To be, or not to be, celibate?


An interesting read.


The end kinda tells all:

For those who dream of a different kind of church, one less rigid, less authoritarian, less pyramidal in structure, a celibate clergy is part of the obstacle. For those who sit in their offices in Rome and make laws for the rest of us, a celibate priesthood is essential to the only structure in which they can operate and probably the only structure which they can even imagine.

As usual, the pro-married priest crowd have a gigantic agenda going way beyond merely addressing priest shortages as a practical matter–when you get down to it, they want us all to be Episcopalians. One need only look at the pile of rubble that denomination has been reduced to by liberalism to know that this is not a road anyone should take. Meanwhile, guess which diocese have fewer priest shortage problems? Yep, the traditional ones. The We-Are-Church types are going to the dustbin of history.


What’s interesting is the article’s total silence on the celibacy of Christ.

Without the reference to Christ, celibacy is reduced to mere functionality. If functionality gets in the way of the bottom line (i.e. enough priests to meet the sacramental demand), then why not dispense with it?

But the Catholic vision is much bigger than that that’s offered in that article. We cannot ignore the sobering statistics-- we’re in a great need of priests. But “rethinking” celibacy to address this need isn’t very helpful.

I think Pope John Paul II makes a more convincing case for the Church’s law on priestly celibacy. Why? Because he gives us its theological significance:Inasmuch as it is a law, it expresses the Church’s will, even before the will of the subject expressed by his readiness.

But the will of the Church finds its ultimate motivation in the link between celibacy and sacred ordination, which configures the priest to Jesus Christ the head and spouse of the Church.

The Church, as the spouse of Jesus Christ, wishes to be loved by the priest in the total and exclusive manner in which Jesus Christ her head and spouse loved her.

Priestly celibacy, then, is the gift of self in and with Christ to his Church and expresses the priest’s service to the Church in and with the Lord.

Pastores Dabo Vobis 29 (edited)
My thoughts:

The Church sees Christ her spouse in her priests, who say just what He said to her: “This is my body”.

In his body, Christ loved his bride the Church, totally, completely, exclusively – as a husband loves his wife – holding nothing, absolutely nothing back.

After being loved thusly, how can she not want her priests to love her just as Christ did?

Sure, it’s a law. As Pope John Paul II said, “it expresses the Church’s will”. And the Church’s will is entirely free. She doesn’t have to expect her priests to love her this way. Rather, she chooses to. Freely. Why? Because Christ freely chose to love her in the way that He did.

The law of priestly celibacy is the Church’s free response to the free initiative of Christ to espouse her to himself, giving himself to her and only to her, holding nothing—absolutely nothing—back.

The Church has this law-- this free response, a choice, of hers, to bring the gift of the priesthood together with the gift of loving the Church as Christ did. It’s a fitting union, because Christ the Spouse is *the *Priest (c.f. CCC 1545). And this bond helps to ensure that we receive the priesthood for what it is: a gift from God. Then theologian formerly called Joseph Ratzinger wrote,[INDENT]The Latin Church has expressly underscored this strictly charismatic character of priestly ministry by linking—in accord with ancient Church tradition—priesthood with virginity, which clearly can be understood only as a personal charism, never simply as an official qualification. The demand for their uncoupling ultimately rests on the notion that the priesthood must not be considered charismatically, but must be regarded as an office that the institution itself can fill in order to guarantee its own security and the satisfaction of its needs. When the attempt is made to take control of the priesthood for purposes of institutional security, the sort of charismatic bond implied by the requirement of celibacy is a scandal that has to be removed as quickly as possible. But when that happens, the Church as a whole is also being understood as a purely human organization, and the security that is obtained by these means fails to deliver precisely what it was meant to achieve. That the Church is not our institution, but the irruption of something else, that it is by essence “iuris divini,” means that we can never simply make the Church ourselves. It means that we may never employ purely institutional criteria, that the Church is wholly itself precisely where it breaks through the criteria and methods of human institutions.

The Theological Locus of Ecclesial Movements

[/INDENT]“Rethinking” celibacy in functional terms doesn’t help us retain the nuptial significance and charismatic character of the priesthood. It predictably serves to reduce the priesthood to a mere function, and thus it reduces the Church to an institution of our own making.

