Choose a topic from Vol 3:


Reason proves God's existence
Primitive monotheism
Mystery of God's inner nature
Personality of God
Providence of God and the problem of evil


Immortal destiny of man
Can earth give true happiness?
Do human souls evolve?
Is transmigration possible?
Animal souls
Freedom of will
Free will and faith


Religion and God
The duty of prayer
The mysteries of religion
Can we believe in miracles?

The Religion of the Bible

Historical character of the Gospels
Canonical Books of the Bible
Original Manuscripts
Copyists' errors
Truth of the Bible
New Testament "contradictions"

The Christian Religion

Christianity alone true
Not the product of religious experience
Compared with Buddhism, Confucianism, Mahometanism, Bahaism, etc.,
Rejected by modern Jews
The demand for miracles
The necessity of faith
Difficulties not doubts
Proofs available
Dispositions of unbelievers

A Definite Christian Faith

One religion not as good as another
Changing one's religion
Catholic convictions and zeal
Religious controversy
The curse of bigotry
Towards a solution

The Problem of Reunion

Efforts at the reunion of the Churches
The Church of England as a "Bridge-Church"
Anglicans and the Greek Orthodox Church
The "Old Catholics" of Holland
Reunion Conferences
Catholic Unity
The Papacy as reunion center
Protestant hostility to Catholicism
The demands of charity

The Truth of Catholicism

Necessity of the Church
The true Church
Catholic claim absolute
A clerical hierarchy
Papal Supremacy
Temporal Power
Unity of the Church
Holiness of the Church
Catholicity of the Church
Catholic attitude to converts
Indefectible Apostolicity
Necessity of becoming a Catholic

The Church and the Bible

Catholic belief in the Bible
Bible-reading and private interpretation
Value of Tradition and the "Fathers"
Guidance of the Church necessary

The Dogmas of the Catholic Church

Dogmatic certainty
Credal statements
Faith and reason
The voice of science
Fate of rationalists
The dogma of the Trinity
Creation and evolution
The existence of angels
Evil spirits or devils
Man's eternal destiny
The fact of sin
Nature and work of Christ
Mary, the mother of God
Grace and salvation
The sacraments
Holy Eucharist
The Sacrifice of the Mass
Holy Communion
Marriage and divorce
Extreme Unction
Man's death and judgment
Resurrection of the body
End of the World

Moral Teachings of the Catholic Church

Catholic intolerance
The Spanish Inquisition
Prohibition of Books
Liberty of worship
Forbidden Socieities
Church attendance
The New Psychology
Deterministic philosophy
Marriage Legislation
Birth Prevention
Monastic Life
Convent Life
Legal defense of murderers
Laywers and divorce proceedings
Judges in Divorce
Professional secrecy

The Church in Her Worship

Why build churches?
Glamor of ritual
The "Lord's Prayer"
Pagan derivations
Liturgical symbolism
Use of Latin
Intercession of Mary and the Saints

The Church and Social Welfare

The Church and Education
The Social Problem
Social Duty of the Church
Catholicism and Capitalism


1169. Why doesn't the Roman Catholic Church allow its priests to marry like the Protestant ministers?

Speaking as a priest I simply say that we do not want to marry like Protestant ministers. Surely you don't suggest that we ought to marry just because they do. If you are moved by pity for us then it should be your consolation that it is we who are the sufferers, and not your Protestant ministers. But now, why does the Catholic Church exact celibacy whilst Protestant Churches do not? It is not because priests believe marriage to be evil. It is that they may be able to devote themselves more completely to the work of Christ, and the welfare of souls. Christ Himself did not marry, and He said clearly that it was good to renounce marriage for the kingdom of heaven's sake. And He added, "Let those who can do so, do so." St. Paul also taught that one who remains single for the sake of complete consecration to God makes a better choice than one who chooses marriage. And he said, "I would that all were like myself-unmarried." And he gives as his reason, "He that is without a wife is solicitous for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please God. But he that is with a wife, is solicitous for the things of the world, how he may please his wife: and he is divided." As you like Bible, chapter, and verse, you will find that in 1 Cor. VII. verses 7 and 8, and 32 and 33. If celibacy, as the New Testament teaches, is the higher ideal, from whom could the Church expect that higher ideal if not from her priests? There are many practical advantages also in the Catholic law on this subject; but they are secondary. The main point is as to whether celibacy is right or wrong in itself; and, according to the New Testament, it is not only right, but the better choice.

