Discussion of Celibacy, or Abolition?

Not a few of the blogs and news outlets mentioning the 1970 letter of Ratzinger and eight other theologians calling for a new and open discussion of the discipline of celibacy speak of it as though it were a call for the abolition of the law requiring celibacy of those to be ordained as priests. This is, however, a quite unjustified "reading into" the text of the letter, which states that those entering into the discussion should do so with an openness to whatever the outcome of a renewed and frank discussion of the issue might be, but explicitly refrains from proposing what the outcome of such a discussion should be (whether retaining the law regarding celibacy, or changing it).

Cardinal Walter Kasper, one of the other eight signatories to the letter, recently affirmed just that in an address to the Catholic University of Lisbon, namely that he had proposed a discussion of priestly celibacy, not its abolition. Moreover, he suggested that the discussions of celibacy that have taken place do not favor a need for change in the discipline.

"There have been three world synods that have spoken of celibacy, and it was decided to maintain this discipline, and I myself believe that celibacy is a good for the Church."

At present I don't have access to his full address. If I get it, I will post it or a link to it here.

One thought on “Discussion of Celibacy, or Abolition?”

  1. Change may come not from the intellectual arena but from two realities: married Anglican priests coming in with their marriages especially if they turn out to be very good homilists to families / and the vitiating of celibacy's signing of eschatology by priest sex scandals (read Philly dot com for Feb. 10-11). Celibacy has an exterior signing and an internal treasure. The former right now is greatly vitiated because though scandal offenders seem to be a small percent, no one has a confident handle on how many Catholic clergy might be homosexual. Even if many contain themselves virtuously, what have they given up but the same thing they should have given up even if they were single in the world. I would say nuns still have the exterior signing of their hope toward Heaven through their celibacy because nuns have no sex scandal lodged in the public consciousness.

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