Skip to comments.TENDENCY FOR PRIESTS IS TOWARD CELIBACY, SAYS EGYPTIAN BISHOP
Posted on 10/25/2009 2:48:17 PM PDT by NYer
VATICAN CITY, OCT. 23, 2009 (Zenit.org).- When priests are given the choice between marriage and celibacy, the tendency is to choose celibacy, at least according to the experience of the bishop of Cairo of the Chaldeans.Bishop Youssef Ibrahim Sarraf said this today in response to a question concerning married priests at a press conference to present the final message of the synod on Africa.
The question was asked in light of the announcement this week that Benedict XVI will publish an apostolic constitution that will allow groups of Anglicans seeking communion with the Church to do so through personal ordinariates.
Within it, Anglican married priests will be allowed to be ordained as priests in the Catholic Church and to exercise their ministry maintaining their married family life.
The journalist asked if the introduction of former Anglican, married priests to the Church would cause celibate Catholic priests to stray.
The bishop of Cairo noted in his response that in Egypt, married Catholic priests belonging to the Eastern Catholic Churches and celibate priests coexist without problems.
He also said that even where the ordination of married priests is allowed, there is a tendency to celibacy that many priests embrace voluntarily.
"This doesn't create problems," the bishop clarified. "It's something that is absolutely normal.
"The tendency is rather to celibacy, but not the contrary, at least according to the experience in Egypt."
Archbishop John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan of Abuja, Nigeria, president of the commission given the responsibility to write the synod's final message, said that the dispensation of celibacy to former Anglican priests would "not have a fundamental impact" on the clergy in Africa.
While I have not interviewed many priests, I do have some experience with this issue. My son is almost 18 now, and is going into seminary next fall.
He has been going through discernment for several years now. Up until the last month, he had never dated. He had never really had the urge to do so. He enjoyed having friends of both sexes, and that was enough. He decided this year, as a senior, he would like to date a girl in his band. They have been friends for many years, but he wanted to take a girl to homecoming and the prom this year since it is his last.
He has been dating her (defined very loosely here. They have been to 2 movies and played mini golf once) for about 3 weeks. She knows of his calling to the priesthood. He has already told me that he knows he is called to celibacy. This experience has shown him that God has given him all he needs to remain celibate in his life. While the vast majority of people are NOT called to celibacy, God grants this gift (yes, GIFT) to those he calls into a vocation that requires it.
Men who feel called to serve God yet marry, are encouraged to become deacons. Women who feel called to marry have many opportunities to serve God through ministries within the Church. There is no either/or, its all about what God calls the individual to. The only folks who say priests should marry or should be allowed to be female are confusing their desire (or deliberately fanning the flames of discord within the Catholic Church) with a true calling from God to a vocation. God does not call people to a vocation, or a lifestyle choice that would be contrary to His teachings. That is primarily reserved to us fallen creatures who confuse our desires and pride with Gods will for our lives.
There is no surprise that most priests would embrace celibacy. They do feel lonely sometimes, so do married folks (affairs, cheating, etc) but they are never alone. People would do well to understand WHY priests are celibate before deciding they just shouldn’t be.
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I think the incoming Anglicans are going to find this to be the case as well. “Anglo Catholic” (very High Church Anglican) clergy in the 19th century often adopted celibacy, even though it wasn’t required. Now that they’re in a situation where it’s not weird and doesn’t mean you’re secretly gay, I think you’ll see a lot more of those who are not married now opting for celibacy.
Of this I have no doubt. In every other denomination, priests truly called to serve would be looked at in the most unusual way for opting to remain celibate.
We have reduced the sexual act in humanity to animal level; anyone who doesn’t choose to do it must be crazy or gay. That is in direct contradiction to scriptures such as the one that celebrate becoming a eunich for the kingdom or st paul saying it would be better to remain single as he was, and Jesus was. It is also pointed out that single men and women can devote all their attention to the Lord, where married men and women must think of their spouses, thereby dividing their attentions, especially when there are family struggles with children or the marriage itself.
