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Reflections: Priests & Voctns. Sctn. (Celibacy)

St. John Vianney, the Curé D'Ars (patron saint of priests)

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Reflections: 

Priests & Vocations Sctn.:

Celibacy / Chastity

Wisdom of the Popes, Saints, Theologians, Other...

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Celibacy / Chastity

 

Category
Quotation

Celibacy / Chastity

Also See: Why Priestly Celibacy?

Warning: May contain some graphic language

"David went to Ahimelech, the priest of Nob, who came trembling to meet him and asked, 'Why are you alone? Is there no one with you?' David answered the priest: 'The king gave me a commission and told me to let no one know anything about the business on which he sent me or the commission he gave me. For that reason I have arranged a meeting place with my men. Now what have you on hand? Give me five loaves, or whatever you can find.' But the priest replied to David, 'I have no ordinary bread on hand, only holy bread; if the men have abstained from women, you may eat some of that.' David answered the priest: 'We have indeed been segregated from women as on previous occasions. Whenever I go on a journey, all the young men are consecrated - even for a secular journey. All the more so today, when they are consecrated at arms!' So the priest gave him holy bread, for no other bread was on hand except the showbread which had been removed from the LORD'S presence and replaced by fresh bread when it was taken away." (1 Sam. 21:2-7)

"[Jesus] said to them, 'Because of the hardness of your hearts Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. I say to you, whoever divorces his wife (unless the marriage is unlawful) and marries another commits adultery.' (His) disciples said to him, 'If that is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry.' He answered, 'Not all can accept (this) word, but only those to whom that is granted. Some are incapable of marriage because they were born so; some, because they were made so by others; some, because they have renounced marriage for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Whoever can accept this ought to accept it.'" (Mt. 19:8-12)

"Then Peter said to him in reply, 'We have given up everything and followed you. What will there be for us?' Jesus said to them, 'Amen, I say to you that you who have followed me, in the new age, when the Son of Man is seated on his throne of glory, will yourselves sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands for the sake of my name will receive a hundred times more, and will inherit eternal life." (Mt. 19:27-29)

"Jesus said, 'Amen, I say to you, there is no one who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands for my sake and for the sake of the gospel who will not receive a hundred times more now in this present age: houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands...and eternal life in the age to come.'" (Mk. 10:29-30)

"[Jesus] said to them, 'Amen, I say to you, there is no one who has given up house or wife or brothers or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God who will not receive (back) an overabundant return in this present age and eternal life in the age to come.'" (Lk. 18:29-30)

"Indeed, I wish everyone to be as I am [that is, celibate], but each has a particular gift from God, one of one kind and one of another." (St. Paul, 1 Cor. 7:7)

"To satisfy the one who recruited him, a soldier does not become entangled in the business affairs of life." (2 Tm. 2:4)

"Then I looked and there was the Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with him a hundred and forty-four thousand who had his name and his Father's name written on their foreheads. I heard a sound from heaven like the sound of rushing water or a loud peal of thunder. The sound I heard was like that of harpists playing their harps. They were singing (what seemed to be) a new hymn before the throne, before the four living creatures and the elders. No one could learn this hymn except the hundred and forty-four thousand who had been ransomed from the earth. These are they who were not defiled with women; they are virgins and these are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever he goes. They have been ransomed as the firstfruits of the human race for God and the Lamb. On their lips no deceit has been found; they are unblemished." (Rv. 14:1-5)

"What hast thou to do with women, thou that speakest familiarly with God at the altar?" (St. Jerome, Doctor of the Church)

"Chastity is the lily among virtues and makes men almost equal to angels." (St. Francis de Sales, Doctor of the Church)

"Bishops, priests, and deacons must remain unmarried" (Council of Rome, 402 A.D.)

"We consider [priestly celibacy] one of the purest glories of the Catholic priesthood" (Pope Pius XI, "Ad Catholici Sacerdotii", 1935 A.D.)

"[T]his complete renunciation of marriage frees men from its grave duties and obligations." (Pope Pius XII, "Sacra Virginitas", 1954 A.D.)

"As Augustine says (De Bono Conjugali xxii), 'the chastity of celibacy is better than the chastity of marriage'" (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"[C]onsecrating themselves utterly to the service and the worship of God, [they] freely renounce the joys and the pleasures which might rightfully be theirs in another walk of life" (Pope Pius XI, "Ad Catholici Sacerdotii" 1935 A.D.)

"This doctrine of the excellence of virginity and of celibacy and of their superiority over the married state was...revealed by our Divine Redeemer and by the Apostle of the Gentiles" (Pope Pius XII, "Sacra Virginitas", 1954 A.D.) 

"Can. 291 Apart from the cases mentioned in can. 290, n. 1, the loss of the clerical state does not carry with it a dispensation from the obligation of celibacy, which is granted solely by the Roman Pontiff." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"In using the means of social communication, a necessary discretion is to be observed. Members are to avoid whatever is harmful to their vocation and dangerous to the chastity of a consecrated person." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"If a presbyter has married a wife, let him be removed from the ranks. But if he has fornicated or has committed adultery, let him be thrust out completely and let him subject himself to penance." (Council of Neocaesarea, c. 314-325 A.D.)

"This is what makes the choice of celibacy desirable and worthwhile to those called by our Lord Jesus. Thus they intend not only to participate in His priestly office, but also to share with Him His very condition of living." (Pope Paul VI, 1967 A.D.)

"If anyone is able to remain continent, to the honor of the flesh of the Lord, let him so remain without boasting. If he boast about it, he is lost; and if he be more esteemed than the bishop, he is ruined." (St. Ignatius of Antioch, c. 110 A.D.)

"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 to bring about a new form of humanity in all places and for all generations?" (Pope Paul VI)

"When this has been sought and chosen and consecrated in the obligation of a vow, it is damnable not only to enter upon a marriage but, although one does not actually marry, even to desire to marry." (St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church, c. 414 A.D.)

"Priestly celibacy has been guarded by the Church for centuries as a brilliant jewel, and retains its value undiminished even in our time when the outlook of men and the state of the world have undergone such profound changes." (Pope Paul VI, 1967 A.D.)

"Can. 599 The evangelical counsel of chastity embraced for the sake of the Kingdom of heaven, is a sign of the world to come, and a source of greater fruitfulness in an undivided heart. It involves the obligation of perfect continence observed in celibacy." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"It is that they may acquire this spiritual liberty of body and soul, and that they may be freed from temporal cares, that the Latin Church demands of her sacred ministers that they voluntarily oblige themselves to observe perfect chastity." (Pope Pius XII, "Sacra Virginitas", 1954 A.D.)

"God, therefore, will give the good gift, perfect purity in celibacy and chastity, to those who ask of him with the whole soul, and with faith, and prayers without ceasing." [Origen ("the greatest scholar of Christian antiquity" - although he would eventually be excommunicated and be regarded as a heretic), 3rd century A.D.]

"The reason [for continence] is twofold: sacerdotal purity, which with their prayers they ask from God (Dist. 84, c. 3 and dict. p.c. I, Dist. 31); the second reason is that they may pray unhindered (1 Cor. 7:5) and exercise their office. They cannot do both things together: that is, to serve their wife and the Church." (Penafort)

"May chastity, the choicest ornament of our priesthood, flourish undimmed amongst you; through the splendor of this virtue, by which the priest is made like the angels, the priest wins greater veneration among the Christian flock, and his ministry yields an even greater harvest of holiness." (Pope St. Pius X, "Haerent Animo", 1908 A.D.)

"Let bishops, priests, and deacons, and in general all the clergy who are specially employed in the service of the altar, abstain from conjugal intercourse with their wives and the begetting of children; let those who persist be degraded from the ranks of the clergy." [Council of Elvira (Illiberi), c. 300/305 A.D.]

