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Non-Catholics Section: Priests

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Priests

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Do You Believe That Catholic Priests Do Not Intercede With God Because There is Only One Mediator Between God & Man?

Do You Think it is Wrong For Catholics to Call Priests 'Father' Because Scripture Says to "Call No Man Father..."?

Do You Reject the Concept of Virginity / Celibacy?

Aren't All Christians Priests?

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Do You Believe That Catholic Priests Do Not Intercede With God Because There is Only One Mediator Between God & Man? 

Consider:

* If persons cannot intercede for one another because there is only one mediator between God and man (1 Tm. 2:5), how do you explain the fact explain that...?

The Church interceded for Peter (see Acts 12:1-7)

Paul asks for intercessory prayer (e.g. Rom. 15:30-32, Eph. 6:18-20, Col. 4:2-4, 2 Thes. 3:1-2)

Christians are instructed to intercede for brothers who sin (see 1 Jn. 5:16)

* Have you never noticed that in the very same passage where St. Paul says that there is one mediator between God and man (1 Tm. 2:5), he also asks for intercessory prayers (see 1 Tm. 2:1)? 

* Have you not considered that in the Old Testament, Moses interceded for people - and his powerful intercession even saved their lives? Not to mention the countless other cases of intercession in the Old Testament...

* Have you ever considered that Christ's first recorded miracle was performed upon the intercession of his mother, even though His hour "had not yet come" (see Jn. 2:1-11)?

* Do you ever pray for another person? That is intercession, you know!

Do You Think it is Wrong For Catholics to Call Priests 'Father' Because Scripture Says to "Call No Man Father..."? 

Consider:

* If Christ's injunction to "call no one on earth your father" (Mt. 23:9) was to be taken literally, how can you explain the following...?

* We are commanded to honor our mother and father (Mt. 19:17-19)

* Jesus refers to various human fathers as "father" (Mt. 8:21, Mt. 10:21, Mt. 10:35, Mt. 10:37, Mt. 15:4-6, Mt. 19:5, Mt. 19:29, Mk. 10:7, Mk. 10:29, Mk. 13:12, Lk. 11:11, Lk. 12:53) 

* St. Paul also uses the term "father"...

Acts 22:1: "My brothers and fathers, listen to what I am about to say to you in my defense."

1 Cor. 4:15: Even if you should have countless guides to Christ, yet you do not have many fathers, for I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel.

Phlm. 1:10: I urge you on behalf of my child Onesimus, whose father I have become in my imprisonment...

* St. John also uses the term "father"...

1 Jn. 2:13: I am writing to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have conquered the evil one.

1 Jn. 2:14: I write to you, children, because you know the Father. I write to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you are strong and the word of God remains in you, and you have conquered the evil one.

* Why is it that Protestants take this one passage literally to condemn the Church (even though Jesus, St. Paul, and St. John by their usage show that it was not to be taken strictly literally), but don't take such weighty matters as prohibitions against divorce so literally? Why is it they selectively point to this term on one hand to show that they are "bible believing", but on the other hand ignore other Scriptural instructions that are clearly not to be taken strictly literally. For example,

* Do you call other persons good? (see Mk.10:18)

* Do you really hate your parents, siblings, and children? (see Lk. 14:25-27)

* Are you really unable to see how a priest may be likened to a father when "a carnal father gives his child three things, being, nourishment and instruction" (St. Thomas Aquinas) and a Catholic priest also gives his spiritual children being (through baptism), nourishment (through the Eucharist), and instruction (through preaching)?

Do You Reject the Concept of Virginity / Celibacy?

Consider:

* Are you aware that there is a biblical basis for celibacy? For example, consider that...

* In Old Testament, the priest would only give the holy bread to David and his men if they had abstained from women (1 Sam. 21:2-7). Since a Catholic priest handles the true Holy Bread daily - the Body of Christ - such abstinence should be perpetual - in fact, this fact alone may be considered to necessitate priestly celibacy.

* The priests of the Old Law were required to abstain from women during the time they performed sacred functions. Catholic priests have sacred functions to perform every day.

* Jesus recommends celibacy (see Mt. 19:8-12) and promises rewards to those that give up spouses and children for his sake (Mt. 19:27-29, Mk. 10:29-30, Lk. 18:29-30)

* St. Paul recommends celibacy (see 1 Cor. 7:7, 1 Cor. 7:32-40)

* Scripture tells us that only the virgins follow the Lamb wherever he goes (see Rv. 14:1-5)

* Are you unaware of the many practical reasons for and benefits of celibacy? For example, consider that...

* Priestly celibacy prevents a man from being torn between his wife and the Church.

* Priestly celibacy is necessary due to the tireless work of a priest.

