Clerical celibacy (Catholic Church)
Clerical celibacy is the discipline by which, in some Churches, only unmarried men are, as a rule, to be ordained to the priesthood. The same discipline holds in some other Churches for ordination to the episcopate.
In this context, "celibacy" retains its original meaning of "unmarried". Though even the married may observe continence, abstaining from sexual intercourse, the obligation to be celibate is seen as a consequence of the obligation to observe perfect and perpetual continence for the sake of the Kingdom of heaven. Advocates see clerical celibacy as "a special gift of God by which sacred ministers can more easily remain close to Christ with an undivided heart, and can dedicate themselves more freely to the service of God and their neighbour."
Throughout the Catholic Church, East as well as West, a priest may not marry. To become a married priest, one must therefore marry before being ordained.
The Catholic, Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox Churches, without exception, rule out ordination of married men to the episcopate.
The law of clerical celibacy is considered to be not a doctrine, but a discipline. Exceptions are sometimes made, especially in the case of married Protestant clergymen who convert to the Catholic Church, and the discipline could in theory be changed for all ordinations to the priesthood.
- 1 Historical origins
- 2 Theological foundations
- 3 Scriptural foundations
- 4 Eleventh-century developments
- 5 Eastern Catholic Churches
- 6 The celibacy debate
- 7 Since the Second Vatican Council
- 8 Exceptions
- 9 See also
- 10 References
- 11 External links
In the earliest years of the church, the clergy were largely married men. C K Barrett points to 1 Cor 9:5 as clearly indicating that "apostles, like other Christians, have a right to be (and many of them are) married", and the right for their wife to be "maintained by the communities in which they [the apostles] are working". Paul, though himself probably celibate, even includes being "the husband of one wife" among the qualifications for the office of "overseer".
Studies by some Catholic scholars, such as the Ukrainian Roman Cholij, have argued for the theory that, in early Christian practice, married men who became priests—they were often older men, "elders"—were expected to live in complete continence, refraining permanently from sexual relations with their wives. When at a later stage it was clear that not all did refrain, the Western Church limited ordination to unmarried men and required a commitment to lifelong celibacy, while the Eastern Churches relaxed the rule, so that Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Churches now require their married clergy to abstain from sexual relations only for a limited period before celebrating the Eucharist. The Church in Persia, which in the fifth century became separated from the Church described as Orthodox or Catholic, decided at the end of that century to abolish the rule of continence and allow priests to marry, but recognized that it was abrogating an ancient tradition. The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, whose separation, along with the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria, came slightly later, allows deacons (who are ordained when they are boys) to marry after ordination, but not priests: any future priests who wish to marry must do so before becoming priests. The Armenian Apostolic Church, which also belongs to Oriental Orthodoxy, while technically prohibiting, like the Eastern Orthodox Church, marriage after ordination to the sub-diaconate, has generally let this rule fall into disuse and allows deacons to marry up to the point of their priestly ordination, thus continuing to maintain the traditional exclusion of marriage by those who are priests. This theory would explain why all the ancient Christian Churches of both East and West, with the one exception mentioned, exclude marriage after priestly ordination, and why all reserve the episcopate (seen as a fuller form of priesthood than the presbyterate) for the celibate.
Some Catholic scholars, such as Peter Fink and George T. Dennis SJ of Catholic University of America, have argued that we cannot know if priests in early Christianity practised sexual abstinence. Dennis says "there is simply no clear evidence of a general tradition or practice, much less of an obligation, of priestly celibacy-continence before the beginning of the fourth century". Fink says that a primary book used to support apostolic origins of priestly celibacy "remains a work of interpretation. There are underlying premises that seem to hold firm in this book but which would not stand up so comfortably to historical scrutiny".
The earliest textual evidence of the forbidding of marriage to clerics and the duty of those already married to abstain from sexual contact with their wives is in the fourth-century decrees of the Council of Elvira and the later Council of Carthage. According to some writers, this presumed a previous norm, which was being flouted in practice.
- Council of Elvira (c. 305)
- (Canon 33): It is decided that marriage be altogether prohibited to bishops, priests, and deacons, or to all clerics placed in the ministry, and that they keep away from their wives and not beget children; whoever does this, shall be deprived of the honor of the clerical office.
