Featured Image

This essay by Fr. Joachim Heimerl was originally published in French on the blog of Italian journalist Marco Tosatti. It has been translated and reprinted by LifeSiteNews with the permission of Marco Tosatti.

(LifeSiteNews) — An increasing number of voices in the pope’s circle are saying it: celibacy is to become a victim of the “Franciscan” Church reform.

Yet celibacy, in particular, is an interesting indicator, because wherever it is called into question, the Catholic faith has evaporated. Those who distance themselves from Christ always distance themselves first from the way of life that HE lived. This applies to every pope, every bishop, and every priest. Seen in this light, the betrayal of celibacy is nothing less than a new betrayal by Judas, and not even the Vatican seems to shy away from finally committing this betrayal.

The pope’s heralds are already preparing it: One high-ranking prelate after another speaks out against celibacy and hopes to receive 30 pieces of silver from Francis in return.

READ: Pro-LGBT Vatican official opposes mandatory celibacy: ‘Why should I lose a priest to marriage?’

Cardinal Alfons Maria Stickler (1910-2007), librarian and archivist of the Holy Roman Church, described such tendencies as early as 1993. In his book The Case for Clerical Celibacy, he emphasizes that celibacy was never just an ecclesiastical law that could simply be abolished. On the contrary: the abstinence of the clergy dates back to the Apostles and was expected of all clergy in the early Church. If they were married, they were no longer allowed to have sexual relations with their wives after ordination. The cardinal traces this practice back to 1 Corinthians 9 and refers to the corresponding resolutions of the Councils of Tours (461), Gerona (517), and Auvergne (535). He makes it clear that celibacy is more than a rigorous practice; it is about Christ and the priesthood of the New Covenant.

In other words, it is all or nothing. Where faith in Christ dies, abstinence dies first. And where heresies and schisms arise, the abolition of celibacy always appears as a harbinger, as was the case with the introduction of the Protestant Schism in Germany and England.

Seen in this light, celibacy is an indicator of faithfulness to Christ, and that is why the Church has always held on to it. Of course, this is also due to the fact that celibacy refers to the innermost essence of the priesthood: The priest is united to Christ in a sacramental and ontological way. This is precisely why the priesthood is never limited to an external function. It is not a “profession” like any other but a sacred vocation – and it demands the whole man and an undivided heart. Being a priest is not a half-measure or a part-time job, and those who do not sacrifice themselves can never perform the sacrifice of Christ at the altar. Cardinal Stickler calls this the “ongoing sacrificial life” of the priest, which is, of course, as little understood today as the sacrificial character of the Holy Mass.

READ: Cardinal Sarah’s beautiful defense of priestly celibacy must be read

The Levitical priesthood of the Old Covenant, which involved cultic abstinence limited only to the time of the service in the temple, is surpassed in its essence by this New Testament priesthood. This again becomes visible in celibacy, of which Cardinal Stickler writes that it is much more than just an “appropriate way of life” for priests. Instead, it is necessary and indispensable; it connects the Church with Christ through the Apostles.

The fact that only the Catholic Church has preserved this connection truly distinguishes it as “Catholic and Apostolic”; one could say that celibacy is its trademark and the holy seal of Christ.

If the pope were to abolish celibacy, he would, therefore, be acting against the Apostles and Christ. And even if married men (so-called “viri probati”) were to be ordained to the priesthood, it could only be done if they committed themselves to the marital abstinence the early Church demanded.

Today, however, people no longer want to hear about this because they no longer know Christ. Without a deeper knowledge of Christ and without the sacrifice of total devotion to HIM, no one can be a priest. Cardinal Stickler points this out in contrast to the mainstream that has taken hold of the reformers around Pope Francis. His book makes it shockingly clear how far the Church has distanced itself from Christ.

If the pope were to abolish celibacy, this would mark its definitive downfall – and expose his reform program for what it is: an unprecedented work of destruction.

READ: Austrian priest: Pope Francis’ fight against the Latin Mass is ‘a fight against the Church’

Correction: A previous version of the headline referred to Fr. Heimerl as a “German priest,” but he is actually Austrian. We regret the error.