Better to Marry Than to Burn: Clerical Celibacy in Modern Times

1883 Words4 Pages

Described as a “precious jewel” by Pope Paul VI, a vow of celibacy, abstaining from marriage and all sexual activity is required for those choosing a life of service in the Roman Catholic Church (Frazee 108). Perhaps one of the most long standing debates within the Roman Catholic Church is the issue of clerical celibacy, in particular for priests. Many ask, does compulsory celibacy for priest have any place in today’s modern world? Some will argue that compulsory celibacy for priest is essential for priest to adequately serve their parishioners as well as to faithfully serve God. While others suggest that this is an antiquated unnatural practice that is harmful for not only the priest but for the Roman Catholic Church. However, in order to adequately answer this question, it is imperative to understand the history of compulsory clerical celibacy in the Roman Catholic faith, as well as the reasoning for the implementation of this practice among clerics.
The church’s official stance on clerical celibacy dates back to the fourth century. In the year 306 CE, a small gathering of bishops met in the town of Elvira, near Granada. This council asserted that all bishops, priests, deacons and active clergy members were to abstain from sexual relations with their wives, as well as refrain from having children (Stephey 14). Interestingly enough, there was no ban issued against clerics entering into marriage. The ban was exclusively against sexual activity. This decree of the council of Elvira only applied to the local members of the Iberian church; nevertheless, this decision did propagate the consideration of implementing clerical celibacy throughout the church. The issue was discussed and proposed for church wide implementation of the firs...

... middle of paper ...

...over Story)." U.S. News & World Report 121.26 (1996): 76. Academic Search Premier. Web. 1 May 2014.
Klein, Franz. "John Paul II Priests." Commonweal 132.14 (2005): 23-25. Academic Search Premier. Web. 3 May 2014.
Schoenherr, Richard A. and, Young, Lawrence. "Quitting the Clergy: Resignations in the Roman Catholic Priesthood." Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 29.4 (1990): 463-481. JStor. Web. 1 May 2014
Stephey, M. J. "A Brief History Of: Celibacy." Time 173.20 (2009): 14. Academic Search Premier. Web. 28 April 2014.
Sullivan, James E. "Don't Give The Priest Shortage The Silent Treatment." U.S. Catholic 66.12 (2001): 26. Academic Search Premier. Web. 2 May 2014.
Wengert, Timothy J. "The Book of Concord and Human Sexuality, Seen Through the Institution Of Marriage." Dialog: A Journal of Theology 48.1 (2009): 9-18. Academic Search Premier. Web. 5 May 2014.

In this essay, the author

  • Explains that celibacy, abstaining from marriage and sexual activity is required for those choosing a life of service in the roman catholic church.
  • Explains that the church's official stance on clerical celibacy dates back to the fourth century, when a small gathering of bishops met in elvira, near granada.
Show More
Open Document