Why Celibacy Remains a Good Idea for Catholic Priests

Celibacy has been a part of the Latin Rite Catholic Church since the early Middle Ages. To imply that somehow it would be a better thing if priests were allowed to marry overlooks the fact that in the Eastern Rite and in the Orthodox Catholic Churches they do have married clergy. Even in the Latin Rite, clergy who convert from the Lutheran, Episcopal and Anglican Church are allow to remain married if they are married at the time of their conversion.

The Catholic Church is a big supporter of the institution of marriage. It respects it so much that it is given the distinction of being a sacrament. No one is required to take a vow of celibacy; those that take it do so voluntarily.

One thing that this question does not take into account is that in the Catholic Church it is not just the priests who take a vow of celibacy, all consecrated religious do so which includes religious sisters and brothers. It is funny when you think about it, no one ever suggests that perhaps the Sisters of Charity would like to start allowing the sisters to get married and have a family. Things would get pretty crowded and confused at the convent if everyone decided to go this route.

In the same way that having a husband and children would be distracting and take the sisters’ focus away from their dedication to God so too would a wife and children take away the focus of the Catholic priest. Because the Catholic Church is a sacramental church the duties of the priest are different from the clergy of other denominations.

For non-Catholics, it is hard to understand the logistical issues that would be created if suddenly it were decided that priests could or should get married. Now of course keep in mind, most of them have already come to terms with the decision they made in their early twenties to embrace the celibate life style but just for the sake of argument let us assume that in a large parish all three priests decide they are going to get married and have families.

The Rectory, which the parishes usually own are fine for three single men with adequate bedrooms and bathrooms, one kitchen and a living room. Many also house the parish offices. Now suddenly we have three wives and shortly children. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to see that this would not work out. Three women and one kitchen is a recipe for disaster not to mention trying to hold meetings, counsel parishioners and run the day to day operations of the parish. Would the pastor’s wife hold more authority than the associates? The more likely scenario is that the wives would have to work outside the home in order that the associates would have their own homes. No Catholic Church that I know could afford to own three separate houses for their married clergy.

Catholic Church’s often includes schools and cemeteries and while most towns have five or six churches of other denominations there is usually only one Catholic Church which means more services and more parishioners.

For non-Catholics it seems as if doing away with the vow of celibacy would be more in keeping with the teachings of the bible but celibacy has a strong following even as far back as the prophet Jeremiah. Even Catholics seem to think that more men would be attracted to the priesthood if celibacy were done away with. There is no way to prove or disprove this theory but at this time and for the foreseeable future, celibacy will remain something that should be honored and respected as a life choice in the Roman Catholic Church.

Photo credit: Pixabay priest_1424454453.jpg

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