The hopes and challenges of priestly celibacy today

Priests wait to join the procession for the Chrism Mass on March 27 at the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Houston (CNS).

Celibacy in the priesthood is once again up for discussion. The diminished number of candidates for ordination and the abuse crisis have prodded the discussion, which seems mainly focused on the elimination of celibacy as a mandatory discipline for priests in the Western church. But a more foundational concern, in my estimation, needs our reflection before we consider any change. That concern has to do with formation for celibacy and formation in celibacy.

To resolve or even address the problem of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, many people insist that the church must do away with mandatory celibacy for priests. If you give priests a healthy outlet for their sex drive, the thinking goes, they will not abuse minors. It sounds simple. And it echoes an ancient take on the purpose of marriage as remedium concupiscentiae, a remedy for concupiscence. Here it doubles as a remedy for abuse as well.

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The elimination of priestly celibacy, however, would not eliminate abuse. Noncelibate and in many cases married men are overwhelmingly the perpetrators of sexual abuse against minors.

First, let me state the obvious. Sex—in its various dimensions: physical, emotional and even spiritual—is a powerful force. It is a gift of God, and it also carries the burdens of our wounded human condition. Everyone, no matter their gender, orientation or marital status, needs to integrate their sexuality. Ultimately, in the Christian vision, this transformative process leads to self-acceptance and self-gift. The transformation and integration of sexuality represents a universal human task. It does, however, take on a specific shape in the instance of priests who commit themselves to celibate living.

The elimination of priestly celibacy would not eliminate abuse. Noncelibate and in many cases married men are overwhelmingly the perpetrators of sexual abuse against minors.

The situation of priests

For celibate priests, there are three specific and essential elements of formation for sustaining their commitment: They need a meaningful reason for celibacy, they need skills for celibate living, and they need a supportive community.

Given the challenges and obstacles for priests to live the celibate life well, it might seem better to change the current discipline of the Western church and make celibacy optional. But much more reflection is needed to understand the positive value of the current discipline. The church’s persistence in maintaining this practice, in the face of great difficulties and even its nonobservance in certain historical contexts, suggests something that deserves careful spiritual discernment to detect the promptings of the Holy Spirit. A consideration of the three indispensable elements that make celibacy possible and real—a reason, skills and a supportive community—can actually contribute to a fuller reflection and discernment.

Celibacy is not an ordinary choice. Making the choice for celibacy requires a very deliberate decision based on a clear and even compelling reason. That reason, motivation or rationale may take on different shapes, as we will see, but it must be in place for the decision to be made and to be sustained over a lifetime. At the same time, although a motivating and meaningful reason for celibacy is essential, by itself it is insufficient.

Knowing how to live out this commitment is also necessary. In other words, celibates also need to be in possession of those life skills that enable them to stay faithful, productive and joyful in their way of life. To summarize: Celibates need a reason, skills for living and a supportive community. A quick historical survey can help us understand these elements more deeply and identify today’s challenges more precisely.

Celibates need to be in possession of those life skills that enable them to stay faithful, productive and joyful in their way of life.

Historical context for priestly celibacy

The history of celibacy for the sake of the kingdom of God begins in the New Testament. Celibacy and consecrated virginity stretch across the whole trajectory of Christian history. The more specific history of celibacy attached to holy orders has had many complex turns for both the Eastern and Western churches. For our purposes, I will limit myself to the Western church and the last 500 years, from the time of the Council of Trent (1565) to our moment today.

One of the great reforms that followed the Council of Trent was the establishment of seminaries and, with that, the possibility of consistent training and preparation for priesthood, including training or formation for celibacy. For some 500 years, until the turning point of the early 1960’s, the practice of celibacy depended on a reason (a higher call), a set of skills (vigilance and self-control—in effect, psychological suppression) and a community (expecting and demanding fidelity). Although these dynamics did not work perfectly and there certainly were breaches, they did maintain a basic consistency in the observance of the discipline of celibacy for clergy.

