Bishop Manning said he did not sign nor authorise the circulation of the petition because of the “tone of dissent it contains” and added that much of the current discussion on priestly celibacy overlooked the traditional teaching of the Church.
“Although the concept of priestly celibacy has been increasingly and sometimes stridently questioned, the Church has been constant in reaffirming the importance of clerical celibacy,” Bishop Manning wrote in response to a question asked of him on the Parramatta Archdiocese website.
"Priestly celibacy has been guarded by the Church for centuries as a brilliant jewel and retains its value undiminished even in our time when the outlook of men and the state of the world have undergone such profound changes."
Bishop Manning added celibacy was esteemed because of its connection with charity and Jesus Himself stated that celibacy was a gift and that Priests must bear witness that theirs is a "happy sacrifice".
“There are Christological, ecclesiological and eschatological reasons for celibacy, all based in the special communion with Christ to which priests are called,” he said.
“It is a much deeper reality, which affects the priest's being, not only the functions he carries out.
“The example of Christ Celibacy is the example that Christ Himself left us. In choosing to be celibate, He left us an example of total dedication to God.
"Priests need to live close to Christ so that they will pour out God's goodness and love into their ministry of service.”
Questions bishops are asked (Catholic Outlook, November 2007)
LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Diocese of Parramatta
Responses to Bishop Manning's statement on the Petition (Catholica Australia 28/10/07)
Alternative priests´ council hits back on mandatory celibacy (CathNews, 28/01/05)
Council of Priests argues for married clergy (CathNews 27/1/05)
Bishops´ Secretary confirms priests´ survey on celibacy (CathNews 31/10/04)
US priests urge optional celibacy (CathNews 21/8/03)
New Vatican Clergy Cardinal dampens celibacy speculation (CathNews 05/12/06)
Survey of Australian priests' finds 71% question compulsory celibacy (CathNews 29/09/04)
Pell call to preserve celibacy rule (CathNews 12/10/05)
5 Nov 2007