Catholic priests unite themselves with Christ in a special way by following His example of single-hearted ministry as a single, celibate person. Further, priests do not marry so as to dedicate themselves completely to God and to His Church. Nevertheless, they generate "spiritual children" by leading many souls to Christ and by helping them to grow in holiness. As a priest once said, "No person has ever called me 'dad,' but thousands have called me 'father.'"

Every vocation in life requires personal sacrifice. A vocation to the priesthood is no different. Freely choosing to live celibately for the sake of God’s people and His Church is a powerful sign of God’s love for the world.

Could the Law of Celibacy Change?
The law of celibacy that priests freely obey is a Church-made law that conceivably could change. If God wills this in the future, it will be accomplished in the Church through the magisterial actions of the Pope and his brother bishops. However, it would be a grave mistake and spiritually perilous for any man to enter a seminary, or to petition a bishop for ordination, expecting this change to occur in his lifetime.

Would a Change of Celibacy Law Produce More Vocations?
In the past thirty-five years vocations to the priesthood and religious life have increased in Southeast Asia by 152 percent, in Central America by 165 percent, in South America by 253 percent, and in Africa by 394 percent. Only in North America and in Western Europe has there been a decrease in vocations. This phenomenon often occurs when countries and cultures experience great wealth and prosperity. Greed and earthly desires may lure one away from Godly values and the desire to seek and to do God’s will. Further, in these two regions, schools of Theology who educate ministers who are non-Catholic or non-Christian and who are free to marry have all experienced a parallel decrease in enrollment. From these statistics it appears that a change of celibacy law would not significantly increase vocations. Rather, what is needed is a culture which supports men and women who desire to serve God’s people and God’s church with single-hearted dedication.

What about Loneliness?
There is a difference between aloneness and loneliness. In the life of a priest, moments of solitude or aloneness are required for prayer, reflection, homily preparation, and rest. Many priests experience aloneness without feeling lonely. Further, in the midst of his ministry, a priest interacts with hundreds of individuals a week, and many life-giving friendships are enjoyed. Still, no vocation is immune to loneliness. Therefore, a priest must always be vigilant in maintaining healthy relationships with family, friends, brother priests, religious brothers and sisters and parishioners.