A dramatic shift took place in the 1960’s with the Second Vatican Council, the sexual revolution, the pill and the rise of gay rights. Whatever had been tightly wound around celibacy to hold it together seemed to unravel. There was great disruption in the church and in the culture. Anyone who lived through those tumultuous years can attest to that. Suddenly, there seemed to be no good reason for priests to be celibate, certainly not because it made them better than married lay people. In other words, gone were the reason, the skills and the supportive community.

In the years following the Second Vatican Council, the church (through the popes and others), began to offer a response to “the problem of celibacy.” In 1967 Pope Paul VI issued the encyclical “Sacerdotalis Caelibatus,” which defended celibacy for priests. The Synod of Bishops of 1971 took up the same cause and reaffirmed the discipline of celibacy for the Western church. The Congregation for Catholic Education addressed the needed skills for living out celibacy in A Guide to Formation in Priestly Celibacy (1974).

Seminaries struggled to find their way. The ongoing formation of priests, often a marginal concern and effort in church life in any case, certainly did not serve the celibate cause well in this moment. Consequences followed in the ’70s and ’80s. Far fewer candidates came forward to begin studies for the priesthood. Large numbers of those already ordained abandoned ministry. Acting out sexually and in other unhealthy ways seemed to be on the rise. And, of course, this time period also saw the largest number of cases of clerical sexual misconduct with minors.

Under the leadership of St. John Paul II, the church tried to open a new chapter in its efforts to address the challenges of priestly formation, including formation for celibacy. In 1990 Pope John Paul II summoned the Synod of Bishops to take up the questions surrounding priestly formation. With that meeting as a foundation, he issued a very significant post-synodal apostolic exhortation entitled “Pastores Dabo Vobis” (1992). This exhortation offered a large and challenging vision of priestly formation based on four pillars: human, spiritual, intellectual and pastoral.

Inadequate formation for celibacy has led to tragic situations, shattered lives and crises of faith.

“Pastores Dabo Vobis” underscores the foundational necessity of human formation, so that priests can be men of communion and integrally connected with the community of faith that they serve. The exhortation, with some further development and elaboration, could serve to re-anchor celibacy’s reason, skills and community connection. Finally, the exhortation links formation for priesthood (seminary) with formation in priesthood (ongoing formation). This linkage has important implications for celibacy. It is not enough to be prepared for the celibate commitment; it is also essential to continuously engage in celibate formation across the span of a lifetime, that is, in the different seasons of one’s life.

These last decades have marked some progress in celibate formation. Certainly, more attention is paid to this formation, for example, in the 2016 document from the Congregation for Clergy: The Gift of the Priestly Vocation: Ratio Fundamentalis Institutionis Sacerdotalis (“The Basic Plan for Priestly Formation”). Other examples might also include the various programs of priestly formation developed by national conferences of bishops to address specific national and cultural circumstances.

Still, even with all this, I do not think we have arrived at a coherent and consistent formation for celibacy or formation in celibacy. These recent decades have also produced some puzzling approaches to priesthood and celibacy that try to fuse the old and the new but fall short of fostering real integration. These models can be found in some seminaries today, in ancillary formation programs and in recruitment materials.

They tend to be neoromantic, highlighting, for example, the dramatic figure of the “heroic priest,” which does not match the day-to-day reality of priestly ministry and life. In the same neoromantic line, there is also the priest who funnels his sexuality into “spousal love” for the church or who learns to “grieve” his lost physical generativity. These models risk unreality, and they are generally not effective for a genuine formation for celibacy.

The stakes are high, when we consider formation for celibacy. Inadequate formation has led to tragic situations, shattered lives and crises of faith. On the other hand, an adequate formation for celibacy would surface those persons who lack human and sexual integration, the very ones who might harbor psychopathologies that could lead to abuse and other aberrations. And that would be protective for the whole church.

It is not enough to be prepared for the celibate commitment; it is also essential to continuously engage in celibate formation across the span of a lifetime, that is, in the different seasons of one’s life.

A reason for celibacy

I would suggest three kinds of motivating rationales for the celibate commitment. An individual might share in one, two or all three. It may also happen that across a lifetime one or another may gain prominence in a person’s life.