1170. Our ministers get married, and have children.

That is true. But, together with many other ideals, the Protestant reformers threw away the ideal of celibacy, and lost all real understanding of the supreme invitation of Christ to renounce all things, even the consolation of wife and children, in order to follow Him. And there is no reason why the Catholic Church should abandon the ideal because the Protestant Churches have done so. The celibacy of the clergy has been the Christian ideal from the very earliest ages of the Church. When the disciples asked our Lord whether He expected men not to marry, our Lord replied, "Not all men will refrain, but those to whom it is given, He that can do so, let him do so." Protestantism abolished the difficult things, and followed the easier path of the senses rather than the higher road of the spirit. But in the Catholic Church the high ideals of Christ remain to this day. Recently a young priest died, and after his death some notes he had written prior to his ordination were found, and they contained these beautiful words, "I am to be a priest, living for Christ only. I must not only renounce marriage. I renounce all the tenderness women can show, and which gives such charm to the life of a man. All such consolations, so dear to the human heart, are excluded by my vow. Once the sacrifice is made, not one of those sweetnesses must ever be desired. The life of a priest must be a solitary one - alone with God." If you object to such ideals, and the Catholic standard of celibacy for the priesthood, I will gladly answer any particular difficulties that occur to you. But the fact that Protestant ministers choose to marry, just as other men who have no desire to rise above ordinary levels of human life, is no reason why the Catholic Church should be contented with the same lower standards.

1171. You seem to canonize virginity.

St. Paul himself says that the virgin who marries does well, but the virgin who does not marry does better. The context shows, of course, that he intends the renunciation of marriage for the love of Christ, and the resolution to share one's heart with no one save Him. Though we speak highly of Christian marriage, the dignity of marriage, which plants the tree of life, does not prevent the higher dignity of the single state. Humanity needs not only fruit; it needs flowers. Some are called to live the life of the soul, and to leave the fruits of earth for the flowers of heaven.

1172. The celibacy of priests and nuns seems so useless socially.

Whatever you may think of its results, the practice was advised and exemplified by Christ Himself. But the practice is far from being socially useless. It is most useful to marriage itself, which it tends to purify and ennoble in those called to the married state. It keeps an ideal before our Catholic people which inculcates due reserve and rebukes excess. And it is a remarkable thing that the Church which sanctions Convent life, and priestly celibacy, is the one Church which stands most firmly for the sanctity and stability of Christian marriage. Again, the voluntary renunciation of priests and nuns frees them from lower interests, and enables them to devote themselves to higher and more spiritual pursuits. And the more who do this, the greater the social benefit.

1173. Why should a priest shirk family responsibilities, and lack experience of the needs of ordinary people?

A priest does not shirk the responsibilities of a family. He gives up the prospect of a personal family, but makes all mankind his family. Had I the obligation to devote myself to a wife and family, I could not give anything like the time I do to all who claim my attention in their spiritual needs. But besides these, and other urgent considerations, the Holy Eucharist and the Mass demand celibacy. Those who have lost the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, and who do not understand the Mass are scarcely likely to appreciate this point. But every Catholic heart understands that such contact with God at the Altar demands reserve, and that virginity is every bit as fitting and suitable to a priest as to Mary, the Mother of Christ. Meantime a priest experiences the needs of the ordinary people, through his spiritual duties towards them, and above all as their adviser and consoler in the Confessional. Few in this world have so wide an experience, and the very abnegation of the priest adds immeasurably to his power.

