I am going to post a letter I wrote to my mother’s Anglican Priest a few years ago. It has some arguments others may find usefull in defending the Papacy and celibacy.
It’s a little long, but I’ll post it in its entirety any way.
Dear Fr. …,
I wanted to follow up with you to let you how much I enjoyed our visit. I also wanted to give you my address so you can send me your paper on purgatory (if you would like), and anything else you have written. When you told me why you became a priest - because you had a great desire to share the Gospel with people and bring them into the Church - it was a joy to hear. I can tell that you still have a great amount of zeal.
I want to address two points that we discussed: one is the Papacy, and the other is celibacy. I wanted to discuss the Papacy because that really seems to be one of the main points of disagreement (separation) between the Anglican Church and the Catholic Church. And I want to address celibacy because if you ever find that you have to leave the Anglican Church, the Catholic Church would love to have you; and when an Anglican priest joins the Catholic Church they are often allowed to enter the Catholic Priesthood as married men. I know you are not considering the Roman Catholic Church at this time, but you never know if you may in the future.
Celibacy: Priestly celibacy is not a doctrine of the Church, but merely a discipline. Many of the Eastern Rites of the Church (that are in union with Rome) do allow married priests. Even the Western Rite allows married priests if they convert from the Lutheran, Anglican, or Episcopal Church. The reason for celibacy is simply because the Church believes that a wife and family can be a hindrance to priestly work; and conversely, priestly work (since it is more than just a job), can be a hindrance to raising a family. That is not to say that a priest could not do a good job raising a family, or that a married priest would be unable to perform his priestly duties. But it does have the potential of being a problem since he would be somewhat divided between his family at home and his family at Church. “He that is without a wife is solicitous for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please God. But he that is with a wife is solicitous for the things of the world, how he may please his wife: and he is divided” (1 Cor 7: 32-33).
I remember listening to a radio show several years ago. The forum was a round table discussion of Protestant Pastor’s wives. They were talking about how difficult it was to raise a family when their husbands are so busy with church. They felt like there was competition between the family at home and the church family. That is precisely one of the main reasons for priestly celibacy, but it is not the only reason…
The Bible speaks very highly of the celibate life. While it says that marriage is good, it says celibacy life is better, for those who are able (Matt. 19:12). “For I would that all men were even as myself *. But every man has his proper gift from God, one after this manner and another after that. I say therefore to the unmarried widows, it is good for them if they abide even as I” (1 Cor 7: 7-8).
So beneficial is continence that St. Paul councils those who are married, that they too, if possible, should try at times to live a celibate life. “This therefore I say, brethren; the time is short; it remaineth, that they also who have wives, be as if they had none” (vs. 29). He says this, not because marital union is bad, obviously it is not; but because a continent life is very beneficial even for those who are married. In the same chapter of 1st Corinthians, St. Paul speaks of refraining from marital relations “for a time” so that each can “give themselves more to prayer”. Not only the Church fathers, but even the ancient pagan philosophers have known that continence helps to elevate the mind to God.