The first rationale can aptly be called mystical. Yves Raguin explored the mystical rationale in his 1974 book, Celibacy for Our Times. Persons experience in a direct way the overwhelming love of God with such power and force that their response to that love must be direct and unmediated. Unlike the experience of most people, who return God’s love in mediated ways, for example in marriage, this direct celibate response means a comprehensive and exclusive love. This rationale might most often belong to those called to the contemplative life.

The second rationale has to do with apostolic availability. The commitment to marriage and family life is powerful, and it evokes Trinitarian love. That same commitment can also restrict the mobility of those who live married life or limit their reach. This rationale clearly belongs to members of religious institutes of consecrated life who embrace a missionary vocation.

The third motivating rationale belongs in a particular way to diocesan priests, even though they may not be entirely consciously aware of it. This rationale is ministerial reliability. I am drawing, in part, from the language and thought of the British psychiatrist and psychoanalyst D. W. Winnicott, who carefully observed and studied the most foundational and comprehensive human relationship that we have: the relationship between mother and child. The key to that relationship, as he describes it, is reliability. If priests want to enter into foundational and comprehensive relationships with their people, moving closely with them in the extraordinary realms of sin and forgiveness, grace, redemption and hope, then they will necessarily need to locate themselves in that relationship with as much reliability as they can muster. The ministerial relationship must simply be what it is supposed to be. When I relate to you in and through my celibate commitment, you should clearly know who I am for you, and you should be able to rely on that.

Formation for celibacy in seminary life and formation in celibacy for those already ordained must regularly return to the motivating reason for embracing this unusual commitment. It is not an ordinary way of life. For that reason, special attention needs to be paid to what grounds it.

Formation for celibacy in seminary life and formation in celibacy for those already ordained must regularly return to the motivating reason for embracing this unusual commitment. It is not an ordinary way of life. For that reason, special attention needs to be paid to what grounds it.

Skills for celibate living

Having a motivating reason for making and sustaining a celibate commitment is essential, but it is also insufficient. It is necessary to learn how to live that commitment well and how to navigate the challenges that it entails. Here, by way of indication, we can begin to see some of these necessary skills for celibate living. They include:

  • a developed capacity for self-reflection; that is, honest introspection focused on personal encounters, relationships and feelings;
  • a capacity for prayerful imagination and prayerful life review that links all one’s activity with the abiding commitment to bring the Lord to his people;
  • an ability to establish personal-relational boundaries and parameters and, at the same time, allow for genuine and generous closeness with others;
  • a capacity to maintain healthy balances, for example between work and play, investment in ministry and detachment from results, self-care and care for others;
  • a learned ability to find necessary and helpful resources, especially in challenging situations;
  • ascetical skills of self-denial, moderation and prudential control, for example in eating, drinking, acquiring things, online activity and entertainment.

Supportive community

Besides a reason and a set of skills, someone who wants to follow the way of celibacy needs a supportive community. It is important to note that a supportive community not only supports and affirms but also, at times, raises questions and challenges. Different forms of community contribute to the life of the celibate priest. Some examples are:

  • the people of God in the church, particularly the community that the priest serves;
  • other priests, who along with the bishop, are brothers and fathers to the priest;
  • the unique community-partnership forged in a relationship with a spiritual director and/or confessor;
  • a prayer group or support group;
  • the personal sphere of friends and family.

Priests are formed for celibacy in the initial formation of the seminary, and they need ongoing formation in celibacy across the years of their priestly ministry. This is the way it must be if the celibate commitment is to be real. When this formation unfolds adequately, priests will have a reason for their celibacy, possess the skills to live it out well and have a supportive-sustaining community.

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James Hickman
1 month 1 week ago

Well said.

Mary Collingwood
1 month 1 week ago

This is a respectable rationale on the three dimensions considered. However, not all people are called to the celibate life. For those who are not called, to be put through this formative course does not dispel their lack of calling. Yet I do not believe this reality dismisses the call to priesthood. The church is being called to expand its vision of priesthood today. The early “priests” did not have to deal with this man made invention!

