I am fifty, and have been single all my life. It has its advantages and disadvantages.

If there is anything I may "hate" (I prefer dislike) about it is that it was not my choice.

When I was a young man many girls were quite interested in me. But I intended to become a Catholic priest, so I never reciprocated.

Nevertheless, I did fall in love several times, but always ended the relationship. Not because I no longer liked the girls, but because I had to choose between a marriage and the priesthood.

I lived in a Communist country with strong persecution of religion, so I did my priestly studies underground. I did not live in a seminary. But I did have a spiritual guide. I mentioned to him how much I loved children and wanted to have my own. He just told me to forget it.

That is cruel. I do understand the ideal of celibacy for spiritual reasons. But it should be a choice. And I don't mean a choice between becoming a priest or getting married.

Why should an institution make that choice for you? Especially when it has no theological reasons for it?

In the early history of the Catholic Church, it did have married priests. It did want to make sure that its priests could handle the married life without scandals, so it made a rule it would keep ordaining married men only after they have reached a certain age (35, or so, I do not remember the exact number). If you were younger, you could still be ordained but only if you were not married (and the Catholic Church has always believed one cannot get married after the ordination). With time, there were fewer and fewer men willing to wait till that age, so eventually most, perhaps all, ordinations were of unmarried men. That was still their choice.

But then the Church changed its law and decided not to ordain married men no matter what their age.

As I said, I love children and wanted my own. I was in love several times. I would have willingly waited till the age of 35. But I did not have that choice.

The irony of it is I have chosen a different religion around the age of 40. Now I am neither a priest nor married. And I have no children. C'est la vie.