In this view, he said, celibacy is not first and foremost about practical considerations, such as having more time to serve people and costing the diocese less money to support: "Those aren't false arguments, but they're not primary arguments for Aquinas."
"He says the priest is celibate to seek a kind of definitive all-encompassing union with God in the midst of his fragilities and limits and poverty, spiritually or psychologically, but nevertheless to seek an integration of his whole life in an orientation towards union with God, of knowledge and love," White explained.
As White outlines in his lecture, St. Thomas Aquinas proposes five elements for the holiness of the priesthood, beginning with a priest's fidelity to his ordination and in the administration of the sacraments.
"If he does those in a faithful manner, he is sanctified by virtue of that fidelity in doing things that are proper to the priestly state," White said.
The priest, he continued, should also live a life of "personal search for union with God in a state of grace and love for God, the search for wisdom and understanding of the faith to communicate effectively as a teacher," and prudent governance and stewardship of the faithful, and he should be in communion with the whole Church, and especially with his bishop and the See of Rome.
"If we [priests] lack grounding in the sacramental practices of the Church and her teachings, it's also going to hurt us in trying to resolve our own life of witness in an integral way," he said.
Ultimately, White thinks the solutions to today's crisis in the Church will not be something new, and that the deep solutions needed "depend on grace and also the internal formation life and discipline life of the Church."
He said it is true that the Church needs to make some prudential considerations about the formation, training, and vetting of priests and bishops, and that the laity have the right to expect and insist upon reform from bishops and priests.
However, he said, the true and deep renewal of the Church "occurs through a renewal of love and knowledge of God by grace."
This does not do away with a concern for advocacy and justice, but the contrary, he emphasized, because "the more that people are seeking holiness, the more they desire that there be justice in the Church."
"The deep renewal of the priesthood and of the episcopacy also requires a deep renewal of faith in the mystery of Christ, hope in the sacramental means of sanctification, in the truths of the faith, and in love for God," he said. "There's just not going to be any real renewal of the Church without love for God."
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