Nora Bolcon
1 month 1 week ago

I have to say that until we exhaust the pool of people called to celibate priesthood, meaning including women called equally as men, we should not drop this requirement as I believe there is real value to celibate priesthood. If I can't handle the sacrifice of being a religious hermit then I should not become a hermit. If one can't handle the demand for celibacy then that is one of the signs you may not be called to priesthood. Offering men only optional celibacy creates gender segregation, a grave sin, unless we are first ordaining willing women. Celibacy does not cause abuse or homosexuality. Less homosexuals have been priests than heterosexual priests and most kept their vows so it is nonsense when these sexist men want to be ordained married priests before they support the ordination of women. We need to support the equal human dignity of all Catholics by offering same sacraments to all before we add more privilege to only our men.

No one has ever died due to a lack of sex. If one can't control himself one should not become a priest and should maybe consider not marrying either since most men who MUST have sex, usually have a real weakness for any sexual self-restriction, and so are likely to cheat on their wives too.

Mary Collingwood
1 month 1 week ago

This is a respectable rationale on the three dimensions considered. However, not all people are called to the celibate life. For those who are not called, to be put through this formative course does not dispel their lack of calling. Yet I do not believe this reality dismisses the call to priesthood. The church is being called to expand its vision of priesthood today. The early “priests” did not have to deal with this man made invention!

MICHAEL MARCHAL
1 month 1 week ago

A fine proposal for how to support those who are called to both ministry and celibacy. But what do we have for those who are called to ministry but not celibacy? I would like this magazine do do an extended interview with a married Eastern Catholic priest using the outline for healthy living described here.

Paul Cadrin
1 month 1 week ago

Marriage as an antidote to concupiscence is certainly the worst reason for removing the obligation of celibacy. It is also insulting to lay people who have chosen to live their faith in marriage. But there are plenty of excellent pastoral reasons for allowing married man to access priesthood. The example of Eastern rite catholics is very significant in that respect. Not too many Western rite catholics know that there are a few Eastern rite married priests who have been raised to the altars: Blessed Gomidas Keumurdjian (1656–1707), priest and martyr. Blessed Omeljan Kovč (1884–1944), Ukrainian married priest and martyr. Blessed Mykola Cehelstyj (1896–1951), priest of the Ukrainian Catholic faith in Eastern rite and martyr. Blessed Roman Lysko (1914-1949), priest of the Archparchy of Lviv of the Ukrainians and martyr. Obviously marriage and priesthood are fully compatible!

Nora Bolcon
1 month 1 week ago

But not necessarily beneficial. Women priests first or we should repel any married priest and not support them as a matter of human justice.

Nora Bolcon
1 month 1 week ago

Why, unless we are ordaining women too? We don't need more misogyny in our church. Gender segregation is outright evil. Misogyny, by the way, is the actual leading cause of the pedophilia, and teen and nun sexual abuse, in our church. Also, the orthodox church is losing women faster than we are due to its sexism and have actually considered ordaining women deacons and some sections are doing that already and are considering ordaining women priests.

Why don't you fight for justice for everyone before you fight for more privilege for just men? How is that Christian in the least? Married men abuse sexually children and teens more than unmarried or celibate men. So why increase our risk with more misogyny and exclusivity?

Honestly, as a women who was called to priesthood when I was young, I read comments like these and I feel like I should just tell all the young female Catholics around me - you know what? Just leave now! - Misogyny is always going to be the number one priority in the Roman Catholic Church until perhaps there are no women at all.

Maria Alderson
1 month 1 week ago

Dimension Four is that it is a higher and holier calling than figuring out how you're going to pay for your kids' braces and tuition and who's going to do the grocery shopping and lawn-mowing. There. I've said it.

Nora Bolcon
1 month 1 week ago

That's right Maria! We are going to pay for this change, the laity, out of yours and my wallets! So get ready for those 3 xtra video Sundays (Its time for more exciting Campaign for Catholic Charities Appeal Videos instead of the homily) to pay for spousal and child support for married priests (and plenty of children since no birth control!) and when you finally need your priest to do something, then you will get the arrogant, I am sorry I just can't do what you need since I am busy with my familial duties. I am sure you understand.

Or we could end our non-existent vocation crisis by ordaining all the women called to priesthood who were always willing to make the sacrifice of celibacy too. As it is I wonder how many of our wonderful nuns were actually called to priesthood but were kept low by senseless and sexist laws Jesus would never have supported in his church.