* Priestly celibacy is admired by the flock - and those outside the flock. It sets a good example of chastity, so necessary in today's world.

* Priestly celibacy enables priests to be free for missionary activity - so necessary for the salvation of souls.

* Priestly celibacy shows the world one's faith.

* Priestly celibacy gives the priest more time for his flock.

* Priestly celibacy, a continual act of self-denial which "frees the priest from the flesh" and from temporal concerns, may help advance the priest in sanctity.

* Priestly celibacy maintains a priest's purity and helps to keep his thoughts chaste.

* Priestly celibacy frees the priest from many duties and obligations that would otherwise interfere with his priestly ministry.

* In times of persecution, priestly celibacy prevents a priest from being torn between competing loyalties.

* Priests simply don't have time for a wife and children.

* Priestly celibacy allows the priest to dedicate himself completely to God and service to the Church.

* Consecrated virginity is a sacrifice of love for God and for one's neighbor.

* Priestly celibacy frees priests from many temporal cares.

* Priestly celibacy sets priests apart from the world.

* Celibate priests may merit higher respect than married priests.

* Priestly celibacy gives priests more freedom.

* Priestly celibacy ensures that a priest puts his flock first (instead of a wife and children).

* Priestly celibacy is Christ-like. Remember that Christ was an example of celibacy, recommended celibacy, and was born of a Virgin into a chaste home.

* Priestly celibacy may traced back to the earliest ages of the Church. Even the apostles who were married lived with their wives "as brother and sister" after being called by Christ.

* Do you think the Church forces priests to be celibate? This is untrue. The Church does not force priests to take a vow of celibacy. Although she may require celibacy for admission to the priesthood - and it is in her power to set down requirements for her ministers - the candidate makes this conscious choice on his own. He gives this gift of himself only after full reflection and preparation. It is a fully conscious choice with the realization that he is making a life-long commitment. Since the Church is a loving Mother who knows what is best for her children, she seeks to provide them with the best priests possible - those priests dedicated to God and zealous for the spiritual welfare of their flock. Those who are unwilling to vow celibacy are not forced to do so - they are simply considered unsuitable candidates for the priesthood. Note: The Church has made some provision for married priests (e.g. in Eastern Rites), however, virginity is always esteemed.

* Think celibacy has led to the clerical abuse scandals? If so, you should know that the majority of the atrocious acts have been committed by homosexuals and many involve adolescents. Obviously, allowing priests to marry would not change this sad state of affairs. In fact, even if there were no longer a celibate priesthood, scandals would still occur (in addition to those which have already been committed by homosexuals and against adolescents, one would likely then have to add adultery to the list of scandals). In fact, it may be argued that it is harder for married persons to obey God than those who take a vow of celibacy. Furthermore, the scandals involving priests vowed to celibacy have been shown to be not out of proportion with those of other persons who are married (including married Protestant 'ministers'), and involve only a small amount of all priests. Also, it should be remembered that it is not celibacy that caused the scandals - it is some priests' failure to live up to their vow of celibacy that caused the scandals. It would be an error in logic to say that since something is abused, it is bad! Rather, it is the abuse of a good thing that is bad, not the thing abused! "The value of a thing must not be judged by its abuse." And finally, the failure on the part of some prelates to thwart further problems exacerbated the scandals. These factors cannot rightly be blamed on priestly celibacy.

* Think that the requirement of celibacy is a rejection of marriage? If so, then do you also accuse Christ and St. Paul of rejecting marriage, since they both recommended celibacy (see above)? This is obviously false, and especially so considering that Christ raised marriage to the dignity of the Sacrament. In the case of the Church, it would be fair to say that the Church is the strongest defender of marriage in the entire world. Not only does she honor it as a Sacrament and reject practices harmful to it (e.g. contraception), but she emphatically rejects divorce, holding that marriage is indissoluble until death.

* Think celibacy is against nature? If this was true, why would Christ and St. Paul both recommend it? Why did the apostles practice it after they were called by Jesus - even the married ones? "Virginity is natural and marriage came after the fall." (St. Jerome, Doctor of the Church, 5th century A.D.) Also, do not forget that all persons will be celibate in heaven (cf. Mt. 22:30, Mk. 12:25)

* "What really seems more 'apostolic' to you - our celibate priests who live in poverty and dedicate their lives to God and their flock or Protestant 'ministers' who go home each night to their wives and children?" 

* Celibacy allows priests to work 100% of the time for the Church, for souls, and for God.


Closing Quotations...

"Who can doubt the moral and spiritual richness of such a life, consecrated not to any human ideal, no matter how noble, but to Christ and to His work...?" (Pope Paul VI)

"[T]he priest in all his activities seeks nothing beyond the good of souls, and looks toward no one but Christ to Whom he consecrates his energies and his whole self." (Pope Pius XII, "Menti Nostrae", 1950 A.D.)

