(This is cross-posted from the Moral Theology Forum, since it is a question of both morality and apologetics.)
A Church of Christ co-worker who knows that I am converting to Catholicism recently gave me a book entitled Traditions of Men Versus the Word of God, by Alvin Jennings, in which he purports to take the traditions of a number of religions and strains of Christianity and refute their beliefs from the Bible. The very first chapter deals with Catholicism; I won’t characterize what he wrote, except to say that if you spread it in your garden, it would grow some fine vegetables.
I am writing a refutation of all points in that chapter, and I’m not having much trouble, except for a couple of points. One of them deals with an apparent differentiation of celebacy and chastity.
On this subject Jennings quotes a book, which he does not further identify, entitled Explanation of Catholic Morals. I googled that title and found that it was written by John H. Stapleton and published by Benziger Brothers in 1913. It is cited frequently in web pages belonging to anti-Catholic writers, but in my brief search I was unable to determine if it is genuine or a forgery.
Here is the quote:
“All celibates are not chaste…one who takes the vow of celibacy does not break it by sinning against the sixth commandment; he is true to it till he weds.”
Does this accurately reflect Church teaching? Is it possible to be an unchaste celibate; i.e., fool around and still be considered as not having broken the vows of celibacy? It’s a little confusing, but if they are considered separate issues, it would make more sense how priests, who have a vow of celibacy, could receive forgiveness for individual acts of unchastity and still be considered celibate, still continue as priests. Previously I had thought that once a priest had been known to have engaged in a sex act of any kind, he had broken his vows and should automatically be turned out of the priesthood.