Michael Bindner
1 month 1 week ago

It was not the sexual revolution which caused an uptick in abuse. Rather, it was the revelation of non-belief. Until the early sixties, there was a belief in the belief in God. The highest form of that belief was ordination to the priesthood.

Such a belief is a barrier to authentic formulation. It is grandiosity over faith and it still plagues the Church. The desire to serve God, or even the belief that God actually needs this service, is the pride which felled Satan. We depend on God, not the other way around. Ordination should be confined to those who wish to bring God to others for their sakes, not because God needs their obedience.

The need for celibacy comes from the adoption of Sacred Continence, which sees carnal knowledge of a woman as disqualifying to celebrate Mass. This went hand in hand with the belief that original sin was an act of disobedience which comes to us through sexual activity. There is nothing sacred about either teaching. It has its roots in Hellenistic idealism. It's champion was not Christ but Marcus Aurelius. All of the martyrs from Jesus Maccabee to Jesus Christ and his early followers died resisting Hellenic ideals.

Celibacy comes naturally for those of an asexual orientation. The Church denies such a thing even exists. Instead, it is seen as a mark of holiness rather than a sexual state even more rare than homosexuality. The Church community cannot help priests to cope with what the Church denies.

To be clear, most asexuals form an adult sexuality, sometimes with and sometimes despite the Church. Homosexuals in the clergy are more likely to have adult relationships in their development. They do not see their sexuality as either aberrant or holy. Most accept it as an integral part of themselves. In minor seminary, they studied Fagothy's Right and Reason. The natural law argument for and against homosexuality is even, with the tie broken by theism (that belief in the belief of God). Authentic faith teaches them that they are beautifully made.

Clergy of any orientation who are hiding from themselves and/or are victims of abuse have little or no ability to form adult relationships, even with their own gender preference, or to resist sexual expression with those of their sexual immaturity, I.e., children. It is why "Uncle Ted's" incidents of abuse were adolescent. Adult homosexual expression was beyond him.

The entire body of natural law sexual teaching is infected with both asexual and misogynist biases and the belief that God requires moral behavior for His own sake rather than ours. This is hardly gentle and humble of heart, an easy yoke or a light burden, nor is it perfect live as the Father is perfect. The only way out of our sexual insanity is to embrace the ordination of women and adult sexuality, which can include marriage. Resisting the sexual revolution is not the answer. The Church must embrace it instead.

The secular reason for celibacy must also be addressed. It was also enacted to preserve Church property from feudal inheritance. It still embraces feudal management style when a non-profit structure can accomplish the same ends, while starting the process of more democratic Church governance. Feudal titles come from the world of the Gentiles. It is time to reject beneficies and benefactors. It is what the Lord intended for his Church.

Nora Bolcon
1 month 1 week ago

Hi Michael,

I agree with most of what you say. However, I do not believe that keeping the celibacy mandate is wrong if we have enough men and women who feel they are able and willing to keep these vows. I only agree with allowing married priests if we have first ordained all the women called to priesthood.

As for celibacy being only for the asexual Jesus does not support this belief as you see below:

Matthew 19: 11-12 - by Jesus telling men, after they asked him about the right to divorce their wives, and Jesus tells them that they should not divorce and that if they do, they commit adultery, if they take another women as a wife,:

“Not everyone can accept this word,” Jesus answered, “but only those to whom it has been given. For there are eunuchs who were born that way; others were made that way by men; and still others live like eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it.”…

So another words if you divorce then you are expected to live like a Eunuch or you commit adultery. The followers wonder is celibacy possible even, and Jesus owns many will have a hard time hearing this but that does not make the statement false and it does mean that there are people who give up marriage and sex for the kingdom of heaven and this is a good not a bad or impossible or abnormal or unhealthy thing to do.

I am not deadset against married priests but it must come after we rectify the abusive discrimination keeping women from equal ordination.

William Fernandes
1 month 1 week ago

It's not about abolishing celibacy but looking at optional celibacy. Celibacy is a calling and so is the call to priesthood. Problems arise when a 'gift' is mandated. I believe that even when celibacy becomes optional there will be a significant percentage of celibate priests. Married priesthood complements celibate priesthood and they should not be compared to in terms of which is better.