1174. Did not the Roman Church make the law of celibacy only in the Thirteenth Century?

The Apostolic Constitutions, certainly written before the Council of Nice which was held in 325, gives the law that at least no priest could marry after his ordination. A man already married could be ordained-but if a single man were ordained a priest, he must remain single. The first Papal decree on celibacy which we can trace is that of Pope Siricius in 385. The wording of his decree is as follows:"All of us who are priests are bound by a strict law to dedicate both body and heart to sobriety and chastity by virtue of our ordination." He does not pretend to be making a new law, but quotes an already existent law. Five years later, in 390 the second Council of Carthage used these words. "Previous Councils have decreed that bishops, priests and deacons must be continent and perfectly chaste, as becomes ministers of God. Therefore, as the Apostles have taught, and with them the whole of antiquity, let us also observe chastity." Any priest who offended by attempting to marry was to be degraded and expelled from his office. All this is before the close of the fourth century.

1175. Was not St. Peter a married man?

Yes, that is correct. He was a married man when our Lord called him to the Apostolate. But he left his wife, with her consent of course, to follow Christ. Thus in St. Math. XIX., 27, "Peter answering said to Him 'Behold we have left all things and have followed Thee.' " And Jesus replied, "Everyone that hath left house or brethren or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands for My Name's sake shall receive a hundredfold and possess life everlasting."

1176. Is the ideal of a married clergy as primitive and as Catholic as that of a celibate clergy?

There never was, and there is no Catholic ideal of a married clergy. Celibacy is the Catholic ideal, and anything less cannot be the ideal. A married clergy has never been anything more than tolerated, as in cases of necessity when single men who would adopt the ideal were not available. But even here St. Paul gives restrictive legislation, insisting that such married men as were to be chosen, must not have been husbands to more than one wife. 1 Tim. III., 2, 12. Twice-married men were excluded. Aiming always at the ideal, the Church soon ordered such married men as were ordained to practice continency from the day of their ordination; and finally she ruled out a married clergy altogether as far as the Western Church is concerned. Eastern Churches which have sought union with the Catholic Church, and which already had a married clergy, are being led gradually to the ideal of celibacy also.

1177. An Anglican minister told me that the ideal of a married clergy was just as primitive. There must be something in it.

There is nothing in it. In fact, it is a self-evident absurdity. A celibate clergy is a non-married clergy. Now when you have two contradictories, married and not-married, one of them will be the ideal, or there's no ideal. If a married clergy is the ideal, then a non-married clergy is not the ideal. If a non-married clergy is the ideal, then a married clergy is not the ideal. Only an Anglican who wants to placate simultaneously High Church advocates of celibacy, and Low Church married ministers could possibly talk nonsense about both being the ideal. I call it nonsense, because if you were asked whether it would be better to go upstairs or downstairs, you would be talking nonsense if you said that it would be better to do both simultaneously. One or the other could be the better thing. But not both. So a married "or" a celibate clergy can be the ideal, but "both" cannot be. It would be better for Anglicans to say straight out that a married clergy is the ideal, and condemn celibacy as a lower standard; or else to say that there is no ideal on this point, and that marriage and celibacy are equally good. But it is suicidal for an Anglican to speak of "the primitive ideal of celibacy," with most of the Anglican clergy married.

1178. Were the English priests celibates at the time of the Norman invasion and before?

Yes. The Venerable Bede records the explicit instructions of Pope Gregory the Great when he sent St. Augustine to convert England. The Pope insisted that those who took Sacred Orders must renounce marriage. That law of celibacy existed right through the ages in England until abolished by Parliament under Edward VI when the Church of England accepted Protestant standards from the Continent. Henry VIII of course, despite his break with Rome, still insisted on the celibacy of the clergy in the schismatic Anglican Church he created.

1179. Many people say that the celibacy of the Catholic clergy is opposed to the law of nature, and consequently wrong. How should one reply to them?

If they are Christians, it should be enough to quote the example and teaching of Christ. Or, if they insist that He, as God, must be excepted in His personal life, you could quote St. Paul, who advised others to remain as he himself, unmarried. If, however, the objectors are not Christians, you will have to discuss the question from the aspect of purely natural law. You could first ask them, not merely to say that celibacy is opposed to the law of nature, but to prove their position. If you wait for them to do so, the discussion will go no further.But you could go on yourself to show that celibacy is not opposed to the law of nature.Firstly, you could point to all those to whom marriage, from one cause or another, is quite impossible. Are they all to be guilty of violating the law of nature?Secondly, you could analyze the supposed law in itself. Some laws directly concern men in an individual capacity. Others concern them in a social capacity. Now not every individual in society is bound to fulfill general laws of nature for the general welfare of society. For example, it is a law of nature that every living individual must eat if he is to preserve his own life. But the life of the human race is preserved provided sufficient numbers in general marry and beget children. And this general law of nature is not violated by the abstention from marriage by some, whether by necessity, or by voluntary choice. It might be noted that in England there are over two million more women than men. Does the law of nature demand polygamy, or does it sanction the single state in given members of the population?

