Why priestly celibacy must continue in the Catholic Church
A uniquely Catholic institution that sets the church apart from all others
For this reason such a guide needs solid monitoring to prevent this from happening. On the other hand, a good spiritual guide has considerable existential experiences with many married couples, and therefore can reach out to the most difficult cases. This explains the surprising fruitfulness of the writings on marriage of that great shepherd of souls, the Servant of God John Paul II.
Some people argue that the celibate life is too difficult. Pope Paul VI has countered this argument by saying that the grace of fidelity to celibacy is “never denied to those who ask it sincerely”. Indeed, human beings, with their intelligence and freedom, do not have to act on their sexual impulses in order to be happy and healthy. In fact, never controlling those impulses is a sure sign of a serious psychological problem.
Some critics claim that allowing Roman Catholic priests to marry will resolve the present priest shortage. There is, however, no real evidence for this: celibacy certainly did not prevent the early church from flourishing. In addition, a married priesthood would create new and equally serious problems. Married priests have to divert their attention away from their parishes to their wives and children, assuring their care and education. Also, a priest with a family is more difficult to move to a different parish.
In the words of Pope John Paul II: "The value of celibacy as a complete gift of self to the Lord and his church must be carefully safeguarded...The life of chastity, poverty, and obedience willingly embraced and faithfully lived confutes the conventional wisdom of the world and challenges the commonly accepted vision of life.''
Father Theodore Hesburgh, a priest of the Congregation of the Holy Cross, once described celibacy in this way: “True, I don't have a wife or children, but I have tens of thousands of young who call me 'Father' and they mean it. I have had the joy of forgiving sins, baptizing babies, joining hundreds of loving couples in holy matrimony, comforting the sick and burying the dead, which is not joyful but an opportunity to comfort the living. Celibacy has not been a hindrance to me. On the contrary, it has given me the freedom to belong not to one person but to everyone as completely and wholly as possible. There is no greater joy than responding to people with spiritual needs."
Paul Kokoski holds a BA in philosophy from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. His articles have been published in several newspapers and journals including, Homiletic and Pastoral Review, New Oxford Review, and The Toronto Star.
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