Rhett Segall
1 month 1 week ago

I see the celibate vocation as a gift to the Christian community. It is a sacramental of our vocation to eternal life with the Lord. But it is a gift to the recipient, a charism. Jesus put it this way: "Let him who can take it, take it." This charism bears analogy with other special gifts, such as musical genius. Yes, the community can and should nurture such gifts. But there is no way the community can give the gift. That's God's call. I agree that for those who are called living with a supportive community is a precious gift in and of itself for nurturing such a charism.

Nora Bolcon
1 month 1 week ago

I agree and disagree with many of the items this writer brought up.

First off, I do not believe the vow breaking started in the 1960s. That is hogwash!

It was likely the sexual revolution took the cover off of the poor keeping of vows, by not serious priests, who entered the priesthood not on account of God but perhaps for the free or cheap education, or the hiding of their homosexuality, the perks of respect, prestige, and power, or to satisfy family desires to claim they have sired a priest, etc. Because these reason don't have a foundation with God calling the person, the person does not take the vow very seriously or is weak at keeping it, whether they are heterosexual or homosexual. The literal raping of nuns in Africa, France, and doubtless elsewhere is likely from long before Vatican II, and throughout the ages by priests and bishops but we are hearing about it now because people are speaking out about abuse. Abuse is a topic that the sexual revolution made appropriate to speak about and seek retribution. This was something so shameful before the 1960's no one would dare call out their abuser's crimes against them.

I agree that there is a purpose for keeping the mandate for celibacy. To some degree the mystique of the priest and his/her authority comes from the belief that seriously dedicated people, who wished to give up their whole lives serving God, make excellent leaders for the flocks. Both Jesus Christ in Matthew 19:11-12 and St. Paul in I Corinthians 7:8-9 mention that to give one's life up, in celibacy or act as a eunich, for the kingdom of God is a godly and admirable thing to do for both men and women. So this means that it is not sexually negative and it is not impossible for many people to do. I believe we insult our priests, many who have kept their vows, when we treat all celibate priests as liars, fakers, pedophiles in hiding, or just abnormal and unhealthy.

I am not against homosexual priests as long as they are inclusive of the opposite sex and keep their vows of celibacy too. Again there is no link between homosexuality and child sexual abuse, or the sexual abuse of women. Also, married men abuse both children, teens and women at a higher rate.

We can have lay women and men take over the work ordained deacons do now, without changing any laws, and we should, since in South America where this has been done over the last 50 years, with permission of their various bishops, and because they have no deacons in many of their diocese, it has caused those parishes to be more active than the ones with deacons. This is largely because now lay women can be given the ministries of preaching-reflecting, and baptizing, leading Eucharistic Celebrations with previously consecrated hosts, officiating at weddings and funerals without masses, along with lay men, and these ministers are often from the parish they serve, unlike with deacons. We don't need ordained permanent deacons, we lasted fine hundreds of years without them, and we should cease ordaining them everywhere in the church. This way, the lay people can take on much larger roles in leading the parish, and sacramentally, and during liturgy, so the chasm between lay people and the priest lessens.

We must, as a matter of human decency, and dignity, and justice start immediately ordaining celibate willing women to priesthood and ordain them bishops and make them cardinals capable of being elected pope. There are many called, willing and already schooled and trained women available now to step into these ordained and leadership roles alongside their brothers. There can be no peace without justice, and no growth without ending the hate and misogyny, and oppressive, abusive, discrimination against women. This bias did not come from Christ and is sin.

Clericalism's main ingredient is sexism. Without sexism and its great exclusion there is little power to clericalism left. If anyone qualified can be a priest, then being a priest is about being called by God to do a powerful work of service for God's People. It is no longer about masculine power, and ruling over women because you believe your gender is greater and more important to God. The devil finally loses his divide and conquer strategy.

Celibacy is fine, optional celibacy, if needed after all celibate willing people, who are qualified, are already ordained, may be fine too, and even Hierarchy is fine and necessary for the church to stand the test of time. Patriarchy, however, is not needed and is one of the great oppressions Christ came to free his believers from. It is highly destructive and must go immediately!

