In challenging John Young's excellent article on clerical celibacy (August AD2000) Kim Albertini (Letters, November AD2000) takes exception to the doctrine that consecrated celibacy is superior to marriage. One reason given is that "Peter our first Pope was married". St Peter, of course, was already married when he met Jesus. We simply do not know whether or not he still had marital relations later.
My own Catholic education and formation instructed me in the doctrine that consecrated celibacy was a higher calling than that of the married state, and reflection shows that this must be so. This does not mean, of course, that all priests and religious lead better and holier lives than all married people.
It is worthwhile noting that single Catholics are also required to practise abstinence. Some make a private vow of celibacy to God, in order to offer their lives more completely to Him. Others may find themselves in the single state, which is not the one they would have chosen.
To live a life of purity in such circumstances calls for courage and self-sacrifice. Whichever vocation we are called to, God's grace will always be sufficient to enable us to achieve the status He has planned for us, and to gain the salvation He desires for all.