I WISH to express my disappointment with Emmanuel Milingo, the former Catholic Archbishop of Lusaka, Zambia, for scandalising the church by his recent public persistence in trying to persuade the Vatican to allow priests to marry.
fy>Celibacy is a time-honoured tradition that has been embraced and guarded by the Catholic Church for centuries as a brilliant jewel.
The Second Vatican Council confirmed that the Christian priesthood can be understood only in the light of the newness of Christ, the Supreme Pontiff and eternal priest, who instituted the priesthood of the ministry as a real participation in His own unique priesthood.
To share authentically in the ministerial priesthood of Christ means to devote one’s entire life to the faith while sharing with Christ his very condition of living. Indeed Jesus promised a more abundant recompense to anyone who should leave home, family, wife and children for the sake of the Kingdom of God (Luke 18: 29-30).
There is ample evidence in the words of Jesus and St Paul (Matt xix 12; Cor, vii, 7-8 and 32-35) for looking upon virginity as the higher call, and by inference, as the condition befitting those who are set apart for work of the ministry.
In the words of Pope John Paul II: “The value of celibacy as a complete gift of self to the Lord and his church must be carefully safeguarded…The life of chastity, poverty, and obedience willingly embraced and faithfully lived confutes the conventional wisdom of the world and challenges the commonly accepted vision of life.”
Allowing Roman Catholic priests to marry might resolve the priest shortage but would create new and equally serious problems.
Married priests divert their attention away from their parishes to their wives and children, assuring their care and education. In addition, a priest with a family is more difficult to move to a different parish.