originally said is sadly true and painful especially for those “real priests” who have devoted their lives to their ministry.
    However, you are right when you say that the Church is like our family. And when you ignore illness in the family you make the situation worst, not better.
    Honestly, I wish that your blanket defense of the priest hood was justified. It is not.
    p.s. I find your claim that I know nothing about the priesthood somewhat comical

  • Stuart Wilson-Smith

    My rage is very much there for that cause moose, more than I could possibly describe, but why you ‘touched a nerve’ is because you are guilty of the same problem you just mentioned; damaging the ministry, identity, and reputation of every priest whom you know nothing about. It’s a generalization, and though I understand and acknowledge the place where it is coming from, I simply won’t stand to have these judgements made on an entire body of people whether they be priests or otherwise.

    You ‘touched a nerve’ because I am Catholic, I love the Church, and when you attack or make hurtful generalizations of our priests, you are attacking a member of our family.

    I ask only for your rage to be directed at the right people. Write the Bishops responsible, write their lawyers, make petitions and protest. You can rest assured I’ll be right there with you.

  • moose


    I seem to have touched a nerve.
    Where was your rage when the “other priests” did those despicable things to children which has done so much damage to the “real priests” you rush to defend?
    Where is your rage against the Church hierarchy that hide the “other priests” allowing them to commit further atrocities against children?
    Call me a coward? You, Sir, are a hypocrite.

  • Stuart Wilson-Smith

    Then stop reading and get yourself to a church or Paulist Centre to meet real priests yourself.

    These are real men, the vast majority of which are holy and loving in all the ways unique to the special vocation God has called them to. If you do not share this belief or are simply too lazy too seek the true dignity and worth of these men (or any others more easily judged from the comfort of your desk chair), then don’t cowardly post anonymous shots that you wouldn’t have the guts or argumentative foundation to say to their faces.



  • moose

    from what i’ve been reading lately they have way too much “hands on” experience.

  • Stuart Wilson-Smith


  • Stuart Wilson-Smith

    Agree with Boomer on this one. Fr. Eric brought up four areas of intimacy that each need to be maintained in a marriage and that already is more than what most couples would probably expect to discuss with their priest. Among these is spiritual intimacy, which necessarily must involve some theological discourse to ensure the couple are on the same wavelength in regard to marital/sexual beliefs and responsibility within a Catholic.

  • Boomer


    I’m sure Fr Eric has read Theology of the Body more times than you have. I’d also say that if you think that not establishing communication is not at the heart of a Catholic marriage than I think you should re-read JPII’s TOTB.
    Fr. Eric was also specifically talking about the FOCCUS survey in this instance which highlights the differences in opinions about various things in one’s marriage. When he facilitates conversation using this tool the COUPLE will bring in God without him even trying in most instances, but in the act of facilitation using the church’s principles are assumed. To think otherwise, I fear is unfair to Fr Eric. As a quick example, an obvious question when a disagreement arises between a couple is “Do you pray together about this?” The couple needs to be able to talk openly about everything–there are no deals, no secrets in married life. That is what the survey does–it highlights where there might be a tendency to hold back from your partner, which TOTB teaches is always wrong.
    So Fr Eric, keep up the good work.

  • Alison

    It’s all about facilitating communication?? Is he a priest or a marriage counselor?

    I thought a priest’s job was to make sure the couple understand the beautiful teachings of the Church concerning sex and marriage. I’m with Mary K here, has Fr. Andrews even read JPII’s Theology of the Body?

  • johanna

    I don’t know about other folks, but my now-spouse and I had a great time doing the FOCCUS assessment and talking things over with our priest – it was the pre-Cana retreat with other couples that was awkward, cheesy, misinformed, and poorly delivered. I’d talk with our priest about sex any day over that!

  • Mary K

    If folks think a celibate priest doesn’t know anything about sex, they should read up on JPII’s Theology of the Body. :)

  • Stuart Wilson-Smith

    I actually thought Father Andrews handled those concerns quite well. Of course there is always more to be said on both sides but I think at least the basic points got out there.

    As for this being an argument to get married by a judge, I should very much hope that an uncomfortable discussion with a priest over something absolutely integral to the health of any marriage (particularly in terms of communication) would not be enough to throw out the entire sacramentality of the marital covenant. Marriage IS a sacrament, and thus very much the Church’s business.

  • Shea

    LOL, Stephanie! I was thinking the same things about those rings.

  • Stephanie Ratcliffe

    Ok. That priest was so uncomfortable talking about sexuality, it was almost an argument for getting married by a judge.

    Also, the spinning rings were really large and hypnotic. I was almost looking at the rings more than the people.

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