We have $162,782 to go in our Fall Campaign. Every penny is used to strengthen the Church. See details!
Click here to advertise on CatholicCulture.org


Priestly celibacy is a Catholic tradition which dates back to St. Paul, and which is mirrored in the similar practice of persons both lay and religious who consecrate themselves to God. Celibacy, by which a person voluntarily foregoes marriage, is a sign of commitment—of living exclusively for the Other in the service of His people.

The most succinct statement on celibacy we have comes from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, where ecclesiastical celibacy is briefly described. The celibacy entry in our Catholic dictionary gives further background.

The sexual revolution of the 1960's and beyond undermined the value of celibacy in the minds of many, and led to considerable misunderstanding and discontent, even among priests. For this reason, Pope Paul VI addressed the subject at length in his 1967 encyclical Sacerdotalis Caelibatus.

In early 2007, on the fortieth anniversary of Paul VI's encyclical, Claudio Cardinal Hummes offered a briefer contemporary reflection on the importance of the traditional practice of celibacy today.

If you only have time to look at three things, LOOK AT THESE.

  1. The Catechism on Celibacy
  2. Cardinal Hummes: Christ's Precious Gift to His Church
  3. Paul VI: Sacerdotalis Caelibatus (The Celibacy Of The Priest)

And if you've got more time...

See the Dictionary entry on Celibacy for a definition and the general background of this practice pertaining to both laymen and ecclesiastics.

The comments of Fr. Benedict Groeschel, a Franciscan priest and a psychologist, are also particularly apt on this subject: Priestly and Religious Celibacy: Is it Dead or Should it Be?

Fall Campaign
Subscribe for free
Shop Amazon
Click here to advertise on CatholicCulture.org

Recent Catholic Commentary

A different tone at this Synod? 17 hours ago
Church Fathers: St. Clement of Alexandria, Part I 20 hours ago
Internalizing marriage at this year's synod 21 hours ago
Gay Vatican official who 'came out' may influence Synod in a way he didn't expect--or want October 5
Another serial killer? Blame 'religious rage.' October 5

Top Catholic News

Most Important Stories of the Last 30 Days
Pope issues new rules to streamline annulment process CWN - September 8
In Cuba, Pope emphasizes service to the vulnerable, praises thaw in US-Cuban relations CWN - September 21
Pope challenges America in speech to US Congress CWN - September 24
As Synod opens, Pope calls on Church to defend ‘unity and indissolubility’ of marriage bond CWN - October 5