The celibacy gimmick

The celibacy gimmick

A group of Australian Catholic priests have fired the imagination of the media by calling for an end to mandatory celibacy and we are once again presented with the red herring that a married priesthood is a panacea for the ills of the Church.

The requirement of priestly celibacy is perhaps the sole reason for this unprecedented decline. The Anglican and Protestant churches, which permit their clergy to marry, have not suffered any significant shortage of trainees over the same period.

What planet is this guy living on? The mainline Protestant churches (is the Anglican church not Protestant?) are suffering from the same decline in numbers of ministers and an even greater decline in practicing members than the Catholic Church.

The call betrays a worldy mindset. It looks at vocations from the viewpoint of career recruiting. This isn’t a matter of selling the priesthood to Catholic men; it’s about Catholic men responding to the Lord’s call for their lives. As usual, it’s all about sex: If only men were assured of having sex on a regular basis they would jump at the chance to be priests. In reality, it’s about God’s call. We will have as many priests as God wills through our cooperation. How many young men have you encouraged to consider the priesthood? Does your parish pray for an increase in vocations? Does it sponsor vocation retreats? Hey, those questions are just as valid for me and if I’m honest, I haven’t done a good enough job of encouraging vocations myself.

But gimmicks like optional celibacy are not the answer. Check out Diogenes’ comments on a similar news story:

ALL professions are celibate professions. Forget the movies you’ve seen and the profile pieces in the Sunday papers, and look around you. Every lawyer, every doctor, every professor (&c.) must make a choice between advancing in his field and attending to his family. Time paid to one is robbed from the other. True, some rare individuals are so talented that they can go on for years—or so it seems—out-distancing their professional colleagues on one hand and out-parenting the parents of their acquaintance on the other. But sooner or later they hit a ceiling—or the family implodes.

Good points.

Written by
Domenico Bettinelli
  • My pastor has taken to reminding the parish repeatedly that the reason the seminaries are empty is that the Catholic laity have not provided young men who want to be priests.

    I read those comments in my parish bulletin and reflect on what we know about the condition of the seminaries in many dioceses from Paul Likoudis and Michael Rose, and tend to get somewhat angry that he blames the laity when a large part of the fault lies in the diocesan administrations.

    Were a married clergy even being considered as a solution, we would have to weigh the negatives of potential divorced priests and broken clerical families against the current shortages, and be sure we were truly heading into a better situation than we already have.  I’m not at all convinced the trade-off would be an improvement.  And that doesn’t even begin to consider the financial impact of married priests.

    If those in charge had set out to destroy the priesthood, it seems to me they could not have done a better job than has been accomplished! 

    Where has Rome been?  We read more and more about the destruction of the Catholic faith in Europe.  The Pope’s own diocese is filled with Catholics who don’t attend Mass, from what I’ve read.  Is America to be next?  Are our churches to be emptied as well?  Is Mass to cease around the globe?  Because without priests there can be no Mass.  Without priests we can no longer practice the Catholic faith.

    Something is terribly wrong somewhere in the Church, and no one is willing to talk about it.  All we get is the fallout.

    Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us!

  • “Without priests we can no longer practice the Catholic faith.”  They managed in Japan for about 350 years without priests.  I’m not saying it is ideal and I am trying to do my part to encourage vocations but there are places and times where Catholics have lived without priests….

  • They may have been able to maintain belief.  What I’m saying is that the practice of the faith requires the priesthood.  Our faith is centered around the sacraments.  Without priests we are without the most important sacrament of all—the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.  Without the Mass we cannot practice our faith.

  • Are you saying that in some prison without priests you cannot practice your faith?  Are you saying that if there are no priests the rest of us are excused from responsibility for our faith?  In Japan they maintained their faith and they baptized their children.  They handed down the importance of Mary and the Pope so they wouldn’t get mixed up when someone, someday, came back.  Better get it straight lest we have to live without priests and bishops for a while. 

  • Without priests there is no Eucharist.  Without priests there is no Confirmation.  Without priests there is no Reconciliation.  Without ordained clergy there is no Baptism except when in danger of death.  Without ordained clergy there is no Extreme Unction.  Without clergy there is no marriage.  Without bishops there is no ordination, compounding the problem.

    That is what I mean by practicing the faith.  Sure we can still pray and learn about the faith.  But it’s foolish to think that we can practice a sacrament-based faith without access to the sacraments.  Many people have had to hold onto faith without benefit of the grace that flows through the sacraments.  But that is not practicing it as it is established.  Priests are essential to Catholicism.  Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.  Catholicism without priests is an animal of a different color.  Just ask the Cathars.

  • Actually, you don’t technically need a priest to marry. That and baptism are the two that don’t technically need clergy although under normal circumstances the Church requires it.

  • I am not sure about requiring a celibate priesthood today. There is a saying that it is better to marry than to burn, and perhaps with all these scandals, it is something to think about. The celibate clergy worked well with the Latin Mass of Trent. But I am not so sure with how it is working out with the New Mass of Vatican II. One thing to keep in mind is that the Eastern Orthodox Church has a married clergy, and I have heard, how, in many cases, the wife of the priest has been a great help in welcoming parishoners and in other social activities.

  • “I don />
    Pope Gregory X, Second Council of Lyons, 1274, Constitution 25:
    2005-01-31 17:05:26
    2005-01-31 21:05:26
    What is needed is bishops who understand clear and simple English.  Maybe we can import some from Africa.