- Council of Carthage (390)
- (Canon 3): It is fitting that the holy bishops and priests of God as well as the Levites, i.e. those who are in the service of the divine sacraments, observe perfect continence, so that they may obtain in all simplicity what they are asking from God; what the Apostles taught and what antiquity itself observed, let us also endeavour to keep… It pleases us all that bishop, priest and deacon, guardians of purity, abstain from conjugal intercourse with their wives, so that those who serve at the altar may keep a perfect chastity.
Among the early Church statements on the topic of sexual continence and celibacy are the Directa and Cum in unum decretals of Pope Siricius (c. 385), which asserted that clerical sexual abstinence was an apostolic practice that must be followed by ministers of the church.
The writings of Saint Ambrose (died 397) also show that the requirement that priests, whether married or celibate, should be continent was the established rule. To the married clergy who, "in some out-of-the-way places", claimed, on the model of the Old Testament priesthood, the right to father children, he recalled that in Old Testament times even lay people were obliged to observe continence on the days leading to a sacrifice, and commented: "If such regard was paid in what was only the figure, how much ought it to be shown in the reality!" Yet more sternly he wrote: "(Saint Paul) spoke of one who has children, not of one who begets children."
Theologically, the Church teaches that priesthood is a ministry conformed to the life and work of Jesus Christ. Priests as sacramental ministers act in persona Christi, that is in the person of Christ. Thus the life of the priest conforms, the Church believes, to the chastity of Christ himself. The sacrifice of married life is for the "sake of the Kingdom" (Luke 18:28–30, Matthew 19:27–30), and to follow the example of Jesus Christ in being "married" to the Church, viewed by Catholicism and many Christian traditions as the "Bride of Christ" (following Ephesians 5:25-33 and Revelation 21:9, together with the spousal imagery at Mark 2:19-20, cf. Matthew 9:14-15).
Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (later Pope Benedict XVI) in Salt of the Earth saw this practice as based on Jesus' words in Matthew 19:12: "Some are eunuchs because they were born that way; others were made that way by men; and others have renounced marriage because of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it." He linked this celibacy "because of the kingdom of heaven" with God's choice to confer the Old Testament priesthood on a specific tribe, that of Levi, which unlike the other tribes received no land from God, but which had "God himself as its inheritance" (Numbers 1:48–53).
Paul, within a context of having "no command from the Lord" (1 Cor 7:25), recommends celibacy, but acknowledges that it is not God's gift to all within the church: "For I wish that all men were even as I myself. But each one has his own gift from God, one in this manner and another in that. But I say to the unmarried and to the widows: It is good for them if they remain even as I am ... I want you to be without care. He who is unmarried cares for the things of the Lord - how he may please the Lord. But he who is married cares about the things of the world — how he may please his wife. There is a difference between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman cares about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit. But she who is married cares about the things of the world — how she may please her husband. And this I say for your own profit, not that I may put a leash on you, but for what is proper, and that you may serve the Lord without distraction." 1 Corinthians 7:7–8, 7:32–35
It is sometimes claimed that celibacy became mandatory for Latin Church priests only in the eleventh century; but others say, for instance: "(I)t may fairly be said that by the time of St. Leo the Great (440–61) the law of celibacy was generally recognized in the West," and that the eleventh-century regulations on this matter, as on simony, should obviously not be interpreted as meaning that either non-celibacy or simony were previously permitted.
Eastern Catholic Churches
In general, the Eastern Catholic Churches allow ordination of married men as priests. Within the lands of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, the largest Eastern Rite Catholic Church, priests' children often became priests and married within their social group, establishing a tightly-knit hereditary caste. In North America, by the provisions of the decree Cum data fuerit, and for fear that married priests would create scandal among Latin Church Catholics, Eastern Catholic bishops usually ordained only unmarried men; but since the Second Vatican Council called for restoration of Eastern Catholic traditions, some of them have returned to the elsewhere traditional Eastern practice of ordaining married men to the presbyterate. A condition for becoming an Eastern Catholic bishop is to be unmarried or a widower.
The celibacy debate
Garry Wills, in his book Papal Sin: Structures of Deceit, argued that the imposition of celibacy among Catholic priests played a pivotal role in the cultivation of the Church as one of the most influential institutions in the world. In his discussion concerning the origins of the said policy, Wills mentioned that the Church drew its inspiration from the ascetics, monks who devote themselves to meditation and total abstention from earthly wealth and pleasures in order to sustain their corporal and spiritual purity, after seeing that its initial efforts in propagating the faith were fruitless. The rationale behind such strict policy is that it significantly helps the priests perform well in their religious services while at the same time following the manner in which Jesus Christ lived his life. Moreover, the author also mentioned that although the said policy insists on helping priests focus more on ecclesiastical duties, it also enabled the Church to control the wealth amassed by the clerics through their various religious activities hence contributing to the growing power of the institution.