1180. Does the Roman Catholic Church think its priests and nuns are inhuman?

No. You must remember, of course, that no Catholic man or woman can ever be compelled to become a priest or a nun. If Catholics wish to marry, they are quite free to do so. But if they make that choice, they are not free to become priests and nuns. All that the Church says is this. "There is no obligation to become a priest or a nun. That's a matter of free choice. But if you do become a priest or a nun, you must renounce all thought of marriage, and take a vow of purity and chastity for life." All Catholics know that beforehand, and if they choose such conditions, then it is they themselves who have chosen not to marry. Does it follow that the Church thinks priests and nuns to be inhuman? No. It is one thing to be inhuman; it is quite another to rise above normal human tendencies and inclinations, and to live according to supernatural and spiritual ideals. Those who do not think this possible simply ignore the fact that it is done by thousands; and they quite forget the power of divine grace. One can love God, and spiritual things, so much that One has no desire to indulge natural cravings for human love and affection, or to seek those pleasures of the senses afforded by earthly love making. Such a love of God, and of spiritual things, does not make one inhuman. It merely lifts to a higher than a merely human level.

1181. Doctors say that it is not possible for man to live alone and remain normal.

As in any other profession, so in the medical profession there are unscrupulous men who have no conscience, and who do not hesitate to violate the truth in order to say what they think their client would like to hear. But all truly great and honorable medical men denounce such quackery and ignorance. Let me quote some of them, and from various countries. Dr. Toth, professor at Budapest University writes, "It is absolutely untrue that a chaste life even in the least degree is injurious to health. Not a single earnest medical work by an author who would be ready to face a challenge to his writings says so. Not a single medical man of good repute would undertake to prove that any sickness was caused by moral purity."Dr. Farel, the distinguished psychiatrist of Zurich writes, "I have never come across a psychosis having its source in a chaste life, but have diagnosed countless cases caused by sexual excesses."Dr. Rossier, a French authority, says, "I assert without reservation that chastity cannot be injurious to health. I warn everyone that other advice by doctors is erroneous and harmful." The Second International Health Congress at Brussels unanimously resolved, "Youth must be taught that not only has chastity no harmful effects on health, but that it is unqualifiedly commendable." The medical faculty of the Norway University gave out the public statement: "That sexual continence is harmful to health is, in our unanimous opinion utterly false and in direct opposition to all our professional experience. We do not know of any impairment of health which could have its source in an absolutely pure and moral life."The Italian physiologist, Dr. Mantagezza, says, "Never yet have I seen a disease which originated in a chaste life. By continency the memory becomes keen and enduring, thought vivid and fertile, the will strong, and the character steeled into energy." Eulenberg, professor of psychiatry in Berlin University says, "No one could fall ill, or become affected by nervous ailments merely because of sexual continence. This often-heard allegation I regard just as empty and nonsensical chatter." And he adds that the belief that continency and celibacy are harmful is accepted with alacrity by men of loose morals, and, alas, tacitly endorsed by dishonorable medical men. And he says that this idea does untold harm, encouraging lawless indulgence, and that "against it no protest can be too loud and too frequent."Max Gruber, professor of medicine at Munich University, writes, "There is not the shadow of evidence that continence is injurious to health. Those doing hard mental or physical work feel at the very fullest exercise of their strength how much continence heightens their ambition and working ability. This was known to the athletes of ancient Greece, and is known to the sportsmen of our day, to research workers, scientists, and creative geniuses." Dr. Paul, of Karlsruhe, says, "No conscientious physician has ever come forward with an opinion that a healthy man should satisfy sexual instinct in order to maintain good health." I have a few dozen more of such quotations from medical authorities. But I have said enough to show that continence and celibacy do not mean abnormality either mentally or physically. And that in any man, whether a Catholic priest or not.

