Sunday, May 30, 2010
Celibacy is nonsense...
If on the other hand a priest is a sign of absolute commitment to God, of communion, of prayer, of otherness, then celibacy is of supreme importance.
The ancient discipline of priestly celibacy, is not easy. Not having a sexual relationship is reasonably easy, most people in my congregation are in that situation, often for most of their lives, either because they are single, widowed, divorced or because of their sexual orientation. Those who choose celibacy voluntarily accept loneliness and a sense of being unfulfilled by anything here on earth. Doing that all one's life confronts ome with a deep craving, a desire to both possess and to be possessed, so often that can be sublimated, golf, hypochondria, cats and dogs, or plain eccentricity but real celibacy is about living with an open wound, totally unsatisfied by anything here on earth. It should be prophetic, about the Creator not creatures.
Like a hair shirt celibacy is constant reminder and an expression of the bald fact that God alone can satisfy our deepest longings. Celibacy is about the Kingdom of God, about prayer, about the spiritual life, about communion with God but it only works with faith.
I think the debate about celibacy which Cardinal Schönborn among others recently called for is actually a debate about the very nature of the priesthood and therefore about the nature of the Church, by extension it could be seen as a debate about the nature of Grace itself. This debate has brewing for sometime, I think, ever since Pius XII gave permission for married German Lutheran converts to ordained to the priesthood.
Sandro Magister puts forward, sketchily, the historical context of celibacy, which if you are unfamiliar with the arguments is well worth reading.
Posted by Fr Ray Blake