"In the Old Law, Moses in the name of God commanded Aaron and his sons to remain within the Tabernacle, and so to keep continent, during the seven days in which they were exercising their sacred functions. But the Christian priesthood, being much superior to that of the Old Law, demanded a still greater purity." (Pope Pius XI, "Ad Catholici Sacerdotii", 1935 A.D.)

"The dignity of so great a Sacrament [as the Holy Eucharist] also demands that married persons abstain from the marriage debt for some days previous to Communion. This observance is recommended by the example of David, who, when about to receive the show-bread from the hands of the priest, declared that he and his servants had been clean from women for three days." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

"We absolutely forbid priests, deacons, or subdeacons the intimacy of concubines and of wives, and cohabitation with other women, except those with whom for reasons of necessity alone the Nicene Synod permits them to live, that is, a mother, sister, paternal or maternal aunt, or others of this kind concerning whom no suspicion may justly arise." (Lateran Council I, 1123 A.D.)

"And does not the priest likewise, moved by the example of his Divine Master, perform the function of a good shepherd, who knows his flock and calls them by name? Indeed it is from that perfect chastity which they cultivate that priests and religious men and women find the motive for giving themselves to all, and love all men with the love of Christ." (Pope Pius XII, "Sacra Virginitas", 1954 A.D.)

"Since it is declared in the apostolic canons that of those who are advanced to the clergy unmarried, only lectors and cantors are able to marry, we also, maintaining this, determine that henceforth it is in nowise lawful for any subdecon, deacon, or presbyter after his ordination to contract matrimony; but if he shall have dared to do so, let him be deposed." (Quinisext Council of Constantinople, 692 A.D.)

"A true knowledge of the real difficulties of celibacy is very useful, even necessary, for the priest, so that he may be fully aware of what his celibacy requires in order to be genuine and beneficial. But with equal fidelity to the truth, these difficulties must not be given greater value or weight than they actually have in the human or religious sphere, or be declared impossible of solution." (Pope Paul VI, 1967 A.D.)

"In the midst of the grave difficulties with which the Church must contend today, the heart of the Supreme Pastor is greatly comforted, Venerable Brothers, when We see that virginity, which is flourishing throughout the world, is held in great honor and repute in the present as it was in past centuries, even though, as We have said, it is being attacked by errors which, We trust, will soon be dispelled and pass away." (Pope Pius XII, "Sacra Virginitas", 1954 A.D.)

"We are no less assured by St. John Chrysostom's treatise on the priesthood, which is still a fruitful subject for reflection. Intent on throwing light on the harmony which must exist between the private life of him who ministers at the altar and the dignity of the order to which his sacred duties belong, he affirmed: '...it is becoming that he who accepts the priesthood be as pure as if he were in heaven.'" (Pope Paul VI, 1967 A.D.)

"Hence We consider that the present law of celibacy should today continue to be linked to the ecclesiastical ministry. This law should support the minister in his exclusive, definitive and total choice of the unique and supreme love of Christ; it should uphold him in the entire dedication of himself to the public worship of God and to the service of the Church; it should distinguish his state of life both among the faithful and in the world at large." (Pope Paul VI, 1967 A.D.)

"In any case, the Church of the West cannot weaken her faithful observance of her own tradition. Nor can she be regarded as having followed for centuries a path which instead of favoring the spiritual richness of individual souls and of the [faithful], has in some way compromised it, or of having stifled, with arbitrary juridical prescriptions, the free expansion of the most profound realities of nature and of grace." (Pope Paul VI, 1967 A.D.)

"Who can ever praise enough the missionaries who toil for the conversion of the pagan multitudes, exiles from their native country, or the nuns who render them indispensable assistance?' To each and every one [as applicable] We gladly apply these words of Our Apostolic Exhortation, 'Menti Nostrae': '...by this law of celibacy the priest not only does not abdicate his paternity, but increases it immensely, for he begets not for an earthly and transitory life but for the heavenly and eternal one.'" (Pope Pius XII, "Sacra Virginitas", 1954 A.D.)

"Can. 1394 §1 Without prejudice to the prescript of can. 194, §1, n. 3, a cleric who attempts marriage, even if only civilly, incurs a latae sententiae suspension. If he does not repent after being warned and continues to give scandal, he can be punished progressively by privations or even by dismissal from the clerical state. §2 A perpetually professed religious who is not a cleric and who attempts marriage, even if only civilly, incurs a latae sententiae interdict, without prejudice to the prescript of can. 694." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"It deeply hurts Us that...anyone can dream that the Church will deliberately or even suitably renounce what from time immemorial has been, and still remains, one of the purest and noblest glories of her priesthood. The law of ecclesiastical celibacy and the efforts necessary to preserve it always recall to mind the struggles of the heroic times when the Church of Christ had to fight for and succeeded in obtaining her threefold glory, always an emblem of victory, that is, the Church of Christ, free, chaste and Catholic." (Pope John XXIII, 1960 A.D.)

"We invite you, venerable brothers, and you, eager students of Christian doctrine and masters of the spiritual life, and all you priests who have gained a supernatural insight into your vocation, to persevere in the study of this vision, and to go deeply into the inner recesses and wealth of its reality. In this way, the bond between the priesthood and celibacy will more and more be seen as closely knit-as the mark of a heroic soul and the imperative call to unique and total love for Christ and His Church." (Pope Paul VI, 1967 A.D.)

"It is impossible to treat of the piety of a Catholic priest without being drawn on to speak, too, of another most precious treasure of the Catholic priesthood, that is, of chastity; for from piety springs the meaning and the beauty of chastity. A certain connection between this virtue and the sacerdotal ministry can be seen even by the light of reason alone: since 'God is a Spirit,' it is only fitting that he who dedicates and consecrates himself to God's service should in some way 'divest himself of the body.'" (Pope Pius XI, "Ad Catholici Sacerdotii", 1935 A.D.)

"If any one saith that clerics constituted in sacred orders or regulars who have solemnly professed chastity are able to contract matrimony, and that being contracted it is valid notwithstanding the ecclesiastical law or vow; and that the contrary is nothing else than to condemn marriage; and that all who do not feel that they have the gift of chastity, even though they have made a vow thereof, may contract marriage; let him be anathema: seeing that God refuses not that gift to those who ask for it rightly, neither does He suffer us to be tempted above that which we are able (1 Cor. 10:13)." (Council of Trent)

"Christ spoke of Himself when He said: 'Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.' And the Apostle Paul did not hesitate to expose himself to a daily death in order to obtain among his faithful glory in Christ Jesus. In a similar way, by a daily dying to himself and by giving up the legitimate love of a family of his own for the love of Christ and of His kingdom, the priest will find the glory of an exceedingly rich and fruitful life in Christ, because like Him and in Him, he loves and dedicates himself to all the children of God." (Pope Paul VI, 1967 A.D.)

"Christ, the only Son of the Father, by the power of the Incarnation itself was made Mediator between heaven and earth, between the Father and the human race. Wholly in accord with this mission, Christ remained throughout His whole life in the state of celibacy, which signified His total dedication to the service of God and men. This deep concern between celibacy and the priesthood of Christ is reflected in those whose fortune it is to share in the dignity and mission of the Mediator and eternal Priest; this sharing will be more perfect the freer the sacred minister is from the bonds of flesh and blood." (Pope Paul VI, 1967 A.D.)

"In the community of the faithful committed to his charge, the priest represents Christ. Thus, it is most fitting that in all things he should reproduce the image of Christ and in particular follow His example, both in his personal and in his apostolic life. To his children in Christ, the priest is a sign and a pledge of that sublime and new reality which is the kingdom of God; he dispenses it and he possesses it to a more perfect degree. Thus he nourishes the faith and hope of all Christians, who, as such, are bound to observe chastity according to their proper state of life." (Pope Paul VI, 1967 A.D.)

