A Passion for Priests is a serious and provocative book. If anyone picks it up idly, to laugh at ‘foolish’ Catholics, or for voyeuristic reasons, they will be disappointed. Equally, if anyone still assumes that women who fall in love with priests are silly frustrated old ‘spinsters’ who have nothing better to do than hang round a presbytery, they would be wrong.
Clare Jenkins has interviewed fifteen women, of all ages and from all walks of life — Catholic converts, atheists, single women, old–fashioned Catholics, lapsed ones, charismatics, and traditional Catholic wives and mothers. The sincerity — and passion — of the many women’s tape–recorded stories made me rethink my own hazy views about the role of priests and it also made me ponder on the ‘patriarchal’ nature of the Catholic Church, something which I had hitherto thought might be an oversimplified cliché put about by my anti–Catholic friends.
Why do priests have to be celibate? According to the early teachings of Christ, they don’t. One idea is that it is easier for priests to attend to spiritual matters if they’re celibate; married priests would be too distracted by personal problems to attend to the spiritual needs of their