Faith/Spirituality Forum: Clerical Celibacy
Clerical Celibacy QUESTION from Matthew Miller on April 18, 2002 Dear Brother Ignatius,
Are all married priests in the Eastern Rite Church forbidden sexual relations with their wives, and if not, is this because of a special dispensation?
ANSWER by John-Paul Ignatius, OLSM on May 18, 2002 Dear Mr. Miller:
The Church teaching and the Bible all teach that marriage partners are NOT to deprive themselves of marital sex unless by mutual consent for a short time.
Marriage is ordered to procreation and to the bonding between husband and wife that stabilizing the marriage for the good of the children and the married partner.
One cannot be validly married if they intend to never have sex, or are incapable of having sex.
No Dispensation is needed for married priests to have sex. Married priests do not take a vow of celibacy -- obviously.
The rule of celibacy is a disciple, not a doctrine, that is based upon the advice of St. Paul. The rule of celibacy is active in the Latin Rite for all priests (except by special dispensation in some cases of ministers of other denominations converting to the Catholic Church and allowed to be priests in the Latin Rite -- this is rare, but possible).
The norm, however, in the Latin Rite is celibacy.
In the Eastern Churches priests may be married but bishops must be perpetually celibate.
It should be noted that a man who was ordained a priest when he was single MUST remain single (celibate) for life. This is true in both the East and West.
When a priest is allowed to be married it is ONLY if he is already married at the time he is ordained. Also, if his wife should die, he cannot be married again, but must remain celibate for the remainder of his life.
Because celibacy is a discipline and not a doctrine, the Church may change the rules if she wishes -- but that is not likely to happen in the Latin Rite.
In fact, today more than ever, we need celibate priests as a counter-cultural symbol and example against the sexually over-charged society we live in. Afterall, the state of celibacy is a picture of the coming Kingdom in Heaven. There will be no marriage in heaven.
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