"But it is no longer possible for you [who have taken a vow of celibacy] to preserve the legitimate conditions of marriage. For if a person who has been joined to the heavenly Bridegroom afterwards deserts Him and joins himself to a woman, the act is adultery even if you call it marriage a myriad times over; or rather, it is as much worse than adultery as God is better than man. Do not be deceived by anyone's saying, 'God has not forbidden marriage.' I know that as well as you. He has not forbidden marriage; but He has forbidden adultery, which is what you [that is, Theodore] are contemplating." (St. John Chrysostom, Doctor of the Church, c. 371 A.D.)

"Our Lord and Master has said that 'in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.' In the world of man, so deeply involved in earthly concerns and too often enslaved by the desires of the flesh, the precious and almost divine gift of perfect continence for the kingdom of heaven stands out precisely as 'a special token of the rewards of heaven'; it proclaims the presence on earth of the final stages of salvation with the arrival of a new world, and in a way it anticipates the fulfillment of the kingdom as it sets forth its supreme values which will one day shine forth in all the children of God." (Pope Paul VI, 1967 A.D.)

"Moreover, the Church cannot and should not fail to realize that the choice of celibacy - provided that it is made with [proper] Christian prudence and responsibility - is governed by grace which, far from destroying or doing violence to nature, elevates it and imparts to it supernatural powers and vigor. God, who has created and redeemed man, knows what He can ask of him and gives him everything necessary to be able to do what his Creator and Redeemer asks of him. St. Augustine, who had fully and painfully experienced in himself the nature of man, exclaimed: 'Grant what You command, and command what You will.''' (Pope Paul VI, 1967 A.D.)

"In order to live as a celibate in a mature and untroubled way it seems particularly important that the priest should develop deep within himself the image of women as sisters. In Christ, men and women are brothers and sisters, independently of any bonds of family relationship. This is a universal bond, thanks to which the priest can be open to every new situation, even the most foreign from an ethnic or cultural standpoint, knowing that he must exercise towards the men and women to whom he is sent a ministry of authentic spiritual fatherhood, which gains him 'sons' and 'daughters' in the Lord (cf. 1 Thes. 2:11, Gal. 4:19)." (Pope John Paul II)

"The consecration to Christ under an additional and lofty title like celibacy evidently gives to the priest, even in the practical field, the maximum efficiency and the best disposition of mind, mentally and emotionally, for the continuous exercise of a perfect charity. This charity will permit him to spend himself wholly for the welfare of all, in a fuller and more concrete way. It also obviously guarantees him a greater freedom and flexibility in the pastoral ministry, in his active and living presence in the world, to which Christ has sent him so that he may pay fully to all the children of God the debt due to them." (Pope Paul VI, 1967 A.D.)

"[I]t is against common sense, which the Church always holds in esteem, to consider the sexual instinct as the most important and the deepest of human tendencies, and to conclude from this that man cannot restrain it for his whole life without danger to his vital nervous system, and consequently without injuring the harmony of his personality. As St. Thomas very rightly observes, the deepest natural instinct is the instinct of self-preservation; the sexual instinct comes second. In addition, it is for the rational inclination, which is the distinguishing privilege of our nature, to regulate these fundamental instincts and by dominating to ennoble them." (Pope Pius XII, "Sacra Virginitas", 1954 A.D.)

"Venerable brothers in the episcopacy, priest and ministers of the altar, by way of completing and leaving a remembrance of this written conversation with you, we should like to suggest this resolution to you: that on the anniversary of his ordination, or on Holy Thursday when all are united in spirit commemorating the mystery of the institution of the priesthood, each one should renew his total gift of himself to Christ our Lord; reviving in this way the awareness that He has chosen you for His divine service, and repeating at the same time, humbly and courageously, the promise of our unswerving faithfulness to His love alone in your offering of perfect chastity." (Pope Paul VI, 1967 A.D.)

"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.'" (Pope Pius XI, "Ad Catholici Sacerdotii", 1935 A.D.)

"If this means that the priest is without a direct personal experience of married life, he nevertheless will be able through his training, his ministry and the grace of his office, to gain even deeper insights into every human yearning. This will allow him to meet problems of this kind at their source and give solid support by his advice and assistance to married persons and Christian families. For the Christian family, the example of the priest who is living his life of celibacy to the full will underscore the spiritual dimension of every love worthy of the name, and his personal sacrifice will merit for the faithful united in the holy bond of matrimony the grace of a true union." (Pope Paul VI, 1967 A.D.)

"Can. 277 §1 Clerics are obliged to observe perfect and perpetual continence for the sake of the Kingdom of heaven, and are therefore bound to celibacy. Celibacy is a special gift of God by which sacred ministers can more easily remain close to Christ with an undivided heart, and can dedicate themselves more freely to the service of God and their neighbor. §2 Clerics are to behave with due prudence in relation to persons whose company can be a danger to their obligation of preserving continence or can lead to scandal of the faithful. §3 The diocesan Bishop has authority to establish more detailed rules concerning this matter, and to pass judgement on the observance of the obligation in particular cases." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Moreover the Fathers of the Church considered this obligation of perfect chastity as a kind of spiritual marriage, in which the soul is wedded to Christ; so that some go so far as to compare breaking the vow with adultery. Thus, St. Athanasius writes that the Catholic Church has been accustomed to call those who have the virtue of virginity the spouses of Christ. And St. Ambrose, writing succinctly of the consecrated virgin, says, 'She is a virgin who is married to God.' In fact, as is clear from the writings of the same Doctor of Milan, as early as the fourth century the rite of consecration of a virgin was very like the rite the Church uses in our own day in the marriage blessing." (Pope Pius XII, "Sacra Virginitas", 1954 A.D.)

"The vocation to celibacy needs to be consciously protected by keeping special watch over one's feelings and over one's whole conduct. In particular, it must be protected by those priests who, following the discipline in force in the Western Church and so highly esteemed by the Eastern Church, have chosen celibacy for the sake of the Kingdom of God. If in a relationship with a woman the gift and the choice of celibacy should become endangered, the priest cannot but strive earnestly to remain faithful to his own vocation. Such a defense would not mean that marriage in itself is something bad, but that for him the path is a different one. For him to abandon that path would be to break the word he has given to God." (Pope John Paul II)

"Now, however, We want you to rally to combat the abominable conspiracy against clerical celibacy. This conspiracy spreads daily and is promoted by profligate philosophers, some even from the clerical order. They have forgotten their person and office, and have been carried away by the enticements of pleasure. They have even dared to make repeated public demands to the princes for the abolition of that most holy discipline. But it is disgusting to dwell on these evil attempts at length. Rather, We ask that you strive with all your might to justify and to defend the law of clerical celibacy as prescribed by the sacred canons, against which the arrows of the lascivious are directed from every side." (Pope Gregory XVI, "Mirari Vos", 1832 A.D.)

"Can. 1395 §1 Apart from the case mentioned in can. 1394, a cleric living in concubinage, and a cleric who continues in some other external sin against the sixth commandment of the Decalogue which causes scandal, is to be punished with suspension. To this, other penalties can progressively be added if after a warning he persists in the offence, until eventually he can be dismissed from the clerical state. §2 A cleric who has offended in other ways against the sixth commandment of the Decalogue, if the crime was committed by force, or by threats, or in public, or with a minor under the age of sixteen years, is to be punished with just penalties, not excluding dismissal from the clerical state if the case so warrants." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"It was not possible that Death should cease his works so long as mankind by marriage was working too; he walked the path of life in all generations past; he started with every new-born child an accompanied it to the end; but he found at last in virginity a barrier beyond which he could not pass. Just as in the time of Mary, the Mother of God, the Death who had reigned from Adam until then found, when he came to her and dashed his forces against the fruit of her virginity as a rock, that he was himself shattered against her, so too in every soul that passes through this life in flesh that is protected by virginity, the strength of Death is shattered and annulled, when Death finds no place to fix his sting." (St. Gregory of Nyssa, c. 370 A.D.)

