Nietzsche’s Comments on Martin Luther and Priestly Celibacy

“Father” Martin Luther as the father of a natural family
Below is a quote from Nietzsche – no friend to Catholicism. However, Nietzsche did make a profound connection regarding priestly celibacy. Celibacy signifies to the laity that the priest belongs to them equally – that there is no other lay person (ie, a wife or children) who has a special (or even sacramental) right to his soul. This is especially important in the context of sacramental confession:

He [Luther] gave back to the priest sexual intercourse with women; but three quarters of the reverence of which the common people, especially the women among the common people, are capable, rests on the faith that a person who is an exception at this point will be an exception in other respects as well…Luther having give woman to the priest, had to take away from him auricular confession; that was right psychologically. With that development the Christian priesthood was fundamentally abolished, because his most profound utility had always been that he was a holy ear, a silent well, a grave for secrets. 

Friedrich Nietzsche, Die fröhliche Wissenschaft, 5.358

I highly recommend Christian Cochini’s book The Apostolic Origins of Celibacy (Ignatius) if you are interested in working through this topic of clerical celibacy.

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