The Latin Church discipline continues to be debated for a variety of reasons.
First, many believe celibacy was not required of the apostles. Peter himself had a wife at the time of Jesus' ministry, whose mother Jesus healed of a high fever. and 1 Corinthians 9:5 is commonly interpreted as saying that, years later, Peter and other apostles were accompanied by their wives. However, on the basis especially of Luke 18:28-30, others think the apostles left their wives, and that the women mentioned in 1 Corinthians as accompanying some apostles were "holy women, who, in accordance with Jewish custom, ministered to their teachers of their substance, as we read was the practice with even our Lord himself".
Second, this requirement excludes a great number of otherwise qualified men from the priesthood, qualifications which according to the defenders of celibacy should be determined not by merely human hermeneutics but by the hermeneutics of the divine. Supporters of clerical celibacy answer that God only calls men to the priesthood if they are capable. Those who are not called to the priesthood should seek other paths in life since they will be able to serve God better there. Therefore, to the supporters of celibacy no one who is called is excluded.
Third, some say that resisting the natural sexual impulse in this way is unrealistic and harmful for a healthy life. Sexual scandals among priests, especially homosexuality and pedophilia, the defenders say, are a breach of the Church's discipline, not a result of it, especially since only a small percentage of priests have been involved. Further, Paul of Tarsus supports celibacy in the New Testament.
Fourth, it is said that mandatory celibacy distances priests from this experience of life, compromising their moral authority in the pastoral sphere, although its defenders argue that the Church's moral authority is rather enhanced by a life of total self-giving in imitation of Christ, a practical application of Vatican II teaching that "man cannot fully find himself except through a sincere gift of himself."
In 1970, nine German theologians, including Joseph Ratzinger (the future Pope Benedict XVI), signed a letter calling for a new discussion of the law of celibacy, though refraining from making a statement as to whether the law of celibacy should in fact be changed.
In February 2013, shortly before resigning in view of accusations, which he denied, of having made improper advances to priests in the past, Cardinal Keith O'Brien said, in an interview with the BBC, that he felt that it would be within the scope of the next elected Pope to rethink the rules to allow Roman Catholic priests to be married if they wished, as celibacy was not of divine origin. In the interview he stated that "of course we know at the present time in some branches of the church - in some branches of the Catholic church - priests can get married". In reality, while in some Eastern Catholic Churches married men may become priests, no Eastern Catholic Church allows priests to marry.
In March 2013, 21 Catholic parliamentarians from the United Kingdom wrote a letter to Francis, asking him to allow married men in Great Britain to be ordained as priests, keeping celibacy as the rule for bishops, as a sign of the "high regard we have for those who are able to live a genuinely celibate life.” The letter cited the fact that married Anglican priests have been ordained by the Catholic Church and allowed to serve as Catholic priests, noting that "These men and their families have proved to be a great blessing to our parishes." "Based on that very positive experience," the letter continued, "we would request that, in the same spirit, you permit the ordination of married Catholic men to the priesthood in Great Britain."
Opposition to clerical celibacy during the Reformation
Celibacy as a requirement for ordination to the priesthood (in the Western Church) and to the episcopate (in East as well as in West) and declaring marriages of priests invalid (in both East and West) were important points of disagreement during the Protestant Reformation, with the Reformers arguing that these requirements were contrary to Biblical teaching in 1 Ti 4:1-5, Heb 13:4 and 1 Co 9:5, implied a degradation of marriage, and were one reason for "many abominations" and for widespread sexual misconduct within the clergy at the time of the Reformation. The doctrinal view of the Reformers on this point was reflected in the marriages of Zwingli in 1522, Luther in 1525, and Calvin in 1539; in England, the married Thomas Cranmer was made Archbishop of Canterbury in 1533. Both of these actions, marriage after ordination to the priesthood and consecration of a married man as a bishop, went against the long-standing tradition of the Church in the East as well as in the West. See Clerical marriage.
