Clerical celibacy (Catholic Church)  

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"In ancient, genuine Christianity marriage was only a concession, which besides this was supposed to have only the begetting of children as its end, that, on the other hand, perfect continence was the true virtue far to be preferred to this. To those, however, who do not wish to go back to the authorities themselves I recommend two works for the purpose of removing any kind of doubt as to the tendency of Christianity we are speaking about: Carové, “"Ueber das Cölibatgesetz,” 1832, and Lind, “De cœlibatu Christianorum per tria priora secula,” Havniœ, 1839.""--The World as Will and Representation

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Clerical celibacy is the discipline by which, in some of the particular Churches that constitute the Catholic Church, only unmarried men are, as a rule, to be ordained to the priesthood. The same discipline holds in some other Churches for ordination to the episcopate.

Chief of the Catholic particular Churches that follow this discipline is the Latin Rite, but, among the Eastern Catholic Churches, at least the Ethiopic Catholic Church applies it also.

In this context, "celibacy" retains its original meaning of "unmarried", and does not refer to the continence or abstinence from sexual intercourse that even the married may practise.

Throughout the Catholic Church, East as well as West, a priest may not marry. To become a married priest, one must therefore marry before being ordained.

The Catholic, Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox Churches, without exception, rule out ordination of married men to the episcopate.

The law of clerical celibacy is considered to be not a doctrine, but a discipline. Exceptions are sometimes made, especially in the case of Protestant clergymen who convert to the Catholic Church, and the discipline could in theory be changed for all ordinations to the priesthood. However, it is considered a valuable witness of Christian faith and as a way of following the example of Christ and his celibate way of life.

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