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Boston College’s Religious Education Department Chair Calls Priestly Celibacy ‘Hazardous’

Andrew Taylor

Matthew Archbold - published on 11/29/13

The department chair of religious education and pastoral ministry at Boston College denigrated the celibacy requirement for Roman Catholic priests on National Public Radio.

Thomas Groome, a laicized priest and department chair of religious education and pastoral ministry at Boston College, made statements last week when appearing on National Public Radio denigrating the celibacy requirement for Roman Catholic priests, calling it “hazardous” and “destructive.”

Groome said that when he was ordained in the late 1960’s, he expected that the Church would be making significant changes to the rules governing celibacy in the priesthood, but this did not happen.  He later left the priesthood so he could get married.
"It probably was becoming destructive of me. And I think that's one of the dangers of obligatory celibacy, that it can lead to self-destructive and outer-destructive behavior,” Groome said in the interview. “It's a hazardous lifestyle."

Groome said that if the rules about celibacy did change he would consider returning to the priesthood.

Bill Donohue, of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, called Groome’s comments "pure rubbish" in The Christian Post.

"Why Thomas Groome would enter the priesthood counting on the Catholic Church to change its teaching on celibacy suggests bad judgment,” Donohue told the Post. “No one would join a vegetarian association hoping it would soon allow for the consumption of hot dogs.”

Donohue isn’t the only one angered by Groome’s recent activities.

A group of Catholic school teachers and parents in Ontario, Canada, protested the local Catholic school board’s invitation to have Groome speak at a retreat for staff, according to  Of particular concern to the protestors is Groom’s stance in favor of the ordination of women.

“Groome is opposed to many Catholic teachings, even dogmatic ones, such as the prohibition of the ordination of women solemnly defined by Blessed John Paul II,” said one educator. “He has no place in mentoring Catholic teachers.”

This semester at Boston College, Groome, according to the Jesuit-run school's website, is teaching two courses.  They are titled, “ Sharing Faith in Religious Education and Pastoral Ministry” and “Education of Christians: Past, Present,and Future.”

Originally published by The Cardinal Newman Society's Catholic Education Daily on 27 November 2013.

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