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Q & A with Father Anthony



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What are the possible advantages if the priest will be allowed to marry?

Jay asks:

Dear Fr Anthony,

What are the possible advantages if the priest will be allowed to marry?

Dear Jay,

I suppose if you look at it in a human way you may find some material advantages to priests being allowed to marry, at least those who are against celibacy in principle claim so. Even if their predictions, for example, about more vocations, were to turn out to be correct (they don't, if the situation of those churches with a married clergy is any indication), this would still not be the proper approach to the matter, since they would still be missing the essence of priesthood.

Celibacy is not a matter of sociology, numbers or human reasoning. It is based on Christ's example - the very life he lived himself and the way in which he chose to save us, or rather the way his Father chose for him and he followed out of love and obedience. And that was the way of sacrifice and the Cross that lead to Resurrection. Celibacy cannot be understood if you forget that grace is a reality and a power in our lives, or if you forget that Christ told Peter it was impossible for man but possible for God.

The priest is here to serve his people. His service consists primarily in teaching and leading them on the way of Christ, no easy path to follow in our world today, or at any time. People need to know, they need a visible example that "proves" to them that grace exists, and encourages them to dare to follow Christ's path despite all the pressures to the contrary. The Catholic politician needs to find somewhere the strength to live up to his principles and to be faithful to them, the Catholic student the same, and the Catholic worker, and the Catholic actor... they need some sign, some evidence that grace "works", that it is possible to sacrifice the immediate goods of this world for something of greater value. That sign is often the priest, and the nun, and the consecrated lay person.

Since bringing the message and grace of Christ into the world through people's lives is what the Church is all about, this far outweighs any other consideration, I think, especially today.

God bless.

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