On priestly celibacy PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 23 February 2018 14:12



THE other day, the Cebu clergy held their monthly afternoon of recollection with priestly celibacy as the theme for consideration and reflection. This topic, of course, is part of the line-up meant for this Year of the Clergy and Consecrated Persons.

While the speaker gave a very thorough and also very humorous treatment of the topic, what struck me first was that the main approach sounded more like priestly celibacy as a burden rather than a gift of God.

I have always believed that priestly celibacy is first of all a gift—in fact, a great gift and treasure—in the life of the persons involved and of the Church in general. It should make priests more happy and welcoming rather than worried and hesitant.

And that’s simply because priestly celibacy conforms one to Christ as head of the Church in a more intense way. With celibacy, a priest like Christ can be more available to the people in their spiritual and moral needs.

Besides, priestly celibacy holds the so-called eschatological meaning of reminding everyone here on earth that in our definitive state of life in heaven, all of us will be celibate.

And that’s because Christ clarified in that gospel episode where he was asked whose wife a woman was who got married to seven brothers, that in the resurrection on the last day and in heaven we will be like angels. (cfr Lk 20,27-40)

In other words, in heaven our resurrected body will be completely spiritualized, like that of Christ after his resurrection.

There will be no need for any carnal or marital activity since the population there will be fixed. There will be no more births nor deaths. That is why priests and consecrated persons have to dress up and behave in such a way as to give some kind of public witness to this truth of our faith.

How I wished this aspect of the reason for priestly celibacy had been more highlighted!

I believe the problem was because the main approach to the theme was that of priestly celibacy as an ecclesiastical requirement rather than a gift and treasure. It gave more focus on the frailties of men rather than on the grace and mercy of God and the beauty of celibacy itself.

Of course, it cannot be denied that priestly celibacy