Catholic Q&A

If Protestant pastors are permitted to get married why do Catholic priests have to remain unmarried?

This is an issue with a long history. More than being based on the nature of the priestly office, priestly celibacy is a fact that slowly came to be institutionalized within the tradition, as its necessity and value came to be recognized. It was never a matter of viewing marriage as something bad or something of low value. While the tradition of the Catholic Church has been highly respectful of marriage, the Church has nevertheless decided that celibacy is more suitable for priestly service.

In actual fact though the pros and cons of celibacy, especially in modern times, are being debated in a variety of ways. Owing to their celibacy, priests may possibly not gain a proper grasp of marital or family issues, they may be emotionally unstable, prone to bigotry, and become tainted by many other defects. According to my mother, the fact that I alone in our family am suffering a loss of hair is because I am single, and that apparently is evoking a hormonal imbalance within me.

Viewed from a witty angle though, isn’t it a miracle of our current world that so many have the guts to take such a risk and opt for a life of celibacy so as to become priests for Christ? This is particularly true of nations like Japan where the number of Christians are few, and where the Church is still financially fragile. It is precisely due to their celibacy that priests are able to work hard and not worry about their own lives. If priests had families to support, their ministerial work would be limited by the donations made by the Church members. They would find it hard to speak firmly to wealthy parishioners, or serve the poor without concern for gain or loss. Celibacy a visible sign that a priest is genuinely devoted to Christ and His Church, and not concerned about his own benefit.

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