Since the Second Vatican Council
During and after the Council, the Magisterium of the Catholic Church has repeatedly re-affirmed the permanent value of the discipline of obligatory clerical celibacy in the Latin Church. Pope John Paul II, synthesizinging the deliberations of Ordinary General Assembly VIII of the Synod of Bishops held in 1990, wrote in Pastores Dabo Vobis (1992), section 29:
The synod fathers clearly and forcefully expressed their thought on this matter in an important proposal which deserves to be quoted here in full: "While in no way interfering with the discipline of the Oriental churches, the synod, in the conviction that perfect chastity in priestly celibacy is a charism, reminds priests that celibacy is a priceless gift of God for the Church and has a prophetic value for the world today. This synod strongly reaffirms what the Latin Church and some Oriental rites require that is, that the priesthood be conferred only on those men who have received from God the gift of the vocation to celibate chastity (without prejudice to the tradition of some Oriental churches and particular cases of married clergy who convert to Catholicism, which are admitted as exceptions in Pope Paul VI's encyclical on priestly celibacy, no. 42). The synod does not wish to leave any doubts in the mind of anyone regarding the Church's firm will to maintain the law that demands perpetual and freely chosen celibacy for present and future candidates for priestly ordination in the Latin rite.
By way of explanation of the discipline, he wrote (in the same section of Pastores Dabo Vobis) that the "unchanging" essence of ordination "configures the priest to Jesus Christ the Head and Spouse of the Church." Thus, he said, "The Church, as the Spouse of Jesus Christ, wishes to be loved by the priest in the total and exclusive manner in which Jesus Christ her Head and Spouse loved her."
There has never been any doubt, however, that it is an ecclesiastical discipline, as the Council Fathers explicitly recognised when they stated that "it is not demanded by the very nature of the priesthood". Pope John Paul II took up this theme when he said at a public audience on 17 July 1993 that celibacy “does not belong to the essence of priesthood”. He went on to speak, nevertheless, of its aptness for, and its congruence with, the requirements of sacred orders, asserting that the discipline "enters into the logic of [priestly] consecration".
These repeated affirmations notwithstanding, some commentators have argued for the possibility that married men of proven seriousness and maturity (viri probati, taking up a phrase which appears in the first-century First Epistle of Clement in a different context) might be ordained to a localized and modified form of the priesthood. The topic of viri probati was raised by some participants in discussions at Ordinary General Assembly XI of the Synod of Bishops held at the Vatican in October 2005 on the theme of the Eucharist, but it was rejected as a solution for the insufficiency of priests.
Following recommendations made at the Council, the Latin Church now admits married men of mature age to ordination as deacons, provided that they intend to remain permanently as deacons and do not intend to advance to priestly ordination (ordination to the order of deacon is part of the process through which priests pass on their way to priestly ordination). Ordination even to the diaconate is an impediment to a later marriage (for example, if a man who was already married by the time of ordination to the diaconate subsequently becomes a widower), though special dispensation can be received for remarriage under extenuating circumstances.
Pope Francis shared his views on celibacy, and the possibility of church discussion on the topic, when he was the Archbishop of Buenos Aires, recorded in the book On Heaven and Earth, a record of conversations conducted with a Buenos Aires rabbi. He commented that celibacy "is a matter of discipline, not of faith. It can change" but added: "For the moment, I am in favor of maintaining celibacy, with all its pros and cons, because we have ten centuries of good experiences rather than failures [...] Tradition has weight and validity." He said that now the rule must be strictly adhered to, and any priest who cannot obey it "has to leave the ministry". National Catholic Reporter Vatican analyst Thomas Reese, also a Jesuit, called Bergoglio's use of "conditional language" regarding the rule of celibacy "remarkable". He said that phrases like "for the moment" and "for now" are "not the kind of qualifications one normally hears when bishops and cardinals discuss celibacy".
Exceptions are sometimes made (including in Latin Church Catholicism), granted by authority of the Pope, when married Protestant clergy become Catholic. For instance, married Anglicans have joined the Catholic priesthood in personal prelatures and through the United States Pastoral Provision. Because the rule of celibacy is an ecclesiastical law and not a doctrine, it can, in principle, be changed at any time by the Pope. Nonetheless, both Pope Benedict XVI and his predecessors have spoken clearly of their understanding that the traditional practice was not likely to change.
Richard McBrien says that the existence of these exceptions, along with the declining number of priests in active ministry (in McBrien's North America and in Europe, although on a worldwide scale the number has since 2000 been increasing steadily, reversing the downward tendency of the 1970s and 1980's, not yet fully undone) and the reported cases of non-observance of the norm (a phenomenon with a history of many centuries) will keep discussion on the subject going, and that questions are asked with regard to the impact of celibacy on the human development of the clergy and with regard to the maintenance of the obligation in countries where celibacy is viewed negatively.