"We readily grant that the natural and lawful desire a man has to love a woman and to raise a family is renounced by the celibate in sacred orders; but it cannot be said that marriage and the family are the only way for fully developing the human person. In the priest's heart love is by no means extinct. His charity is drawn from the purest source, practiced in the imitation of God and Christ, and is no less demanding and real than any other genuine love. It gives the priest a limitless horizon, deepens and gives breadth to his sense of responsibility - a mark of mature personality - and inculcates in him, as a sign of a higher and greater fatherhood, a generosity and refinement of heart which offer a superlative enrichment." (Pope Paul VI, 1967 A.D.)

"It is especially important that the priest understand the theological motivation of the Church's law on celibacy. Inasmuch as it is a law, it expresses the Church's will, even before the will of the subject expressed by his readiness. But the will of the Church finds its ultimate motivation in the link between celibacy and sacred ordination, which configures the priest to Jesus Christ the head and spouse of the Church. The Church, as the spouse of Jesus Christ, wishes to be loved by the priest in the total and exclusive manner in which Jesus Christ her head and spouse loved her. Priestly celibacy, then, is the gift of self in and with Christ to his Church and expresses the priest's service to the Church in and with the Lord." (Pope John Paul II)

"Although they who are not within the ranks of the clergy are free to take pleasure in the companionship of wedlock and the procreation of children, yet for the sake of exhibiting the purity of complete continence, even subdeacons are not allowed carnal marriage; that both they that have wives be as though they had none (1 Cor. 7:29), and they that have not may remain single. But if in this order, which is the fourth from the head, this is worthy to be observed, how much more is it to be kept in the first, second, and third, lest anyone be reckoned fit for either the deacon's duties or the presbyter's honorable position, or the bishop's pre-eminence, who is discovered as not yet having bridled his uxorious desires." (Pope St. Leo I the Great, Doctor of the Church, 5th century A.D.)

"For renouncing thereby the companionship of marriage for the sake of the kingdom of heaven (cf. Mt. 19:12), they embrace the Lord with an undivided love altogether befitting the new covenant, bear witness to the resurrection of the world to come (cf. Lk. 20:36), and obtain a most suitable aid for the continual exercise of that perfect charity whereby they can become all things to all men in their priestly ministry. Let them deeply realize how gratefully that state ought to be received, not, indeed, only as commanded by ecclesiastical law, but as a precious gift of God for which they should humbly pray. Through the inspiration and help of the grace of the Holy Spirit let them freely and generously hasten to respond to this gift." (Second Vatican Council)

"Thus the Catholic priest is freed from the bonds of a family and of self-interest - the chief bonds which could bind him too closely to earth. Thus freed, his heart will more readily take flame from that heavenly fire that burns in the Heart of Jesus; that fire that seeks only to inflame apostolic hearts and through them 'cast fire on all the earth.' This is the fire of zeal. Like the zeal of Jesus described in Holy Scripture, the zeal of the priest for the glory of God and the salvation of souls ought to consume him. It should make him forget himself and all earthly things. It should powerfully urge him to dedicate himself utterly to his sublime work, and to search out means ever more effective for an apostolate ever wider and ever better." (Pope Pius XI, "Ad Catholici Sacerdotii", 1935 A.D.)

"By reason of his celibacy the priest is a man alone: that is true, but his solitude is not meaningless emptiness because it is filled with God and the brimming riches of His kingdom. Moreover, he has prepared himself for this solitude - which should be an internal and external plenitude of charity - if he has chosen it with full understanding, and not through any proud desire to be different from the rest of men, or to withdraw himself from common responsibilities, or to alienate himself from his brothers, or to show contempt for the world. Though set apart from the world, the priest is not separated from the [faithful], because he has been 'appointed to act on behalf of men,' since he is 'consecrated' completely to charity and to the work for which the Lord has chosen him." (Pope Paul VI, 1967 A.D.)

"The history of the Council [of Trent] is marked by attempts to modify the law on celibacy. We know that in a particular way, emperors, kings and princes, as well as representatives of the Church herself, were involved in an attempt at securing a relaxation of or a dispensation from the obligation to celibacy. They had a positive objective; namely to win back those ministers who had left the Catholic Church. Nonetheless, a commission established by the Roman Pontiffs to treat of this question came to the conclusion, on the basis of the ancient tradition, that the commitment to celibacy was to be maintained without compromise. The Church could not reject an obligation which had been valid from the very beginning and which had been constantly repeated and enforced throughout the centuries." (Cardinal Stickler)

"The priest should apply himself above all else to developing, with all the love grace inspires in him, his close relationship with Christ, and exploring this inexhaustible and enriching mystery; he should also acquire an ever deeper sense of the mystery of the Church. There would be the risk of his state of life seeming unreasonable and unfounded if it is viewed apart from this mystery. Priestly piety, nourished at the table of God's word and the Holy Eucharist, lived within the cycle of the liturgical year, inspired by a warm and enlightened devotion to the Virgin Mother of the supreme and eternal High Priest and Queen of the Apostles, will bring him to the source of a true spiritual life which alone provides a solid foundation for the observance of celibacy." (Pope Paul VI, 1967 A.D.)

"A thing may be a hindrance to virtue in two ways. First, as regards the ordinary degree of virtue, and as to this nothing but sin is an obstacle to virtue. Secondly, as regards the perfect degree of virtue, and as to this virtue may be hindered by that which is not a sin, but a lesser good. In this way [marital relations cast] down the mind not from virtue, but from the height, i.e. the perfection of virtue. Hence Augustine says (De Bono Conjugali viii): 'Just as that was good which Martha did when busy about serving holy men, yet better still that which Mary did in hearing the word of God: so, too, we praise the good of Susanna's conjugal chastity, yet we prefer the good of the widow Anna, and much more that of the Virgin Mary.'" (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"The virtue of chastity does not mean that we are insensible to the urge of concupiscence, but that we subordinate it to reason and the law of grace, by striving wholeheartedly after what is noblest in human and Christian life. In order to acquire this perfect mastery of the spirit over the senses, it is not enough to refrain from acts directly contrary to chastity, but it is necessary also generously to renounce anything that may offend this virtue nearly or remotely; at such a price will the soul be able to reign fully over the body and lead its spiritual life in peace and liberty. Who then does not see, in the light of Catholic principles, that perfect chastity and virginity, far from harming the normal unfolding of man or woman, on the contrary endow them with the highest moral nobility." (Pope Pius XII, "Sacra Virginitas", 1954 A.D.)

"Hence, perfect chastity demands, first, a free choice by Christians before they consecrate themselves to God and then, from God, supernatural help and grace. Our Divine Redeemer Himself has taught us this in the following words: 'All men take not his word, but they to whom it is given...He that can take it, let him take it.' St. Jerome, intently pondering this sacred phrase of Jesus Christ, exhorts all 'that each one study his own powers, whether he can fulfill the precepts of virginal modesty. For of itself chastity is charming and attractive to all. But one's forces must be considered, that he who can may take it. The Lord's word is as it were an exhortation, stirring on His soldiers to the prize of purity. He that can take it, let him take it: let him who can, fight, conquer and receive his reward.'" (Pope Pius XII, "Sacra Virginitas", 1954 A.D.)

"The eminent way to protect and nourish an unsullied and perfect chastity, as proven by experience time and again throughout the course of centuries, is solid and fervent devotion to the Virgin Mother of God. In a certain way all other helps are contained in this devotion; there is no doubt that whoever is sincerely and earnestly animated by this devotion is salutarily inspired to constant vigilance, to continual prayer, to receive the Sacraments of Penance and the Holy Eucharist. Therefore in a paternal way We exhort all priests, religious men and women, to entrust themselves to the special protection of the holy Mother of God who is the Virgin of virgins and the 'teacher of virginity,' as Ambrose says, and the most powerful Mother of those in particular who have vowed and consecrated themselves to the service of God." (Pope Pius XII, "Sacra Virginitas", 1954 A.D.)

