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Baumann, Klaus; Frick, Eckhard; Jacobs, Christoph; Buessing, Arndt (2019): Spiritual Dryness and Celibacy in Catholic Priests - Discernment of Ongoing Spiritual Journeys from Relational and Psychosexual Immaturities. In: Pastoral Psychology, Vol. 68, No. 6: pp. 605-617
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Abstract

The celibacy of Roman Catholic priests, in contrast to a single lifestyle, implies an existential choice for spiritual reasons as a conscious motivation. Nevertheless, several of them struggle with celibacy life style and some experience phases of spiritual dryness. So far it is unclear which role priestly celibacy may play in this context. We therefore intended to investigate whether and how celibacy on the one hand and supportive relations to other persons and feelings of loneliness on the other hand are connected to the experience of spiritual dryness among priests. As part of the German Pastoral Ministry Study, we analyzed data sets of 2531 priests. The results at first hand confirmed a correlation of spiritual dryness with a low commitment to celibacy and loneliness. Regression analyses revealed problems with sexuality and loneliness as an inability to be alone are relevant indicators of spiritual dryness. Our results point to two important concomitant mental conditions in a considerable number of cases: to continuous psychosexual problems and immaturities on one hand and to a basic incapacity to be alone, pointing to a serious structural deficit in the psychic life of some of our participants. Our study finally is a call to address these problems adequately, first of all for the mental health and spiritual truth of these persons, secondly also in the interest of all of those who priests are called to minister.