Optional Celibacy?

Hi all. I have come to discuss the option of perhaps making Preistly Celibacy optional, instead of mandatory. From what I understand, it is a practice that theoretically, could change. I also believe it is possible for a practicing Catholic to hold my position.

At the College I went to, I was involved in a Catholic youth outreach program, St. Pauls Outreach. While at a party/dinner one evening I heard an aquaintance of mine talk about his desire to both be a preist and to marry. “Could I just be a Maronite Priest?” he said, half joking half serious.

I just believe that perhaps some good people might be kept out of priesthood just because they would like to marry and have kids. At times I have thought those two things should not be mutually exclusive?

I also believe the presence of marriage may make the priesthood a bit more open, in some way. It probably would help solve vocation crisis…

I think it might be nice if we had it like the Orthodox churches do.

What do you all think?

Yes, priestly celibacy is a discipline and not a doctrine, so it could be changed. And at one time we did have married priests. The thing we have to understand it that the Church decides these things out of prudential judgment and to meet the spiritual needs of the faithful. Such decisions are not arbitrary nor decided on cultural whims.

The other important thing to keep in mind is that although many may feel called, the Church decides who will be admitted to the priesthood, not the individual candidate. It’s a long process of discernment, and rightfully so. I Know a very fine young man, faithful, full of love of God and the Church, who entered seminary with every intention of becoming a priest. But he married instead, has children and is now a canon lawyer. Although he seemed to have every qualification and he was willing, it simply wasn’t what God had in mind for his life.

There have been several threads on CAF about the pros and cons of a celibate priesthood vs. a married priesthood. But what matters is what the Church deems essential for the good of the faithful. There is no move within official circles to change celibacy, and nor in the seminaries. It just doesn’t seem to be the mind of the Church to permit it.

Ask a Latin Rite Priest. They view celibacy as a gift, a grace. Would, should we take that away from them? The Priests are not complaining. Why all of this pressure to make them less than they are? They are holy men of God. Holiness means to be “set apart” There is extremely strong scriptural evidence for, and justifcation of Priestly celibacy.

Again and again, I see a human tendency in those who are not affected by a given situation to be more concerned about it than those who are.

Yes, but in fairness, disciples are, by nature, things that are established as a result of a particular time & culture, not because they are immovable moral truths. That’s the difference between a discipline and a doctrine. In the early period of the Church during the lasciviousness of pagan Rome and shortly after pagan Rome, priests were not bound by discipline to be celibate. As the Mediterranean world became solidly Christian over the centuries, priestly celibacy was eventually instituted as a discipline.

So, I do think one could make a strong case for why it may be wise to dissolve priestly celibacy as a discipline. On the other hand, it may be short-term thinking to do so. Even though the number of consecrated persons is collapsing in Europe and treading water in the Americas, it is vastly expanding elsewhere. So perhaps instead of conceding on the discipline, we may eventually just have priests from Asia and Africa come to Europe and America to pastor the community and fulfill the mission :eek: http://i691.photobucket.com/albums/vv277/sweetness_246/bth_dancing_banana.gif

I have no particular opinion on what would be best. I think Rome has it under control.

I agree with the above posters.

I would also add that I don’t think “opening up the priesthood” in this respect would solve the vocations crisis. I know that’s the common argument, but I am skeptical that such a boon would actually result.

Let me clarify.

I do not propose making it so priests MUST be married.

I also think celibacy should continue to be celebrated, as it was in the new testament.

I just wonder if perhaps there should be option of being either celibate or having a wife.

At the end of the day it is not my decision or call to make. I just think about these things from time to time…:rolleyes:

This argument is driven purely by surrounding culture. Each and every reason why the Church is suffering can be traced, at some level, to surrounding culture creeping into the Church. The Church is leaven for the culture, not the other way round.

It is arguable whether there is a vocational crisis, and if so, whether a married clergy would help matters.

It is said that after WYD 2008 was celebrated in Sydney, the seminaries of Australia were at capacity. This without any change on celibacy.

