Church cannot live without 'scandal' of celibacy, states Vatican prefect

Share |
Increase font size Decrease font size

The prefect of the Vatican Congregation for the Clergy, Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, said the Church cannot live “without the scandal of celibacy,” which bears witness to God before the world.

Cardinal Piacenza reflected on celibacy from the perspective of Pope Benedict XVI in an analysis published by L’Osservatore Romano on Feb. 15. The article is part of series of reflections the cardinal recently made on the teachings of the 20th century Popes.

Cardinal Piacenza recalled that during the closing of the Year for Priests at St. Peter’s Square in Rome, the Pope said, “For the agnostic world, the world where God doesn’t enter, celibacy is a great scandal because it shows that God is taken into account and experienced as a reality.  With the eschatological life of celibacy, the future world of God enters into the realities of our time.”

“How could the Church live without the scandal of celibacy? Without men willing to affirm the reality of God through their own bodies?” he asked.

“Such statements saw their fulfillment, and in a certain sense, their coronation in the extraordinary homily delivered during the closing of the Year for Priests in which the Pope prayed that, as a Church, we would be free of the scandal of sexual abuse so that the true scandal of history, who is Christ the Lord, could appear,” the cardinal continued.

Pope Benedict XVI’s teachings “on priestly celibacy leave no room for doubt” about its validity and foundation, he said. In his Post-Synod Apostolic Exhortation, “Sacramentum caritatis” in 2007, the Pope called celibacy “an inestimable treasure.”

The Pope wrote: “The fact that Christ himself, the eternal priest, lived his mission even to the sacrifice of the Cross in the state of virginity constitutes the sure point of reference for understanding the meaning of the tradition of the Latin Church.”

“Celibacy is really a special way of conforming oneself to Christ's own way of life,” he added.

“In continuing with the great ecclesial tradition, with the Second Vatican Council and with my predecessors in the papacy, I reaffirm the beauty and the importance of a priestly life lived in celibacy as a sign expressing total and exclusive devotion to Christ, to the Church and to the Kingdom of God, and I therefore confirm that it remains obligatory in the Latin tradition.”

“Priestly celibacy lived with maturity, joy and dedication is an immense blessing for the Church and for society itself,” the Pontiff said.

The cardinal's words praising celibacy came after the release of a letter signed by 143 dissident theologians from Austria, Switzerland and Germany calling for married priests and a “greater leadership” role for women.

In their letter, the dissidents said the time has come for “a new beginning” in which married priests should be allowed to address the problem of sexual abuse in the Church.

Share |
Increase font size Decrease font size