As many Roman Catholic priests usually practice celibacy (i.e. unmarried) actually, this practice is a long-held discipline of the Church. That means that under some circumstances, a priest might be married.

This discipline is distinct from the dogma that says priests must be male. The actual reasons for the discipline of celibacy are grounded in the example of the life of Christ himself, even as the Church’s understanding of the practice has developed over time.

Additional to his own example of life, the teaching of Jesus on celibacy is clear. For according to (Mathew 9:12) the Lord says, “For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let anyone accept this who can”.

However, as we see in the earliest days of Christianity that some if not all of the 12 apostles were married. This is actually a basic fact that is confirmed through so many scriptural passages, such as the reference to St. Peter’s “mother-in law” in Matthew 8:14–15.

Unquestionably, the disciples of Jesus immediately recognized the value of celibacy, especially for those who were engaged in priestly ministry.

St. Paul was actually the most vocal advocate for priestly celibacy, as he argues in one of letters to the Corinthians that marriage by necessity divides a person’s attention.

(1Corinthians 7:32-34a,35), “I should like you to be free of anxieties. An unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord. But a married man is anxious about the things of the world, how he may please his wife, and he is divided…I am telling you this for your own benefit, not to impose a restraint upon you, but for the sake of propriety and adherence to the Lord without distraction”.

So, following the Apostolic age, two priestly traditions which is developed in the Church: one that openly preferred celibacy and another that accepted married men. But in general monks practiced celibacy, just as bishops, while married men could only be ordained priests.

But as at the 12th century, the Roman or “Western” Church held firmly to the practice of a celibate priesthood, while the Eastern Church went further to ordain married men.

Both traditions were however accepted by the Catholic Church. The Eastern Church, as often ordaining married men to the priesthood, has always maintained a celibate episcopate, only choosing bishops from priests who were never married.

This has got to be the case up until the present day.

Though in the recent years, however, the Latin Church has even allowed more married men to be ordained priests, according to specific cultural circumstances.

For instance, a married Protestant minister (be it Lutheran, Episcopalian, Anglican, or otherwise) who converts to the Catholic Church can, with a special permission from the Holy See be accepted to the Catholic priesthood.

Because, these men are already familiar with balancing ministerial demands with the demands of their marriage and they are culturally prepared to take on the responsibilities of being a married Catholic priest.

This is always the case in the Ordinariates which is established by Benedict XVI for Anglicans who wished to join the Church.

One clarification to understand is that as married men can be ordained priests, it is never in anyway permitted for an ordained priest to get married. Marriage must surely precede ordination.

In all, the priesthood demands conformity to Christ and love for His holy people. Because, being a married priest inevitably divides the attention of the priest and invites new challenges to priestly ministry in the modern world. It also, implies incredible demands on the wife of the priest, who must be able to carry many responsibilities while the attention of her husband are on sacramental ministry.

Lastly, we must remember that no man is ordained a priest just for his own sake. The priesthood is not a job wh ich is applied for or a career undertaken.

Rather, the priestly vocation is ordered to the salvation of souls, by preaching, teaching, and sacrifice. The holy priesthood, however vibrant or ailing, only belongs to Christ and his Church.

However, total unity with the Church is the only way to ensure that the prophetic and salvific mission of Christ can be carried on by priests these days.

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