.- Manfred Lutz, a psychiatrist with the Congregation for the Clergy, has responded in an extensive article to those who consider celibacy not to be "natural" and explained that the discipline is not only necessary for priests and religious to fully live out their vocations, but that it is also a "provocation" to a superficial world that does not believe in life after death.
In the article published by the L'Osservatore Romano, Lutz commented that celibacy represents "a permanent protest against collective superficiality." It proclaims that "the earthly world, with its joys and sufferings, is not all there is."
One who cannot renounce the exercise of sexuality is not capable "of joining in a marital union" either, Lutz continued. Looking upon women as "the object of satisfaction of a personal impulse plays a key role in the criticism of celibacy," he stated. Lutz also noted that there are even times when spouses cannot "fully exercise their sexuality, as in the case for example of a temporary illness or a permanent handicap. In these cases, a spousal relationship that is truly profound is not destroyed but rather enriched.â
âIn the same way,â Lutz continued, âthe issue of celibacy should not be made into an issue merely of genital sexuality, but rather should be seen as a determined form of relationship that allows for a profound relationship with God and fruitful relationship with the persons confided to the pastoral care of the priest."
Celibacy, Lutz argued, enables a priest to engage more intensely in spiritual direction. "It is not true that spiritual guidance for couples would be better if it were given by spouses. Such a guide always runs the risk of unconsciously reliving the experiences of his or her own marriage and of transforming his or her own emotions into actions through a psychological mechanism without reflection."
"For this reason," he continued, "such a guide needs solid monitoring to prevent this from happening. On the other hand, a good spiritual guide has considerable existential experiences with many married couples, and therefore can reach out to the most difficult cases. This explains, for example, the surprising fruitfulness of the writings on marriage of that great shepherd of souls, the Servant of God John Paul II."
Noting that celibacy is not for narcissists who are always looking to be the center of attention, Lutz recalled that the priest "should always be interested in other human beings and their misery, he should forget about himself and should make visible through his words the splendor of God before his own sufferings."