and celibacy - a personal view
John Abberton tells us why he chose a single life of celibacy in the
Roman Catholic priesthood and what he thinks about the increasing
numbers of single people in today's society.
been in Bradford for eight years. I've just come to St Mary's at the
top of Church bank, formally I was at St Peters in Bradford.
I decided to become a priest because I wanted to tell people about
When I was sixteen and was thinking ahead to what my future would
be, I certainly had images of myself as a married man with children.
I don't remember ever struggling with the denial of that. It was a
progression into an attitude where I saw myself
as being available
to as many people as I could be available to and giving myself to
the church. It was a positive thing not a negative thing.
I am single for a purpose and my feeling is in someway or another
everyone who is single should be single for a purpose. I know there
are some people who remain single because they say that is what they
want. Although I don't want to judge people, I think there is a worrying
trend in some quarters of society towards a selfish single state.
My approach to singleness is that it is for giving love. I don't see
myself as being lacking in any sense. Love has to go out and be creative.
Any understanding of love which is not giving and creative is not
right. It has to go out and give and heal. Jesus said: "We are
the light of the world and the salt of the earth" that is done
through a life of love. My single state is hopefully a single state
for love and to be loving and creative. It's positive. If I am happy
in my single state it has a lot to do with my interactions with other
people and God, not through pursuing my own goals.
I wear a wedding ring. It was something I did very recently. It's
something that grew out of my reflections on the scandals in America
about child abuse in churches. Like a lot of other people in the church
I began to think about the problems. I read a lot about it, thought
a lot about it and have counselled people who have been victims of
abuse. I began to think about the different problems that might be
behind it. I don't agree with people who say the scandals started
because of problems with celibacy. I think that is ridiculous, it
is far more complex than that.
It made me think about my own commitment of God and the church and
it led me into a renewal of my commitment to my way of life. I bought
the ring and it has the word 'ekklesia' which means church, inscribed
on it, because I am married to the church.
I am single in the eyes of the world, but in a very spiritual way
I am committed to the church and married to the church. Some people
would have a ring with the name of their loved one inscribed on the
inside. I decided to wear the ring with the word 'church' on it as
a reminder to myself of the commitment I made 27 years ago."