Pray for the continuation of priestly celibacy

I can’t believe this actually has to be done, but I am begging you all to pray that the Church does not change its position on priestly celibacy. It disturbs me that this is even being discussed. As Blessed John Paul II said, it is a gift. Either you are married to God and you give Him your celibate life or you are not. If you are not prepared to do this, do not become a priest.

How can a priest dedicate his life to his parishioners, how can he adopt them as his children, as his flock, if he also has his own children? If, as often happens in families, a sickness, a bug for example, spreads through his family and he is the only one unaffected and is therefore the only one who can care for them and, at the same time, one of his parishioners needs the last rites, who will he choose? He cannot choose! Either dedicate yourself to your family or to God but they are both such mammoth tasks that you cannot do both.

This is so important.  Are we to have married nuns now too? Why should we value celibacy at all?

I worry not only for the priests themselves but also for women who attend mass, who interact with priests. Ladies, don’t tell me that you haven’t look wistfully at Archbishop Gänswein. Don’t tell me that you’ve never seen a priest who is really very good looking and ever so charming and that you haven’t flirted just a little bit. Don’t tell me that you haven’t because I won’t believe you. But you’re safe and he’s safe because he has taken a vow of celibacy. Now, imagine that is taken away: Fr Tall-Dark-and-Handsome is celebrating mass…are you going to look at him in the same way during mass when he’s reading out his amazing homily on the Resurrection? These are serious worries and I am worried for myself too!

Hands off, ladies. His Grace is not on the market.

A traditional priest recently said to me that he thinks it  [the abolition of priestly celibacy] will happen soon. Does that not scare anyone else? I have just read this from the Telegraph and this from Rorate Caeli.

I do not think it will happen but the fact that it is being discussed just shows how much more prayer is needed. Yes, we all need to get down on our knees and pray because although we know the gates of hell will not prevail against Holy Mother Church, that does not mean that you can just sit back and relax.

Advertisements

8 thoughts on “Pray for the continuation of priestly celibacy

    • I am not really referring to what Pope Francis said, I’m referring to the general feeling in the Church, the prevalence of this topic being discussed and the number of people who support the abolition of priestly celibacy. I don’t think that Pope Francis is going to eliminate celibacy (I will confess that I barely skim read that article, sorry), I’m saying that the fact that it is being discussed, that people are thinking about it is dangerous. I think it’s so important not to change the way we think about priests. Even for myself, I see that temptation to change my attitude towards them and it scares me!

  1. Many Roman Catholic priests are already married. All of the Eastern Churches in communion with the Bishop of Rome allow and indeed encourage priestly marriage. The practice of men marrying before becoming priests was something approaching universal until a number of innovative decrees in late centuries. The Eastern Orthodox churches allow the marriage of priests, and only require celibacy of bishops, who themselves are drawn from the monasteries.

    The calling of a priest and the calling to a discipline of celibacy are not one and the same calling. To exclude those of the former who are not called to the latter is to shoot oneself in the foot. St Peter was married, as were a number of the other Apostles (the first bishops). Popes through many centuries took wives. St Paul commands that a bishop ought to be the husband of one wife, and that marriage was honourable among all men.

    Priestly celibacy is a discipline, which, when it was enforced, resulted in the dissolution of many legitimately constituted marriages in the Western churches, which, no doubt coincidentally, resulted in great pecuniary advantage to the Roman see. It’s a discipline which has been laxly enforced throughout much of Church history. I commend Rome for her earnest desire to come into conformity with ancient tradition, as she has on the matter of allowing the chalice to the laity.

    • There are not ‘many’ Catholic priests who are married. That is a gross exaggeration, bordering on a lie. There are relatively very few in the Western Catholic Church and they are exceptions based on their special circumstances, many being those who have left your Anglican church, as you well know, Kyle. Deo gratias! If you want to learn more about the relationship between the Eastern Catholic Church and the Western Catholic Church on this issue, this a good article http://orthocath.wordpress.com/2011/10/22/repost-can-east-west-coexist-with-married-priests-2/

      The Church is not coming into conformity with anything, because the Church is the authority to which other institutions conform. You might kick and scream about it, but that’s the truth.
      What is taking place is a rebellion among some people, who have no authority but who despise legitimate authority, who wish to change what the Church, in her wisdom, has created for the good of the whole Church, particularly the priests themselves. They are rebelling against a practise which is loyal to the established tradition of the Church. Even Pope Francis, not known for being a bastion of tradition has said, “…I am in favor of maintaining celibacy, with all its pros and cons, because we have ten centuries of good experiences rather than failures…Tradition has weight and validity.” – from the book ‘On Heaven and Earth’.

      How do you expect a priest, who has a family, to choose between them in their hour of need and his flock in their hour of need? Can you explain how he should make that decision?

