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Bienvenido Macario is from the Philippines and is very critical of the Catholic Church there. He says "It is tempting to challenge some religions whose members have taken vows of celibacy to voluntarily be castrated to ensure that they will keep their promise to God". He goes on to quote *Eunuchs Unite* by *Angry Burglar*:

"News of the Weird noted in February 2000 the ascendance of eunuchs to elected office in India, thought to be attributed to a backlash against traditional corruption and to support for the nothing-to-lose attitude of the "hijras," most of whom are males castrated at birth, who make their living either as prostitutes or professional pests. Following elections in November and December, the totals stood at two mayors, several council members and a state legislator, Shabnam Mausi, who announced that "she" (as hijras prefer) would soon apply for the estimated 500,000 hijras to be an official national political party"

Bienvenido Macario raises the sensitive issue of the question of the Catholic Church and sex. Celibacy is required of the clergy, but I have not heard of the castration of priests. However, in the nineteenth century there was an argument about the castrati, Vatican singers castrated to provide a supply of altos and tenors. I believe the practice has been discontinued. The sex-life of the Catholic clergy remains a mystery, except for many well publicized cases of child molestation. In Spain priests had barraganas, housekeepers who were the priests' concubines. Corominas says the word is of uncertain origin. The celibacy requirement is an important cause of the decline of vocations; many seminaries have few students, and their vocation is open to question. This is certainly discussed in private Vatican conversations. A Vatican official in charge of a seminary once told me privately of the problems he had with seminarians who went out to spend a night on the town.

This has burst into the open with the marriage of an African bishop to a Korean physician in a mass ceremony organized by the Rev. Moon, who arranges the marriages and who therefore knew what he was doing. I do not know what action the Vatican has finally taken against this rather grotesque priest. Pope John Paul II is very conservative in religious matters, and he may well be out of tune with the mass of the clergy. The Catholic Church has followed Protestant practice in many things. Will it put an end to priestly celibacy?

As for the history of castration, especially in India, I make no claims to expertise.

Ronald Hilton - 6/8/01