Friday, November 16, 2007

Defending Priestly Celibacy: Part 7

Hhere is Part 7 in my debate on priestly celibacy. Unless "Devin" responds back again, this will be the last installment in the debate. Thanks everyone for hangin in there with me. Also see Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 (or just peep the original thread for yourself).

Pax Christi,
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doesnt your Church have a requirement that all their priests MUST be Celibant?
Well, the Latin (or "Roman") Rite of the Church has that requirement, normatively speaking. The pope has made a concession for married Anglican pastors who convert to Catholicism and become priests. They aren't required to forsake their families. In the Eastern Rites of the Catholic Church, a man who is already married may become a priest, but if he is single when he becomes a priest, he can't marry someone afterwards. Bishops however cannot be married either before or after becoming bishop. I think it is noteworthy that, even in the Eastern Rites of the Catholic Church, where it is technically allowed for a married man to become a priest, the very vast majority of them live celibate lifestyles like their brothers in the Latin Rite. They seem to just inherently know that celibacy is the preferrable state.

What all of this shows is that celibacy isn't unchangeable dogma. It's a discipline that the Church in the Latin Rite has adopted from ancient times b/c She, like Paul, views celibacy to be the preferrable state of the clergy. After all, "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" (1 Cor 7:32-34).

Finally, note that the requirement that a priest be celibate is not actually a restriction when you're choosing people for the priesthood who have been given the gift of celibacy anyway. All it is really is a call for these men to live according to the gift they have been given. It would be unfaithful to the Lord for a man with the gift of celibacy to become a priest and then try to get married. He wouldn't be living according to the gift he has been given. See what I mean?

will you tell a man who wants to get married that he cannot be a priest?
Yes. Why? Well, for one, b/c the Church (in the Latin Rite) normally only chooses men for the priesthood who have been given the gift of celibacy. So, if God has called you to be married, the Church won't choose you. Secondly, if a man is called to be married then it will be difficult, if not impossible for him to live a celibate lifestyle. So, he won't be able to be a priest in the sense that he hasn't been given power by God to live out that lifestyle.

I hope that helps.

Pax Christi,

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