"For the duty of the married life to which they are bound clearly demands: 'They shall be two in one flesh.' For spouses are to be bound to each other by mutual bonds both in joy and in sorrow. It is easy to see, therefore, why persons who desire to consecrate themselves to God's service embrace the state of virginity as a liberation, in order to be more entirely at God's disposition and devoted to the good of their neighbor. How, for example, could a missionary such as the wonderful St. Francis Xavier, a father of the poor such as the merciful St. Vincent de Paul, a zealous educator of youth like St. John Bosco, a tireless 'mother of emigrants' like St. Francis Xavier Cabrini, have accomplished such gigantic and painful labors, if each had to look after the corporal and spiritual needs of a wife or husband and children?" (Pope Pius XII, "Sacra Virginitas", 1954 A.D.)

"Show me the man who is able to explain or understand the value and excellence of purity, a virtue beyond all the common laws of nature. It is on earth a perfect type, and a lively picture of the virginal purity which reigns in heaven. It is that which has passed through air, clouds, and stars, and which, soaring above the angels, has found the Divine Word in the bosom of His Father, and has drawn Him to earth to be united to it in an inexpressible manner. Now, after having been so fortunate as to find a pearl of so great a price, on what plea can we allow it to be lost? Nevertheless, it is not I, but the Son of God Himself, who assures us that the pure and chaste will be like unto the angels in heaven; and at this we need not be astonished if such souls are placed in the rank of angels, souls who have for their spouse the King and Lord of angels." (St. Ambrose, Doctor of the Church)

"Yes, watch, beloved sons, because priestly chastity is exposed to so many dangers, whether by reason of laxity in public morals, or because of the allurements of vice which you find so easily seductive in these days, or, finally, because of that excessive liberty in relations between the sexes which at times dares to insinuate itself even into the exercise of the sacred ministry. 'Watch and pray', mindful that your hands touch those things which are most holy, that you have been consecrated to God and are to serve Him alone. The very habit which you wear, reminds you that you should live not to the world, but to God. Therefore, trusting in the protection of the Virgin Mother of God, generously make every effort to preserve yourselves 'clean, unstained, pure and chaste, as becomes the ministers of Christ and the dispensers of the mysteries of God.'" (Pope Pius XII, "Menti Nostrae", 1950 A.D.)

"Consider again that sacred ministers do not renounce marriage solely on account of their apostolic ministry, but also by reason of their service at the altar. For, if even the priests of the Old Testament had to abstain from the use of marriage during the period of their service in the Temple, for fear of being declared impure by the Law just as other men, is it not much more fitting that the ministers of Jesus Christ, who offer every day the Eucharistic Sacrifice, possess perfect chastity? St. Peter Damian, exhorting priests to perfect continence, asks: 'If Our Redeemer so loved the flower of unimpaired modesty that not only was He born from a virginal womb, but was also cared for by a virgin nurse even when He was still an infant crying in the cradle, by whom, I ask, does He wish His body to be handled now that He reigns, limitless, in heaven?'" (Pope Pius XII, "Sacra Virginitas", 1954 A.D.)

"In short the very height, or, to use St. Epiphanius' phrase, 'the incredible honor and dignity' of the Christian priesthood...shows how becoming is clerical celibacy and the law which enjoins it. Priests have a duty which, in a certain way, is higher than that of the most pure spirits 'who stand before the Lord.' Is it not right, then, that he live an all but angelic life? A priest is one who should be totally dedicated to the things of the Lord. Is it not right, then, that he be entirely detached from the things of the world, and have his conversation in Heaven? A priest's charge is to be solicitous for the eternal salvation of souls, continuing in their regard the work of the Redeemer. Is it not, then, fitting that he keep himself free from the cares of a family, which would absorb a great part of his energies?" (Pope Pius XI, "Ad Catholici Sacerdotii", 1935 A.D.)

"Once moral certainty has been obtained that the maturity of the candidate is sufficiently guaranteed, he will be in a position to take on himself the heavy and sweet burden of priestly chastity as a total gift of himself to the Lord and to His Church. In this way, the obligation of celibacy, which the Church makes a condition of Holy Orders, is accepted by the candidate through the influence of divine grace and with full reflection and liberty, and, as is evident, not without the wise and prudent advice of competent spiritual directors who are concerned not to impose the choice, but rather to dispose the candidate to make it more consciously. Hence, in that solemn moment when the candidate will decide once and for his whole life, he will not feel the weight of an imposition from outside, but rather the interior joy that accompanies a choice made for the love of Christ." (Pope Paul VI, 1967 A.D.)

"The Lord's prayer: 'And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil', takes on a specific meaning in the context of contemporary civilization, steeped as it is in elements of hedonism, self-centredness and sensuality. Pornography is unfortunately rampant, debasing the dignity of women and treating them exclusively as objects of sexual pleasure. These aspects of present-day civilization certainly do not favor either marital fidelity or celibacy for the sake of the Kingdom of God. Therefore if the priest does not foster in himself genuine dispositions of faith, hope and love of God, he can easily yield to the allurements coming to him from the world. On this Holy Thursday then, dear Brother Priests, how can I fail to address you in order to exhort you to remain faithful to the gift of celibacy which Christ has given us? In it is contained a spiritual treasure which belongs to each of us and to the whole Church." (Pope John Paul II)

"The priesthood is a ministry instituted by Christ for the service of His Mystical Body which is the Church. To her belongs the authority to admit to that priesthood those whom she judges qualified - that is, those to whom God has given, along with other signs of an ecclesiastical vocation, the gift of a consecrated celibacy. In virtue of such a gift, confirmed by canon law, the individual is called to respond with free judgment and total dedication, adapting his own mind and outlook to the will of God who calls him. Concretely, this divine calling manifests itself in a given individual with his own definite personality structure which is not at all overpowered by grace. In candidates for the priesthood, therefore, the sense of receiving this divine gift should be cultivated; so too, a sense of responsibility in their meeting with God, with the highest importance given to supernatural means." (Pope Paul VI, 1967 A.D.)

"When Christ stated - as the Evangelist Matthew writes - that man can remain celibate for the Kingdom of God, the Apostles were disturbed (cf. 19:10-12). A little earlier Jesus had declared that marriage is indissoluble, and this truth had caused in them a significant reaction: 'If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is not expedient to marry' (Mt. 19:10). As is evident, their reaction went contrary to the notion of fidelity which Jesus had in mind. But the Master makes use even of this lack of understanding, in order to introduce into their narrow and limited way of thinking the perspective of celibacy for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven. He thereby wishes to affirm that marriage has a specific dignity and sacramental holiness, and that nevertheless there exists another path for the Christian: a path which is not a flight from marriage but rather a conscious choice of celibacy for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven." (Pope John Paul II)

"Wherefore if a man refrain from possessing certain things (which otherwise it were good for him to possess), for the sake of his body's good, or of the contemplation of truth, this is not sinful, but in accord with right reason. In like manner if a man abstain from bodily pleasures, in order more freely to give himself to the contemplation of truth, this is in accordance with the rectitude of reason. Now holy virginity refrains from all venereal pleasure in order more freely to have leisure for Divine contemplation: for the Apostle says (1 Cor. 7:34): 'The unmarried woman and the virgin thinketh on the things of the Lord: that she may be holy in both body and in spirit. But she that is married thinketh on the things of the world, how she may please her husband.' Therefore it follows that virginity instead of being sinful is worthy of praise." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"The priest has as the proper field of his activity everything that pertains to the supernatural life, since it is he who promotes the increase of this supernatural life and communicates it to the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ. Consequently, it is necessary that he renounce 'the things of the world,' in order to have care only for 'the things of the Lord'. And it is precisely because he should be free from preoccupation with worldly things to dedicate himself entirely to the divine service, that the Church has established the law of celibacy, thus making it ever more manifest to all peoples that the priest is a minister of God and the father of souls. By his law of celibacy, the priest, so far from losing the gift and duties of fatherhood, rather increases them immeasurably, for, although he does not beget progeny for this passing life of earth, he begets children for that life which is heavenly and eternal." (Pope Pius XII, "Menti Nostrae", 1950 A.D.)

