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