Resolved: The consecrated celibate vocation is objectively a higher calling than any other calling of a Christian, including Christian Marriage.
Granted that a good married man is better than a bad priest or monk, is it really true that the calling of consecrated celibacy is a "higher calling"? The common doctrine of the Church has been that it is. Pope John Paul II called it "objectively superior" (Vita Consecrata 32) and so did Pope Pius XII (Sacra Virginitas 32). Both point back to the Council of Trent and St. Paul for authority. But is this really the definitive teaching of the Church? What do Trent and St. Paul say? Does the teaching really make sense? If so, what could it mean?
Catholic philosopher Dr. Greg Coulter (PhD, Center for Thomistic Studies) thinks that this traditional understanding of celibacy's superiority does not cohere with the rest of the Church's teaching, is not binding on the conscience, and is no longer actually taught in official documents like the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Further, he thinks that the persistence of this teaching has contributed to the plague of clericalism from which saintly reforming figures have cried out for years.
Catholic theologian Dr. Bill Stevenson (PhD, Boston College) will defend the resolution. He thinks the teaching is properly grounded in Revelation and the Church's teaching documents ancient and modern, is binding on the conscience, and makes eminent sense. Any clericalism can only be the result of an improper understanding of the teaching, not the teaching itself.
Come hear two first-rate Catholic intellects on a topic of enduring interest!