Clerical celibacy  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Clerical celibacy is the practice in various religious traditions, in which clergy, monastics and those (of either sex) in religious orders adopt a celibate life, refraining from marriage and sexual relationships, including masturbation and "impure thoughts" (such as sexual visualisation and fantasies). Clerical celibacy is practiced mainly by Roman Catholic priests and Eastern and Oriental Orthodox bishops and Eastern Catholic bishops. It has also been the historical norm for Anglo-Catholic priests.

Celibacy, continence and chastity

The meanings of the words celibacy, continence and chastity in this context differ from the more or less synonymous meanings sometimes attributed to them in common speech. Celibate here means renouncing marriage. Continent means refraining from any form of sexual intercourse. Chaste means conforming to sexual morality. Thus a married man having sex with his wife is chaste, but not celibate or continent. And an unmarried man having sex with anyone is celibate, but is neither continent nor chaste.

In the case of the Latin Church, the specific obligation of the clergy is continence. Celibacy is a consequence of this obligation. The Code of Canon Law states:

Clerics are obliged to observe perfect and perpetual continence for the sake of the kingdom of heaven and therefore are bound to celibacy which is a special gift of God by which sacred ministers can adhere more easily to Christ with an undivided heart and are able to dedicate themselves more freely to the service of God and humanity.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Clerical celibacy" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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