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Greetings Father Angelo, 
I am writing to you to express a big doubt of mine about the priestly life, which I would like to undertake. I believe I have excellent oratory skills to be able to do catechism, I believe I am thoughtful enough to be able to dedicate myself to the suffering of others, spiritual or otherwise, I believe I would be a good priest…However I struggle to accept celibacy. I am always reading about how ‘priestly life’ and ‘married life’ are absolutely incompatible, but I really can’t accept this. And not out of hatred for celibacy per se, Saint Paul was, but because in the Church (both Western and Eastern), it has not always existed as an obligation imparted by Jesus or the apostles. We have always had numerous married priests, even with children. Nowadays, married priests still exist in the Orthodox Church, but also in the Eastern Rite Catholic Churches, in perfect communion with Rome, while maintaining the tradition of married priests.

Why is this acceptable for the latter and not for us Westerners if we are “in the same team” and we are not talking about heretics or schismatics? Some time ago I was reflecting on this problem right in front of a Catholic Church of the Byzantine rite in Rome, and I was just saying to myself “Heck, why do I have to go through all this trouble? If I had belonged to the Byzantine rite, no one would have objected.” And I don’t think it’s even true that married priests are a “failure”, because as already said they have always existed (and still exist today, functioning perfectly). Talking to some Orthodox priests about this problem they actually told me that “If we weren’t married we wouldn’t have the same energy in preaching.” And even in Islam, I met two Imams, both with wives and numerous children, who easily dedicated time both to their family, to the teaching of Islam, and to their work (while then, a priest from my diocese literally ghosted, i.e. he disappeared as if he were a ghost). How should I deal with all this? Changing the rite is a tactic bordering on the canonical and also bad to do, although I love Chrysostom’s Byzantine rite. I feel really stuck, heartbroken, it almost seems like an injustice. Why do I have to feel guilty or “in the wrong” if God never demanded it and neither did the Church for at least a millennium? I fear that if one day I became a priest it could happen that when I go home and sit on the sofa I might think “I would like a hug from a loved one, I feel alone”. I know of many priests who fall into alcohol or other vices to fill the void. I would not then like to close myself off in self-conviction, because after such a journey, it is very difficult to think of being able to abandon “the calling” due to depression caused by loneliness.

Thank you.


Priest’s answer

Dearly beloved, 
1. despite all the good reasons you have given, the Latin Church prefers celibacy.
The first reason lies in the fact that from the beginning some remained celibate, although it was not explicitly said that it was necessary to be celibate to be priests.

Some have felt the need to remain celibate.

Precisely for this reason, the Council of Carthage at the end of the fourth century established this discipline for priests, stating that it is rooted in apostolic practice.

2. As Benedict XVI recalled, celibacy was felt necessary in reference to the daily Eucharist.
If the priests of the Old Testament required sexual purity for at least three days to carry out the exercise of their ministry, which consisted of entering the sanctuary and pouring the new incense, in order to have a heart more turned towards God because of that particular act of worship, how much more is this necessary when it comes to the celebration of the Eucharist, which makes Jesus Christ himself present on the altar in the supreme act of redemption: the sacrifice of the cross.

3. According to Benedict XVI, it was the daily Eucharist that imposed this practice and asked priests to celebrate worship of God with an undivided heart.

4. You imagine the priest, who, having returned home, rests on the sofa in the embrace of his wife.

I prefer to think of the priest who returns home and lets himself be embraced by Jesus Christ, continues to confide in him about the people he has met, the effectiveness of the words he has said and the hopes he has raised so that the Lord will bring them to fruition. 

5. I’m not going to make comparisons about whether married priests or celibate priests are better. 
You mention some celibate priests lose their way.
One cannot be so naive to think that this happens only on one side. Because where there are men, there is misery (ubi homines, ibi miseriae).

6. All in all, the image of the priest as you present him and to whom you would aspire still gives the impression of an official. Once his work is finished, he goes home and rests. Whilst Jesus called the apostles to be with him and then also sent them to preach and cast out demons.

This is what we read in Mark 3:14.

The priest is one who is with the Lord.

The Lord is his complement.
The Lord is his all.

His bride is in the souls that the Lord entrusted to him so that he can guard them all for eternal life.
The Latin Church discerns the priestly vocation only in those who have the will to dedicate themselves totally to God and others.

7. The priest cannot think of his ministry as a job similar to that of others.

Even when he is materially alone, he is called to stand before the Lord and pray for those entrusted to him, for those who are in danger, for those who have died.

8. If I may give you some advice, since you have excellent dispositions towards the priesthood, ask the Lord insistently for the grace of your vocation, the grace to give yourself completely as he did. Ask for it through the mediation of Mary’s prayer.

If our prayer always bears the signs of many weaknesses and many imperfections, the prayer of Our Lady is omnipotent.
It has been defined as “omnipotentia supplex”, omnipotent in prayer.

I willingly add mine to your prayer so that you too, called like the apostles, are ready to leave everything to follow the Lord.

I bless you and wish you all the best,


Father Angelo