Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Defending Priestly Celibacy: Part 4

Hhere is Part 4 in my debate with "Devin" on priestly celibacy. Mad props to anyone who has been keeping up with this debate so far. I hope it is helpful. Also see Parts 1, 2, and 3.

Pax Christi,
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does the Catholic church have the Biblical right to only choose Celebate men for their priesthood?
I would say so. After all, the Church is simply following the advice of St. Paul, who clearly says in 1 Cor 7 that it is more preferrable for pastors to be single, as Paul himself is. Of course, if he is single then he is consequently celibate, since sex outside of marriage is a sin (as I'm sure we all agree on).

and what if a priest decides to get married? would he be asked to resign from his position? is that biblical?
He would be laicized, which means that he would no longer be able to function as a priest. This is biblical for two reasons: one, b/c Jesus and Paul say that we must faithfully live out the vocation we have been given (cf. Mt 19:11-12; 1 Cor 7:17,20,24,26-27); and two, b/c we are called to obey those in the Church who are in charge of us (cf. 1 Thes 5:12-13; 1 Tim 5:17; Heb 12:9; 13:7,17; 1 Pet 5:5). Indeed, we are looked down upon and judged harshly when we don't (cf. 2 Pet 2:10-12; 1 Jn 4:6; 3 Jn 1:9-11; Jude 1:8-11).

Regarding the first reason, if you have been called by God to live the life of celibacy, then you can't just turn your back on that later on. That would be unfaithful, both to God and to the Church, who you have devoted yourself to.

Now, to be fair, in rare cases it does happen that priests realize after being ordained that they were not called to the priesthood like they originally thought, and there is a process they can go through to leave the priesthood. But this is a very serious matter, and the priest has to be absolutely certain that he is truly called to some other way of life and not just giving in to sin and temptation.

If he goes through all the proper channels, he can leave the priesthood and still be in good standing with the Church. But, if he just marries someone in secret, while he's still a priest, then this is a very grave act of disobedience against the Church and the cause of much scandal of the faithful. This leads in to the second reason: respecting the elders.

The command to obey those in the Church who are in charge of us applies to all the faithful, including priests. There are Church laws that govern a priest's way of life and he is called as a faithful member of the Church to abide by those laws. He can't just live a double life and expect the Church not to care.

I hope that helps.

Pax Christi,

PS: Also see Part 5.

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