- Code of Canon Law, canon 277 §1
- C K Barrett, A Commentary on the First Epistle to the Corinthians, 2nd Edition (1971), A&C Black, London, p 203.
- Calvin J. Roetzel, Paul: The Man and the Myth (Continuum International 1999 ISBN 978-0-56708698-3), p. 157
- See eg Giggs: http://maxwellinstitute.byu.edu/publications/transcripts/?id=78
- 1 Timothy 3:2
- Priestly celibacy in patristics and in the history of the Church
- BONIVENTO, Cesare. Priestly Celibacy. Ecclesiastical Institution or Apostolic Tradition?; Thomas McGovern,Priestly Celibacy Today; Cochini, Christian, The Apostolic Origins of Priestly Celibacy, Ignatius Press (October 1990). ISBN 0-89870-951-2 ISBN 0-89870-280-1.
- Celibacy in the Early Church: The Beginnings of Obligatory Continence for Clerics in East and West, Stefan Heid, p. 15.
- On Oriental Orthodoxy's exclusion of marriage after ordination to priesthood, see Deacons Focus of Oriental Orthodox-Roman Catholic Consultation
- Dennis, George T. SJ on Cochini, C. The Apostolic Origins of Priestly Celibacy (book review), Theological Studies, 52:4 (1991:Dec.) p.738
- Fink, Peter E. SJ “Books about the priesthood,” America. New York: July 4, 1992. Vol. 167, issue 1, p17.
- McGovern, chapter 1; [Alfons Stickler: The Case for Clerical Celibacy (Ignatius Press) ISBN 0-89870-533-9]
- De officiis ministrorum, 258.
- "habentem filios dixit, non facientem" (Ep. extra coll. [Maur.63] 14,62, quoted in Giovanni Coppa, Il sacerdote "vero levita" secondo S. Ambrogio, L'Osservatore Romano 13 January 2007).
- Angelo Amato, Il Celibato di Gesù, Libreria Editrice Vaticana (2010), pp.29-31
- "Celibacy of the Clergy". Catholic Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2006-09-16.
- "Gregory VII: Simony and Celibacy 1074". Medieval Sourcebook.
- Orest Subtelny. (1988). Ukraine: A History. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, pp.214-219.
- Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, canon 180
- Wills, Garry (2000). Papal Sin: Structures of Deceit. New York City, New York: Doubleday.
- Matthew 8:14
- Saint Jerome, Against Jovinian, 26
- Anthony Zimmermann, "The Logic of Priestly Celibacy"
- Priestly Celibacy
- Pope Paul VI (December 1965). "Gaudium et Spes". Vatican. Retrieved 2006-09-16.
- Memorandum regarding the discussion of celibacy
- "Signatories". Retrieved 2011-02-15.
- Memorandum of professors of theology on the crisis of the Catholic Church
- (26th February 2013) Cardinal Keith O'Brien, Roman resignations The Economist, Retrieved 26 February 2013
- "Cardinal Keith O'Brien: 'Allow priests to marry'". BBC Scotland. Retrieved 25 February 2013.
- Deirdre Kelly, "Cardinal Keith O'Brien: A churchman with a strong voice" (BBC Scotland)
- Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, canon 795
- Teahan, Madeleine, "Catholic MPs urge Pope Francis to allow ordination of married men", CatholicHerald.co.uk, 27 March 2013, Retrieved 27 March 2013
- There was no "oath of celibacy", only a declaration that marriage by a priest was invalid.
- Letter of Pope Adrian VI to Francesco Chieregati 25 November 1522, where the Pope says that even "in this Holy See there have been many abominations these many years — abuses in spiritual things, excessive decrees, and everything perverted" but did not attribute these abominations to clerical celibacy (Luther's Correspondence and Other Contemporary Letters, vol. 2 p. 146 by Preserved Smith).
- Catholic historian Ludwig von Pastor's The history of the popes, from the close of the Middle Ages (1891) (vol. V): Corruption of the Italian Clergy of all Ranks,169ff.; Fra Girolama Savonarola 181ff. likewise did not attribute to clerical celibacy the need for reform that was one of the reasons for holding the Council of Trent.
- Jean Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion IV,12,23–28 .
- Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Decree on the Ministry and Life of Priests, Presbyterorum Ordinis, n.16 ("held by the Church to be of great value in a special manner for the priestly life"); Pope Paul VI, Encyclical Sacerdotalis Caelibatus of 24 June 1967, passim; Synod of Bishops, Ordinary General Assembly II, Ultimis Temporibus (30 November 1971), Part 2, 1, 4 (esp. at (e) "The law of priestly celibacy existing in the Latin Church is to be kept in its entirety"); Code of Canon Law, 1983, can. 277, §1; Synod of Bishops, Ordinary General Assembly VIII (1990, on the theme of the priesthood), prop.11 (a priceless gift of God for the Church . . seen as a positive enrichment of the priesthood, quoted by John Paul II in Pastores Dabo Vobis, 29; Catechism of the Catholic Church (1993), 1579; Synod of Bishops, Ordinary General Assembly XI (2005, on the theme of the Eucharist), prop.11 . . the importance of the priceless gift of ecclesiastical celibacy in the practices of the Latin Church is recognized . .
- Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Decree on the Ministry and Life of Priests, Presbyterorum Ordinis, n.16
- (18 July 1993) Pope Seeks to Clarify Reasons for Celibacy The New York Times, Retrieved 26 February 2013
- General Audience text in Italian: "Rientra, come s’è detto, nella logica della consacrazione."
- 1 Clement 44:2
- Fritz Lobinger, emeritus Bishop of Aliwal North in South Africa, has promoted the proposal (under various names and subject to various revisions of principle) in his books: Like His Brothers and Sisters, Claretian Publications, Quezon City, Philippines, 1998; Teams of Elders (Moving Beyond Viri Probati), Claretian Publications, Quezon City, Philippines, 2007; and Every Community Its Own Ordained Leaders, Claretian Publications, Quezon City, Philippines, 2008
- See Proposition 11 in the final list of Propositions approved by the Synod and submitted to the Pope. Available in Italian only, it reads, in the relevant part: "Certuni hanno fatto riferimento ai “viri probati”, ma quest’ ipotesi è stata valutata come una strada da non percorrere" (Some made reference to viri probati, but this hypothesis was evaluated as a path not to be taken).
- Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium, n.29; Code of Canon Law, can. 1042.1
- can. 1032, CIC 1983
- Cong. for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments, Circular Letter to Diocesan Ordinaries..., 6 June 1997, Prot. N. 263/97, 8; in Origins 27 (28 August 1997) p 171
- Gibson, David, "Book reveals new pope's views on celibacy, abuse, crisis", USA Today (from Religion News Service), 20 March 2013, Retrieved 21 March 2013
- Connor, Tracy, "Pope Francis spoke of being 'dazzled' by girl, possible change of celibacy rule", worldnews.nbcnews.com, 21 March 2013, Retrieved 21 March 2013
- Catholic Encyclopedia, "Celibacy of the Clergy".
- ZENIT News Agency, "Number of Priests Worldwise Continues Steady Increase"
- Number of priests growing worldwide, but dropping in North America
- ZENIT News Agency, "Vatican Releases Statistical Yearbook"
- The world-wide number of priests declined from 419,728 in 1970 to a low of 403,280 in 1985. Since then it has risen to 412,236 in 2013, although the Catholic population has nearly doubled in this same period (Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate, Georgetown University, District of Columbia, U.S.A. "Frequently requested church statistics" accessed 11/2013)
- The HarperCollins Encyclopedia of Catholicism, 1995, ed. McBrien, Richard P. (NY: Harper Collins Publishers), p.291
- Encyclical Sacerdotalis caelibatus - by Pope Paul VI
- The radical importance of the graced gift of priestly celibacy - by Congregation for the Clergy
- Priestly Celibacy Today - book by Thomas McGovern
- Priestly celibacy in patristics and in the history of the Church - by Roman Cholij
- Priestly Celibacy. Ecclesiastical Institution or Apostolic Tradition? - by Cesare Bonivento
- The Case for Clerical Celibacy:Its Historical Development and Theological Foundations - by Alfons Stickler
- Celibacy Dates Back to the Apostles - by Fr. Anthony Zimmerman, STD
- The Ancient Tradition of Clerical Celibacy - by Mary R. Schneider (Ignatius Press)
- Celibacy in the Old Testament and Jewish Tradition- by Br. Anthony Opisso, M.D.
- Imposed celibacy in the catholic church , explanations, articles, research- by foraladypope.org