Celibacy has been one of the most asked topics when talking about the vocation of Priesthood. Those who are discerning to become priests are the common ones. In this blog, we will answer a question they have been searching for. Can a retired catholic priest get married?
Before we dig deeper, let’s define first what is celibacy.
Celibacy is the practice of abstaining from marriage and sexual relations.
It is in 1139, the Second Lateran Council that celibacy for the priests in the Western Church became mandatory. That said, celibacy is a discipline and not a doctrine.
CCC 1579 All the ordained ministers of the Latin Church, with the exception of permanent deacons, are normally chosen from among men of faith who live a celibate life and who intend to remain celibate “for the sake of the kingdom of heaven.” Called to consecrate themselves with undivided heart to the Lord and to “the affairs of the Lord,” they give themselves entirely to God and to men. Celibacy is a sign of this new life to the service of which the Church’s minister is consecrated; accepted with a joyous heart celibacy radiantly proclaims the Reign of God.
But note that celibacy is not only for the Priests. Religious Brothers and Sisters of a Holy Order also made a vow to observe it. The same is true with the individuals who pursue single life. They must remain faithful to the promise of being chaste.
Since priesthood is a vocation and not a profession, those who follow this way of life cannot retire from being a priest. They are priests forever, continuing their lifelong ministry to which they dedicated themselves at ordination like celebrating Mass and hearing confession. However, they can retire from administrative duties and active ministries such as Parish Priests or Administrators.
A Bishop grants permission to a priest who applies for retirement depending on the Diocese’s policies. Some require a minimum age of 70 and a specific number of years in ministry before relieving from administrative duties.
Now, let’s answer the question.
Can a Retired Priest get Married?
No. He cannot marry. A retired priest is still a priest. The priesthood does not end with retirement. Although he can retire from the demands of his administrative duties, he can never retire from being a priest, freeing himself to break the vow or promise of celibacy. He must still be celibate, continuing the lifetime mission he committed himself during the ordination. He never loses his priestly faculties meaning despite retirement he can still celebrate the Mass, baptize, or hear confession.
The call to priesthood is a lifelong commitment. As mentioned, it is a vocation and unlike any other profession, it does not end at retirement.
Priests observe celibacy. They should be celibate for the rest of their lives. It does not become ineffective and breakable because of retirement. It should be lived, fulfilling the vow or promise they made.
Although others think it is impossible to be celibate, through the Sacraments and prayers, it is really possible.
If you are thinking to be a priest, discernment is a must.
You can check these references for a better discernment process.
Let’s pray for the priests.