"The consecrated celibacy of the sacred ministers actually manifests the virginal love of Christ for the Church, and the virginal and supernatural fecundity of this marriage, by which the children of God are born, 'not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh.' The priest dedicates himself to the service of the Lord Jesus and of His Mystical Body with complete liberty, which is made easier by his total offering, and thus he depicts more fully the unity and harmony of the priestly life. His ability for listening to the word of God and for prayer increases. Indeed, the word of God, as preserved by the Church, stirs up vibrant and profound echoes in the priest who daily meditates on it, lives it and preaches it to the faithful.. Like Christ Himself, His minister is wholly and solely intent on the things of God and the Church, and he imitates the great High priest who lives ever in the presence of God in order to intercede in our favor." (Pope Paul VI, 1967 A.D.)

"And so priestly celibacy should not be considered just as a legal norm or as a totally external condition for admission to ordination, but rather as a value that is profoundly connected with ordination, whereby a man takes on the likeness of Jesus Christ, the good shepherd and spouse of the Church, and therefore as a choice of a greater and undivided love for Christ and his Church, as a full and joyful availability in his heart for the pastoral ministry. Celibacy is to be considered as a special grace, as a gift, for 'not all men can receive this saying, but only those to whom it is given' (Mt. 19:11). Certainly it is a grace which does not dispense with, but counts most definitely on, a conscious and free response on the part of the receiver. This charism of the Spirit also brings with it the grace for the receiver to remain faithful to it for all his life and be able to carry out generously and joyfully its concomitant commitments. Formation in priestly celibacy should also include helping people to be aware of the 'precious gift of God,' which will lead to prayer and to vigilance in guarding the gift from anything which could put it under threat." (Pope John Paul II)

"Finally, it may not be asserted, as some do, that the 'mutual help,' which is sought in Christian marriage, is a more effective aid in striving for personal sanctity than the solitude of the heart, as they term it, of virgins and celibates. For although all those who have embraced a life of perfect chastity have deprived themselves of the expression of human love permitted in the married state, nonetheless it cannot thereby be affirmed that because of this privation they have diminished and despoiled the human personality. For they receive from the Giver of heavenly gifts something spiritual which far exceeds that 'mutual help' which husband and wife confer on each other. They consecrate themselves to Him Who is their source, and Who shares with them His divine life, and thus personality suffers no loss, but gains immensely. For who, more than the virgin, can apply to himself that marvelous phrase of the Apostle Paul: 'I live, now not I; but Christ liveth in me.' For this reason the Church has most wisely held that the celibacy of her priests must be retained; she knows it is and will be a source of spiritual graces by which they will be ever more closely united with God." (Pope Pius XII, "Sacra Virginitas", 1954 A.D.)

"The priest must not think that ordination makes everything easy for him and screens him once and for all from every temptation or danger. Chastity is not acquired all at once but results from a laborious conquest and daily affirmation. Our world today stresses the positive values of love between the sexes but has also multiplied the difficulties and risks in this sphere. In order to safeguard his chastity with all care and affirm its sublime meaning, the priest must consider clearly and calmly his position as a man exposed to spiritual warfare against seductions of the flesh in himself and in the world, continually renewing his resolution to give an ever increasing and ever better perfection to the irrevocable offering of himself which obliges him to a fidelity that is complete, loyal and real. Christ's priest will daily receive new strength and joy as he deepens in meditation and prayer the motives for his gift and the conviction that he has chosen the better part. He will ask humbly and perseveringly for the grace of fidelity, never denied to those who ask it sincerely. At the same time he will use the natural and supernatural means at his disposal. In particular he will not disregard those ascetical norms which have been substantiated by the Church's experience and are no less necessary in modern circumstances than in former times." (Pope Paul VI, 1967 A.D.)

"Now, with fatherly love and affection, Our heart turns anxiously and with deep sorrow to those unfortunate priests who always remain Our dearly beloved brothers and whose absence We keenly regret. We speak of those who, retaining the sacred character conferred by their priestly ordination, have nonetheless been sadly unfaithful to the obligations they accepted when ordained. Their sad state and its consequences to priests and to others move some to wonder if celibacy is not in some way responsible for such dramatic occurrences and for the scandals they inflict on God's people. In fact, the responsibility falls not on consecrated celibacy in itself but on a judgment of the fitness of the candidate of the priesthood which was not always adequate or prudent at the proper time, or else it falls on the way in which sacred ministers live their life of total consecration...a minimal percentage when they are compared with the great number of good, worthy priests... If these priests knew how much sorrow, dishonor and unrest they bring to the holy Church of God, if they reflected on the seriousness and beauty of their obligations and on the dangers to which they are exposed in this life and in the next, there would be greater care and reflection in their decisions; they would pray more assiduously and show greater courage and logic in forestalling the causes of their spiritual and moral collapse." (Pope Paul VI, 1967 A.D.)

"Considering what contemporary scholarly investigation has ascertained, it is not right to continue repeating that celibacy is against nature because it runs counter to lawful physical, psychic and affective needs, or to claim that a completely mature human personality demands fulfillment of these needs. Man, created to God's image and likeness, is not just flesh and blood; the sexual instinct is not all that he has; man has also, and pre-eminently, understanding, choice, freedom, and thanks to these powers he is, and must remain, the chief work of creation; they give him mastery over his physical, mental and emotional appetites. The true, profound reason for dedicated celibacy is, as We have said, the choice of a closer and more complete relationship with the mystery of Christ and the Church for the good of all mankind: in this choice there is no doubt that those highest human values are able to find their fullest expression. The choice of celibacy does not connote ignorance of or contempt for the sexual instinct and man's capacity for giving himself in love. That would certainly do damage to his physical and psychological balance. On the contrary, it demands clear understanding, careful self-control and a wise elevation of the mind to higher realities. In this way celibacy sets the whole man on a higher level and makes an effective contribution to his perfection." (Pope Paul VI, 1967 A.D.)

"We well realize that there are other objections that can be made against priestly celibacy. This is a very complex question, which touches intimately upon the very meaning of being alive, yet is penetrated and resolved by the light of divine revelation. A never-ending series of difficulties will present themselves to those who cannot 'receive this precept' and who do not know or have forgotten it is a 'gift of God,' and who moreover are unaware of the loftier reasoning, [its] wonderful efficacy and abundant riches... The sum of these objections would appear to drown out the solemn and age-old voice of the pastors of the Church and of the masters of the spiritual life, and to nullify the living testimony of the countless ranks of saints and faithful ministers of God, for whom celibacy has been the object of the total and generous gift of themselves to the mystery of Christ, as well as its outward sign. But no, this voice, still strong and untroubled, is the voice not just of the past but of the present too. Ever intent on the realities of today, we cannot close our eyes to this magnificent, wonderful reality: that there are still today in God's holy Church, in every part of the world where she exercises her beneficent influence, great numbers of her ministers...who are living their life of voluntary and consecrated celibacy in the most exemplary way." (Pope Paul VI, 1967 A.D.)

