Getting married is a big deal. At the end of this year I plan to share my vows with the love of my life, and I can't wait to spend the rest of my life with her. We plan to wed in a well-known Catholic Church in the community where we both were born and raised and currently live.
I was raised in an activist family that does not necessarily agree with every religious value worshipped in the Bible or the Catholic Church. But deep down inside I have always wanted to get married in one. There's just something spiritually special about a church that in most cases brings working-class families together in a very social and cultural manner that I highly respect.
As a child I attended Sunday school, made my first communion and confirmation through the Catholic Church. My grandmother urged my mother to put us through, so she did.
These days the Roman Catholic Church is struggling with major troubles related to growing scandals and accusations of sexual abuse by its priests across the world. Many claim the church's hierarchy for decades led efforts to cover up for its alleged abusive priests.
Just this week, new reports indicate pedophilia cases are emerging in Latin America.
For example a priest fled from Bolivia to his family in Uruguay after a nun accused him of raping three children. A priest in Chile was charged with eight cases of sexually abusing minors, including a girl he had fathered. In March a woman in Mexico claimed that a deceased, scandal-tainted founder of a conservative Catholic religious order abused one of two sons she said he fathered with her.
According to a recent report by the Associated Press, its reporters found 30 cases of priests accused of abuse that have been transferred or moved abroad by the church. Some even apparently escaped police investigation. Many had access to children in other countries, and some abused again. The probe spanned 21 nations across six continents.
Feeding the controversy, Pope Benedict XVI's second-in-command Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican's secretary of state, outraged many recently when he said homosexuality and not celibacy was the primary reason for the abuse.
I say all this to highlight major issues that I, and many others, have with the Catholic tradition and other religions that oppress people as sexual beings.
And what about the role of women in the church hierarchy? Why for centuries have the equal rights and opportunities of women who want to serve not been fairly granted?
It's true that there is a rich history and tradition of the Catholic Church helping the poor and fighting for the rights of impoverished communities in all parts of world. Notable Catholic leaders have stood up for the rights of working people against violent military oppression and some even died for social justice causes. The deeds and actions of such champions of the poor are cherished and many continue to be viewed as heroes of the working class.
But the question remains: When human beings are expected to live a life of celibacy how does such a lifestyle sexually repress one's natural element?
Could celibacy in the priesthood be one of the reasons behind the emerging sexual abuse cases? Pedophilia in all its evil forms is wrong, and I'm sure experts can analyze its deeper psychological roots.
But is it wrong to believe that it's un-human for people, whether of the religious cloth or not, to ignore sexual feelings?
I think that with all the sexual abuse cases sprouting everywhere that it's time the church consider enacting major reforms in its deeply rooted ideological traditions.
Why can't men and women who want to serve God's will express their natural feelings with another even if they happen to be sexual, which is a strong form of love? Does God not want us to explore deeper feelings of human emotion with each other besides our devotion to his higher power while serving the church?
What would it mean if one day the Catholic Church supported ordained men and women to lead lives that involved healthy partnerships while at the same time preaching the good word of the Gospel?
I'm not suggesting that my questions are the answer to eradicating pedophilia or child molestation in the Church.
I make the point because if priests and nuns could liberate their sexual feelings and not repress them then maybe, just maybe, there could be an outlet other than sexual abuse of children.
It's important to note that I respect people devoted to their religious faiths. In my line of work building relationships with the faith-based community is paramount to forging broad unity especially when it comes to addressing community empowerment and social justice.
I consider myself a spiritual person. I do believe in a higher force and the privacy of personal prayer. It's not hard to believe in God, believing is only the first step. And I do believe. More importantly I believe in doing too.
I just think it's time the Catholic Church rethink its repressive rule when it comes to celibacy. Most would agree it's unnatural and could potentially bring out the worst in people.