Friday, May 17, 2013

Priestly Celibacy

I don't think I mentioned this earlier, but I'm keeping track of the comments on my blog, so I can respond to the points people are making.  I think I have about ten comments to respond to, at this point.  Today, I'll tackle this one:
"Ok, for the record, this is like trying to argue that Jesus made the decree that priests couldn't be married. He didn't. In fact, that decree wasn't made until HUNDREDS of years after Jesus died, like most arguments that the Catholic church holds sacred."
There are many ways to respond to this.  For one thing, the Bible does include Jesus speaking favorably about priestly celibacy.  For another thing, there is no reason why the Catholic Church can't talk about things that Jesus did not mention specifically.  That does not negate the Church's authority or make it irrelevant.

But let's respond to this objection from a historical standpoint.  Our commentor mistakenly believes that priestly celibacy was invented, hundreds of years after Jesus died.  That is false; priestly celibacy existed as a practice long before it became a mandatory practice.

In the beginning of the church, there were both married priests (like St. Peter) and non-married priests (like St. John). Different places had different rules about celibacy. Some places had mandatory celibacy for priests, some places had mandatory celibacy for bishops with optional celibacy for priests, and some places had optional celibacy for both priests and bishops.

Hundreds of years later, it was decided that every place should have the same rules, in regards to celibacy.  The model they picked was mandatory celibacy for all priests, and this mandate is still in force today. The other models of celibacy all existed with Church approval in the past, which means it is possible (though unlikely) that the Church can return to them.

In fact, England is currently asking if they can adopt a different model of celibacy, due to the influence of the Church of England on their country. I read their petition, and they made some good points, but I believe their points were poorly presented, which might hurt their chances of getting the petition accepted.


Anonymous said...

No offense, Michael, but you sort of danced around the point here. You essentially said the same thing the original poster said, you just attempted to phrase it in a way that would be favorable to the church.

L said...

I'm glad you're continuing in this series because I'm curious to know your thoughts and the thoughts of the Catholic Church. It's nice to have someone reason out the beliefs in a helpful way.

I am a little confused by this post though. You and the commenter pretty much said the same thing. The main argument you give that is meant to be against the commenter is that there was no decree for mandatory celibacy until later--a long time after Jesus' death and resurrection--which was the commenter's point. Just because it existed as a practice doesn't make it a decree given by Jesus.

You say Jesus spoke favorably about priestly celibacy, but there were no verses mentioned to back it up. Could you please post them? I do want to know where He says it. Thank you!

Looking forward to your next post. :)