For those of you who think that the issue of celibacy has not had a serious discussion, that the magisterium has not devoted long, serious contemplation to the issue, as well as to the arguments for lifting the obligation, you should be aware of this. In 1967, Pope Paul VI issued the encyclicalSacerdotalis Caelibatus (The Celibacy of the Priest). He begins by noting that many consciences are troubled by the state of the priesthood, whether celibacy places too great a demand on priests today, whether it is outmoded or even a medieval accretion. Paul VI considers all of those arguments and objections, and it’s no surprise where he comes down.
For certain, he’s not the only Pope in the 20th century to address the issue—John Paul II has done it several times. I’m going to read this document carefully, and come back with my thoughts.