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What percentage of priests are actually celibate?

Celibacy has been a requirement for Roman Catholic priests for many centuries. However, the issue of celibacy has become a controversial subject today, as there are reports of priests being involved in sexual scandals despite their vow of celibacy. One question that has been frequently asked is what percentage of priests are actually celibate. In this blog post, we will examine this issue and present some research that has been conducted on this topic.

What does the Catholic Church say about celibacy?

According to the Catholic Church, celibacy is a requirement for Roman Catholic priests. The church believes that celibacy is a way for priests to dedicate themselves entirely to God and the church.

The tradition of celibacy for priests dates back to the early Christian church, where priests were expected to remain unmarried so they could devote themselves fully to their ministry. However, it was not until the 11th century that celibacy became a requirement for all Roman Catholic priests.

Research on celibacy among priests

There have been numerous studies and surveys conducted over the years to determine the percentage of priests who are actually celibate. One of the most comprehensive studies on this topic was conducted by researcher Richard Sipe.

Sipe’s research, which was published in his book “Celibacy in Crisis,” found that around 50 percent of Roman Catholic priests are involved in sexual relationships, either currently or at some point in their lives. Furthermore, Sipe reports, some priests are celibate at some times but not at others, so that only 2 percent have “achieved the celibate ideal.” He defines that achievement as having met the various challenges of self-control, aloneness, and commitment.

Another study, conducted by the Los Angeles Times in the 1990s, found that up to 40 percent of priests in some areas of the United States were sexually active. More recently, a survey conducted by the National Catholic Reporter in 2015 found that of the 500 priests surveyed, 38 percent said they were celibate, 18 percent were sexually active, and the remaining 44 percent did not answer the question.

Why do some priests break their vow of celibacy?

There are several reasons why some priests may break their vow of celibacy. One reason is the celibacy requirement itself. Some argue that the requirement of celibacy places an undue burden on priests and can lead to feelings of loneliness and isolation. They argue that allowing priests to marry would alleviate these issues and lead to a happier and more fulfilled priesthood.

Another reason for breaking the vow of celibacy is the sexual abuse scandal that has rocked the Catholic Church in recent years. Some argue that the culture of secrecy and cover-ups that surrounded the abuse scandal also contributed to an environment where priests felt they could break their vow of celibacy with impunity.

The Catholic Church’s response

Despite the evidence that many priests are not celibate, the Catholic Church continues to require celibacy as a requirement for ordination. In recent years, some within the church have advocated for a change in the celibacy requirement.

Pope Francis, for example, has suggested that the church consider allowing married men to become priests in certain circumstances. However, this suggestion has been met with resistance from more conservative members of the church who believe that celibacy is a required aspect of the priesthood.


In conclusion, the issue of celibacy among Roman Catholic priests is a controversial and complex issue. While there is no doubt that many priests are not celibate, the Catholic Church continues to require celibacy as a requirement for ordination. Whether or not this will change in the future remains to be seen, but the debate over celibacy will likely continue for many years to come.


How many priests actually stay celibate?

The vow of celibacy is a significant part of the Roman Catholic priesthood. It is required of all priests as they take a solemn vow of celibacy during their ordination ceremony. However, the issue of celibacy has been a controversial topic and it has been debated for years. The question that arises is how many Catholic priests actually stay celibate?

There are many studies and reports that suggest that a significant number of Catholic priests do not remain celibate. One of the most shocking reports was published by A.A. Sipe, a former Benedictine monk turned psychotherapist who conducted extensive research on the subject. Based on his research, Sipe estimates that only half of all priests remain celibate. According to him, the struggle between normal physical needs and religious devotion is the root of the Catholic Church’s biggest crisis.

Another study conducted by Richard Sipe, a former Catholic priest and expert on the sexual behavior of Catholic clergy, revealed that between 10% and 20% of Catholic priests are sexually active. These findings are supported by the results of a study conducted by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, which showed that 4% of US priests were accused of child sexual abuse between 1950 and 2002. It is noteworthy that many cases of sexual misconduct come to light later, and many are not reported at all.

