Pity the poor bishop. He has been so battered by pederasty lawsuits that he can't help but worry where the next one will come from. He eyes his vicars and seminarians, wondering, Which of you will embarrass me? Which of you will bankrupt me? He is tempted to rid himself of anyone in whom he senses the faintest proclivity toward sin before evil thoughts turn into evil, and actionable, deeds. But because he is so short of priests, and has such an insistent need for every pair of hands, he cannot be quick to fire anyone. Besides, who can be sure of what is in the heart of any man, what proclivities he may harbor, or what temptations he may prove unable to resist?
The bishop will try to strengthen the moral resolve of his subordinates, but he has probably already prescribed whatever spiritual exercises he can find. Fearing he has not done enough, he may try to come at the problem from the other end: rather than try to strengthen the resolve to avoid temptation, he can weaken the faculties needed to yield to it. He will seek some technique or device, safe and inexpensive, for lowering masculine libido.
Some folk remedies have been tried:
Cold showers. Football coaches use cold showers instead of the more traditional flagellation to divert young men from impure deeds. Bishops could simply turn off the hot water in their rectories and dormitories. But the remedy is limited: once a healthy young man dries off and warms up, his libido quickly reasserts itself. And the bishop's priests are too busy to spend half their lives under the showerhead.
Saltpeter. Potassium nitrate is a white powder. As every teenage boy knows, generations of lunch ladies, sleepaway camp directors and Army mess sergeants have mixed it into the white stuff they serve so liberally in their cafeterias and mess halls. Undetectable, saltpeter suppresses erections.
Unfortunately, the saltpeter effect is a myth. No cook has ever admitted to using it and no chemists have ever determined how this stable compound could accomplish the purported effect. The bishop could reduce priestly libido the way the Army calms its recruits, by subjecting them to sixteen-hour days of marching, running and pushups. But priests have other duties.
Since the folk remedies won't work, the bishop will turn to medical science. Certain antipsychotics and anti-hypertensives will cause impotence. They will certainly do the job the bishop needs done. They are, however, expensive; and in the doses that will be needed, they cause unpleasant side effects, including fatigue, mental confusion and drooling.
The god of ironies has provided one set of drugs that are just what the bishop needs: female hormones. These will bring libido under control predictably and efficiently. They are widely available and have long been used. Their side effects are known and acceptable: weight gain, body fat redistribution, and a tendency to cry during movies made from Nicholas Sparks novels.
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