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Intimacy and Celibacy

Sep 06, 2014

Hi Fr John,

I hope everything’s going well for you.

I’ve been struggling to grasp the following issue. It’s completely natural for humans to desire romantic intimacy in their relationships – physical intimacy, emotional intimacy, etc.

How can priests or people who make vows of celibacy like professed religious, possible live their whole lives with this urge for romantic intimacy unfulfilled? And also, wihtout having children of their own?
It must be so difficult. I can understand that they can have an intimacy with God, but then again, that’s available to everyone – it’s not an exclusive intimacy like marriage is.

And also, this intimacy with God is very different to the romantic physical intimacy of a couple.

What are your thoughts?



Asked at 08:29 am on September 06th 2014

Dear Anthony:

I remember you had a question about this matter a while ago and then as now I recommend the series of podcasts in our library by Fr. Michael de Stoop.

It is important to take into account that a vocation to the priesthood or religious or consecrated life is a gift from God and he is not going to call someone to live a celibate life without giving them the graces needed to carry it out. This does not mean it is always easy, but married life also involves significant sacrifices and difficulties.

As well, I don’t think you should imagine that celibacy means that you have to live a life that is emotionally empty. Along with the spiritual consolations that come from following a call from God there is the satisfaction that comes from being able to help so many people in many areas of their lives. A priest might not have children of his own but he is a spiritual father to many people.

This applies even to those religious who live in contemplative life, who through their prayers can help so many people.

On the issue of celibacy you might find these articles, here and here, to be helpful.

Replied at 01:30 am on September 08th 2014