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Written Word > Articles & Commentaries > June 2009 > Everyone Hates Celibacy!
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Sherry
Hi Father Barron, let me say that it saddens me that people were so negative to you abuot celibacy. it is clear to me that they do not understand. You say it best when you said that no one made you not marry, you choose not to marry. I can tell you that celibacy DOES NOT cause sexual pereversion. I grew up in church with men that were married and who hit on woman that were not their wives. What made them do it? I recently converted to Catholicsm prior to that I was a evangelical and I can tell you that these peopel are truly lost. I would not pay them any attention. The Catholic church has it right. Being single and not sexually active you can focus more on the church and its people. Many of the ministers that I have known my grandfather included has to neglect one for the other.

Do not let anyone change your mind. You are doing great.
6/30/2009 12:50:53 PM
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Baron Korf
You bring up a good point Father. When it comes to the celibacy of other religions, why don't people come down on the Dalai Lama like the come down on the Holy Father?
6/30/2009 2:37:49 PM
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michael Jaffray King
The fact that there is a love even higher than that of sexual Love is a wonderful mystery and is demonstrated by the life of good priests. The normal rational thinking person just cannot entertain that there is a real live mystery of being in love with God. This love surpasses all other kinds of love and is demonstrated by those who get involved with sinners and helping out in our hurting world. I know what I am talking about as I have lived together with my very attractive wife and for the last 5 years we have lived as brother and sister. Our love for the Lost and for the Holy Eucharist and for Mary and for the saints and and and has increased by many folds. I am not saying that we are not tempted but being divorcees we had to make a choice. The result is having a real love that surpasses all other kinds of love. Father Barron as usual I am 101% on your side in all you say. God bless you and please keep going for God KGFG.
7/1/2009 9:02:30 AM
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Renato
"For those who believe, there is nothing you need to say. For those who do not believe, there is nothing you can say..." (unknown) I am with you on this issue (faith and logic and all) but I have to agree with one or two of the comments at CNN.com that the article cannot easily be understood and grasped by a layman/secularist. Your article here describing the comments and your commentaries will probably help get your point across but again, the article was written quite too philosophically and quite assuming people who will read it will be at least spiritual (many CNN readers will definitely read your article out of context, to say the least). Their misunderstanding of where you are coming from might contribute more to negative attitudes towards Catholic faith and Catholics and hierarchy for that matter.
7/1/2009 5:51:26 PM
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Whiskey and Gunpowder
Mr Barron:
"Well, the last time I checked, St. Paul, a celibate, told his people that, though he wouldn’t impose celibacy on them, he would prefer that they remain as he is (1 Cor. 7:7), and Jesus, a celibate, told his disciples that some people “make themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom,” that is, they eschew marriage, and that he would urge those who are able to embrace this sort of life to do so (Matt. 19:12). I don’t know, but that seems like pretty good Scriptural support to me!"

Boy it sure is great spiritual support to not condemn someone who chooses this life for the reasons you stated but by your own words I would say this.

It is also by no means a commandment and that is what the Roman Catholic Church has made it. The Pharisees were condemned by Jesus for teaching the commandments of men as if they were the commandments of G_d.
Mat 5:19, Mat 15:9, Mar 7:7, Col 2:22, Tts 1:14, and more as I'm sure you are aware.

I would also say I could make a reasonable counter argument from the Apostle Paul:
1Titus 3:2-7 "A bishop then must be blameless, THE HUSBAND OF ONE WIFE, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach... etc..."

It is a worthy choice to be celibate if one feels called but to make it a requirement for service is to defy G_d's word unless of course only portions of the the Bible are accurate?...
7/1/2009 11:27:53 PM
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Todd
"Certain Hindus, Buddhists, Sufi Muslims, and Jewish Essenes have, over the centuries, abstained from marriage for spiritual reasons, convinced that it ordered them to God in a unique way. Why can’t the same be said of Catholic priests?"

Unfortunately, quantity of clergy and a prominent enough number of dissenters work against this.

Roman Catholic religious also avoid it, because like most of the non-Catholic examples you listed, celibacy is a virtue lived in a community.

I think the reasons given by many of your critics are weak, but let's not deny that in previous centuries, it would have been unthinkable for young clergy to get out in the world as lone rangers and expect them to sustain the monastic virtues they lived in seminary community. That so many men do live celibate lives as young priests is a credit not to their bishops or the institution, but to God's grace.

As a lay person with an affinity for monastic spirituality, I can appreciate the value and virtue of celibacy. However, I can't escape the possibility that perhaps I think more of it than the institutional Church.
7/2/2009 7:36:34 AM
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DFTC
Celebacy reminds me of something Pope Bendict said in his book "Introduction to Christianity" "The purely calculating mind will always find it absurd that for man God himself should be expended."

