Celibacy and The Priesthood
Celibacy for the Priesthood is a topic that has seen an increase in the amount of research papers that Paper Masters has been asked to write in the past 10 years. This is due to the scandals in the Catholic Church regarding sexual abuse. If you need assistance in writing a research paper on celibacy and the priesthood, our expert theologians can custom write your research paper on any aspect of this issue.
Celibacy and the Priesthood research papers show that the early arguments for priests' celibacy typically took two forms:.
- Some believed that priests who continued engaging in sexual activities "pray for others with unclean minds as well as unclean bodies,"
- Others believed that because Mary, the mother of Jesus, was a virgin, only virgins should offer the Eucharist, or communion, on the altar.
Celibacy gained support as a sort of antitrust measure that would end the practice of bishops passing along their considerable wealth and power to their sons in the Middle Ages. In 1054, Pope Leo's delegate to Byzantium condemned the Eastern Churches for allowing priests to marry, and in 1130 Pope Innocent II asserted, "Since priests are supposed to be God's temples, vessels of the Lord and sanctuaries of the Holy Spiritit offends their dignity to lie in the conjugal bed and live in impurity". Celibacy officially became mandatory for all Roman Catholic clergy in 1139.
The Argument - Celibacy and the Priesthood
Another historic argument for celibacy among priests has been the ideal of the ascetic. This emphasis came from the Orient, according to some scholars. Like Buddha and sects of monks who found enlightenment through the denial of certain earthly pleasures, the celibacy of priests sets them apart from the common person. However, unlike the Dalai Llama and other ascetics who also refrain from other comforts, such as alcohol, tobacco, games and movies, most priests live comfortable lifestyles.
There is an important anti-sexual element that is common to each of the historic arguments in favor of celibacy. There is the idea that sex is "unclean" or behavior that is mentally and physically negative. For example, there seems to be a common belief among the priesthood that by refraining from sex a person is somehow closer to God. Even the concept of the Immaculate Conception implies that a virgin birth is preferred to a traditional birth. This view is interesting because it proposes that God does not want his followers to reproduce and multiply, and it also contends that sexual activities, which are essential to survival, is dirty and offensive. In many respects, these beliefs have placed the Catholic priesthood at odds with the society that it serves.
Celibacy for priests has always had critics from inside and outside the Church. As mentioned above, marriage was discouraged as early as the fourth century, but marriages continued for priests until the twelfth century. In addition, the Eastern Churches of Catholicism has allowed their priests to marry for more than 400 years. During the sixteenth century, a large portion of Ukrainian lands was incorporated into the Catholic Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. When Ukrainian bishops and the papacy entered into the Union of Brest, the Ukrainians agreed to join the Catholic Church but were permitted to continue the tradition that priests could be married. Likewise, priests in other Eastern Catholic Churches, including the Maronites, Chaldeans, Melkites and others, can all be married. Moreover, most protestant denominations do not require celibacy for their ministers.
Those who favor celibacy for priests in modern times note that it has served as a powerful symbol of dedication for priests over the centuries. In addition, it has removed the distractions of married life, the responsibility of raising children and the financial burden of a family from the priesthood, allowing priests to focus on spiritual matters. Despite these arguments, there are many problems that can be traced to celibacy, and a change in this policy is needed.