Skip to comments.Pope rethinks, clarifies and reinforces celibacy, asserts Vatican analyst
Posted on 06/17/2010 3:42:21 PM PDT by NYer
.- Vatican analyst Sandro Magister published an article in which he detailed Pope Benedicts teaching on priestly celibacy, a concept with which many have expressed discontent in face of the clerical sexual abuse scandals. However, the Popes June 10 explanation, which presents celibacy in a new light, was both hinted at and foreshadowed by two prior talks, Magister claims.
During a prayer vigil with 15,000 priests from around the world, Pope Benedict answered the questions of five priests from five different continents. His response to one priest in particular was the focus of Magister's column. Responding to a question by a priest from Eastern Europe, Pope Benedict explained the meaning of priestly celibacy. And he did so in an original way, departing from the current historical, theological, and spiritual literature, wrote Magister.
It is clear from this that one of the cornerstones of this pontificate is not a distancing from clerical celibacy, but its reinforcement, he added. Quoting from the Popes open letter to world bishops from March of 2009, Magister noted that one of Pope Benedicts priorities is to make God present in the world and to show men and women the way to God.
Magister also recalled a speech addressed to the Roman curia on December 22, 2006, in which Pope Benedict said, The great theme of my journey to Germany was God. And while the Church must speak of many things, her true theme is God, and from the ordering of all things toward God comes the importance of all other church teachings. Moreover, the great problem of the West is forgetfulness of God, said the Pope. This forgetfulness is spreading.
In that address, Pope Benedict declared that the true foundation of the priest's life, the ground of his existence, the ground of his life, is God himself. Making reference to the sixteenth psalm, which was once a part of the rite of ordination, he also explained how the priests property or possession is not of this world. As David said, The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup, you hold my lot, so does the priest acknowledge that he, like the tribe of Levi, does not live off the land, but rather off the Lord.
Thus, The priest must truly know God from within and thus bring him to men and women: this is the prime service that contemporary humanity needs. When God is no longer central to a priests life, he loses his zeal, explained the Pope. Chastity, he continued, can only be theocentric. It cannot mean being deprived of love, but must mean letting oneself be consumed by passion for God and subsequently, thanks to a more intimate way of being with him, to serve men and women, too.
This speech, declared Magister, is a reminder of the Pope Benedicts dedication to the clergy. And it is because of this understanding of the role of the priest that the Pope declared the Year for Priests and to propose exemplary figures like the Holy Curé of Ars.
The Popes remarks last Thursday only confirm this dedication and this understanding of celibacy, Magister wrote. And they reinforce an extremely coherent picture of the role of the Church, which is to lead men to God.
As he spoke to his brother priests in St. Peters Square last week, the Holy Father explained that celibacy is an anticipation. To live the celibate life is to acknowledge the presence of God, the certainty of the next life, and the value of both.
In a world where the now of the present and tangible seems good enough, celibacy is a great scandal, because it shows precisely that God is considered and lived as a reality, Pope Benedict told the gathered priests. With the eschatological life of celibacy, the future world of God enters into the realities of our time, even though the material world would have any hint of the transcendent vanish.
The Pope contrasted celibacy with the modern notion of not getting married. The two are not at all alike, he said, and that is because celibacy represents a lifestyle of commitment, as does marriage. Not getting married is based on the desire to live only for oneself, not to accept any definitive bond, to have life at every moment in full autonomy, to decide at every moment what to do, what to take from life; and therefore a no to commitment, a no to definitiveness, a having life only for oneself, he explained.
Celibacy, on the other hand, is a definitive yes, it is allowing ourselves to be taken in hand by God, giving ourselves into the hands of the Lord, into his I, and therefore it is an act of fidelity and trust, said the Holy Father. It is the exact opposite of this no, of this autonomy that does not want to be obligated, that does not want to enter into a bond.
And, as the criticisms show, concluded Benedict XVI, celibacy is a great sign of faith, of the presence of God in the world. He prayed that the Lord free priests from the secondary scandals such as their sins and imperfections so that they may continue to live the scandal of celibacy. Thus, by demonstrating their faith and trust in God, they may bring people to God.
Is there a scriptural basis for the celibacy requirement? Or is this question not relevant to the Roman Catholic worldview?
"Not all can accept this word, but only those to whom it is granted. Some are incapable of marriage because they were born so; some, because they were made so by others; some, because they have renounced marriage for the sake of the kingdom of God. Whoever can accept this ought to accept it"
Good read, the Holy Father explains it well.
There are many scriptural references. For example,
In Matt. 19:29 - Jesus says that whoever gives up children for the sake of His name will receive a hundred times more and will inherit eternal life. Jesus praises celibacy when it is done for the sake of His kingdom. And, in 1 Cor. 7:7 - Paul also acknowledges that celibacy is a gift from God and wishes that all were celibate like he is. Again, in 1 Cor. 7:27 Paul teaches men that they should not seek marriage. In Pauls opinion, marriage introduces worldly temptations that can interfere with ones relationship with God, specifically regarding those who will become full-time ministers in the Church.
"Who said to them: All men take not this word, but they to whom it is given. For there are eunuchs, who were born so from their mother's womb: and there are eunuchs, who were made so by men: and there are eunuchs, who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven. He that can take, let him take it." Matthew 19:11-12
"Then Peter answering, said to him: Behold we have left all things, and have followed thee: what therefore shall we have? And Jesus said to them: Amen, I say to you, that you, who have followed Me, in the regeneration, when the Son of man shall sit on the seat of His majesty, you also shall sit on twelve seats judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And every one that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands for My name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall possess life everlasting. And many that are first, shall be last: and the last shall be first." Matthew 19:27-30
"Then Peter said: Behold, we have left all things, and have followed thee. Who said to them: Amen, I say to you, there is no man that hath left house, or parents, or brethren, or wife, or children, for the kingdom of God's sake, Who shall not receive much more in this present time, and in the world to come life everlasting." Luke 18:28-30
"But I would have you to be without solicitude. He that is without a wife, is solicitous for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please God. But he that is with a wife, is solicitous for the things of the world, how he may please his wife: and he is divided. And the unmarried woman and the virgin thinketh on the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit. But she that is married thinketh on the things of the world, how she may please her husband. And this I speak for your profit: not to cast a snare upon you; but for that which is decent, and which may give you power to attend upon the Lord, without impediment." 1 Corinthians 7:32-35
Or is this question not relevant to the Roman Catholic worldview?
Quite relevant. The question you should be asking is why these passages from Scripture are irrelevant to so much of the world.
Good point, thank you.