If there’s one suggestion I can offer to the author of the article, it’s to take the theological significance of celibacy into consideration.


I was discussing this with my priest today (I can see both sides of allowing married people to be ordained but think the idea of priests being able to go get married is awful and would cause abuses of power). Though I support celibacy on balance as:

  1. Married priests would need more money to support their family
  2. There would need to be lots more priests, more than the number that would join if celibacy were dropped as mandatory, as priests couldn’t be full time and look after 5 or 6 children. Thus the only suitable married priests would be past having dependant children and having people start the priesthood in old age is not ideal
  3. This is what led to the support of contraception in the Anglican Church due to priests only being able to support 2 children not 6


Other congregations with married clergy seem to do just fine, financially.

But, a married priest with, say, two children would be a wonderful example of how NFP works, no?



We can do that with permanent deacons. Something I have considered doing.


I can’t stand it when someone states their opinon like it was a fact, such as in the paragraph as follows (my comments are in italics):

“A shift is occurring away from the uniqueness of the ordained priesthood toward a priest as a leader who shares the common life of the community.” *Really? “*Nevertheless, the imposed celibate life-style isolates and separates the priest-leader from the real everyday routine concerns of his parishioners and makes him cautious in his relationships.” Wrong. The priests I know have many friends, male and female, among their parishoners. Many of the laity wish to relate to the priest as a brother who shares their daily adventure in life with its variety of dilemmas and choices made." I share my adventures and dilemmas with my priest as a friend in conversation and as a confessor in confession, as appropriate, and he can relate just fine.

Also interesting is the term “priest-leader.” What the heck???


is celibacy a requirement to know of God, no. peter, our first pope was happily married. so were other popes, though some not happily in union.

truth being, celibacy is about economics. in the early days of the church priests often bequeathed the church’s accumulative wealth upon their own children.

around the beginning of the eleventh century pope benedict Vlll gave a decree stating that children of priest could not inherit church property.

then in 1139 the second lateran council it was decided that priests were prohibited from marrying.

finally, in 1563 the council of trent reaffirmed the "tradition of celibacy.

fortunately for those of true tradition this celibacy issue is a regulation and not church dogma. in essence, some pope down the line can reject it.


Wow, this artice does seem to lack the focus of our faith being on Christ. So instead of seeking to follow God the article focuses on how man can be happy rather than do what is right. How many times in that article did the need to imitate Christ come up? Zero.

Celibacy is indeed part of serving, of course if your desire is not to serve, not to have authority and to change the Church then you would be in agreement with this article. But then Satan tempted Adam with the same sort of thing. The temptation of man is not to serve, to serve self and to seek pleasure not sacrifice.

This article does seek to appeal to man’s desire to make Catholicism more acceptable to people instead of changing people to follow God. It is a good example of the hate that some people have to serve Christ, to imitate Christ and to honor the Authority of Christ in the heirachy of the Church.

They will hide this hate of humility by preaching the nobility of man(common priesthood), the benefits it will bring the Church and the bad things that have happened throughout history. We need change they preach, but this is a rejection of God and a placement of man above God. Since we want change to make the religion more acceptable to us instead of seeking to see how tradition is a reflection of the truth that God has given us.

Faithfulness over rebellion, obedience rather than self will, humility over pride.

Thank you for this example of rebellion and self worship, it is a good example of the sickness infecting our Church today.

God Bless


More interesting reading:

The poorer an age is in faith, the more frequent the falls. This robs celibacy of its credibility and obscures the real point of it. People need to get straight in their minds that times of crisis for celibacy are always times of crisis for marriage as well. For, as a matter of fact, today we are experiencing not only violations of celibacy; marriage itself is becoming increasingly fragile as the basis of our society. In the legislation of Western nations we see how it is increasingly placed on the same level as other forms and is thereby largely “dissolved” as a legal form. Nor is the hard work needed really to live marriage negligible. Put in practical terms, after the abolition of celibacy we would only have a different kind of problem with divorced priests. That is not unknown in the Protestant Churches. In this sense, we see, of course, that the lofty forms of human existence involve great risks.



good points :tiphat:


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