So many of us wring our hands over sex. We fret about the sexuality of others. We worry about our own expressions of it. We know there are times in a person’s life when abstention is objectively best. Yet even celibates don’t emerge into heaven with a perfect record.
For clergy, the Aparecida bishops remind their readers that celibacy is a gift. Not as much a choice. Seemingly, God gives it or withholds it. When God gives, we are able to surrender to it:
196. The priest is particularly invited to cherish celibacy as a gift from God which allows him a special conﬁguration with Christ’s own lifestyle and makes him a sign of pastoral charity in surrender to God and to human beings with a full and undivided heart.
I like the notion of conformity to Christ in Pope Benedict’s quote that follows, though I might quibble about the “choice.”
“This choice on the part of the priest expresses in a special way the dedication which conforms him to Christ and his exclusive offering of himself for the Kingdom of God.”(Sacramentum Caritatis 24)
Pope John Paul II’s contribution to the discussion:
The celibate seeks to assume his own affectivity and sexuality with maturity, living them serenely and joyfully on a shared journey.(Cf Pastores Dabo Vobis 44)
Any contributions from you readers?
For deeper examination, an English translation of the 2007 document from the Aparecida Conference is here.