"The chastity 'for the sake of the kingdom of heaven' (Mt. 19:12) which religious profess should be counted an outstanding gift of grace. It frees the heart of man in a unique fashion (cf. 1 Cor. 7:32-35) so that it may be more inflamed with love for God and for all men. Thus it not only symbolizes in a singular way the heavenly goods but also the most suitable means by which religious dedicate themselves with undivided heart to the service of God and the works of the apostolate. In this way they recall to the minds of all the faithful that wondrous marriage decreed by God and which is to be fully revealed in the future age in which the Church takes Christ as its only spouse. Religious, therefore, who are striving faithfully to observe the chastity they have professed must have faith in the words of the Lord, and trusting in God's help not overestimate their own strength but practice mortification and custody of the senses. Neither should they neglect the natural means which promote health of mind and body. As a result they will not be influenced by those false doctrines which scorn perfect continence as being impossible or harmful to human development and they will repudiate by a certain spiritual instinct everything which endangers chastity. In addition let all, especially superiors, remember that chastity is guarded more securely when true brotherly love flourishes in the common life of the community." (Second Vatican Council)

"[T]o preserve chastity unstained neither vigilance nor modesty suffice. Those helps must also be used which entirely surpass the powers of nature, namely prayer to God, the Sacraments of Penance and Holy Eucharist, [and] a fervent devotion to the most holy Mother of God. Never should it be forgotten that perfect chastity is a great gift of God. For this reason Jerome wrote these succinct words, 'It is given to those, who have asked for it, who have desired it, who have worked to receive it. For it will be given to everyone who asks, the seeker will find, to the importunate it will be opened.' Ambrose adds that the constant fidelity of virgins to their Divine Spouse depends upon prayer. With that fervent piety for which he was noted St. Alphonsus Liguori taught that there is no help more necessary and certain for conquering temptations against the beautiful virtue of chastity than instant recourse to God in prayer. To prayer must be added frequent and fervent use of the Sacrament of Penance which, as a spiritual medicine, purifies and heals us; likewise it is necessary to receive the Eucharist, which as Our predecessor of happy memory Leo XIII asserted, is the best remedy against lust. The more pure and chaste is a soul, the more it hungers for this Bread, from which it derives strength to resist all temptations to sins of impurity, and by which it is more intimately united with the Divine Spouse; 'He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood, abides in me and I in him.'" (Pope Pius XII, "Sacra Virginitas", 1954 A.D.)

"The religious state requires the removal of whatever hinders man from devoting himself entirely to God's service. Now the use of sexual union hinders the mind from giving itself wholly to the service of God, and this for two reasons. First, on account of its vehement delectation, which by frequent repetition increases concupiscence, as also the Philosopher observes (Ethica Nicomachea iii,12): and hence it is that the use of venery withdraws the mind from that perfect intentness on tending to God. Augustine expresses this when he says (Soliloquia i,10): 'I consider that nothing so casts down the manly mind from its height as the fondling of women, and those bodily contacts which belong to the married state.' Secondly, because it involves man in solicitude for the control of his wife, his children, and his temporalities which serve for their upkeep. Hence the Apostle says (1 Corinthians 7:32,33): 'He that is without a wife is solicitous for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please God: but he that is with a wife is solicitous for the things of the world, how he may please his wife.' Therefore perpetual continence, as well as voluntary poverty, is requisite for religious perfection. The perfection not only of poverty but also of continence was introduced by Christ Who said (Matthew 19:12): 'There are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs, for the kingdom of heaven,' and then added: 'He that can take, let him take it.'" (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church") 

"Those who so bind themselves by the vows of religion, far from having suffered a loss of liberty, enjoy that fuller and freer kind, that liberty, namely, by which Christ hath made us free. And this further view of theirs, namely, that the religious life is either entirely useless or of little service to the Church, besides being injurious to the religious orders cannot be the opinion of anyone who has read the annals of the Church. Did not your country, the United States, derive the beginnings both of faith and of culture from the children of these religious families? to one of whom but very lately, a thing greatly to your praise, you have decreed that a statue be publicly erected. And even at the present time wherever the religious families are found, how speedy and yet how fruitful a harvest of good works do they not bring forth! How very many leave home and seek strange lands to impart the truth of the gospel and to widen the bounds of civilization; and this they do with the greatest cheerfulness amid manifold dangers! Out of their number not less, indeed, than from the rest of the clergy, the Christian world finds the preachers of God's word, the directors of conscience, the teachers of youth and the Church itself the examples of all sanctity. Nor should any difference of praise be made between those who follow the active state of life and those others who, charmed with solitude, give themselves to prayer and bodily mortification. And how much, indeed, of good report these have merited, and do merit, is known surely to all who do not forget that the 'continual prayer of the just man' avails to placate and to bring down the blessings of heaven when to such prayers bodily mortification is added." (Pope Leo XIII, "Testem Benevolentiae Nostrae", 1899 A.D.)

"And yet, although chastity pledged to God is a difficult virtue, those who after serious consideration generously answer Christ's invitation and do all in their power to attain it, can perfectly and faithfully preserve it. For since they have eagerly embraced the state of virginity or celibacy they will certainly receive from God that gift of grace through whose help they will be able to carry out their promise. Wherefore, if there are any 'who do not feel they have the gift of chastity even though they have vowed it,' let them not declare they cannot fulfill their obligations in this matter. 'For,' says the Council of Trent, quoting St. Augustine, ' 'God does not command the impossible, but in commanding serves notice that one do what he can, and pray for what he cannot,' and He helps us to accomplish it.' This truth, so full of encouragement, We recall to those also whose will has been weakened by upset nerves and whom some doctors, sometimes even Catholic doctors, are too quick to persuade that they should be freed from such an obligation, advancing the specious reason that they cannot preserve their chastity without suffering some harm to their mental balance. How much more useful and opportune it is to help the infirm of this type to strengthen their will, and to advise them that not even to them is chastity impossible, according to the word of the Apostle: 'God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that which you are able: but will make also with temptation issue, that you may be able to bear it.'" (Pope Pius XII, "Sacra Virginitas", 1954 A.D.)

"How shameful a thing, and how unworthy it is of the name of clerics who have devoted themselves to the service of God, to live in the filth of impurity, and unclean bondage, the thing itself doth testify, in the common scandal of all the faithful, and the extreme disgrace entailed on the clerical order. To the end, therefore, that the ministers of the Church may be recalled to that continency and integrity of life which becomes them; and that the people may hence learn to reverence them the more, that they know them to be more pure of life: the holy Synod forbids all clerics whatsoever to dare to keep concubines, or any other woman of whom any suspicion can exist, either in their own houses, or elsewhere, or to presume to have any [intimate relations] with them: otherwise they shall be punished with the penalties imposed by the sacred canons, or by the [applicable statutes], But if, after being admonished by their superiors, they shall not abstain from these women, they shall be ipso facto deprived of the third part of the fruits, rents, and proceeds of all their benefices whatsoever, and pensions; which third part shall be applied to the fabric of the church, or to some other pious place, at the discretion of the bishop. If, however, persisting in the same crime, with the same or some other woman, they shall not even yet have obeyed upon a second admonition, not only shall they thereupon forfeit all the fruits and proceeds of their benefices and pensions, which shall be applied to the places aforesaid, but they shall also be suspended from the administration of the benefices themselves, for as long a period as shall seem fit to the Ordinary, even as the delegate of the Apostolic See. And if, having been thus suspended, they nevertheless shall not put away those women, or, even if they shall have [intimate relations] with them, then shall they be for ever deprived of their ecclesiastical benefices, portions, offices, and pensions of whatsoever kind, and be rendered thenceforth incapable and unworthy of any manner of honors, dignities, benefices and offices, until, after a manifest amendment of life, it shall seem good to their superiors, for a cause, to grant them a dispensation. But if, after having once put them away, they shall have dared to renew the interrupted connexion, or to take to themselves other scandalous women of this sort, they shall, in addition to the penalties aforesaid, be smitten with the sword of excommunication. Nor shall any appeal, or exemption, hinder or suspend the execution of the aforesaid; and the cognizance of all the matters above-named shall not belong to archdeacons, or deans, or other inferiors, but to the bishops themselves, who may proceed without the noise and the formalities of justice, and by the sole investigation of the truth of the fact." (Council of Trent)

