Why can’t a priest ever marry?

Full Question

Why can't a priest ever marry?


In the Eastern rites of the Church it is common for married men to be ordained to the priesthood. Further, in the Latin rite there are a few married men, converted ministers from other faiths, who are ordained to the Catholic priesthood. This, however, is not common. Finally, in neither the Latin rite nor the Eastern rites do priests (or deacons) marry after they have been ordained, except in extraordinary circumstances.

The reasons Latin rite priests can’t marry is both theological and canonical.
Theologically, it may be pointed out that priests serve in the place of Christ and therefore, their ministry specially configures them to Christ. As is clear from Scripture, Christ was not married (except in a mystical sense, to the Church). By remaining celibate and devoting themselves to the service of the Church, priests more closely model, configure themselves to, and consecrate themselves to Christ.

As Christ himself makes clear, none of us will be married in heaven (Mt 22:23–30). By remaining unmarried in this life, priests are more closely configured to the final, eschatological state that will be all of ours.

Paul makes it very clear that remaining single allows one’s attention to be undivided in serving the Lord (1 Cor 7:32–35). He recommends celibacy to all (1 Cor 7:7) but especially to ministers, who as soldiers of Christ he urges to abstain from “civilian affairs” (2 Tm 2:3–4).
Canonically, priests cannot marry for a number of reasons. First, priests who belong to religious orders take vows of celibacy. Second, while diocesan priests do not take vows, they do make a promise of celibacy.

Third, the Church has established impediments that block the validity of marriages attempted by those who have been ordained. Canon 1087 states: “Persons who are in holy orders invalidly attempt marriage.”

This impediment remains as long as the priest has not been dispensed from it, even if he were to attempt a civil marriage, even if he left the Church and joined a non-Catholic sect, and even if he apostatized from the Christian faith altogether. He cannot be validly married after ordination unless he receives a dispensation from the Holy See (CIC 1078 §2, 1).

Raphael Benedict

Raphael Benedict is a Catholic who wants nothing but to spread the catholic faith to reach the ends of the world. Make this possible by always sharing any article or prayers posted on your social media platforms. Remain blessed

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  1. I learned very young at the age of 33 that when you deny your yearnings of the flesh you do acheive a closer relationship to God, only if you give it up for him. Christ deny his flesh often, 40 days of fasting to remove unclean spirits.
    We must consider this, we are only in the flesh for a very small part of our existence compared to the eternal.
    One must be clean in body, mind and spirit in order to achieve the highest celestial rest.
    It’s tough, in this world of illusions one can get caught up thinking they must be married . Financially, Lonlyness, Scripturally but when you deny worldly care and accept God will care for you only then have you given yourself completely away.

  2. The question was well answered. A priest is taken from among us to lead us to heaven. It is a call to sacredness. Holy Orthers imprint character on chosen ones. There is no need for speculations. Those who want to increase, multiply and fill the earth can go ahead. The word was made flesh and dwelt among us. God came down to earth and left at about the age o 33 years but did not marry. Some even speculate that Mary Magdalene was His girlfriend. We are not Ordained Priests: so, what is our problem there? Priesthood is a vocation and every individual is free to make a choice. If you cannot maintain chastity by clinging on Mary, Queen of the Clergy, kindly leave those who believe that with God, all things are possible.

  3. Alwin Zamora and others who quote texts from the bible and interpret them correctly your arguments are totally right. because you have stated evidences and interpret according to the context. No matter how good and knowledgeable your reasons are but does not have any prove and just interpret to suit your arguments no man would believe you unless there is someone coming out from the thick jungle without seeing the sun since birth would convinced (uneducated) and i for one thank those who based their arguments on the Bible because it provides truth and truth alone. no matter millions of people agree to the issue but without biblical evidence you still on the loosing side and on the wrong track. 2 Timothy 2: 15 “Study to show thyself” Paul is urging Timothy to be diligent in living his life according to the Gospel. In this way, we will become useful for the Master, being prepared for every good work (2 Tim 2:21). in another word could be ‘do not follow men but follow the scripture (Christ) so in this issue if you study the scripture you should know exactly what is right and wrong and do not try to misled people and justify your beliefs and feeling of sorry for those who do works in vain because after all you become partakers of their sin Rev 18:4 “Come out of her my people……”

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