Celibacy and Political Theology

Celibacy fosters an eschatological imagination.

This is a somewhat powerful argument for priestly celibacy. But in the hands of Johann Adam Möhler, explains Grant Kaplan at First Things, celibacy became a potent symbol of the Church’s independence from the expanding Prussian state. His little essay does not amount to a powerful argument for priestly celibacy in the 21st century Church. But it is a refreshing reflection on the contemporary political-theology upshot of the ancient practices of the Church. Kaplan:

From Möhler we can learn how to think about the freedom of the Church in a theological way and to find in her life means of resistance to the overreach of government. Clerical celibacy is a spiritual discipline, and papal primacy a sacred office, that contend with secular power for control of our public reality. They point to a body neither circumscribed by national borders nor resigned to being a disincarnate, “mystical” body floating above time and space. This body, celebrated in the Eucharist, puts national boundaries and loyalties in their proper context.


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