Will celibacy for priests become optional with new Pope?
Many young people have asked me over and over again: Will celibacy for priest become optional with this new Pope to lead the Catholic Church? Although some young people have known celibacy to be a discipline within the Church, others still believe that priests should be given that choice. In fact, some young people still believe that the 'discipline of celibacy' hinders vocation to the priesthood and religious life.
Alfred McBride, O. Praem, in his texts "Essentials of the Faith: a guide to the Catechism of the Catholic Church," tries to articulate the Church's position as to the function of a priest. He says, 'The ordained priest acts in the person of Christ (persona Christi) as head of the Church, teaching, shepherding and sanctifying God's people. The priest also acts in the name of the Church, offering the Sacrifice of the Body of Christ to the Father for the Salvation of God's people and the world itself. The Bishop has the fullness of priesthood. Priests share in the bishop's priesthood. Ordained priesthood is also permanent and the Sacrament of Holy Orders confers a permanent priestly character. This Character reflects Christ's absolute covenant with the Church.'
Alfred McBride further reveals, 'In the western Church, the call to priesthood is connected to the call to celibacy. Only those deemed to have received the celibacy call, as well as the call to Holy Orders, can be ordained. In the Eastern Church married men may be admitted to the priesthood. Their bishops are chosen from celibate monks.'
He also affirms, 'The Sacrament of Holy Orders does not automatically make the recipients holy. Bishops, priests and deacons have a grave responsibility to develop a deep union with Jesus. Bishops, priests and deacons are called to practice virtues, especially humility, faith, obedience, love, care, compassion for people, and devotion to the Eucharist.'
And so, the Holy Spirit has always guided the Church in its missions and teachings and I believe that the Holy Spirit will continue to guide the Church especially with regards to "celibacy as an option" for her priests. The Holy Spirit will reveal the best way forward for her Church especially during this critical period in her history.