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I once heard a priest defend himself against the argument that as a celibate he had no qualifications and, above all, no experience to justify his lecturing people on marriage and sexual behavior. He actually answered : “A surgeon does not need to have had cancer to treat the disease”. I leave the reader to draw her/his own conclusions …

The recent Extraordinary Synod of Bishops in Rome is making news all over the world because of the “breakthrough”, first in recognizing that “homosexuals have gifts and qualities to offer to the Christian community”, and, secondly, in asking the question : “Are we capable of welcoming these people, guaranteeing to them a fraternal space in our communities ?” The inevitable conservative reaction both in the Synod and around the world will keep the “breakthrough” in the news for some time to come. But TIME (October 27, 2014 – the mag is always a week ahead of itself), after dismissing any “evidence of a revolution”, wound up its report with a marvellous, unexpected, tongue-in-cheek punch-line, worth quoting here : “The unusual interest in a gathering of clerics, however, points to a notable shift : people actually care about what a group of bishops is thinking. For many, that itself may be a revolution.” Amen.

(TIME’s opinion is confirmed as I write this on October 19 : the final edition of the text, reported this morning on the radio, has been watered down to be politically correct so as not to offend conservatives, including … Islamic countries, dixit a German Cardinal !! Readers of this Blog need no reminder that in such countries homosexuality is a capital offense. Diplomacy, pretending to be wisdom, is sometimes a scandalous substitute for courage.)

For ages, critics and cynics have spelled out the irony of a bunch of not only unmarried but presumably sexually inexperienced and inactive celibates dictating laws on intercourse, birth control, abortion and homosexuality. Nothing new under the dome of St Peter’s. But Believers on the Brink, at least, need to ask themselves why they continue to cling to the Vatican’s beliefs and rules and rituals that are just as absurd as the pretension of virginal Doctors of Godology (as I was until the age of 31) to say ANYTHING about sex.

I don’t consult my local doctor about managing my bank-account or repairing the plumbing in my house. Priests and Bishops should recognize that they have “nothing to declare” about sex – or even about God. They have no personal experience of either.