A Short Comment on Celibacy for Priests

It is a false claim that celibacy in the Church did not begin when the Church began, with Christ, the Apostles, and the first disciples.

Jesus was celibate. He did not marry anyone. He certainly did not marry Mary Magdalene (as some foolish ignorant persons have claimed). The Lord Jesus’ human nature was a temple for His Divine Nature. Jesus was a perfect virgin, entirely celibate, and the High Priest over all Creation.

Every priest participates in the priesthood established by Christ, in Christ, and for Christ. Therefore, the priesthood can never consist mainly of married men, as that would be contrary to the example, and, by the witness of Tradition, contrary also to the will, of Christ.

The Virgin Mary remained a virgin, even though she did God’s will in marrying Joseph and in accepting the virgin conception/Incarnation of Jesus, the Son of God. This example, along with the example of Christ, proves that religious in the Church (nuns, monks) ought to be celibate, and that celibacy and/or virginity is a higher value before God than even a holy marriage.

In one sense, celibacy for priests is a discipline, since some married men can be ordained as priests; this applies to particular cases. But in another sense, on the subject of the very nature of the Church as the Body of Christ, celibacy is inherent to the nature of the priesthood, since Christ is celibate and the high priest over all priests; for all priests represent Christ (in persona Christi) as Christ acts in and through them. Therefore, celibacy admits of exceptions, but is also fundamental to the priesthood itself and to the Church, which is the Body of Christ.

There are third order religious, who can be married. There are ordained permanent deacons, who can be married before ordination. And we know that the Church has always permitted some married men to become ordained as priests. So the Church has the authority to allow some married men to become priests.

However, a priest must not seek a wife or marry subsequent to ordination, as it is contrary to the will of God to go from a higher calling, the celibate priesthood, to a lower calling, a holy marriage. The Church cannot allow a man who is already an ordained deacon or priest to subsequently marry. I know that Pope Francis spoke extemporaneously, with some inexact language, making it seem as if priests might be allowed to seek marriage after ordination, but a consideration of the full set of his public statements on this topic make his position and the Church’s teaching clear, that when married priests are permitted, they marry prior to ordination.

As for the claim that more men would be priests if the Church sought married men for the priesthood, this is false and irrelevant. First, when the Church recently revived the permanent deaconate, with married men being ordained as deacons, there were men who responded to the call, of course. But the numbers are not overwhelming. Most married men have so much to do, caring for a wife, children (even adult children take up one’s time), and a job, have little time and desire left to also become a priest. There will not be an outpouring of married men dedicating themselves to the priesthood. They are already following their calling to marriage and family.

Second, some persons claim that if priests were married, there would be less child abuse. This is false. The typical child abuser (and I know this because I used to work with abused children on a Catholic hospital’s child psych unit) is an adult heterosexual male, who is either married or sexually active with adult women, who will also abuse minors. This is termed a situational generalist; an abuser who abuses minors of either gender when the situation permits. Such men are the most common type of child abuser, and being married or having a girlfriends and opportunity for sex with adults does not deter them from abuse. Also, men who sexually abuse boys are usually heterosexual, not homosexual; they are acting contrary to their own orientation, for the sake of grave sin.

This entry was posted in commentary. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to A Short Comment on Celibacy for Priests

  1. Ben says:

    Something is brewing up before the Synod of Synodality. As I commented before, the traditionalists gear up for heavy accusations, not for a fraternal discussion in spirit of humility in a Synod i.e. community of bishops. For them it is no more a community, it is some sort of revenge against their opponents, forgetting they themselves are in discord with the pope. See below an abstract:

    (LifeSiteNews) – Cardinal Raymond Burke, former head of the Apostolic Signatura, and Cardinal Gerhard Müller, former prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) spoke out against the German Synodal Way in interviews with Raymond Arroyo last week on EWTN.

    Burke also pointed out that to break with the Church’s teaching on anything is a canonical crime. In response to a question from Arroyo on the subject, Burke responded that “Whether it’s a departure, heretical teaching and denial of one of the doctrines of the faith—or apostasy in the sense of simply walking away from Christ and from His teaching in the Church to embrace some other form of religion—these are crimes. These are sins against Christ Himself.” 

    When asked how he would advise Pope Francis to respond to the Synodal Way, Müller said “If they are acting or going absolutely, directly against the Catholic doctrine, the definitions of the dogma, of the Catholic doctrine, there must be a trial, and they must be sentenced, and they must be removed from their office, if they are not converting themselves and they are not accepting the Catholic doctrine.”…

    My brief comment: who will make the trial and the sentencing since the pope is unwilling to do so? And, if the Germans (for lack of better term) are sentenced, what will be their punishments? Because it is obviously the retired cardinals Burke and Muller talk not just of their retirement or excommunication for walking away from Church, i.e. the Germans have already excommunicated themselves from a communion with Burke and Muller, on which separation these two cardinals have already pronounced their verdicts without a second option even less papal approval.

    If that is not a schism, I don’t know what it could be. Those who break up the community themselves on numerous occasions, call for a trial for their opponents. How about burning of their books too, as a start? And finally, on which territory of sovereign state that trial will be carried out? Not many countries in this world, Vatican included, favor inquisition trials. Maybe Uganda will be happy to have some of that, it just proposed life sentences for homosexual propaganda. It is just absurd what I hear to happen in Our Church in 21st century after Vatican I and II and after the chapter of the Inquisition has been closed for good.

Comments are closed.