Why does the Church require its ministers to be unmarried, and called "priests?"

Why does the Roman Catholic Church require its ministers to be unmarried, and called “priests” when the Bible says they are to be married, and simply calls them pastors, teachers, and bishops? “A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife…” 1 Timothy 3:2 (Go look it up!). It continues in verses 4 and 5, "One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?).

Dear PMV,

First of all, the Bible does not say that priests MUST be married. It does say that a bishop is not to be married more than once. Scripture mentions St. Peter’s mother-in -law. Obviously he was married. But Jesus did praise celibacy: “There are eunuchs born that way from their mother’s womb, there are eunuchs made so by men and there are eunuchs who have made themselves so for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let anyone accept this who can.” (Mt 19: 12) Here Jesus is inviting to perpetual celibacy those who would consecrate themselves entirely to the kingdom of God. The process of a celibate clergy came about gradually over several centuries in the West. Even today in the East, the Eastern Rite Churches that are in union with Rome do have married priests. However, they may still only marry once and their bishops may not be married at all.

In 1Tim 3:2, we have another example where Scripture simply states that “elders” may not be married more than once. The Original Catholic Encyclopedia has this to say about the word “elder”: “This word (etymologically “elder”, from presbyteros, presbyter) has taken the meaning of “sacerdos”, from which no substantive has been formed in various modern languages (English, French, German). The priest is the minister of Divine Worship, and especially of the highest act of worship, sacrifice.” See:
*]Sacrifice of the Mass[/LIST]The key word here is “sacrifice.”

It is the Eucharist that gives us the sacrifice that the Catholic priest offers. If the Eucharist is not the sacrifice of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, then the Catholic priest is simply a minister. In the three Synoptic Gospels we have the following accounts at the Last Supper:

Matthew 26:28 “For this is my blood of the new testament, which shall be shed for many for the remission of sins.”

Mark 14: 24 “This is my blood of the new testament which shall be shed for many.”

Luke: 27:20 “This is the chalice of the new testament in my blood, which shall be shed for you.”

The Encyclopedia goes on: “The Divine institution of the sacrifice of the altar is proved by showing that the “shedding of blood” spoken of in the text took place there and then and not for the first time on the cross; that it was a true and real sacrifice; that it was considered a permanent institution in the Church.” So when Jesus told the twelve to “Do this in remembrance of me,” He was telling them to offer the sacrifice of His Body and Blood. In saying this, He was ordaining them, priests.

Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.

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