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In recent conversations concerning the Church and the priesthood, it seems that the main focus when discussing the issue of celibacy is the idea that the one who “chooses” a celibate life is one who willfully forgoes the enjoyment of sex. While this feature of celibacy is without a doubt true, looking at celibacy from this perspective is like calling men featherless bipeds. That is, though it be true that men are featherless bipeds, that is not really what we are all about. Likewise, it is not the case that celibacy is all about the forgoing of sex.
Contrary to the idea that celibacy is a “lack” of something, the Church sees it as a gift given to certain individuals by God that permits them to act more effectively in certain ways. The discipline of celibacy is a way to express the virtue of chastity (a virtue everyone is called to cultivate). The first point to note is that celibacy is not “chosen” by anyone, but rather, it is received as a special charism as a way to live out the virtue of chastity. People with this gift then willfully conform their mode of action to this particular discipline. The other way to live chastely is conjugal union with one’s spouse. Both modes cultivate the moral virtue of chastity.
Celibacy - Restraint - Repression - Importance - Men
Celibacy, then, is not primarily concerned with restraint and repression, i.e., its importance is not centered on what it prevents the men who have received it from doing. Rather, like all moral virtues, it disposes the men who possess it to act more freely in certain ways. Just as the virtue of courage allows us to act freely in circumstances that are risky to our life and health, so too does the virtue of chastity, expressed in celibacy, allows its possessor to act...
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