In this talk, delivered to around two hundred Catholic priests at the St. Paul Center’s Living Sacrifice conference, Dr. Brant Pitre examines the biblical evidence for the Church’s claim that Jesus instituted a celibate ministerial priesthood. At the time of the Reformation, the founders of Protestantism rejected the idea that Jesus founded a ministerial priesthood along with the royal priesthood of all believers. Even those who retained some idea of priesthood rejected the Catholic discipline of a celibate priesthood. Today, most people believe that the idea of priestly celibacy was a later medieval invention. In this talk Dr. Pitre shows that it actually has deep roots in both the Old Testament and the Gospels.
The meaning of today’s liturgy is subtle and many-layered. We need background to understand what’s happening in today’s First Reading. Babylon having been defeated, King Cyrus of Persia decreed that the exiled Jews could return home to Jerusalem. They rebuilt their ruined temple (see Ezra 6:15–17) and under Nehemiah finished ...