Why should priests be celibate?

Based on my own experience, I have not found evidence celibacy is related to sex abuse.

Does it increase the percentage of gays in the priesthood, or the “networking” of gay priests or bishops? I think there may be a gay network but there may be stronger gay networks in other areas outside the Church, with no celibacy.

But there are some other, mildly strong reasons for reconsidering this discipline. Don’t make major changes in the middle of a crisis. But definitely consider.

What I feel ignorant about is experience of married clergy in their home countries. Here in the US, Eastern parishes (and Ordinariate) tend to measure in the dozens of families. How does the married clergy work out in Lebanon, Ukraine, other areas where they are the local, geographic diocese?

What are some ways their wives support them? I suspect there are hidden strengths here that I do not know about.

Except it wouldn’t unless marriage was the new mandatory requrement otherwise they can still choose to be celibate and make things favorable to their plans.

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I’m sorry you had a bad experience, but Jerry Sandusky’s wife didn’t stop him, and neither did the wives of a lot of other married guys out there who were committing sexual abuse, sometimes on the couple’s very own children.

Very often the wives are in denial that their husband is doing anything wrong. Especially if reporting him will hurt his career and remove the family’s social standing or source of income.


We are called to be common sense people.
We have a serious problem in clerical life. Does anyone dispute this…

When you have a problem, you take steps to solve it. That’s the Christian way. All legitimate options need to be considered. If you are not considering all legitimate options, you get second best solutions to problems.

The problems we have in clerical life are a stew of factors. One of those factors is celibacy. Power is a factor. Power in itself is a good thing, or at least neutral. Celibacy in itself is a good thing. Taken as part of a stew it can be part of a stew that leads to abuse.

I don’t think it’s our Christian call to sit on our traditional bias at the expense of getting the best solution to problems. Is allowing married clergy a panacea? No. But I think we are irresponsible fools to reflexively dismiss it.


This is true. The denial is usually for psychological reasons. Predators find the kind of wife who will deny. Men who have sexual issues bring disaster into marriages. The marriage is not a protection factor for abuse of children or adults.

Jerry Sandusky and his wife likely lived near, and worked alongside many Husbands and wives, in workplace, neighborhood, extended family, church, etc. Some married women knew them quite well.

Many would be married, many would not. Let’s not be silly.

Exceptions are not the rule. A great many predators are turned in by wives and girlfriends. Ask any divorce attorney.

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Nope. They may throw in that accusation, but those cases are almost always unfounded.

If it were just the abuse crisis that were motivating change to the clerical celibacy requirement, I’d say you’d be correct. Don’t make a change. I agree that the relationship between clerical abuse and celibacy is indirect at best. Because of the great need for celibate priests, there were not the appropriate psychological checks needed years ago perhaps. Perhaps a priest having a relationship with another adult was less likely to report abuse for fear of retaliation. Maybe…?

This stuff isn’t the reason to change clerical celibacy though. The reason to change clerical celibacy is the long slow decline of priests per Catholics worldwide and in specific regions. This isn’t a crisis in the normal sense.

Two thoughts here.
One, the Roman Rite is the only rite with mandatory celibacy. How are the other rites doing for vocations? I don’t think they’re any better off than we are.
Two, if you lower the standard then you get less qualified applicants. When you start to attract less qualified applicants then the more qualified won’t apply.


I have to question the motives behind the sudden interest in ending the celibacy requirement. Perhaps in a very few places in the world it might make a difference in vocations, but not many. Places that have turned the corner on vocations (ours have been ticking up for a while) seem to have done so by a return to more traditional Catholicism. I
There is no evidence it would solve the abuse problem.

Why now?


I have to say, having a wife does not “lower” any standard. It changes it, but can we stop trashing the value of wives and women generally? Our church does recognize that God created mam and then created women as man needed a partner. God has been clear that marriage is a desirable and natural state for a man. It is not a lower standard for a person to be married vs. celibate, just a different standard.

How about if the standard were simply avoiding sexual sin and scandal? Why pretend we have such a standard when many gay priests still live with other gay priests in church provided housing? Why is that ok but a proper Catholic marriage with a woman is not?

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Please don’t put words in my mouth. Going from a situation where only unmarried men can apply to one where unmarried and married may apply is in fact, lowering (or relaxing) a standard.

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We seem to hear that argument used quite a lot, but does it stack up with what appears to be so many Catholic churches that are far from full on Sundays and perhaps closed for much of the week? Is the problem that we do not have enough priests or that we do not have enough practising laity. Maybe we are not as short on priests as we might think, if we compare our ratio of priests to laity. And how does that ratio in the West compare to the same ratio in the third world (where the faith seems much stronger and growing)? I would suspect that we are perhaps better off in that regard than we might assume.

I disagree. Changing a rule is not necessarily throwing in the towel. It may well be raising the standard by making the priesthood and church healthier.

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How might it make the priesthood healthier?


The Church of England allows their clergy to marry, it doesn’t seem to have stopped sex abuse in the Church of England. Why then would it be different in the Catholic Church?

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Please read the rest of the string.

It will continue throughout society but needn’t be a protected institutional norm ever again. You don’t seems to understand how the abuse network functioned.

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Some people are assuming there is this pool of qualified candidates who would have become priests but are not considering it because of celibacy.

Where are they? What are they doing now, instead of priesthood?

If there is this sizeable hypothetical pool of qualified men now, i
there should have been a comparable pool in 1960. But seminaries were full in 1960, with celibacy.

So this hypothetical pool, if it exists, did not affect seminary enrollment.

When my children were in Catholic school, the emphasis was on communal aspect of Eucharist, Mass was the community gathering. No mention of the priest’s unique role at the Consecration, or the Real Presence.

The priest was sort of official witness, like a Notary. This, and the vast de emphasis on Confession, de emphasized the priesthood.

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