The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

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Dialogue on celibacy

Scott Kreppien

is an aspiring Catholic priest and sophomore at St. John’s.

A priest does not have to be celibate. There are reasons why the Church made celibacy mandatory, but those reasons no longer apply.

Celibate monasteries preserved the Christian faith throughout the Dark Ages when marriage did not involve love but was a social arrangement. Because of this, celibacy was looked at as a more “holy” state than marriage. Since people look toward their priests as examples of holiness, there was a demand for priests to be celibate. This reasoning, however, is faulty. A married person and a celibate person can be equally holy.

The Church also had an economic problem dealing with married priests. While feudalism was the major economic system, there was the problem of people going into the priesthood because it was a higher social class than the peasant class. There was also the problem of what was Church property and what was personal property. Married priests would leave Church property to their heirs in their wills since there wasn’t a distinct line drawn between their personal property and what belonged to the Church.

Whether a person is married or not has no bearing on whether or not they can be a priest. Conditions present in Western culture that made it efficient for a vow of celibacy to be mandatory are now gone. By not allowing married priests, the Church is missing out on good priests and is also drawing people to the priesthood who are looking for an escape from society rather than an opportunity to serve God.

The Church is currently in a state of reform, and has been working to help change the view of God as being distant. It helps people to see God present in their lives, while still keeping in mind that God is infinitely perfect. One of the reforms has been to make it more common for there to be married deacons in the Roman Church. A deacon receives the same ordination as a priest and a bishop. So with the idea of a married deacon generally accepted, it is a reasonable assumption that making the vow of celibacy optional would be just as easily accepted. Hopefully sometime soon the Western (Roman) Rite of the Church will begin to accept married priests the same way the Eastern Rite does. This reform would be a large step in the right direction for the Church. It is far from the only problem with the Catholic Church, but it is an extremely visible one that could be fixed reasonably soon so long as the clergy recognizes the problem, and doesn’t fall into a “we had to deal with it, so do you” mentality toward future priests.

I’m not saying that celibacy is a bad thing. If someone feels called to celibacy, then it is a great thing. But it should not be mandatory. I am a Catholic and I love the Church, and dedicating my life to serving God and the Church is something I would really like to do. That being said, however, there are problems with the rules and organization of the Church that need to be fixed. These problems need to be recognized and corrected if the Church hopes to do its job of helping to unite God and man.

Adam Sornchai

is an aspiring Lutheran minister and freshman at St. John’s.

The vow of celibacy is one of the few differences between Catholics and Lutherans. It is a vow that Catholic priests must take and is not one that Lutheran ministers take. I think people miss the point when they focus on the fact that one can get married and the other can’t, one can have sex and the other can’t, which takes away from the sacrifice. We tend to focus more on the externals and we totally look past the more important internals.

Another point missed is that between the two vocations, who is making the bigger sacrifice? Is one really sacrificing more than the other or do they both have difficulties, just under different circumstances? I am not trying to underplay celibacy one bit. It’s definitely a huge sacrifice one would have to make and I know peers of mine who are debating this. A teen or someone in his early 20s trying to make a life choice like celibacy is dealing with a major decision that affects the rest of his life. It is a decision that does not enter into my thinking process as I contemplate the ministry.

On the other hand, it’s not like a Lutheran pastor’s job is a walk in the park, either. Lutheran ministers do what Catholic priests do. It’s a 24/7 job. It’s full-time and doing that with a family is definitely a challenge. So, you have the responsibility of serving God and the people in your congregation as well as the community. And, there is also family life to juggle.

I believe that people are called to a celibate life/ministry while others are called to marriage/children. There are also those who are called to ministry/marriage/children. No one is better then the other. God calls us to these things and God is going to put us in situations where we are drawn to his callings, not forced into his callings, and that goes for any career, not just a life of ministry.

Maybe we are put into these situations as part of a bigger scheme in God’s eyes. I think it may have to do with our callings and who we are going to reach. What environments we experience and, I think most importantly, how God can use our callings and the positions we are in not only to help others but even to help ourselves. Whether the minister is celibate or married, he will have a different experience of life and will connect with God in his or her own special way.

The life that we lead, no matter what it may be, always has a major choice. We do sacrifice things along the way no matter what we are doing. But, those choices bring us to other much rewarding situations, where not only are we giving but taking back and enjoying our lives and what we do as well.

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