Rev. Robert Barron
Special to CNN
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/US/05/15/barron.why.celibacy/art.barron.wordonfire.jpg caption="The Rev. Robert Barron says celibacy sets the priest apart as a symbol of the world to come."]
The scandal surrounding the Rev. Alberto Cutie has raised questions in the minds of many concerning the Catholic Church's discipline of priestly celibacy. Why does the church continue to defend a practice that seems so unnatural and so unnecessary?
There is a very bad argument for celibacy, which has appeared throughout the tradition and which is, even today, defended by some. It goes something like this: Married life is spiritually suspect; priests, as religious leaders, should be spiritual athletes above reproach; therefore, priests shouldn't be married
This approach to the question is, in my judgment, not just stupid but dangerous, for it rests on presumptions that are repugnant to solid Christian doctrine. The biblical teaching on creation implies the essential integrity of the world and everything in it.
Genesis tells us that God found each thing he had made good and that he found the ensemble of creatures very good. Catholic theology, at its best, has always been resolutely, anti-dualist - and this means that matter, the body, marriage and sexual activity are never, in themselves, to be despised.
But there is more to the doctrine of creation than an affirmation of the goodness of the world. To say that the finite realm in its entirety is created is to imply that nothing in the universe is God. All aspects of created reality reflect God and bear traces of the divine goodness - just as every detail of a building gives evidence of the mind of the architect - but no creature and no collectivity of creatures is divine, just as no part of a structure is the architect.
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