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Priestly Celibacy: Is It an Argument One Can Win?

I know what the critics are saying:

“There are plenty of women willing to endure all sorts of hardship and poverty for the men they love, even if those men should be priests. Why not let them decide and make a try of it?”

“If the refugees from Anglicanism can have married priests in the Catholic Church, then how is it fair or just to deprive our own boys of a wife and family?”

“The Eastern rites are in full communion with Rome and yet they have married priests. These men serve well and their wives become loving spiritual mothers over their faith communities. Does not mandatory celibacy impugn their witness and the value of these women? Can we claim that their concept of priesthood represents an earlier period of faith development that we have matured beyond in the West?”

How does one respond and not sound like a bigot? Might any defense of mandatory priestly celibacy be interpreted as an attack upon married clergy? I can argue that there are only so any hours in a day. I can insist that it is wrong to inflict upon women and their children the arduous sacrifices that would accompany such unions with Roman Catholic priests. I can lug it out with the insistence that the priest is already married to the Church and one wife is enough. I can remind everyone that priesthood is a gratuity and that no one deserves or merits it. I can make the contention that God will only truly call those who have been given the gift of celibate love. But no matter what I say and do, some will be angry that anyone would oppose the momentum for married priests.

What will they say? “You just want to keep the priesthood safe for hiding homosexuals and pedophiles. What is wrong with you? Do you hate women? Are you afraid of them?”

One Response

  1. In answer to your question/title: no. All you can do is live your celibacy with joy and thanksgiving even when the going gets tough. That’s the best answer you can give. God bless you. I’ve really been enjoying this series.

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