I always found it strange for married clergy, even when I was a baptist. Many of the families do suffer, and they do so in silence. Pastoring is even more demanding on time than being a surgeon or obstetrician. It can overwhelm even the strongest marriage.
“”The tendency is rather to celibacy, but not the contrary, at least according to the experience in Egypt.””
Celibates belong in monasteries.
I have seen that in the families of Orthodox priests. It’s an enormous strain for all concerned, not just the priest, and there were a lot of seriously dysfunctional families among them.
While I know this example does not pertain to this directly, it may be wise to consider it in a vocation;
You cannot serve 2 masters, you will love one and despise the other, you cannot serve God and mammon.
I believe it is a greater effort to exercise restraint from this natural tendency toward a woman than the contrary. However, there is duty, will power, and discipline that a normal celibate man must employ in order to maintain his commitment to God.
This isn't true if you are generally Asexual or homosexual with a God fearing conscience. If the latter, you don't want to marry a woman in the first place so there is nothing to suppress in that respect. So your tendency would indeed be toward celibacy if you have a God fearing conscience because your understand of such an abomination forces you to suppress it much more so than a heterosexual tendency.
Your bishops live in monasteries?
True. Each day the married priest must choose between having sex with his wife and celebrating the Holy Eucharist. According to Tradition, the two cannot be done on the same day. Knowing the infinite value of the Holy Eucharist, in a reasonable world this would be an easy decision to make. Yet there are plenty of priests having kids. Hmmm....
Why is that?
“Your bishops live in monasteries?”
Many do as a matter of fact.
A monastery would be a good place for you. Plenty of time for contemplative prayer, which would do you a world of good.
“You cannot serve 2 masters, you will love one and despise the other, you cannot serve God and mammon.”
Is this something the Latin Church figured out since it adopted celibacy as the norm at the 2nd Lateran Council? Does it only apply to Latin priests or are all Eastern Rite married Catholic priests and all Orthodox married priests in a position where they hate God and love their wives or vice versa?
Daily Divine Liturgies are not at all the norm in Orthodox parishes anywhere. Many monasteries have a daily liturgy, but they, of course, are populated with celibates.
Abstention from marital relations is a form of fasting and just as we lay people and clergy fast from food for 12 hours before receiving communion, so also do we abstain from relations before communion.
“A monastery would be a good place for you. Plenty of time for contemplative prayer, which would do you a world of good.”
No doubt about it, AAC. +John Chrysostomos to the contrary notwithstanding, I am the greatest of sinners.
I have got to say, I am aware that you belong to a rite that allows married priests. I belong to a rite that has celibate priests.
I am fully aware that I am not going to change your mind, nor will you change mine. My study of the WHY has convinced me that celibate priests are preferred. I do not intend to convert you, and my observations are not church law, they are my observations. If you are secure in your belief, then my observations are no threat to them. I speak from the Roman Catholic rites point of view.
“I am fully aware that I am not going to change your mind, nor will you change mine.”
It is not my intention to change your mind. Rome’s discipline regarding celibacy is 100% Rome’s call just as the discipline of ordaining married men to the priesthood is the call of the rest of The Church.
Nevertheless, the Orthodox do like to dip their toes in the water of sexual continence for married clergy for they prescribe abstinence from sexual relations for a certain period before celebration of the Eucharist, do they not?
A ruling which effectively kills a daily celebration of the Eucharist such as that to which Catholics have access.
That's a shame.
Having a foot in both camps is tough.
“Nevertheless, the Orthodox do like to dip their toes in the water of sexual continence for married clergy for they prescribe abstinence from sexual relations for a certain period before celebration of the Eucharist, do they not?”
M, its the same rule for me and all other Orthodox lay people. Its not the celebration of the Divine Liturgy, per se, its the reception of communion. Its a fasting discipline.
“A ruling which effectively kills a daily celebration of the Eucharist such as that to which Catholics have access.”