The priesthood is a life of total sacrifice. The ability to bring in a wife won’t change that.

And once the rule was changed, you could see many men leaving formation to find a wife, thereby making any “vocational slough” even worse.


Every reaon?

Was not the introduction of aristotlean philosophy, reason an intellect into the Church not a radical change, a “creeping” of the culture into the the Church, the result of which is the much lauded Summa?

Yes it was.


Eastern rite priests can marry.

Convert priests from Anglican/Lutheran are allowed to keep their wives and be Catholic priests.

I think the Latin rite follows Our Lord’s instruction of “You can not serve two masters”.

I think universally, a married man can become a priest, but a priest can not become a married man.

I think religious clergy would still have to follow the rules of their religious orders.

At one time people lived all their lives in one community because we were agrarian not technologically oriented as human beings. In a small community where everyone pitches in and everyone has families of about the same size and structure, a married priesthood was much more possible. These days our priests are run off their feet, 24/7. A wife and children would be an added burden for most.

Besides this, the priesthood is a calling–a vocation in which they become fathers to the faithful and grooms to the Bride of Christ, the Church. This was the model Jesus set up and which he encouraged by saying that being celibate was preferable. St. Paul also advised it as the best option. The Church has to weigh everything in a fine balance, as to what is best for it’s mission. It appears that the celibate priesthood is the model that does this the best.

Also, think about how it would complicate shuffling priests around. Imagine a diocese where parishes are few and far between and the pastor of one parish dies suddenly. The bishop wants to move one of his priests to take over, but it’s the middle of the school year for little Mary and little Johnny, and the priest’s wife owns and operates her own local flower shop. It’s not an easy thing at all for them to up and move across the diocese.

Yes, plus the fact that most priests rotate parishes anyway, as per their bishops’ instructions. A senior pastor might stay about 9 years, but assistants are rotated about every 3 years. That would be quite disruptive to family life. This rotation of priests benefits both priests and parishes because in Catholic practice, the focus is on parish life centered in the Eucharist, not on the “preacher” and his style of preaching as it is in many Protestant churches. We had a cult of personality problem in my area a few years back that the bishop has to squash. The priest obeyed his bishop and stopped doing all ministries except those the bishop wanted him to do. There was quite a rumpus about it among his “fans.” It was the right thing to do–but it would have been much harder to do if the priest had been a married man with children and all the connections that come with family life. So, all in all, celibacy is really the best thing for the Latin Rite Catholic priesthood.

No they can’t. Their priests can be married before ordination, but their priests can’t marry after. This may have been what you meant, but the way you phrased it could be confusing for some.

Also, this was the case for the Latin rite too before it was mandatory to have taken a vow of celibacy. Men can be married and then become a priest, but not the other way around.


What “sufferings” do you think were caused by the modern world per se?

It’s your thread, but wouldn’t discussing this take us off topic? :slight_smile:

People who want the Church to relax this discipline so that someone who wants the best of both worlds can be priests aren’t people I imagine would make good priests. **There may be other reasons to justify a relaxation of the rules, but this is not one of them. **

There are Eastern Catholic married priests, and some married protestant clergy have joined the Church and become priests, but it is not the norm in the west.

Faith and reason we are intended to possess. The Church recognizing and systematizing of that complementarity made a huge difference. But, I see that as cognitive and not behavioral. It is the behavioral aspect of this world that damages - we being inclined toward the carnal side of our nature.

Yes, much good also certainly came in - I make no mistake there. What is lamentable is that creeping corrosion of modern society, that “smoke of Satan” seeping in that appears to have caused the current malaise.

Put it this way: in recent decades, the testing of the spirits in certain cases seems to have been neglected.

There are so many parishes operating in the red – I don’t know that we could afford the greater expense of supporting the priests’ families. Rectories aren’t built to house families, to begin with.

Parish pastors have to deal with a lot of financial stress. I can’t imagine how hard the stress might be if they had families to support.

And finances is just one aspect of many to consider for married priests.

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