Priestly Celibacy
Christ's Gift to the World

Anthony Zimmerman
Golden Jubilee Celebration
August 15, 1996
Reproduced with Permission

On the occasion of his golden jubilee in the priesthood the author jubilates over the gift of the priesthood for himself and for all. He provides data that celibacy began with the twelve apostles living in the company of Jesus, and that it has been an unbroken tradition for the priesthood since, not as some wrongly assert, in the 4th or even the 10th century. The book has not been published except on the Internet.


Chapter 1: The Apostles, Living with Christ, Were Celibate

Chapter 2: he Mark of the Priestly Character

Chapter 3: Celibates, sons of the resurrection

Chapter 4: The Priest, at Your Service

Chapter 5: Prayers of Celibate Priests Are Answered Right Away

Chapter 6: Christ, Consecrated Celibate

Chapter 7: Priests, Guardians of Chastity

Chapter 8: Christ, High Priest of the Cosmos

Chapter 9: Tradition of Celibacy in Fourth Century

Chapter 10: Why I Want Celibacy to Continue


Priestly celibacy is again under attack, as was the case during the time of the Protestant Reformation. Few among even our better informed Catholics today appear to gather from the Gospels that Peter and the Apostles, married or unmarried, very likely lived celibately after Christ called them. Christ did not disappoint them. My fifty years in the priesthood makes me warmly grateful for Christ's call to the celibate priesthood.

It is well known that during the first millennium A.D. the Church ordained married men as well as those who were not married. It is less well known that all the clergy, even during that millennium, married and unmarried, were expected to practice to celibacy from the day of ordination.

Pope St. Leo the Great was one who advised the married clergy to not separate from their spouses, but to abstain from the marital embrace while living in the same household. Some of the saints, and even some of the Popes, were children of married priests who lived with their spouse in the celibate state.

African Bishop Genethius spoke to his fellow Bishops of Africa in the year 391: "As was stated above, it is fitting that the sacred bishops and the priests of God as well as the Levites - those who are in the service of the divine sacraments - should be completely continent, so that they can request of God with simplicity what they pray for. What the Apostles taught, and what antiquity itself observed, let us also keep."

The assembled bishops then declared unanimously: "It pleases all that bishops, priests and deacons, guardians of chastity, abstain from conjugal intercourse with their wives, so that those who serve at the altar may keep perfect chastity."

Such is the 2000 year old tradition. We rejoice with Christ that over 400,000 priests in the world struggle to keep chastity, and that God therefore hears their prayers with a bonus privilege of urgency.

Next Page: Chapter 1: The Apostles Were Celibates
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11