Why is celibacy so important in the lives of priests?
What’s the best way to grow tomatoes? There are as many answers to that question as there are amateur gardeners competing for the biggest and ripest one! So goes the answer to the question of celibacy. Celibacy is essentially a charism, or spiritual gift, that helps a priest conform his life to Christ. There are some answers that would spiritualize celibacy or talk about its counter-cultural significance or even connect it with imitating the life of Jesus. And all of these are true. But in a practical sense, celibacy allows a priest a certain degree of freedom to serve the church where he is needed, without having to worry about a family. It allows the church to use more of its resources for educational and pastoral needs. It allows the priest to use some discretionary time to develop his own spiritual life. This does not mean that celibacy is the only way it can be done, nor is it an easy way of living. But every lifestyle has its pluses and minuses, always with a bit of give and take. Each priest must find his own way of living his ministry and sacrament so that his life is at the service of the Gospel.
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