Celibacy Seen as a Gift That Edifies the Church

So Says Father Cencini, Consultor to Vatican

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SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA, Spain, SEPT. 12, 2004 (Zenit.org).- A priest who is not profoundly spiritual is «a poor celibate,» says a consultor to a Vatican dicastery.

«Priestly celibacy is not an exclusive characteristic of priests of the Catholic rite, and even less so an imposition of the Church, but a gift received for the edification of the community,» said Father Amedeo Cencini, when referring to the topic he alluded to during a meeting of seminary rectors and formators in Spain.

Father Cencini is a professor at the Salesian and Gregorian universities of Rome, and a consultor to the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.

He explained during an interview with ZENIT that the Church «does not impose celibacy on anyone, it simply chooses priests among those who have received this charism.»

«What is most important is that the celibate make these motivations his own and live his celibacy as a choice of love, with a thankful heart free of egoism, and with a profoundly spiritual attitude,» he said. «If the priest is not profoundly spiritual, he is a poor celibate.»

The priest continued: «The recent scandals of certain Churches must not lead to deception, because there is no scientific proof that shows that in the realm of ecclesiastical celibacy this type of problem is more frequent than in other realms.»

On the contrary, «the testimony of a celibate priest, convinced of and happy with his celibacy, is particularly necessary today,» Father Cencini said.

According to the expert, each priest «must continually ask himself if his celibacy gives testimony of nostalgia for God, if it is able to convey that to love God is not a law, an effort, a renunciation, or violence to nature, but that it is good because it opens the heart and opens one wide to others.»

Father Cencini also alluded to scandals involving child sexual abuse that arose in some dioceses. «Pedophilia, as is known, is recurrent and, because of this, no one with these tendencies can be admitted» to the priesthood, he said.

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