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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?



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 off?


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


Dear Claude,

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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