Item description for Freeing Celibacy by Donald B. Cozzens...
Overview Cozzens explores priestly celibacy as a source of power and burden of obligation, as spiritual calling and gift of the Spirit. He affirms celibacy as a charism, a gift that is true for some, but only when received as a grace.
Publishers Description Mandatory celibacy for Latin rite Catholic priests has been the norm for almost 900 years. Now the clergy sexual abuse scandal and the rapidly declining number of priests have pushed many of the faithful to the point of questioning this tradition of the church. To this sometimes tense discussion of sex and power Donald Cozzens brings his signature calmness, his own gifted experience of celibate life, and his talent for distilling the spiritual truth of the human condition. Cozzens explores priestly celibacy as source of power and burden of obligation, as spiritual calling and gift of the Spirit. Putting mandatory celibacy in historic perspective, he examines the ancient and contemporary experience of married clergy in the Eastern churches and the Roman rite church. Cozzens affirms celibacy as a charism, a gift that is true for some, but only when received as a grace.
Citations And Professional Reviews Freeing Celibacy by Donald B. Cozzens has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -
Booklist - 09/01/2006 page 23
Commonweal - 04/20/2007 page 29
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Donald Cozzens--priest, writer, and lecturer--teaches in the religious studies department at John Carroll University. He is the award-winning and best-selling author of "The Changing Face of the Priesthood" and "Sacred Silence: Denial and the Crisis in the Church."
Reviews - What do customers think about Freeing Celibacy?
Rethinking Celibacy Nov 30, 2007
I have read many books and articles on celibacy. I was sceptical reading this book because most books on celibacy you read repeat thesame old arguments: - Jesus was celibate, a priest is another Christ - It frees you from family obligations for the kingdom of God - It is an ascetical life - It is white matyrdom The author in this book invites us to rethink all these traditional arguments. He argues against the widely held presumption in the Latin Church that once someone is called to be a priest, he is also given the grace of celibacy by God. He argues that grace builds on nature. "If an individual does not possess the aptitude, temperament, and quality of soul that are the human foundations of charismatic celibacy, calling upon grace to make up for these deficiencies is a manifestation, one can argue, of ecclesial arrogance." He makes a distinction between charismatic celibates and legislated celibates. He says they are some people who are called to a life of celibacy. These people need not even be priests. He gives an example of Dorothy Day. He says such people are Charismatic celibates. He does not like the idea of legislated celibacy, the kind of celibacy Latin priests are mandated to live. He argues that if the Church is correct that every priest receives the grace of celibacy when called to the priesthood, then there is no need to legislate it because you cannot legislate gifts or graces. The author argues that the practice of married clergy would not be a new thing in the Church as it has been part of the Church's tradition for the first 1200 years of Christianity. He lists some Popes that were married and are saints. Examples include Pope St. Anastasius 1 (399-401) and Pope St. Hormisdas (514-523). "The number of married bishops and priests in the first twelve centuries is beyond reckoning." He mentions the fact that many Latin rite priests today are married. These are priests who upon "converting to Catholicism from ministerial roles in Anglican and protestant denominations, have been dispensed from the law of celibacy." It is important to note that he does not argue against celibacy through out the book, his argument is against legislated celibacy. His boldness and courage must be commended.
Reverent plea May 16, 2007
A well=argued, calm, and moderate plea for ending the rule of celibacy for the Roman Catholic priesthood. Sure, that would cause serious difficulties, but not nealy as serious as the ones we have now! I deduct one star for the central role Fr. Cozzens gives here to the term "charism" without giving it a precise definition. Surely he cannot wish to say that men (or womrn) are called to priesthood while being denied the helps presently necessary to fallow that call.
A thoughtful and deeply spiritual treatise Feb 3, 2007
Priest, lecturer, and award-winning author Donald Cozzens presents Freeing Celibacy, a serious-minded look at the practice of mandatory celibacy for Latin rite Catholic priests that has been the norm for 900 years. Though Freeing Celibacy extols the gifts of the spirit that voluntary celibacy can bring, Cozzens surveys the history of married priests in centuries past, clergy sexual abuse scandals and the rapidly declining number of priests today, and concludes that it is time to set celibacy free from canonical mandate to become a graced way of life for some but not all of the church's ordained ministers. A thoughtful and deeply spiritual treatise, expressing sincere concern for the future of Catholicism itself. "Just as it is possible for a slave to know more true inner freedom than his master, it is possible for a priest to thrive spiritually and personally in the condition of mandated celibacy. But this does not justify the institution of celibacy any more than a personally liberated slave justifies the institution of slavery."
Unique Perspective Jan 9, 2007
It is said that "Perception is everything". I believe that "Perspective is everything". Cozzens offers a unique perspective and reflections on a much discussed topic today. I learned about 5 things that I did not realize before from which I can develop my own ideas.
A Case for Optional Priestly Celibacy Oct 8, 2006
Throughout this work on the history and theology of mandated celibacy for Latin rite Catholic priests, Cozzens defines celibacy as a charism, that is a gift from God. This gift, he explains, is not automatically bestowed on men upon entering the seminary or receiving the sacrament of Holy Orders. Faithful response to the charism of celibacy is one of the church's great treasures, he writes, but "when celibacy is imposed and legislated it can undermine the integrity of the church's leadership and cause needless human suffering."
In nine clearly written chapters Cozzens, a psychologist and priest, looks at celibacy as charism, obligation, power, and oppression. In a chapter on exceptions to the church's mandate, he addresses several problematic situations. First, there are married Latin rite Catholic priests today. Typically they were ordained in another denomination and converted, often with their wives and children, to Catholicism, where they were, after some seminary study, ordained as priests. In addition the Church affords optional celibacy to some Catholic seminarians preparing for the priesthood in non-Latin rites in Eastern Euro-Asia, so long as they marry before their ordination. Further, Eastern churches in full communion with Rome have long permitted married clergy.
Calling for a serious review of mandated celibacy, Cozens writes, "Celibacy's troubles should not surprise. We compound these troubles, however, when we attempt to legislate that which is a free, mysterious gift given to relatively few human souls."
This is an excellent resource for Catholics and others who wish to increase their understanding of the complex issues related to Church law on priestly celibacy and Cozzens' views on homosexuality in seminaries and sexual abuse perpetrated by clergy.