Accepted paper:

'Love? Yes, I've known that': dilemmas of mandatory celibacy among Brazilian Catholic priests

Authors:

Maya Mayblin (University of Edinburgh)

Paper short abstract:

The paper explores the meanings of personal freedom and religious obedience in the case of mandatory celibacy among the Catholic clergy of Brazil.

Paper long abstract:

The paper explores the meanings of personal freedom and religious obedience in the case of mandatory celibacy among the Catholic clergy of Brazil. For centuries Catholic priests have lived at odds with this doctrine. According to established convention, any consensual sexual relationship between a priest and an adult lover constitutes a broken vow to God and a sign of moral failure. However, in light of increasing levels of doctrinal dissent and theological diversification within the Church itself, disobedience of the institutional Church is no longer so readily equated with moral failure, and can even be conceptualized as a kind of strength. Notwithstanding historical shifts in Catholic sensibilities, priests more than anyone continue to negotiate a painful disjuncture between their commitment to the Church and a desire to cultivate themselves as modern, sexually balanced, emotionally healthy men. The paper will examine the case in Brazil, where clerical dissent from celibacy is increasingly dealt with via a type of moral proportionalism fostered within the seminaries themselves.

panel P36
What is (religious) Enlightenment? Kant, freedom and obedience in religion today