"That virginity is good I do agree. But that it is even better than marriage, this I do confess. And if you wish, I will add that it is as much better than marriage as heaven is better than earth, as much better than the angels are better than men. And if there were any other way in which I could say it even more emphatically, I would do so." (St. John Chrysostom, Doctor of the Church, c. 391 A.D.)

"[T]he Virgin Christ and the Virgin Mary have dedicated in themselves the principles of virginity for both sexes. The Apostles were either virgins or remained continent after their marriages. Those persons chosen to be bishops, presbyters, or deacons are either virgins or widowers; or certainly, having once received the priesthood, they remain forever chaste." (St. Jerome, Doctor of the Church, c. 392 A.D.)

"Virginity, the conduct of the angels, is the property of all incorporeal nature. We do not say this as speaking ill of marriage, perish the thought! For we know that the Lord blessed marriage by His presence, and we know the saying, 'Marriage is honorable and its bed undefiled.' But we say this by way of recognizing that however good marriage may be, virginity is better." (St. John of Damascene, Doctor of the Church, c. 8th century A.D.)

"Further, the Fathers of the Church, such as Cyprian, Athanasius, Ambrose, John Chrysostom, Jerome, Augustine, and many others, have sung the praises of virginity. And this doctrine of the Fathers, augmented through the course of centuries by the Doctors of the Church and the masters of asceticism, helps greatly either to inspire in the faithful of both sexes the firm resolution of dedicating themselves to God by the practice of perfect chastity and of persevering thus till death, or to strengthen them in the resolution already taken." (Pope Pius XII, "Sacra Virginitas", 1954 A.D.)

"[H]oly virginity surpasses marriage in excellence. Our Divine Redeemer had already given it to His disciples as a counsel for a more perfect life. St. Paul, after having said that the father who gives his daughter in marriage 'does well,' adds immediately 'and he that gives her not, does better.' Several times in the course of his comparison between marriage and virginity the Apostle reveals his mind, and especially in these words: 'for I would that all men were even as myself... But I say to the unmarried and to widows: it is good for them if they so continue, even as I.' Virginity is preferable to marriage then, as We have said, above all else because it has a higher aim: that is to say, it is a very efficacious means for devoting oneself wholly to the service of God, while the heart of married persons will remain more or less 'divided.'" (Pope Pius XII, "Sacra Virginitas", 1954 A.D.)

"The law of ecclesiastical celibacy, whose first written traces pre-suppose a still earlier unwritten practice, dates back to a canon of the Council of Elvira, at the beginning of the fourth century, when persecution still raged. This law only makes obligatory what might in any case almost be termed a moral exigency that springs from the Gospel and the Apostolic preaching. For the Divine Master showed such high esteem for chastity, and exalted it as something beyond the common power; He Himself was the Son of a Virgin Mother, Florem Matris Virginis, and was brought up in the virgin family of Joseph and Mary; He showed special love for pure souls such as the two Johns - the Baptist and the Evangelist. The great Apostle Paul, faithful interpreter of the New Law and of the mind of Christ, preached the inestimable value of virginity, in view of a more fervent service of God, and gave the reason when he said: 'He that is without a wife is solicitous for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please God.' All this had almost inevitable consequences: the priests of the New Law felt the heavenly attraction of this chosen virtue; they sought to be of the number of those 'to whom it is given to take this word,' and they spontaneously bound themselves to its observance. Soon it came about that the practice, in the Latin Church, received the sanction of ecclesiastical law. The Second Council of Carthage at the end of the fourth century declared: 'What the Apostles taught, and the early Church preserved, let us too, observe.'" (Pope Pius XI, "Ad Catholici Sacerdotii", 1935 A.D.)

Aren't All Christians Priests?

Consider:

* Do you base the belief that all Christians are priests on Scripture passages such as 1 Pt. 2:4-10, Rv. 1:4-6, and Rv. 5:9-10? If so, you should know that this does not mean that all Jesus' followers share in the ministerial priesthood. As in the Old Testament, (e.g. where God spoke to Moses: "You shall be to me a kingdom of priests, a holy nation. That is what you must tell the Israelites" - see Ex. 19:6) different classes of the priesthood exist, including a general priesthood of followers who can offer prayers, thanksgiving, etc. to God. In fact, we know from the Old Testament that those of the laity who usurped priestly roles of the ministerial nature - or even came close - suffered death (e.g. Num. 3:10, Num. 3:38, Num. 18:7). One should be careful not to confuse Scripture passages relating to the universal priesthood with those relating to the ministerial priesthood.

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