I do agree to remain celibate takes training and discipline for both genders equally. Community support, from other priests and the laity, and hierarchy, is important because it gives the sacrifice some meaning, ie - I am doing this for God and my people so I can be constantly present for them and their needs.

I do believe that anyone who is celibate needs to be immersed in a community that contains the opposite sex as well as the same sex and in good amounts. It is unhealthy for a celibate person's interaction to be kept away from the opposite sex in order to secure them from temptation, as this makes the other sex alien. Jesus supports this when he makes it clear that it is the individual who has chosen to lust that needs to change their behavior and their heart, not the person they have decided to make the object of their lust.

Matt 5:29
29 If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell.

So it is more important and more healthy for celibate men to have close friends and mentors who are women and vice versa.

Anyway, this is where the Holy Spirit leads my heart. I was willing to be celibate after God called me to priesthood. That never seemed impossible. What seemed impossible was my brothers ever overcoming their hatred and irrational fear of women so I could answer my God given call to ordained priesthood, and be allowed to serve my people with all my being in Christ.

Bill Mazzella
1 month 1 week ago

Well then. Truthfully you will find few present and past members of the clergy who have all the attributes outline In Louis' bullet points. So stop right there.

Charlotte Bloebaum
1 month 1 week ago

I do not believe in forced celibacy. Yes I know the men are aware when they enter but I do not agree it is necessary to be a priest. I would have no issue with a married priest and the Church has always considered marriage a second class option to being a celibate religious just as they have always considered women second class citizens and unworthy of being recognized. It is a very good article and the reasoning well thought out but I do not agree and never will. Ruins many otherwise very good men.

Charlotte Bloebaum
1 month 1 week ago

I do not believe in forced celibacy. Yes I know the men are aware when they enter but I do not agree it is necessary to be a priest. I would have no issue with a married priest and the Church has always considered marriage a second class option to being a celibate religious just as they have always considered women second class citizens and unworthy of being recognized. It is a very good article and the reasoning well thought out but I do not agree and never will. Ruins many otherwise very good men.

Mary Putman
1 month 1 week ago

Cameli’s three essentials for the vocation of celibacy are necessary for each and every Christian vocation. And for all its good sense, this exposition is simply another example- albeit an eloquent and reasoned one - of the false “mystique” of the exceptional male. It never ceases to amaze me - as a woman - how blissfully unaware those on the “inside” are of the rest of humanity. Welcome to the human race, Louis.

What I have witnessed from the outside is that seminaries have not failed to form priests in celibacy, they have failed to form priests as human beings. The ones who are balanced, healthy human beings have become so in spite of seminary formation not because of it. It is the same with ongoing formation. A feudal, patriarchal and misogynistic institutional church has caused and perpetuates the dysfunction and injustice. The institution of mandatory celibacy for a male priesthood in the Latin Church is certainly a wart on the nose of the Mystical Body. It is often a scandal and a stumbling block, and it frequently impedes the full maturity of the People of God.

John Chuchman
1 month 1 week ago

Great, as long as it’s OPTIONAL. Cannot mandate a charism.

John Chuchman
1 month 1 week ago

Great, as long as it’s OPTIONAL. Cannot mandate a charism.

John Chuchman
1 month 1 week ago

Great, as long as it’s OPTIONAL. Cannot mandate a charism.

Stephen Edward de Weger
1 month ago

See, here's the problem. So many still believe that clergy believe in celibacy/chastity: "Given the challenges and obstacles for priests to live the celibate life well, it might seem better to change the current discipline of the Western church and make celibacy optional". Culturally, for at least 50% of clergy, according to Richard Sipe, it ALREADY IS optional & there are thousands of 'victims' who will vouch for that. The figures for sexual activity (even if only once) between and by clergy is very high if you look over the life span of clergy. The number of children fathered but 'not fathered' by clergy is considerable. The sexual activity of gay clergy, according to a gay ex-priest researcher (Wagner), is very high. So, why are we assuming celibacy/chastity is the norm? But, no, making celibacy optional will not stop abuses, but it might reduce the need for secrecy which covers up abuses of children AND adults, leading to recidivism.

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