Vatican Reaffirms Celibacy for Priests


I read something interesting a couple of days ago. According to the story below, there are 100,000 priests (worldwide) that are currently married. All I can say is Whaaaaa?,4670,PopeMarriedPriests,00.html


I was told by my Parish Priest that once you are a priest you are one til you die

Even if they leave the priesthood and get married, apparently they are still priests, just without a ministry.

Maybe that is where the figure of 100,00 comes from.


I hope that’s the case. It does make sense though, because the article mentioned re-admitting married priests who are now widowers. Normally I would say, “If you’re going to break the rules, we’re not going to re-admit you” but it if they haven’t broken any rules, okay great. But if they maintained their ministry while married, that would be another problem. Out of 100,000 married priests, I suspect there’d be a few of those.


So far as I understand things, a laicized Roman Catholic priest who has been released from the Priesthood in order to marry retains all of his faculties but is forbidden from exercising them under penalty of excommunication. I think the one exception is that thy could provide extreme unction in the event that they were the only priest available to a dying person. (Or if they somehow ended up in a prison camp and were the only priest available, they could provide communion, etcetera) Anyhow, the idea is that except in very extraordinary emergency circumstances, a properly-laicized priest cannot exercise the faculties of his priesthood.

On the other hand a laicized priest certainly could have a ‘ministry’: it would simply have to be a LAY ministry, a ministry appropriate to a layperson. They could have a ministry to serve the poor for example, or to care for the ill, etcetera. Technically speaking there is no such thing as a Christian without some sort of ‘ministry’.

Hope I’m in the ballpark on this but it’s how I understand things.


there is a married priest in phoenix AZ. i believe he was a anglican priest first then he converted and the bishop gave him a parish.

BTW, if someone is excommunicated by the pope, does that mean they are going to hell?


I don’t think it automatically means so. In the event of heresy, for example, if the miscreant sincerely and through no fault of their own believes their understanding is a correct one, then there is room in Catholic soteriology to suggest that they will not be condemned by God. The problem with heresy is that it tends to lead people away from a true picture of who God is, leading ultimately to some sort of idolatry and cutting such people off from some or many of the means of grace. Far fewer people are saved while believing in false doctrine than are saved by believing in true doctrine. However God is ever-gracious and merciful and can save souls despite the fact that they are in theological error. The important thing is that the person involved in serious error must not be in error culpably–that is, they must have exercised their faculties to the fullest extent to which they are able in good faith to do and yet been unable to assent to the truth.

Again, this is my best understanding of Catholic dogma. Someone who is actually a Roman Catholic is going to have to belly up to the plate and clarify or correct my speculations.


I suspect the number includes :

  1. Eastern-rite Catholics, who I believe CAN marry.

  2. Laicized priests who were permitted to marry, most of whom would NOT be allowed to exercise their faculties as priests; and

  3. Clergy from the Episcopal, Eastern Orthodox, Lutheran, and other churches whose orders were ‘regularised’ to allow them to be made priests in the RCC.


Not in the Catholic Church, it will never happen…


My mother’s town paper had an article in it about this. Unfortunately, the article was wrote in such a way that it sounded as if the Catholic Church was contradicting itself. :rolleyes:


Isn’t there always the possiblity that the Church might allow for its priests to get married one day? It wasn’t always a practice of the Church and some of the apostles took their wives on their missionary trips. There isn’t exactly an Apostolic precedent here.


I’m telling you, it will never happen…believe me.


Actually, from my understanding, priests have never been allowed to marry. What is true is that married men were allowed to become priests. If their wife died they could not remarry. A single man who became a priest could not get married after his ordination. Please review the following information:


No. Men who are already married have been ordained to the Catholic priesthood, but it has never been - nor will it ever be - that after ordination to the priesthood a priest may marry.


It is important to note that there are active married priests in the Catholic Church. The Holy See has approved many priests to be ordained using a “Pastoral Provision Decision” which permits the local ordinary to ordain former Anglican Clergy without forcing them to give up their wife. I have seen this decision extended to a Lutheran Pastor before, as well.

However, there is a very important element to consider. When you enter the seminary, you do so knowing that you are expected to remain celibate for the rest of your life. You generally have between 6 and 10 years of formation to discern your vocation.

In the case of Religious Priests, before you are even ordained to the diaconate, you profess perpetual vows of obedience, chastity and poverty.

So, even if the Vatican does at some point say that the bishops can ordain married men (as they do with former Episcopal Priests) I cannot foresee a time when the Vatican will re-admit the priests who left to get married.


Isn’t the requirement of celibacy for a priest a development within the Church? It is my understanding that celibacy became a requirement only when it was eventually feasible to do so, that is, when the church was large enough and financed well enough to support one’s vocation as their sole source of income.

Isn’t it possible then, that if the Church sees the need to lift mandatory celibacy in response to some of the low numbers of aspiring priests, it could be doing so without contradicting itself, especially considering this requirement emerged sometime in the 4 or 5th centuries I believe…


That is also incorrect and you would know that if you would read the link I gave you. Celibacy was encouraged by Paul and Jesus for those strong enough. The Spanish Council of Elvira, 295-302, made it a requirement for all deacons, priests, and bishops under the council’s jurisdiction.


I think Paul said celibacy was good for those strong enough. Jesus didn’t quite take that attitude, he laid out the option, yes, but didn’t decry it as something one had to “overcome” as though human sexuality represents a weakness.


Well, not exactly. Matthew 19:12 - “For some are eunuchs because they were born that way; others were made that way by men; and others have renounced marriage because of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it.” Here, Jesus said the same thing as Paul, only in fewer words. Now, let’s see what Paul said: 1 Corinthians 7:7-8 - “I wish that all men were as I am. But each man has his own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that. Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I am.” Did he say sexuality is bad? He prefered celibacy but knew that God made us all different. He goes to explain his reasoning for favoring celibacy: 1 Corinthians 7:32-35: “I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs—how he can please the Lord. But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world—how he can please his wife— and his interests are divided. An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world—how she can please her husband. I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord.” Again, this was the same thing Jesus was saying, celibate for God’s service, for the Kingdom of Heaven.


This, from a previous discussion on the subject, gives a fuller picture:


I honestly just don’t get forced celibacy, let the priest choose it if he wants to remain unmarried. But I can’t understand any good reasoning why priests can’t be married. The fact that there ARE married Catholic priests in the East seems to throw a wrench in most explanations because it would outright contradict the whole “bride of Christ” reasoning.

Let them marry what’s the big deal? They married for one thousands years before this law was made iron clad. If you want to get back to the ancient church then married Bishops and priests shouldn’t be a big deal at all.

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