Winter 1976

The Meaning of Celibacy

Hans Urs von Balthasar

If celibacy is lived as it is meant to be lived, it comprehends all that is human.

Statistics of decreasing priestly vocations are alarming, even when corresponding decreases are reported by Protestant churches, by the Anglican Church, and by the Orthodox Church, in all of which priests may marry. It suggests that, at least in our affluent Western Society, the vexing problem is not so much celibate life as vocation to the priesthood. In the eastern countries the situation is totally different. In Poland, there are some ten thousand candidates to the priesthood, and there is no noticeable celibacy crisis among them. In the other satellite countries, as in Russia, only a small percentage of aspirants to the priesthood or religious life are admitted. 


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