Priestly celibacy

Priestly celibacy

Brian Bibby

Despite numerous pronouncements by popes and bishops over the years, there are still Catholics who not only believe that priests should marry but actively campaign to this end. Two examples of the extent of the organisation behind this campaign should suffice.

On 3 April 2005, journalist Bryan Patterson reported in the Melbourne Sunday Herald Sun that the National Council of Priests, representing some bishops and half of Australia's priests, had lobbied the Vatican asking that the ban on married priests and women priests be lifted.

On Thursday 22 November 2007, a Public Forum was held at the Camberwell Civic Centre to "encourage the Australian Catholic Bishops to broaden the possibility for ministry in order to address the current crisis". This meant married priests and women priests.

In his excellent letter "One Shepherd" (May AD2000), Peter Howard quotes twelve passages from the New Testament to support his statement that Jesus Christ founded the Catholic Church while giving Peter as the first Pope the authority to preach and teach. Christ also guaranteed that "whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven".

The Pope has no authority to change the structure or teachings of the Church as instituted by Christ. When we oppose the Pope on de fide teachings we are opposing Christ.

There is one other compelling reason for the teachings of the Church on this subject.

When Christ established His Church He also instituted seven Sacraments, among them Matrimony and Holy Orders. Of the Christian denominations, the Catholic Church is the only one which recognises marriage as a sacrament. Each of these sacraments has its individual characteristics. Both Matrimony and Holy Orders involve the taking of vows.

In Matrimony the husband and wife vow to live together to the exclusion of all others. In Holy Orders the candidate accepts a life that involves the inclusion of all others. The two are mutually exclusive.

Then there are practical considerations, a few of which will suffice:

1. In the event of a divorce, considering the reason given that priests should be permitted to marry is because of their difficulty living a celibate life, will the Church have to allow divorced priests to remarry?

2. Parishes would have to raise enough funding for the priest, his wife and children, plus a vehicle for his wife and later for their teenage children plus the cost of a university education.

BRIAN BIBBY
Forest Hill, Vic

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