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Questions and Answers

I will be having a debate regarding celibacy and our side is not in favor of practicing the vow of celibacy. Can you share with me points and views that I can use to be able to defend our side?

Outline of the Answer
• Introduction
• Celibacy in Religious Life
• Celibacy of the Priesthood
• The Eucharist
• Holy Matrimony
• Debating Christ

To begin with, let’s get clear about what you mean by “practicing the vow of celibacy.”

Celibacy in Religious Life

Are you referring to religious life in general? Well, religious life in general constitutes a conscious choice of celibacy over marriage, so I don’t see how you could be trying to argue against practicing celibacy here. It would be like saying you want to call yourself a vegetarian but still want to eat meat. It all becomes nonsense.

Celibacy of the Priesthood

Thus you must be referring to the celibacy of the priesthood. The priestly vow of celibacy all goes right back to the example of Christ Himself, and to the example of the Apostles whom He taught personally. In fact, Christ said plainly, “Whoever loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me; and whoever does not take up his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for My sake will find it” (Matthew 10:37–39).

This saying is difficult enough for most Catholics, since hardly anyone today takes it seriously—that is, if they’ve ever read it in the first place. But it’s even more demanding for a priest, who must extend his care to far more souls than a personal family. The priest must show his people their sins, lead them into sorrow and repentance for those sins, and offer them the only healing available for their broken lives: the Eucharist.

The Eucharist

The Eucharist is not just the core of the priesthood, it’s also the core of all social interaction. A priest, as the minister of that Eucharist, must lead people into a profound mystical surrender to God. He must teach them that no other person can fill our essential human emptiness except Christ. He must teach them that nothing can heal our brokenness except the broken bread of the Eucharist.

Holy Matrimony

And the priest must teach the people that marriage heals nothing. Sexual activity which is open to procreation between a man and a woman within the indissoluble bond of Holy Matrimony and family is an act of service to God in raising children. In Holy Matrimony, as Saint Paul said, the woman must be submissive to her husband—as the Church must be submissive to Christ—and the man must love his wife as Christ loves His Church.

Holy Matrimony, then, is a special sort of ministry, a reflection of Christ Himself. And so, what does a priest, who performs all ministries, who formally represents Christ Himself to everyone, need with marriage? I can’t see anything that a real priest would possibly need. And neither did Pope John Paul II—which is why he declared the celibacy of the priesthood a subject not open to debate.

And so, there is nothing to debate.

Debating Christ

If you persist in wanting to debate the issue, then it shows clearly that you don’t love and trust Christ enough to follow His own example of self-denial and obedience. If that’s the case, you will find out on the day of the Last Judgment just how far you can get when you try to debate Christ.


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