Aparecida 196: Priestly Celibacy

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.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
This entry was posted in 2007 Aparecida document, bishops, evangelization and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Aparecida 196: Priestly Celibacy

  1. Anthony Phillips says:

    ‘We fret about the sexuality of others.’
    That’s because sex isn’t really between 2 people. It occurs in a social context. We are social animals.
    Thousands of years of human experience has taught us that sex belongs in the context of marriage. Every so many generations, people suddenly decide they know better, and we all suffer for it. When society is especially decadent and on its last legs, as ours is now, some will even question the primacy of the male/female distinction. And then societies collapse. But in short order what’s hard-wired biologically in us re-asserts itself.

    • Todd says:

      Thanks for the comment. I’m a skeptic on “every so many generations.” People are always deciding they know better. Clergy. Married persons. Single people. Young and old. Sometimes virtuous people come up with inspirational motivations for celibacy. Sometimes the reasons are routine and insipid. Sometimes those promoting celibacy are blatantly imperfect in word and deed. We hope for the best, with the help of God’s grace.

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