Celibacy: Should priests marry or not?
BY EMMANUEL EDUKUGHO
The sex abuse crisis and massive cover up by top hierarchy of the church are so much that the situation currently, has put Catholicism in dire strait.
The vow of celibacy can roughly be attributed or traced to sex scandals involving some insignificant segment of the priesthood. Catholic priests are required to be celibate – not married and not having sex.
To US Emeritus Archbishop, Cardinal Theodara McCarrick, Celibacy is important in the life of the priest, allowing him to fully dedicate himself to God.
Early in his pontificate, Benedict XVI had asserted that traditional protestantism is in “profound crisis,”that evangelicalism owes its popularity to a “certainty” which derives from its willingness to settle for a “minimum faith,”and that although Catholicism isn’t in such bad shape,”the West is a world that is tired of its own culture that has arrived at a time in which there’s no more evidence of the need for God, much less Christ, and in which it seems that man alone can make himself.”
Benedict also challenged a phenomenon in which late Pope John Paul often reveled – the explosion of priestly vocations in the developing world, which he said sometimes owed less to faith than the seminarians’ quest for material gain and social promotion in their villages.
Saturday Vanguard checks showed that there is shortage of priests especially for the local church as parents are reluctant to enroll their boys in the seminary due to the age-long celibacy policy of the Catholic church.
And many young men who entered the seminary to train as priests dropped out before ordination, lured away by filial and sexual temptations. So too are young girls going into the convent to become nuns and reverend sisters unable to cope with challenges of chastity.
A bishop once went hard on the congregation for not allowing their sons to join the priesthood saying: “you want priests in the church, but refused your children to be trained as priests. We need more priests in the Lord’s vineyard.”
Only few people understand that the priesthood is a calling from God, hence those who are there should completely submit their lives to the service of God especially in Catholicism – no wife, no children, no marital obligations or worldly material desires.
Rev Father Fabian Anele of our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church, Choba, Port Harcourt, when contacted on phone, directed this writer to some sources which explained what celibacy is all about.
Ordinarily, celibacy refers to a state of being unmarried and sexual abstinence, usually associated with the role of religious official or devotee.
In its narrow sense, the term is applied only to those to whom the unmarried is the result of sacred vow, act of renunciation or religious conviction.
It has existed in one form or another throughout history and in virtually all the major religions in the world, such as Christianity, Buddhism, Brahma Kumaris, to mention a few.
Celibacy is distinct from the lack of interest in sex, which may be due to a number of reasons such as asexuality.
The word celibacy derives from the Latin caelibatus, state of being unmarried, again from Latin caelebs, meaning “Unmarried.” In the early church, higher clerics, even if they live in marriages, they are supposed to abstain from sexual intercourse with their wives.
In the early 3rd century, the canons of the Apostolic Constitution decreed that only lower clerics might still marry after their ordination, but marriage of bishops, priests and deacons were not allowed.
The first Conciliar document on celibacy of the Western Christian Church (Canon 33 of the Synod of Elvira, C. AD 305) states that the discipline of celibacy is to refrain from the use of marriage, that is refrain from having carnal contact with your spouse. In the Catholic Church, Orthodox or Oriental Orthodox traditions, bishops are required to be celibate. In the Eastern Christian traditions, Priests and Deacons are allowed to be married, yet have to celibate.
If they are unmarried at the time of ordination, celibacy is viewed differently by the Catholic Church and the various protestant communities. It includes clerical celibacy, celibacy of the consecrated life, voluntary lay celibacy and celibacy outside of marriage. The protestant Reformation rejected celibate life and sexual continence for preachers. A few minor Christian sects advocate celibacy as a better way of life.
Celibacy is not only for religious and monastics (Brothers/Monks and Sisters/Nuns), but also for bishops is upheld by the Catholic Church traditions.
Many evangelicals prefer the term abstinence”to “celibacy.”Assuming everyone will marry, they focus their discussions on refraining from premarital sex and focusing on the joys of a future marriage. But some evangelicals, especially older singles, desire a positive message of celibacy that moves beyond the “wait until marriage”message.