Celebacy is an important (albeit much smaller example) of what the cross teaches us about the essence of christian love.
7/2/2009 9:28:34 AM
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Robert
Fr. Barron,
You are right for living celibrate. You have a family...the flock you preach to. We need to stop treating our priests like they are some stranger we see on Sunday. They are a part of our family. You, as a priest and in the person of Christ, are as much a brother, father, to me as my own family. Do we not treat in-laws like blood? We need to treat our priests like family.
7/3/2009 12:02:11 PM
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Jan
Dear Fr. Barron,
One thing that modern philosophies based on secularism have in common is disbelieve in transcendental eternity. Consequently, they are concerned only with the present and with short term gains – it’s no wonder that secularism degrades life to a commodity. In contrast, the sacramental life, and celibacy in particular, look on life from the eternal Good perspective. The sacramental life therefore exposures the devastating outcome that secular thoughts have on society. I am not surprised that the secular camp is pouring mostly negative comments on celibacy on you.
7/3/2009 12:42:57 PM
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Michael Jaffray King
Robert and Jan. Both great comments. Yes Father Bob you are part of my family even though I have never met you in the flesh but I know you pretty well through your writings which are having a very profound effect on my life. Thank you and yes Jan how can secular people who put all their eggs in the basket of this life as if there is no other understand the wonderful spiritual realities which we have been allowed by Grace to see so much more clearly. We must pray for these blind people and show them a lot of love and consideration when we get the opportunity.
7/3/2009 1:27:45 PM
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kct
Dear Fr. Bob,
There is a special place in heaven for you!! Thank you for standing up for our Celibate Catholic Priests. We need more priests like you more than ever. God Bless you and know that I pray for you and your Catholicisn project daily.
7/3/2009 9:08:01 PM
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alloycowboy
Everyone seems to forget that the some of the Eastern Rites of the Catholic Church still maintain the tradition of married priests. Even with this tradition of married priests the Eastern Church has never been overwhelmed with seminarians wanting to become married priests. Do to the nature of what the Priesthood is I don't think this is a stastic that is going to change soon.

Good Article Father!
7/5/2009 5:56:41 PM
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Linda
Yes, Fr. Barron, it is GOOD that the issue of celibacy makes people uncomfortable, for as you said, it "witnesses to a dimension of existence that we can’t directly see." I pray that one day people such as Whiskey and Gunpowder (whose screen name is very telling)will see that HIS interpretation of the Bible is not accurate.

May God bless you and all our celibate priests. Thank you.
7/6/2009 1:43:20 AM
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Mary
Fr. Barron,
Thanks for defending celibacy to CNN. Many millions of us are VERY grateful for all you and your brother priests do for so many every day -- which you could not do if you were married to a woman and had a family in addition to being married to Christ's Church! God bless you all!
7/6/2009 1:27:09 PM
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Fr. Rex Paul B. Arjona
As a young priest who has consciously grappled with the subject a few years before taking the plunge to celibacy, and is currently living it out, I find Fr. Barron's commentary most reassuring.

Celibacy is not a dogma, it is a discipline, this I know fully when I sought to live it out consciously while still in formation, and when I finally requested it from my bishop as requirement for ordination. Its mandatory nature is very much misunderstood: nobody is forced to commit oneself to celibacy. My own personal journey led me to first take it as a requirement, then as grace builds upon nature, it became a gift.

A few months ago, a friend in the seminary, who took time off for a while, was thinking about going back to formation and was mulling over whether or not celibacy was for him.

I gave him my personal take on the subject from my humble discernment of spirit:

Some priests & religious are celibates by nature. The majority, I believe, are not, but they still choose the life because through it they find the fullest, greatest, most fruitful expression of themselves. This for me is what a "calling" means. Add to this the celibate advantage of being more for more people, thus, exposing love for what it really is, a process of self-emptying, so one will
have more space for persons and grace to come in; of becoming a sign of contradiction, proclaiming the values of eternity to a world that puts more premium on seizing mostly, only, the here and now. This for me is what our sacred tradition says "celibacy for the sake of the Kingdom". I'm not saying it's not a challenge to live, I'm saying I've found it to be a meaningfully rich and happy way to live.
7/6/2009 9:58:03 PM
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Mike
Fr. Rex-

Thank you for your comments. Those, like yourself, who live a celibate life, and know what it means, are best equipped to teach the culture about it. Outsiders will almost always get it wrong.

Your post is very honest and instructive. Please encourage your fellow priests to add their testimony to yours.

Best,
Mike
7/6/2009 11:14:42 PM
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Ann Jean
Fr. Rex, thank you for that moving and eloquent witness to the Faith. In this Year of the Priest it is good to have another specific name to add to the prayer list. May God keep you strong.
7/7/2009 4:30:26 PM
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aks001
Thank you Father,
I've definately had my fair share of arguments over the celibacy of priest in the Church, and with no small amount of difficulty. Its an especially hard topic for me now that I've made the decision to go into the priesthood after college. (I have say that you definately had a part to play in the decision though you might not realize it).

