Do we think it is time to discuss the question of clerical celibacy? It has a long history. Even some pre-Christian religions required it of their leaders presumably because marriage did not seem fitting for those in direct communication with the gods. It did not appear to be an issue at the beginning of Christianity and no doubt the fact that St Peter was married would have been taken into account. However the Council of Elvira (304 AD) stated that all clerics were to”abstain completely from their wives and not to have children.”
During the Middle Ages the desirability of celibacy broadened, and the clear rules were finally stated at the Council of Trent. And there it stands. However, the movement of married Anglican clergy into the Catholic Church means that we now have married clergy on board. If we consider the possibility of dropping obligatory celibacy in general for the future there are a number of issues to consider: For example:
Do we think that a priest, as the representative of Christ, should maintain his whole focus on his vocation? He should not be distracted by family responsibilities.
How are priestly families going to be financed? If this is by the Church, that means us.
Which should a married priest put first if there is a clash – marriage and family or priestly duties?
How can a celibate priest have a deep understanding of his married flock when he is without the experience?
The Eastern churches have allowed priests to be married; it does not seem to have damaged them.
Sexuality in marriage requires deep physical desire – sometimes bordering on lust. Surely this is wrong for a representative of Christ?
Is celibacy a haven for those who lack sexual instincts, or who have perverse sexual instincts?
Would the removal of celibacy attract our badly needed increase in the number of clergy?
Would the removal of celibacy so lower the status of the priesthood that many would feel that it did not fulfil their vocation, and so reduce the priesthood?
What do you think?