1182. Why are Greek Orthodox priests allowed to marry, and not Roman Catholic priests?

Because the Greek Orthodox Church is a schismatical Church which does not accept the legislation of the Catholic Church. Also it is not able to inspire or exact the same ideals of all its clergy. Those Greek Orthodox priests who belong to Greek monasteries must, of course, adopt the higher ideal of celibacy. But the parochial clergy are not obliged in the Greek Church to rise to the same heights. On the other hand, Catholic priests are not allowed to marry because the Catholic Church insists that her priests give their undivided interest to their spiritual work, that they more closely imitate Christ their Master, who certainly never dreamed of marriage, and that they put into practice the ideal expressed by St. Paul, "I would that all were as myself, unmarried."

1183. Has the permission granted by the Synod of Ancyra in 314 A.D. to marry in the East been superseded by any law of the Church since? Does it still operate to allow priests to marry?

At various times there have been many modifications of the legislation of Ancyra; modifications undertaken by the various Uniate Churches themselves. These churches are gradually leaning towards the complete acceptance of celibacy, just as it prevails in the Western Church. Though the Holy See has not imposed the discipline of the Latin Church upon them, they are gradually imposing it as an obligation upon themselves. At present, the Uniate Churches do not allow marriage after ordination as deacon or priest. If candidates marry before such ordination, they may be ordained. But if they are single when ordained, they must remain single. In other words, the general law for the Eastern Uniate Churches is that marriage beforehand is not an impediment to ordination as a priest; but ordination as a priest is an impediment to any subsequent marriage. This applies to simple priests only. Bishops must be chosen from the unmarried only, having observed strict celibacy all through their priestly lives. These are the general principles. There are slight variations in different Uniate Churches which space will not allow me to give in detail. Today the great majority of priests in the Uniate Churches do not avail themselves of the right to marry before ordination. They voluntarily choose to remain single, and being ordained as single men, adopt celibacy as the law of their future lives. The time will certainly come when these Eastern Uniate Churches will wish to have the full discipline of the Latin Church in regard to celibacy extended to them also.

1184. Were any of the priests of the allied churches married, and living with their wives from 1909 till now, whilst officiating as priests in the Church?

Yes. As far as the New Testament is concerned, celibacy is advised by the sacred writers as the better thing, but it is not imposed as an obligation. Rome has made it an obligation for all priests of the Latin rite. But the Holy See has not imposed this disciplinary obligation on the Uniate Churches. Their own discipline in this matter has been sanctioned by the Holy See.

1185. Why does the Pope allow priests of the Uniate Eastern Churches to marry, contrary to the law binding Catholic priests of the Latin rite? Why the distinction?

The Pope does not allow priests of the Uniate Eastern Churches to marry. Once ordained a priest even in the Uniate Churches, subsequent marriage is forbidden. If a single man is ordained a priest, he must remain single for life. However it is lawful for one who is already married to be ordained a priest in the Uniate Churches, and to continue in the married state. Why this different law for the Uniate Churches? For many reasons. The law of celibacy is the ideal, but it is a matter of ecclesiastical discipline. And disciplinary laws are imposed according to the discretion of those in control of the Church. The Western or European Catholics have ever been subject to Rome, were educated according to right ideals, and naturally accepted the full discipline of the Church. But many of the Uniate Eastern Churches were for long periods separated from Rome by various Eastern heresies, and returned to unity with Rome only after having contracted habits rife amongst Eastern heretics. The Pope insisted that, on returning to the unity of the Catholic Church, they should renounce all heretical elements, and accept everything essential to the Catholic Faith. But in disciplinary matters, he did not desire to impose the full severity of Western regulations suddenly, preferring to lead them gradually to an appreciation of the higher Latin ideals. Provided the Eastern Churches are prepared to accept all the essential things, there is no reason why they should be excluded from the unity of the Church. And granted their submission, it is but reasonable to make allowance for their previous customs, and patiently wait for them to grow into the full discipline of the Church gradually. Of recent years this growth in the direction of a full acceptance of celibacy is most pronounced.



Prefer a PRINT version?