[Note: It should be noted that celibacy had been instituted for a long time prior to this fourth century quotation.] "Let us come now to the most sacred orders of the clergy, which we find so abused and so disorderly throughout your provinces to the injury of venerable religion, that we ought to say in the words of Jeremias: Who will water to my head, or a fountain of tears to my eyes? and I will weep for this people day and night [Jer. 9:1]... For we have learned that very many priests and levites of Christ, after long periods of their consecration, have begotten offspring from their wives as well as by shameful intercourse, and that they defend their crime by this excuse, that in the Old Testament it is read that the faculty of procreating was given to the priests and the ministers. Whoever that follower of sensual desires is let him tell me now: ... Why does [the Lord] forewarn those to whom the holies of holies were to be entrusted saying: Be ye holy, because I your Lord God am holy [Lev. 20:7, 1 Pt. 1:16]? Why also were the priests ordered to dwell in the temple at a distance from their homes in the year of their turn? Evidently for this reason that they might not be able to practice carnal intercourse with their wives, so that shining with purity of conscience they might offer an acceptable gift to God... Therefore also the Lord Jesus, when He had enlightened us by His coming, testifies in the Gospel, that he came to fulfill the Law, not to destroy it [Mt. 5:17]. And so He has wished the beauty of the Church, whose spouse He is, to radiate with the splendor of chastity, so that on the day of judgment, when He will have come again, He may be able to find her without spot or wrinkle [Eph. 5:27] as He instituted her through His Apostle. All priests and levites are bound by the indissoluble law of these sanctions, so that from the day of our ordination, we give up both our hearts and our bodies to continence and chastity, provided only that through all things we may please our God in these [Holy Masses] which we daily offer. 'But those who are in the flesh,' as the vessel of election says, 'cannot please God' [Rom. 8:8]. But those, who contend with an excuse for the forbidden privilege, so as to assert that this has been granted to them by the Old Law, should know that by the authority of the Apostolic See they have been cast out of every ecclesiastical office, which they have used unworthily, nor can they ever touch the sacred mysteries, of which they themselves have deprived themselves so long as they give heed to impure desires. And because existing examples warn us to be on our guard for the future should any bishop, priest, or deacon be found such, which henceforth we do not want, let him now understand that every approach to indulgence is barred through us, because it is necessary that the wounds which are not susceptible to the healing of warm lotions be cut out with a knife." (Pope St. Siricius, "Directa ad decessorem", 385 A.D.)

"Indeed celibacy has a many faceted suitability for the priesthood. For the whole priestly mission is dedicated to the service of a new humanity which Christ, the victor over death, has aroused through His Spirit in the world and which has its origin 'not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man but of God' (Jn. 1:13). Through virginity, then, or celibacy observed for the Kingdom of Heaven, priests are consecrated to Christ by a new and exceptional reason. They adhere to Him more easily with an undivided heart, they dedicate themselves more freely in Him and through Him to the service of God and men, and they more expeditiously minister to His Kingdom and the work of heavenly regeneration, and thus they are apt to accept, in a broad sense, paternity in Christ. In this way they profess themselves before men as willing to be dedicated to the office committed to them - namely, to commit themselves faithfully... and to show themselves as a chaste virgin for Christ and thus to evoke the mysterious marriage established by Christ, and fully to be manifested in the future, in which the Church has Christ as her only Spouse. They give, moreover, a living sign of the world to come, by a faith and charity already made present, in which the children of the resurrection neither marry nor take wives. For these reasons, based on the mystery of Christ and His mission, celibacy, which first was recommended to priests, later in the Latin Church was imposed upon all who were to be promoted to sacred orders. This legislation, pertaining to those who are destined for the priesthood, this holy synod again approves and confirms, fully trusting this gift of the Spirit so fitting for the priesthood of the New Testament, freely given by the Father, provided that those who participate in the priesthood of Christ through the sacrament of Orders - and also the whole Church - humbly and fervently pray for it. This sacred synod also exhorts all priests who, in following the example of Christ, freely receive sacred celibacy as a grace of God, that they magnanimously and wholeheartedly adhere to it, and that persevering faithfully in it, they may acknowledge this outstanding gift of the Father which is so openly praised and extolled by the Lord. Let them keep before their eyes the great mysteries signified by it and fulfilled in it. Insofar as perfect continence is thought by many men to be impossible in our times, to that extent priests should all the more humbly and steadfastly pray with the Church for that grace of fidelity, which is never denied those who seek it, and use all the supernatural and natural aids available. They should especially seek, lest they omit them, the ascetical norms which have been proved by the experience of the Church and which are scarcely less necessary in the contemporary world. This holy synod asks not only priests but all the faithful that they might receive this precious gift of priestly celibacy in their hearts and ask of God that He will always bestow this gift upon His Church." (Second Vatican Council)

"[I]t should be noted, as indeed the Fathers and Doctors of the Church teach, that we can more easily struggle against and repress the wiles of evil and the enticements of the passions if we do not struggle directly against them, but rather flee from them as best we may. For the preserving of chastity, according to the teaching of Jerome, flight is more effective than open warfare: 'Therefore I flee, lest I be overcome.' Flight must be understood in this sense, that not only do we diligently avoid occasion of sin, but especially that in struggles of this kind we lift our minds and hearts to God, intent above all on Him to Whom we have vowed our virginity... Flight and alert vigilance, by which we carefully avoid the occasions of sin, have always been considered by holy men and women as the most effective method of combat in this matter; today however it does not seem that everybody holds the same opinion. Some indeed claim that all Christians, and the clergy in particular, should not be 'separated from the world' as in the past, but should be 'close to the world'; therefore they should 'take the risk' and put their chastity to the test in order to show whether or not they have the strength to resist; therefore, they say, let young clerics see everything so that they may accustom themselves to gaze at everything with equanimity, and thus render themselves immune to all temptations. For this reason they readily grant young clerics the liberty to turn their eyes in any direction without the slightest concern for modesty; they may attend motion pictures, even those forbidden by ecclesiastical censorship; they may peruse even obscene periodicals; they may read novels which are listed in the Index of Forbidden Books or prohibited by the Natural Law. All this they allow because today the multitudes are fed by this kind of amusement and publication and because those who are minded to help them should understand their way of thinking and feeling. But it is easily seen that this method of educating and training the clergy to acquire the sanctity proper to their calling is wrong and harmful. For 'he that loveth danger shall perish in it;' most appropriate in this connection is the admonition of Augustine: 'Do not say that you have a chaste mind if your eyes are unchaste, because an unchaste eye betrays an unchaste heart.' No doubt this pernicious method is based upon serious confusion of thought... All the more reason why the young clergy, because they are to be trained in the spiritual life, in sacerdotal and religious perfection, must be separated from the tumult of the world before entering the lists of combat; for long years they must remain in a Seminary or Scholasticate where they receive a sound and careful education which provides them with a gradual approach to and a prudent knowledge of those problems which our times have brought to the fore, in accordance with the norms which We established in the Apostolic Exhortation 'Menti Nostrae.' What gardener would expose young plants, choice indeed but weak, to violent storms in order that they might give proof of the strength which they have not yet acquired? Seminarians and scholastics are surely to be considered like young and weak plants who must still be protected and gradually trained to resist and to fight. The educators of the young clergy would render a more valuable and useful service, if they would inculcate in youthful minds the precepts of Christian modesty, which is so important for the preservation of perfect chastity and which is truly called the prudence of chastity. For modesty foresees threatening danger, forbids us to expose ourselves to risks, demands the avoidance of those occasions which the imprudent do not shun. It does not like impure or loose talk, it shrinks from the slightest immodesty, it carefully avoids suspect familiarity with persons of the other sex, since it brings the soul to show due reverence to the body, as being a member of Christ and the temple of the Holy Spirit. He who possesses the treasure of Christian modesty abominates every sin of impurity and instantly flees whenever he is tempted by its seductions." (Pope Pius XII, "Sacra Virginitas", 1954 A.D.)

Also See: Virgins / Virginity | Virginity (Catholic Life Reflections) | Holiness / Virtue / Purity | Why Priestly Celibacy? | Priests / Priesthood [Pg.] | Religious / Religious Life / Religious Institutes | Celibacy/Virginity (Topical Scripture)

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