In my opinion, if I may, the reason why people are so adamntly opposed to celibacy from both the Evengelical and the secular camps, is it scares them. The minister who says the Bible offers no support for celibacy has to also ask "why wasn't I willing to make that big of a sacrafice for the God I say I love so much?" And then the secularist who says "I have to have sex, its unnatural and inhuman for you to ask me to give it up even just till marriage!" has to in turn say "Wait, if this guy can do it for his whole life, why cant I do it for a few years?" And those sorts of questions can be very scary when you dont want to know the answer.

Thanks again Father!
7/23/2009 8:24:08 PM
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Gabriel Austin
Great post!

No "I have to get home to the wife and kids".
8/2/2009 4:07:04 PM
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Joshua
Priests and religious who have opted to be celibate does not mean they cannot love someone more and beyond their love for their parishioners and the laity. There is a love that transcends this. St. Teresa of Avila showed tremendous love and affection for her spiritual director, Fr. Gracian. In her letters to Fr. Gracian, St. Teresa openly mentioned her longing for his presence. This kind of intimacy is not sensual. This celibate love for another human being is not selfish and self satisfying, rather it is a love in the name of the Lord. It is a love for another not to possess the other (as in marriage) but the goal of this love is to bring both persons closer to God, all for the glory of God.
This genuine human love is the way to divine love. The truest love a celibate and offer to a beloved goes beyond earthly feelings and desires, but is fixed towards the attainment by the beloved to love and know God by means of this celibate intimacy.
Celibate love is genuine human love because it is selfless, its end is not the receiving back of love offered but that this love between the lover and the beloved be transformed to a greater love for God.
8/12/2009 5:44:51 PM
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Fr Jeremy Davies
Dear Fr Barron

I am a great admirer of yours. You touch many hearts and minds, using the internet to its full advantage. Thank you for your inspiration.

On this matter of celibacy, though, I feel invisible. I was ordained by the late Cardinal Basil Hume on the authority of Pope John Paul II in consultation with (then) Cardinal Joseph Ratsinger. I am married with two children and am currently administering a parish in North London. Ask any of the hundreds of parishioners I serve and they will speak well of a married priesthood.

I know all the arguments on this subject. You have rehe*****d some of them here. But we should not forget that marriage and priesthood have gone together since the call of Peter himself. Paul's argument for celibacy was less to do with priesthood (our formal understand of priesthood was not explicit until the 7th century) and more to do with his expected immediate return of Christ.

Don't get me wrong, I'm in favour of a celibate priesthood, but only when a priest is called to be both a priest AND celibate. They are two separate vocations. There are many examples of men and women who have chosen the celibate life for love of Christ but not sought priesthood or the religious life, many who are numbered among the saints, likewise there are married people who live fully the Catholic Christian life while not wishing to take it further, again we honour many saints who lived in this state. But there are also men who are married who have a legitimate calling to priesthood, and who would (in my experience at least) be welcomed in their ministry. In an age when vocations are in steep decline in the West, I wonder if the Holy Spirit is not prompting us to re-visit this subject more earnestly. What is more important, a celibate priesthood or the Mass? Given our Church recognises the Mass is its source and summit (as you remind us frequently in your homilies), maybe we should think more seriously about the consequences of fewer Masse for the faithful.

Maybe the Holy Father is considering this very point himself, as I am not the only married priest he has accepted in the UK.
8/15/2009 5:39:21 PM
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Karen Genest
As a culture we in the U.S.A. along with overwhelming numbers in the rest of the world understand neither sex nor celibacy much. It seems that way, doesn't it? It seems to me that in any discussion about sex, the discussers must declare whether they define sex/celibacy as signs of what we can best be as humans or merely as commodities. Neither sex nor celibacy is the point of any relationship. Relationship is the point. The best question is this, I think: How do my sexual choices help me to serve others better? As Christians, sooner or later we must ask that question.
8/20/2009 7:36:50 PM
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Eileen Burgess
Once again you take a difficult issue and explain it with exquisite clarity. Thank you for teaching us how to understand and defend our faith. You are a star! A modern day apostle, our great teacher in the hour of our greatest need.
9/28/2010 10:23:12 PM
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TLH
Having read Fr. Cutie's book "Dilemma" the problem seems to be, in part, the unjust way in which he was treated for falling in love with a woman. Apparently other priests, who had committed far worse sins such as abusing minors, were treated with more mercy and compassion than he was, and at no point were those priests told that they were no longer to receive their salaries or their health benefits, etc, whereas that is what he was told by his bishop. If this is, in fact, the truth, this really needs to be addressed. Father Albert broke no human laws - he simply fell in love with a single woman.

Of course, he had a lot of other ideological problems with the RCC, and all that is outlined in the book. I think people should give him a fair listen and read that book. He actually seems like a really nice guy, and I'm very happy that he found love and has two beautiful children now.
6/22/2011 1:13:50 PM
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