Question: There's an increasing debate within the Catholic Church on the issue of mandatory celibacy for priests. I last discussed this subject with my regular group of train commuters: one Catholic (myself), one Jew (whose father and grandfather were rabbis), one Greek Orthodox, and one lukewarm Anglican. None could understand the merits of this policy.
My Jewish friend maintained that an unmarried male in the Brooklyn Heights, N.Y., community where he grew up would have been considered something of a troublemaker. There would have been concern that a single man might become involved with a married woman.
What is the Jewish perspective on celibacy? Is it realistic to expect a fairly large group of people to practice it? There are hundreds of Catholic parishes in the Chicago area. Most should have two or three priests but now have barely one. I think the bishops who want to preserve something that enhances "clericalism" and their power are shortchanging the people in the pews.