The consequences of optional celibacy

The consequences of optional celibacy

Fr. Joseph Wilson discusses the potential problems with optional celibacy for Latin rite priests. Mandatory celibacy is a discipline, not a dogma, but just because it’s not hard and fast law for all time does not mean there isn’t a good reason for it.

Fr. Wilson touches on all the good practical reasons. When I lived in a rectory I was amazed at the amount of time that priests put into their vocation. It isn’t like being a Protestant minister, but it’s a 24-hour-a-day task.

The priesthood isn’t a profession like being a banker. It’s a vocation like being a husband and both demand your full-time attention. If you try to be both, one will suffer. That’s my layman’s opinion.

Written by
Domenico Bettinelli
6 comments
  • Let’s not put down these priests.  At least they are vying for change from within.  Many of the saints were ignored for a long time, many suffered until they died, only to be recognized after death (an no, I’m not saying these priests are “saints” [yet]).

    Others like Luther, chose to leave when he was not listened to.  If he had stayed, he would most likely be Saint Martin Luther, today.

    The question of celibacy is one we can talk of until we turn blue in the face.  It is a question of tradition which will be answered by the Holy Father alone.

  • Todd,

    Are you high? You’re comparing the obligations of man to his family to a smoking habit?

    “I’m sorry Mrs. Murphy, but I can’t come over and anoint you. I smoking a cool methol and drinking a fine single malt.”

    How exactly can celibacy be a hindrance to a ministry? What about Christ’s own words in Matthew 19:12. Some have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven. “He who is able to receive this, let him receive it.”

    That so many priests would do such things means so much more than two that you claim: There has been poor catechesis for priests on their vocation, bishops have done a poor job of building community and unity among their priests, and the previous archbishop of Milwaukee raised up in his priests unrealistic expectations.

  • I can assure you, Todd, there are very few parishes with priests on-call ‘for the piddly stuff.’

  • Because holding the profession of banker is not the same as having the vocation of husband. You’re confusing a vocation with a job. A vocation is a spiritual reality that requires a 24/7 commitment. A job is something you do until you get tired of it or find a better one. And it (should) take at most about 40 hours per week.

    Unfortunately, too many men allow their jobs to overshadow their vocations and they get confused about which is more important. There are a lot of guys who apply the attention that should be going to their families to their jobs instead.

    As for married and unmarried Protestant ministers: the Protestant ministry is not the same and does not require the same of a man as the priesthood. It may be un-PC and un-ecumenical to say so, but it’s a reality. And that an unmarried Protestant minister can run himself into the ground: even a celibate Catholic priest unsuited or unprepared for his vocation can do the same.

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