It is hard to imagine any behavior more contrary to the culture we inhabit than celibacy. In the public square, celibacy is repressive or strange. Within the walls of the strongest representative of it, the Catholic Church, one rarely hears of it in the Mass, even though celibacy actually stands higher than marriage among the principal vocations of Catholic life.

As readers of First Things know, Patricia Snow called for a renewed emphasis on celibacy in the April 2015 issue of the magazine (“Dismantling the Cross”). She put it bluntly:

In this script [of the Sexual Revolution combined with the abuse scandals], celibacy isn’t an ideal, but an abomination. It isn’t a harmless anachronism but an occasion and even a cause of sin. No one can be celibate, not even Jesus himself.

Sadly, she argued, the Church responded weakly to the charge that celibacy is to blame. We need something more, a firm and forthright defense of celibacy as a positive relationship to God.

Ms. Snow sat down with us at First Things recently for a discussion of the issue. She is a captivating speaker, and as you will see, there is a depth of faith and solemn awareness of the varieties of human experience behind every sentence she utters.


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