My Attention has been drawn to the
interesting Problem of Clerical Celibacy, through letters from two
most sadly confus'd Gentlemen, illustrating the alternative sources
of this Dilemma:
Gracious and noble Lady,
My name is Brian. I am one of the Poor Knights of Christ &
the Temple of Jerusalem, sworn to celibacy & the service of the
Cross, & have carried out my duties to the Order for a couple of
decades. My problem is that I have fallen in love with Rebecca, who
is not only a woman but is also of another faith, being Jewish. A
secular knight, Wilfred of Ivanhoe, is also interested in her, but he
in turn is betrothed to another. Should I: a) carry off Rebecca, then
kill Wilf; b) kill Wilf then carry off Rebecca; or c) just take a
cold bath, as the Rules suggest, & revert to male bonding?
Frater BRIAN DE BOIS-GUILBERT
Dear Brother Brian,
I am most concern'd that you may be
suffering a Mid-life Crifis - a natural Hazard of living in the
Middle Ages. You have been in a Monastic Order for a number of Years,
and have now begun to behave uncharacteristically with a sudden
Display of Heterosexuality towards an unattainable Lady. Is it,
perhaps, that you have difficulty in accepting yr actual Orientation?
Pursuing Fellow-brethren of yr Order while
singing a loud Chorus of In the Templars, as made famous by
the famous Plainsong Ensemble Les
Gens du Village, is nothing to be
asham'd of: variants upon it are found in most Monasteries: be proud!
However, if you are of a literary Bent, you
could always use this phantastickal Infatuation as an opportunity to
compose some courtly Songs of unrequitable Pafsion.
But do not attempt to act on yr Desire:
from what I hear, this Wilf person may appear rather a Milksop, but
he can be dangerous with a Sword. Or why not carry him
L'Eglise de Nôtre Dame,
Madame la Marquise,
I am 35, a priest & scholar of hitherto impeccable
reputation. Since being orphaned in my teens, I have brought up my
younger brother, now a delinquent student, & a disabled
foundling, Quasimodo, who now earns an honest living in campanology.
My life has been devoted to the pursuit of knowledge & the
service of others, & I have always maintained my vows, yet now I
find myself being driven insane with lust for a 16-year-old gypsy
fortune-teller. I am sure that this Esmeralda has bewitched me with
unholy spells. Should I have her brought to trial for sorcery? I am
in a state of desperation.
CLAUDE FROLLO, Magister Artium,
Archdeacon of Nôtre Dame
WHAT IS Yr PROBLEM?!!! You are simply a
normal young Man - though a rare enough thing in the Clergy, mayhap!
As you say, you have devoted yr Life to
others - why not start enjoying it for yrself, while you are
still (judging by the Brafs-rubbing of yrself enclos'd) rather
compellingly attractive? With yr Erudition, you could do better than
a mere fairground Mountebank (pretty she may be, but a Mistrefs
should also provide good Company & Conversation). There are some
blue-stocking'd Abbefses whom I feel sure would welcome Pastoral
interest; nor would it be unseemly for any noble Lady to be found
seeking intellectual Enlightenment & spiritual Solace from a
Cleric of yr repute.
Perhaps my Franknefs of Speech may cause
you Consternation, but I believe that you are taking yr Vows of
Celibacy far too seriously. In yr time, not even ye Supreme Pontiff
does, so you should not worry unduly. Why, even the existence of my
trusted Secretary, the Doctor, is by the grace of His Grace the first
Bishop of Durham, who pafs'd away in the Year of Our Lord 1018 as a
respected & esteem'd Monk. Yr Pangs of Conscience will
soon disappear once you are settl'd into a rewarding Relationship:
ask Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia, who supports his Lady & Children in
a manner apt to their station.
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