Pope: Celibacy is a gift for the Church

18-02-2022

Southern Europe

Lennart Nijenhuis, CNE.news

Pope Francis attends the International Theological Symposium in Vatican City. Photo EPA, Fabio Frustaci

Without friends and prayer, celibacy may become an unbearable burden, Pope Francis says during a symposium about the priesthood. Yet, he sees celibacy as a gift that the Latin Church should preserve.

According to the Pope, priestly fraternity and friendship help priests live celibate lives with more serenity, Catholic News Agency writes. “Living in celibacy as a means of sanctification presupposes healthy relationships of true appreciation and goodness, deeply rooted in Christ.” The Pope advised priests to seek the company of other priests. “Make a conscious choice to seek holiness together with others and not alone.”

According to the Pope, the essence of priesthood is closeness to God and the people of the parish. “Proximity allows the priest to break all temptations of closure, self-justification and of living as a bachelor” Catholic News Service quotes the Head of the Roman Catholic Church.

Intimate prayer

The Pope stated that praying leads to intimacy and concrete closeness to God through listening to His Word. Without these forms of nearness, a priest is only a “weary hireling, deprived of the privileges of the Lord’s friends”, the Pope said. “Therefore, it is important to find moments of silence throughout the day.”

Therefore, the Pope asserted that prayer is crucial to make celibacy bearable for clergymen. He stated that many crises in the priesthood result from a poor prayer life and lack of intimacy with God. “That reduces spiritual life to a mere religious practice.” Therefore, he encouraged priests and bishops to overcome feelings of desolation and persevere in prayer.

The Pope states that closeness to God and the people are intimately linked. “When he prays, a pastor bears the marks of the sorrows and joys of his people, which he presents in silence to the Lord.”

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