How to respond to "priesthood unnaturally restrictive"


So I’ve often heard people say that they dislike priesthood because it is unnaturally restrictive on priests and saying that priestly celibacy is “man-made law” and should be changed. How should I respond to this?


Inform them that the priest is celibate because Christ was celibate, and the priest is In Persona Christi.


So tell them not to become priests. Other than that, it’s really none of their business how any man of God chooses to emulate Jesus.


So formerly Anglican priests, Eastern Catholic, and Orthodox priests who are married are what, then? Second-class citizens?

Priests celebrate the sacraments in persona Christi, but as far as I am aware, this impersonation ends with the liturgy. Priests are configured to Christ through their ordination, but go about their daily lives, in the office and in the rectory, in their own person.

There are many good arguments for priestly celibacy. It is a good discipline. But it is not universally applicable.


I agree that it’s unnaturally restrictive. And I also believe that Christ’s sacraments impart supernatural graces.


Ask them if they are also critical of other religions, such as Hinduism and Buddhism, for having religious vows of celibacy. For example, Hinduism’s spiritual leader Gandhi took a vow of celibacy while he was still married. That takes even more self-restraint than taking a vow of celibacy while not being married. Gandhi took his vow of celibacy “for reasons of spirituality, self-discipline and commitment to public service” which are the same reasons why celibacy is practical for a Catholic priest. And it shouldn’t be surprising that religious vows of celibacy are also taken in Buddhism since Buddhism came out of Hinduism. For Christian reasons, Jesus and St. Paul were celibacy and taught that it was a virtuous thing. John the Baptist also had to be celibate to live the way he did.


Tell them, no one forced the priest to become a priest.



Correction to my above post: Jesus and St. Paul were celibate. Sometimes the 20 minute post edit limitation is frustrating.

Also, here are some Catholic Answers resources on celibacy:
Celibacy Isn’t the Problem
Celibacy and the Priesthood
Celibacy and the shortage of priests


:thumbsup: It really does come down to that.


The only place I’ve heard people “often” say anything remotely like that is on this forum. I have never once heard anyone say it anywhere in the real world.

Where are all these “people” that are supposedly running around saying this? Who are they? Has someone actually said that to you?


Aeden #1
So I’ve often heard people say that they dislike priesthood because it is unnaturally restrictive on priests and saying that priestly celibacy is “man-made law” and should be changed. How should I respond to this?

No Catholic should now be misinformed on this.

Not only is the celibate priesthood from Christ, it is most scriptural:
St. Peter asked Our Lord, “What about us? We left all we had to follow you.” The Divine Master answered: “I tell you solemnly, there is no one who has left house, wife, brothers, parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God, who will not be given repayment many times over in this present time and, in the world to come, eternal life” (Lk 18:28-30, cf. Mt 19:27-30; Mk 10:20-21).

Among the Apostles, only Saint Peter is known to have been married because his mother-in-law is mentioned in the Gospels, but no mention is made of his wife or children. Tradition tells us that he was a widower who was caring for his wife’s aged mother. Some of the others might have been married, but there is no indication of this and it is a clear that they left everything, including their families, to follow Christ.

While the fact of priestly celibacy is a discipline, it is also more than a discipline because it is an Apostolic norm from the choices made by Jesus, and Sacred Scripture attests to its roots. The celibacy required for priests from the apostles was mandatory, and obligatory.

“Clerics were often chosen from among married older men. After ordination they were required to abstain from conjugal intercourse. In effect then, they were not married. Qui habent uxores, tamquam non habentes sint. “Let those who are married live as if they do not have wives”. Pope Leo the Great in 458 AD borrowed those words of Saint Paul in order to describe the celibacy of the clergy.” *. The Origin Of Priestly Celibacy, by Hugh Ballantyne, June 2003]

The reality is that certainly from the beginning most candidates were married, and as Catholic priests they were required to be continent.*


Could there ever be a change to it? That is, could priests ever be allowed to marry and have children?

@1ke: from my parents, actually. A difficult issue since they see it as something of a cause for the lack of priestly vocations and as something that was done to prevent issues with inheritance to the children of priests, as opposed to the purity and tradition.


Say: “You know what, You are absolutely right. Believers should be thankful for the men who will do it.”


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