Most priests know far more about marriage than most married people do


I just remembered that my husband will be doing the sex and marriage session for our parish RCIA class soon. He’s done it for them at least once before and it relates to one of his academic specialties.

Father is a very sensible, orthodox and intelligent person, an experienced priest, and presumably could do the session himself just as well, but he’s not doing it. Presumably he knows what he’s doing.


Why not?

Both involve details of love, study, a life of sacrifice, testing of every virtues.

We need to be more precise in our assertions.


I gave a reason why not - no immediate experience of what it’s like to live intimately with someone.

I was precise enough. Children don’t know what “hot” is until they get burned. Experience is invaluable.



I don’t think that disembodied knowledge of virtues is helpful if couples don’t know how to deal with disagreements with each other, cope with mouthy teenagers, handle money together, deal with extended family problems, etc.

It’s not just a question of virtue, but of knowing how to do things and what to do, and a lot of these issues are unique to marriage–you don’t need that level of cooperation in almost any other relationship.


What does “no immediate experience” mean.

Experience in what, in self denial, in being second, in taking humiliation in stride, in doing favors for others? In making dinner for another, inregulsting and tempering one’s passions?

Name with precision what “experiences” you suggest a priest had no direct experience with.



I would rephrase that as “intimate experience”.
Can a priest know the intimacy with anyone as a husband and wife with each other?


I hope ConstantLearner will also answer, but it is quite different to be living jointly with another person, to share finances, to be legally responsible for many of the other person’s choices, to be physically intimate with each other, to sleep in the same bed, to share a home that you perhaps own together, to conceive and raise children together, to treat the other person’s relatives and friends as your own relatives and friends, to have a domestic foreign policy regarding relatives and neighbors, etc, and to do so for decades. Given longevity, it’s a remarkable relationship. My grandparents, for example, are about to celebrate their 72nd wedding anniversary.

Marriage is a unique human relationship.


I honestly think you know what “no immediate experience” means. A priest has no immediate experience of living day-to-day with a woman to whom he owes his first obligation, and a woman who is, unlike the Church, changing. One who has needs and moods and desires. One who probably wants to have children and expand the family. One with whom the husband, if he is a good husband, will talk things over with and reach mutually agreeable decisions. One with whom he will face crises and come through them a better and stronger person. One with whom he shares a physical relationship unlike any other he shares with anyone else.

I could go on and on.

No Roman Catholic priest should have an intimate experience of a woman like that. If he does, he is not a good priest. I, myself, believe most priests are very good priests.


What is marital intimacy but self gift, often with great tenderness, patience, attentiveness, self denial for the pleasure of the other.

Pull orgasm out of the mix and you have a lot of virtues (or vices as the case may be) that a priest practices all the time.

Most of marriage is about virtue and very little about orgasm.


But non-marital relationships are quite distinct from the marital relationships. There’s overlap, but it’s not the same thing–there are a lot of non-sex things that I would be very annoyed if my husband were sharing with another woman.


Why is that?


How precisely are they different, outside of orgasm?

What unique virtues are required? None.

What unique human facilities are called for?


Similarities far surpass differences, the main one being foreplay and orgasm.


Well, for one thing, it is possible for a Byzantine Catholic priest to be both “married to the Church” in your sense and the husband of a wife.


Yes! Of course! A priest has a most intimate, nuptial, covenantal bond with the Church! I assure you, conjugal love is not the most intimate connection one can have.


And…? ?


Where do you get this from?


I think he is referring to scheduled Confessions, or if you pass by the rectory, pop in to ask for a priest to hear your Confession, he will take your Confession. Some priests are really busy. They may have scheduled times visiting the sick. Depends on the parish, number of priests in that parish, how many belong in the parish, and how many people request the priests time. There’s a lot going on in a parish. They have their duties. But, as I’ve went to Confession many times. I have once and awhile popped in the rectory where I asked for a priest to hear my Confession. And luck have it, there’s been a priest. But again, not all parishes function the same with regard to the dynamics of what priests do other than Mass.


You might say the same thing of parents being similar to teachers, and yet the roles are quite distinct.

Likewise, my husband can have only one wife, but can have many non-marital relationships with other people.

The marital relationship is uniquely intimate and hence monogamous.

I think you’re overemphasizing disembodied virtues, not grasping that there are roles and skills involved that are specific to different relationships (husband-wife, teacher-student, priest-penitent, boss-employee, sister-sister, female friend-female friend, etc.).


Exactly my point.

It comes down to virtues tested and stretched.

We’re very similar. Priests aren’t that different, very little.

No need to make up terms to dismiss them…“disembowled virtues”. ???


To be fair, the argument often ran is when you are living with the woman (if you are a man), and married to her. The fact she is your helpmate (and you are hers as well) for life. Often including having children. So the dynamics of work, raising your children, and loving/taking care of your spouse. The engagement is going to be completely different and not the same as a priest.

However, the state of the priesthood emulates this in the Church (i.e. the priest - Persona Christi the Bridegroom; the Church - the Bride.) And when the priest baptizes an infant child, or any person/any age, they are birthing that child into a new life in the Church - born of the spirit and water, from above. The priest shares in the intimate embrace/union of a husband and wife cooperating with their desire to bring forward new life. And so, emulating that new life further in the life of the Church - in the manner God places and enrolls that child into His love/Covenant. Does the priest thus emulate in cooperating with that birth of the child through his or her baptism.

From that time being, does the priest confer the graces of the Sacraments over your child. Or any soul through the Rite of Christian initiation. This entails furthering your commitment (as a parent) to see to it, your child enters fully into the Kingdom of God. And that also means when certain affects of life take you down from the Church (usually through sin or sickness.) The priest continues to assist that child’s life through Confession and Anointing of the Sick. Then as the child grows and matures, and wants to be in that relationship in giving new life. They can then submit themselves to the role of marriage. So thus the Sacrament of Marriage entails. Or in Holy Orders, If a lady, she can become a Sister Religious. If a man, a priest.

There’s a shared life between married person’s and the state/life of the priesthood. For, as most priests were born between a mother and a father (both in the state of Matrimonial bond.) And from there, does the priest know/under his role having been a child experiencing the marriage of his parents, does he understand marriage in that way. So thus when the call comes, and knows God’s calling. He then settles out to become a priest. And from their does he emulate that state in Conferring the Sacraments.

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