...from the BBC World Service. Would I take part in a radio discussion about the Catholic Church's celibacy requirement for priests? Haven't done any radio discussions recently, but said yes. Discussion took place an hour or so later: it's faintly bizarre to be sitting at home talking away on a telephone knowing it's being broadcast worldwide, but it's much less worrying than having to tear up to London... trains, Tube, bus, rush-hour traffic, and the panic of getting to the studio on time.
Points that came up in the discussion: most sex offenders are in fact married or in relationships, (eg the ghastly case at Soham); celibacy is not a Medieval invention, Christ himself was unmarried and gave himself wholly to his Church, the Apostles "left everything" to follow him.
It is ghasty to see how sin covers all sorts of things with filth: I remember being taught, years and years ago, "no sin is ever really private" and that is certainly true. The evil of some priests in what they probably considered private acts decades ago is spreading its harm and horror in the Church today and destroying faith and trust, hope and plans for evangelisation.
Papa Benedict is holding steady - he has a clear conscience and the inner calm that comes from a faithful relationship with God, plus considerable personal courage. This week marks the 25th anniversary of World Youth Day and Papa B. gave a powerful message to the young, centred on the call to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Quoting the young man who asked Christ "What must I do to inherit eternal life" he urged that young people still ask this profound question today: "What must I do? What might be my plan of life?...
"Do not be afraid to address these questions! Far from overwhelming you, they express great aspirations, which are present in your heart. Hence, they are to be listened to. They await answers that are not superficial, but able to satisfy your authentic expectations of life and happiness."