Priestly celibacy has been guarded by the Church for centuries as a brilliant jewel, and retains its value undiminished even in our time when the outlook of men and the state of the world have undergone such profound changes.
Wholly in accord with this mission, Christ remained throughout His whole life in the state of celibacy, which signified His total dedication to the service of God and men. This deep concern between celibacy and the priesthood of Christ is reflected in those whose fortune it is to share in the dignity and mission of the Mediator and eternal Priest; this sharing will be more perfect the freer the sacred minister is from the bonds of flesh and blood.1
The consecrated celibacy of the sacred ministers actually manifests the virginal love of Christ for the Church, and the virginal and supernatural fecundity of this marriage, by which the children of God are born, “not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh.”2 3
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The consecration to Christ under an additional and lofty title like celibacy evidently gives to the priest, even in the practical field, the maximum efficiency and the best disposition of mind, mentally and emotionally, for the continuous exercise of a perfect charity.4 This charity will permit him to spend himself wholly for the welfare of all, in a fuller and more concrete way.5 It also obviously guarantees him a greater freedom and flexibility in the pastoral ministry,6 in his active and living presence in the world, to which Christ has sent him7 so that he may pay fully to all the children of God the debt due to them.8
We are not easily led to believe that the abolition of ecclesiastical celibacy would considerably increase the number of priestly vocations… The causes of the decrease in vocations to the priesthood are to be found elsewhere—for example, in the fact that individuals and families have lost their sense of God and of all that is holy, their esteem for the Church as the institution of salvation through faith and the sacraments.
Taken from the Encyclical Sacerdotalis Caelibatus by Pope Paul VI.
- See Decree on the Priestly Ministry and Life, no. 16: AAS 58 (1966), 1015-17 [TPS XI, 461-62].
- Jn 1, 13.
- See Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, no. 42: AAS 57 (1965), 48 [TPS X, 388]; Decree on the Priestly Ministry and Life, no. 16: AAS 58 (1966), 1015-17 [TPS XI, 461-62].
- See Second Vatican Council, Decree on Training for the Priesthood, no. 10: AAS 58 (1966), 719-20 [TPS XI, 23-24].
- See 2 Cor 12.15.
- See Decree on the Priestly Ministry and Life, no. 16: AAS 58 (1966), 1015-17 [TPS XI, 461 -62].
- See Jn 17. 18.
- See Rom 1. 14.