And which they receive without fasting, priests included, from food or marital relations, as I understand it. I also understand that there is no requirement of confession prior to reception and that people who are “living in sin” are welcome to receive. Its what we would call receiving unworthily. Some Fathers have said that unworthy reception is the drinking and eating of one’s own condemnation. Now that, M, is a shame at least.
I suppose in place where there are multiple priests, a daily Divine Liturgy could be chanted, but it isn’t. Its not the custom, M.
Yeah, but it's easy and it's a "feel-good" thing... :)
As regards someone's comment about not being able to serve two masters, then all married people, not just priests, must hate God too. But, then, even loving yourself does that.
Well, those weren’t my words...and I think it’s perhaps an excessively strong way of putting it! However, I will say that my experience with Catholic priests and Orthodox priests does lead me to say that Catholic priests are more focused on serving the Church and have far less to worry about in terms of the effect of their decisions on the lives of their immediate families.
Orthodox priests, while obviously having as much of a range of good and bad as another other group of people, do have to worry about the adequacy of the salary, whether their wives will have to work, what the schools are like, etc. Also I will say I have seen some very dysfunctional families among the Orthodox clergy simply because there are enormous pressures on the wives and children (mostly to be “perfect”).
So I would argue that it’s not a matter of serving Mammon, that is, serving something that is arguably not that good in itself, but simply of undivided service to the Church.
Seeing as a priest cannot celebrate the Divine Liturgy without taking Communion, that is a distinction without a difference. It's a Divine Liturgy killer. Either the priest has sex or he celebrates the Liturgy but not both.
Happily Catholic priests are not faced with that choice. There is no divide. There is no wife to compete for the priest's attentions (in the Latin Rite).
Just as St. Paul recommends.
As for having the same abstinence rule for the laity, that is indeed a lofty and exalted discipline. There is no doubt that Catholic rules on fasting before Communion need some work, although I'm not sure whether they should go to that extreme. BTW, at communion time in the Orthodox Church, is a quick scan of those refraining from presenting themselves essentially the same as asking for a show of hands for who had sex last night?
And which they receive without fasting, priests included, from food or marital relations, as I understand it.
As priests are celibate, the issue is moot. You are correct that there is no abstinence requirement for laity.
I also understand that there is no requirement of confession prior to reception and that people who are living in sin are welcome to receive.
"Living in sin"?? What does that mean? We're all living in sin, unless we're no longer sinners.
The rule is that nobody in the state of mortal sin may approach Communion. Anyone who does so commits sacrilege.
Its what we would call receiving unworthily.
In one sense, no one is "worthy".
"Lord I am not worthy that you should come under my roof but only say the word and my soul will be healed".
Some Fathers have said that unworthy reception is the drinking and eating of ones own condemnation. Now that, M, is a shame at least.
St. Paul says it. It's in ..........um...........is it 2nd Corinthians? Can't remember off the top of my head. It used to be the reading for the feast of Corpus Christi in the old missal before they changed it. Too scary, apparently. They ought to bring it back.
1 Corinthians 11:27
“As priests are celibate, the issue is moot. You are correct that there is no abstinence requirement for laity.”
Is it? I take it then that your priests may commune without prior fasting, or rather, only suffering through the 1 hour “fast” presently prescribed?
“Happily Catholic priests are not faced with that choice.”
In light of the rapidly multiplying diocesan bankruptcies, I’d say your priests, at least some of them, were indeed making that choice, in a manner of speaking.
“BTW, at communion time in the Orthodox Church, is a quick scan of those refraining from presenting themselves essentially the same as asking for a show of hands for who had sex last night?”
No, it usually means that someone didn’t fast or hasn’t been to confession. It also sometimes means that the life style of the person prevents him or her from receiving; active homosexuals, individuals of the opposite sex living together in a sexual relationship, that sort of thing. But it certainly could me that an individual had marital relations the night before. I suppose it goes without saying that ANY sexual activity outside of marriage without subsequent confession and absolution bars one from communion.