Clerical Celibacy

Do you see clerical celibacy ever changing? I am not meaning to be rude in any way, but I feel that if that rule was taken away, it would take away the specialness of the situation.

The Latin Church isn’t going to change it anytime soon, if ever. I doubt it ever will.

Bear in mind that the Eastern Churches outside the U.S. are not bound by this discipline. But I understand your sentiment.

I used to believe it would likely never change; now I’m not so sure.

Nah, not happening. The main point is, there are many good reasons not to allow celibacy to come, and there haven’t been any arguments that are able to explain why should we allow priests to get married instead of putting them in a higher state of life. And those who do bring arguments (f.e. people afraid of getting this vocation) don’t really ground themselves on scripture or anything, but rather they show a cultural need of a wife and kids to be happy. Not only that view is wrong for an amount of people, but it’s one of the most stressful jobs that you can have in a lifetime, by growing up kids in 20+ years and have them educated, well behaved, active religiously and with high potential of success in life. :rolleyes:

There’s also a Catholic Answers article on this: :thumbsup:

Honestly, I don’t think it will. I wouldn’t agree to it. From what I have studied, the Priest’s “Bride” is the Church. If they allowed marriage/un-celibate lives for Priests, this statement and their way of life would be contradictory to one another. But, that is just my opinion on the matter :shrug:

No. It is a gift that should not be taken from Priests.

Since celibacy for ordained priests and bishops in the Latin Rite is a discipline, not dogma, it can change at any time. Eastern Rite priests can be married. In addition, priests belonging to the “Anglican Order” of the Latin Rite are also married, as they were Anglican priests before converting to Roman Catholicism. Remember, our first pope, St. Peter himself, was married (one of Jesus’s first miracles was healing St. Peter’s mother-in-law). In fact, most of the apostles were probably married. St. Paul, of course, was not married - he mentions so himself in his 1st letter to the Corinthians. He mentions that his way is better, as married people are torn between duty to God and duty to spouse. But, even in the 1st letter to Timothy, St. Paul mentions how wives of presbyters (priests) and bishops should act. As such, it is evident that many of the early priests and bishops were, in fact, married. However, in the Western church, priests have been celibate for so long that it would be shocking if the discipline were changed.

The theological reason for priestly celibacy is according to me, the answer to the question why Jesus was born to a virgin. If Church accepts the virgin birth of Jesus Christ it cannot negate the importance of priestly celibacy. There are umpteen practical reasons why a priest should be celibate.

I would like for the Church to be more practical on this one.

Celibacy is indeed beautiful, but I do not think loneliness is good for anyone. Here in Sweden many Priests serve alone in remote areas, far from other clerics and with very few Catholics of the same culture around. They work alot but I am quite sure they often eat alone, and that some of them drink a little too much…

Why not choose good and virtuous, older (presbyter = elder) men who have grown up kids, ordain them and let them distribute the Sacraments to the people? I can hardly see any reason to why we should not…

I honestly don’t see the reason to.

It doesn’t appear to have any effect on vocations. The Anglican churches, and the Orthodox churches have the same problem with a clergy shortage as we do.

Furthermore, it always seems to me that the priests aren’t really concerned. Most any time I’ve seen a group advocating for the elimination of clerical celibacy in the Latin Rite, it’s been mostly lay people with one or two token priests. It seems like the clergy embrace celibacy.

When discussing celibacy, it’s important to distinguish between ordaining married priests and allowing priests to marry - the former happens regularly in the Eastern-rites and occasionally in the Latin-rite. The latter doesn’t happen at all.

Unfortunately, many (secular) commentators fail to appreciate this distinction with the result that the arguments become a bit skewed. I have no idea if / when the rule (and it is just that, not a dogma) against ordaining married men to the priesthood is likely to change and, speaking for myself, I’m not really that concerned either way.

I can however see a benefit to ordaining older, married men and this is something which should perhaps be given some thought.

Not to worry. Even if the Church’s current practice of ordaining only unmarried men** were to be relaxed I can’t imagine that it would be replaced with the practice of ordaining only married men. :wink:

(**and yes, I know that married men can be ordained in the Eastern Churches as can some converting Protestant ministers so there’s no need to go there.)

As a young man discerning to Latin Rite priesthood, I very much appreciate the requirement of celibacy. Even if it did change, I probably would not marry before seeking ordination :slight_smile:

Some of the more progressive-minded Catholics regard priestly celibacy as a useless relic of the past that’s going to be trashed soon. Many Eastern Christians like to say their rite has always had married clergy, and seem to suggest that we should too. The world says we can’t live without sex and it’s unnatural to be celibate and unreasonable to expect people to follow that rule.

People told Pope Paul VI all this, and he still said in his encyclical that priestly celibacy is a beautiful and ancient tradition and is not going anywhere. I know some time has passed since then, but not that much time- the same objections to celibacy that are thrown around today were thrown around back then and he addressed them beautifully.

Marriage is not only for sex, it is also for comfort, compassion, company, having someone to share things with, having children etc.

If a Priest lives on his own, it is hard for him to understand many of the difficulties that comes when people are living together. In my book, a single life outside a community is something very dangerous, and I believe very few can handle it. Most people should either choose marriage or community life, and this is also what all vocation experts I have talked to said…

To say that celibacy is natural goes against everything we believe. God gave us the vocation to marriage in Creation. Some go beyond that, but it is surely not natural!

My husband passed away 6 months ago. I am 49, with a special needs son and no prospects for remarriage–the likelihood would be dim. I miss my husband desperately. My whole being aches for him, and I have very little family around me and what I do have, well, they aren’t much comfort and I will leave it at that. So, I guess this means I am doomed to be miserably lonely the rest of my days. I suspected as much anyhow, as I read through widow and widower support forums and see people saying over and over that they feel no better YEARS after the loss of a beloved spouse. So, what are we younger “suddenly single” Catholics to do? Our vocation is shot, we’re too old to be a nun most likely, and I rarely hear much of anything about a vocation of being a single widow.

The Church, in charity, makes exceptions for those who were married Anglican “priests” and convert and are determined by the Church to have a vocation as a Catholic priest. I should also point out that the Dean of the Deanery of St. John the Baptist of the Personal Ordinariate in Canada is a married priest, an he strongly supports clerical celibacy. When the topic comes up, he stresses that married Anglican Use priests who had been married as Anglican “priests” were an exception, and that any new priests produced by the ordinariate will have to be celibate.

Following Pope Benedict’s initiative, dozens of Anglican clergy, with their wives and kids, have come over to Rome. the number may swell to hundreds quite soon, This is the thin edge of the wedge. It could result in a Church with a married parish priest in one parish, and a single man in the next.It would appear that obligatory celibacy is doomed!

I am sorry for your loss!

I hope that you find some sort of community anyway. Maybe together with your son? Other people who are close?

No it’s not.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit