Are Catholic priests leading secret double lives?

For those hoping the debate about priestly celibacy would die down, think again–An Australian priest is pouring gasoline on the fire by claiming that many priests around the world have already cast off their vows to remain celibate.

Father Kevin Lee, a priest in Sydney, Australia, came forward this week to admit that he’s been secretly married for a full year, and that he hasn’t done much to hide this fact from church leaders, who turned a blind eye to his actions. That is, of course, until he publicly admitted his secret marriage, which immediately led to his removal from ministry. So why come forward?

Lee, who is now writing a tell-all book about priestly celibacy, says he wanted to call attention to just how many priests aren’t following that vow in hopes that the church will make a change to the requirement.

“That’s one of the reasons that’s motivated me to make public my admission that I’m one of those people who’s been a pretender: To draw to the attention of the public that there are more like me, in fact most of them,” he told an Australian TV news station.

Of course such a sensational story is going to gain traction in the media, but Lee’s claim that “most” priests are not following their vow of celibacy seems highly suspect. We know some priests broke that vow by sexually abusing minors. We’ve seen high profile cases, like that of former Los Angeles Auxiliary Bishop Gabino Zavala, where a priest has has a secret relationship and, in Zavala’s case, fathered children. And it would be naive to think that some priests have not at one point or another at least been tempted to break the vow of celibacy.

There are others who have left the priesthood to marry, and surely many more who have felt a call to marriage but have sacrificed that life because of a stronger calling to serve as a priest. But even if they have struggled with the vow of celibacy, that doesn’t mean “most” are secretly hiding wives, girlfriends, or other relationships.

Still, with priests like Lee making such claims and the growing presence of married Roman Catholic priests who are former Anglicans, the debate is likely to continue. We can dismiss the question of whether priests already are getting married in secret, but expect the bigger question–should priests be allowed to marry if they so choose?–to stick around for a while.

Complete Article HERE!

Highly religious people are less motivated by compassion than are non-believers

Are religious people more moved by compassion than those who described themselves as less religious or non-religious?

A group of scientists at the University of California, Berkeley set out to answer that question and what they found would surprise some: In three experiments, the social scientists found that the less religious were more generous when presented with situations that stimulated their compassion, which the scientists defined as “an emotion felt when people see the suffering of others which then motivates them to help, often at a personal risk or cost.”

Here’s how Berkeley sums up the study in its press release:

“The results challenge a widespread assumption that acts of generosity and charity are largely driven by feelings of empathy and compassion, researchers said. In the study, the link between compassion and generosity was found to be stronger for those who identified as being non-religious or less religious.

“‘Overall, we find that for less religious people, the strength of their emotional connection to another person is critical to whether they will help that person or not,’ said UC Berkeley social psychologist Robb Willer, a co-author of the study. ‘The more religious, on the other hand, may ground their generosity less in emotion, and more in other factors such as doctrine, a communal identity, or reputational concerns.'”

So how did scientists test this? First they looked at survey of 1,300 Americans. That showed that the non-religious were more motivated by emotion to be generous.

Next, they tested it in the lab. In one experiment Americans were shown a neutral video and a “heartrending one.” The participants were given “lab money,” which they could donate after they watched each video.

“The least religious participants appeared to be motivated by the emotionally charged video to give more of their money to a stranger,” the scientists found.

In another study participants were told that a participant before them had given a portion of their reward to them. The participant, scientists told them, were free to reward the person before them by giving them back a portion of the money, which had now doubled.

Those who reported feeling more compassionate and less religious, were also more generous in this experiment.

The findings are published in the latest edition of the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science.

Complete Article HERE!