The Evangelization Station

Best Catholic Links


Search this Site


Home


Contact


Feedback


Mailing List


Pray for Pope Francis


Scroll down for topics


100+ Important Documents in United States History


Anti-Catholicism


Apostolic Fathers of the Church


Articles Worth Your Time


 Biographies & Writings of Notable Catholics


Catholic Apologetics


Catholic Calendar


Catholic News Commentary by Michael Voris, S.T.B.


Catholic Perspectives


Catholic Social Teaching


Christology


Church Around the World


Small animated flag of The Holy See (State of the Vatican City) graphic for a white background

Church Contacts


  Church Documents


Church History


Church Law


Church Teaching


Demonology


Doctors of the Church


Ecumenism


Eschatology

(Death, Heaven, Purgatory, Hell)


Essays on Science


Evangelization


Fathers of the Church


Free Catholic Pamphlets


 Heresies and Falsehoods


How to Vote Catholic


Let There Be Light

Q & A on the Catholic Faith


Links to Churches and Religions


Links to Newspapers, Radio and Television


Links to Recommended Sites


Links to Specialized Agencies


Links to specialized Catholic News services


Liturgy

General Instruction of the Roman Missal


Mariology


Marriage & the Family


Modern Martyrs

Mexican Martyrdom


Moral Theology

****

Pope John Paul II's

Theology of the Body


Movie Reviews (USCCB)


New Age


Occult


Parish Bulletin Inserts


Political Issues


Prayer and Devotions


Pro-Life

****

Hope after Abortion

Project Rachel

****

Help & Information for Men

****


Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults


Sacraments


Scripture


Spirituality


The Golden Legend


Vatican


Vocation Links & Articles

 


What the Cardinals believe...


World Religions


Pope John Paul II

In Memoriam


John Paul II

Beatification


Pope Benedict XVI

In Celebration



Visits to this site

Priestly Celibacy

Prof. Michael F. Hull

Celibacy, the unmarried state elected in light of the Catholic faith, is the Church’s norm for her sacred priesthood. The priest, "chosen from among men to act on behalf of men in relation to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins" (Heb 5:1), promises celibacy for the sake of the kingdom of God. The Church’s understanding of the magnitude of priestly celibacy has developed gradually and matured from the Lord’s own witness as a celibate and His commendation of celibacy in the Gospels—through Saint Paul’s 1 Corinthians 7, Pope Saint Leo I, Pope Saint Gregory I, Lateran I, and numerous other "moments" in Church history—to our own day under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Observed with rare exception in the West by priests and by all bishops, celibacy is also observed by some priests and all bishops in the East. In recent times, the Church has proclaimed vigilantly the importance of celibacy, for example, in Pius XII’s Sacra Virginitas, Vatican II’s Presbyterorum Ordinis, Paul VI’s Sacerdotalis Caelibatus, John Paul II’s, Letter to Priests on Holy Thursday (1979), and the Congregation for the Clergy’s Directory for Ministry and Life of Priests.

Priestly celibacy is an invaluable witness to the kingdom of God: "Truly, I say to you, there is no man who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who will not receive manifold more in this time, and in the age to come eternal life" (Luke 18:29–30; cf. Mark 10:27–30). In imitation of the Lord, the priest promises to live solely for his sacred apostolate, in the hope of being one of those "who follows the Lamb wherever he goes" (Rev 14:4). Priestly celibacy allows not only for imitation of the Lord but also for personal sacrifice and sanctification. "For this reason," Pius XII writes, "the Church has most wisely held that the celibacy of her priests must be retained; she knows it is and will be a source of spiritual graces by which they will be ever most closely united with God" (SV, n. 40).

The unique status of the priest as the alter Christus among men demands of him a distinctive pursuit of Christian perfection in the mystici corporis Christi. Intimately and extraordinarily configured to Jesus Christ the High Priest by his sacred ordination, it is the priest who sanctifies (munus sanctificandi), teaches (munus docendi), and governs (munus regendi) in His name. Just as the world finds difficulty in comprehending the Messiah, who "was led like a lamb that is led to the slaughter" (Isa 53:7), so the world finds difficulty in comprehending men who are only "anxious about the affairs of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit" (1 Cor 7:34). Celibacy gives testimony, both for those who live it and those who see it lived, to the life hereafter. "For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven" (Matt 22:30; cf. Mark 12:25).

To be sure, "not all men can receive this saying, but only those to whom it is given" by God (Matt 19:11). Priestly celibacy is a gift concomitant with the vocation of the priest, the call from God, the invitation to love not only exceptionally but exclusively. In the response of total dedication and love to Christ and His Church, the priest is guaranteed the graces necessary for his life and work. Unfortunately in a world darkened by original sin and the consequences thereof, celibacy is too often thought of as unnatural when, in fact, it is supernatural. In many parts of the world, a period of decline in priestly vocations, which is simultaneous with consumerism, materialism, and sexual licentiousness, seemingly indicates celibacy’s ineffectualness. But the polar opposite is true: "where there is sin, grace abounds all the more" (Rom 5:20). Now, perhaps more than ever, the world is in need of the Lord and the witness of priestly celibacy. "He who is able to receive this, let him receive it" (Matt 19:12).

 

webmaster  www.evangelizationstation.com

Copyright © 2004 Victor Claveau. All Rights Reserved