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In which Yr. Obdt. Svt. takes a look at the basic rationale for this discipline.
Mark, thank you. One correction:
Toward the middle of the piece you state that some priests, in the Eastern Rite, “priests but not bishops may marry.” This is incorrect; NO ONE who has received the sacrament of Holy Orders may marry, and this has been the unbroken tradition of the Church as long as we have records, in both East and West. It is true that married men are permitted the sacrament of Holy Orders — routinely in the East, by dispensation in the West. But no priest may marry.
Of course, the tradition still stands, both East and West, that bishops are chosen from celibates.
A twenty-something friend of mine was recently ordained to the transitional diaconate, and is studying for his priestly ordination. We were chatting about the Church’s teaching on gay “marriage” and the need to better witness to folks with same sex attraction and provide a more developed teaching about the celibate single life. He said something very beautiful: “I’ve come to see my vow of celibacy as a way of living in radical solidarity with all those who can’t marry, including same sex attracted people, just as a vow of poverty leads to a life in solidarity with the poor.”
Pretty good, but you left out two things I think are *very* germane, if a bit distracting from your main point:
1. A celibate priesthood provides a service of administration without ownership and inheritance and all of the problems that can and does cause in other rites.
2. A celibate priesthood frees a man from responsibility to family, allowing him to concentrate more time on other corporate works of mercy.