ICANNOT resist the inclination to comment on the letter of Fr. Devas (Sept. 3) as I am one of those who are intrigued by the policy of the Church on the question of celibacy.
We know that there are arguments for the imposition of celibacy, but none of these arguments is incontrovertible since we do not know the positive will of Our Lord in this matter. I cannot understand, as Fr. Devas says, that there is all the difference in the world between allowing a married man to become an ordained priest and allowing an ordained priest to become a married man. The end result is the same and, as all admit. celibacy is not essential to the priesthood.
If parental responsibility is the only obstacle surely it is easy enough to concede that there are cases where parental responsibility would not be involved. Or is it also a matter of expediency?
No one, especially a religious, would doubt the value of celibacy and that the
celibate state is ideally preferable for the exercise of the priesthood. But the life of a secular priest is very different from that of a religious. His loneliness is part of the burden he accepts, but one feels that
with all his deepening spirituality and his love of his people, the life of many a priest would be enriched both spiritually and humanly speaking were he allowed the companionship of marriage. After all. God made us human beings and said that it is not good for man to be alone, but the Church insists that it is good for a man to be alone.
A young man in his early twenties can scarcely foresee how he will feel or think after 20 or 25 years as a priest, no matter how carefully thought out his decision was or how freely it was made. But the Church will rigidly hold him to his word and should he look back, will only disown him and deny him the joy of his
priesthood but would confer it on his married counterpart. I find this difficult to reconcile.
I write as one perplexed by the attitude of the Church in this matter and by the kind of reasoning which says that a married man may become a priest but that a priest may not become a married man. I always thought that celibacy really mattered. If it is not so vital why not let it be optional?
Secular Priest Name and address supplied.