In light of these findings, some Catholic priests have called for reforms in the church’s requirement of celibacy. They argue that celibacy is not a requirement for priesthood in other Christian denominations, and many married Episcopal priests have converted to Catholicism and continued to serve as Catholic priests. However, the Catholic hierarchy has remained steadfast in its requirement of celibacy for priests and has not shown any willingness to change their traditional stance.

Regarding the numbers, there is no exact data available about the percentage of priests who remain celibate. However, there are studies that have presented a range of estimates. It is clear that the issue of celibacy in the Catholic Church is a complex one that has significant implications for both the church’s doctrine and the lives of its clergy.

Are most Catholic priests celibate?

In the Catholic Church, celibacy refers to the state of not being married or engaging in sexual relationships. In the Latin Church Catholicism and some Eastern Catholic Churches, it is customary for most priests to be celibate. However, there are exceptions to this rule, as the Catholic Church allows for the ordination of married men in some circumstances.

The tradition of celibacy among Catholic priests has its roots in the early Church, where it was common for followers of Jesus to adopt celibacy as a way of devoting themselves more fully to God. The first known law requiring celibacy for Catholic priests was issued by Pope Gregory VII in the 11th century. Since then, celibacy has been seen as a mark of spiritual purity and dedication to God, and it has been a requirement for most Catholic priests.

There are some exceptions to the rule of celibacy in the Catholic Church. In some Eastern Catholic Churches, married men can be ordained as priests. Additionally, the Catholic Church allows for the ordination of married men who converted to Catholicism from other Christian traditions, such as Anglicanism or Lutheran churches. These men are known as “Anglican Use” or “Pastoral Provision” priests.

The Catholic Church also allows for the ordination of permanent deacons, who may be married. Deacons perform many of the same functions as priests, with the exception of celebrating the Eucharist and hearing confessions.

There have been some calls within the Catholic Church to allow for the ordination of married men in order to address the shortage of priests in some parts of the world. However, the Church has not changed its position on celibacy for most priests.

Most Catholic priests are celibate, although there are some exceptions to this rule. The tradition of celibacy among Catholic priests has its roots in the early Church and is seen as a mark of spiritual purity and dedication to God. While there have been calls to allow for the ordination of married men in order to address the shortage of priests, the Catholic Church has not changed its position on celibacy for most priests.

Do Catholic priests fall in love?

Catholic priests are individuals who have chosen to dedicate their lives to serving God and their congregations. They are in a unique position as they are expected to love everyone who approaches them, but they are restricted from experiencing love in a physical sense. This provokes the question about their capacity to fall in love.

In terms of romantic attraction, Catholic priests are supposed to remain celibate. The vow of celibacy is a long-standing tradition in the Catholic Church, and it’s considered a requirement for those who dedicate themselves to becoming priests. Celibacy is a way to show devotion to God and to focus on the mission of serving the Church and the community.

Priests are not supposed to be in any romantic or sexual relationships. They are to remain chaste, and any breach of this commitment could result in disciplinary action from the Church. This means that Catholic priests who fall in love with someone cannot pursue a relationship or act on their feelings.

However, love comes in many forms, and priests are indeed capable of experiencing love in a platonic form. Priests are trained to show empathy, compassion, and kindness to all individuals who approach them for help, guidance, or comfort. As spiritual leaders, priests are expected to offer guidance, support, and love to their congregations, including those who may be going through difficult times.

Similarly, priests may also develop deep and meaningful friendships that are devoid of romantic feelings. As part of their work, Catholic priests often work in close collaboration with other priests, church workers, and volunteers on various projects, including missionary work, charity work, and social programs. In such situations, priests may develop strong bonds of friendship that resemble family bonds.

Catholic priests are expected to remain celibate and not pursue romantic or sexual relationships. While priests may experience love in a platonic sense, they must remain committed to their vow of celibacy. Therefore, it is highly unlikely for a Catholic priest to act on romantic feelings.