On the occasion of “Valentine's Day” that stands either for virtue or vice, that implies either affective or but carnal love, it is not altogether out of context to speak of the well-known, well-admired or well-despised Clerical Celibacy. This distinct phenomenon in Church circles is nothing new or enigmatic, nothing perplexing – except for Clerics who for one reason or another did away with their avowed continence, set aside their solemn commitment to celibacy.
No. They are not bad individuals nor detestable persons. Yes. They were taught about and formed well regarding celibacy for some eight years or more when they were seminarians. Yes. As Priests, they have their one-day Spiritual Recollection every month. And yes, they have their five to six days of Holy Retreat once a year. In other words, they knew well and learned much about the what, the why and the how of continent living and celibate state of life.
But every now and then, there is wonder, confusion if not downright scandal in the Church when Priests become known for the violation of their commitment to celibacy. Some of them even publicly claim and display their incontinent living, un-celibate lives. And the standard argument heard from them is that celibacy is but an ecclesiastical provision, an imposition of but Church Law. Such may therefore be readily done away with so that they could return to their active priestly ministry if they so desire – in addition to the probability that there would be more seminarians and more Priests as well if the Law on celibacy were done away with.
The objective truth of the matter is that priestly celibacy is not purely a free option of the Church, not merely a private initiative of those who become Priests. So is it that the priestly celibacy is in fact founded on Sacred Scriptures, affirmed by Church Law and supported by ethics:
“The unmarried man is busy with the Lord's affairs, concerned with pleasing the Lord; but the married man is busy with the world's demands and is preoccupied with pleasing his wife.” ( 1 Cor. 7:32-33)
“Clerics are obliged to observe perfect and perpetual continence for the sake of the Kingdom of heaven, and are wherefore bound to celibacy.”
For a man to be continent or not, to be celibate or married – this is his own choice, his own commitment after knowing well what they mean, what they imply. A man should keep his word, should live his promise. This is rather elementary, plain and simple ethical principle.