      As for St Paul, this Catholic Answers article (http://www.catholic.com/magazine/articles/why-a-celibate-priesthood) gives a good riposte to your points.

      It is easy to take quotes from St Paul which disprove your argument:

      St Paul (who was actually celibate) writes,

      “The unmarried man is anxious about the affairs of the Lord, how to please the Lord; but the married man is anxious about worldly affairs, how to please his wife, and his interests are divided. And the unmarried woman or girl is anxious about the affairs of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit; but the married woman is anxious about worldly affairs, how to please her husband (1 Cor. 7:32-34).

      “So that he who marries his betrothed does well; and he who refrains from marriage will do better” (1 Cor. 7:38).

      The author of the article rightly points out that Our Lord was a consecrated virgin, that marriage is good, but since the priest acts in the place of Christ, he should behave as Christ did:

      Paul gets this thinking neither from the Dark Ages nor as the result of repression but from a consecrated virgin named Jesus of Nazareth. He, like Paul, was unmarried and commended consecrated celibacy as a gift of God. That’s what he’s getting at in this incident from Matthew 19:9-12:

      “And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for unchastity, and marries another commits adultery; and he who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.” The disciples said to him, “If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is not expedient to marry.” But he said to them, “Not all men can receive this saying, but only those to whom it is given. For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. He who is able to receive this, let him receive it.”

      Note how similar Paul’s thinking is to Jesus’. Marriage is a good thing but a difficult thing, to the degree that, when Jesus describes what Christian marriage really entails, the apostles blanch and declare it is not expedient to marry. The summary of this passage: Not everyone can choose to be celibate, but those who can should, for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. It’s exactly the same admonition as in 1 Corinthians: Marriage is good, but celibacy is better.

      Since Jesus is celibate, and since, as Paul says, celibacy for the sake of Christ is a higher state than marriage, and since a priest is an alter Christus (“other Christ”) when he is standing in the place of Christ to celebrate the Eucharist (i.e., the marriage supper of the Lamb), we should not be surprised that in antiquity the discipline grew up (spontaneously, from the grass roots) of more and more priests likewise choosing to be celibate.

      The discipline was lived out in different ways, depending on where you were in the Church. In the East, priests but not bishops may marry. In the West, priests and bishops are celibate. But much the same spirit was at work in both “lungs” of the Church. The idea was that celibacy is a higher calling, as well as a superior practical arrangement, given the responsibilities of the priesthood.

      • “This is a true saying, if a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; 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?)” (1 Tim. 3:1-5)

        A friend (former RC clergyman, who recently translated a large body of the works of St Anthony of Padua) offered these thoughts on the ordinariate situation:
        http://fieldofdreams2010.wordpress.com/2013/09/13/clerical-marriage-2/

  2. I post links to these Articles not by way of endorsement, but merely as interesting reading, as this is a clergyman known to me who is married, and considers the Ordinariate situation. Fr Spilsbury’s opinions are his own:
    http://fieldofdreams2010.wordpress.com/2012/07/18/clerical-marriage/
    http://fieldofdreams2010.wordpress.com/2012/07/18/clerical-marriage-ii/
    http://fieldofdreams2010.wordpress.com/2012/07/18/clerical-marriage-iii/
    http://fieldofdreams2010.wordpress.com/2012/07/18/clerical-marriage-iv/
    http://fieldofdreams2010.wordpress.com/2012/08/03/clerical-marriage-postscript-40-years-on/

    I found the photographs in the fifth link very touching, too. Perhaps the right course is not to be doctrinaire on a matter which is assuredly not reckoned by any authority a matter of doctrine. To some priests, celibacy, to others, married life.

    • Yeah, I have to say that I’m not going to look at all those links, though I don’t care one bit if they’re in the comments on this post.

      Regarding whether or not the last link is touching…Kyle, you are confused. Whether or not marriage is touching or not really has nothing to do with whether or not priests should be married. The question is: can a priest fulfil his role just as well when he’s married as when he is celibate? You have dodged my question about whom a married priest should choose when both his family and his parishioners need him. There is simply not enough time for him to be a good father and a good priest; he must be one or the other unless it is acceptable that one of the two must suffer, which it is not.

      FYI, you can continue to post more touching pictures of married men if you like but I’m not here to debate. I just write what I want here and that’s it. I don’t have to justify it but you’re welcome to comment, if you feel like it.

  3. @KyleMullhollland :Not all of the Eastern Churches in communion with the Bishop of Rome allow and indeed encourage priestly marriage.I belong to the 2nd largest Eastern Church (based on the no of followers) called the Syro Malabar Catholic church whihc is based mainly in India .Syro Malabar Catholic church has a surplus of priests (for its 5 million followers) and I am not aware of a single married priest.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s