John Paul & Virginity/Celibacy


Here is my reply to the Sedevacantist charge that John Paul did not acknwedge virginity as a more exalted state. They quote from the General Audience of JPII on April 14, 1982. It was originally delivered in Spanish, and so I will quote and translate it from the Spanish on the Vatican website:

…at the same time [Christ’s words about being a Eunich for the kingdom of heaven (Mt 5:27-28)] indicate just limits with regards to the matter [of celibacy]. Therefore, any Manichaean interpretation is decidedly outside the limits of this verse, and the words of Christ in the Sermon on the Mount (“lust of the heart”).

[Speaking again of this verse] there is no evident llusion to the inferiority of marriage ** with respect to the body, that is, with respect to the essence of marriage, which consists of the act through which man and woma unite in such manner that they are one flesh (Gen. 2:24) ** The words of Christ in Matt. 19:11-12 (as also Paul’s words in 1 Cor. 7) do not support the inferiority of marriage, or the supriority of virginity/celibacy, ** in as much as, by their very nature, they abstain from the sexual act. ** He proposes to His disciples ** the ideal ** of continence and its calling, not by deeming the sexual act seem inferior, or by prejudice towards it ** but only for the kingdom of heaven." **

Sedevacantists who use this quote are omitting the key words in each sentence that contextualize John Paul’s words. John Paul the Great addresses a Manichaean*** misinterpretation of Mt. 5 that would argue that celibacy is greater because it does not involve the sexual act (an act of the FLESH). No he says, Christ upholds celibacy/virginity as a superior state, not because it is free from the flesh/physical acts of intercourse, but because it is ordered towards “the kingdom of heaven.” That is, because it pursues God in a deeper way, devoting one’s life to God and the Church. He continues, within this context:

It is particularly valuable at this point to make a profound clarification of the expression “for the kingdom of heaven” … But, with regards to the just comprehension of the relationship between marriage, and the continence which Christ speaks of, and the comprehension of this relationship as tradition has understood it, ** it is worth noting that this superiority and inferiority, are contained within the limits of the complimentary nature of matrimony and the continence for the Kingdom of God. ** Marriage and celibacy neither oppose one another, not divide the human (and Christian) family into two camps (that is, the “perfect” celibate indviduals, and the “imperfect” or “less perfect” individuals who experience he sexual union.) But these two fundamental situations, or better said, these “states,” in a certain way explain and compliment one another…"

Again, John Paul recognizes the superiority of celibacy, but contextualizes it within the complimentary nature of marriage and celibacy. This is an accent in his theology, which he also draws from Church tradition, as in Familaris Consortio:

"Rightly indeed does St. John Chrysostom say: “Whoever denigrates marriage also diminishes the glory of virginity. Whoever praises it makes virginity more admirable and resplendent. What appears good only in comparison with evil would not be particularly good. It is something better than what is admitted to be good that is the most excellent good.” FC 16

John Paul only more greatly defended the superior value of celibacy by noting its complimentary relationship with marriage. He certainly never devalued it:

Indeed Christian parents, discerning the signs of God’s call, will devote special attention and care to education in virginity or celibacy as the supreme form of that self-giving that constitutes the very meaning of human sexuality. - Ibid., 37


I’m glad you started this thread. I was ready to pull my hair out. Twice I typed a response only to have it disappear into thin air as I tried to submit it. I found four easy ways to show John Paul the Great did not contradict early Church teaching. The ease with which these were apparant shows the doggedness on the part of some to demonize this great man.

I am glad you have posted a correct response and not just possibilities. It is similar to one that was obvious by a cursory reading that John Paul II only stated that the words of Christ (which you have have expounded upon) did not support the superiority of virginity.

A homilist can correctly state that that the teachings of Jesus do not show us the Immaculate Conception, but that does not constitute a denial of that dogma.


[quote=pnewton] Twice I typed a response only to have it disappear into thin air as I tried to submit it. I found four easy ways to show John Paul the Great did not contradict early Church teaching.

Can you list those four ways? I’m sorry you failed in you attempts to post them yesterday. I agree the original question was a worthwhile one.

  • Hugo


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