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Should the Catholic Church abolish the rule of Celibacy?

Author

Listed:
  • Men-Andri Benz

    (Simon Kucher & Partners)

  • Reto Foellmi

    (University of Bern)

  • Egon Franck

    (Institute for Strategy and Business Economics, University of Zurich)

  • Urs Meister

    (Avenir Suisse)

Abstract

Since the Middle Ages, celibacy has been a requirement for those becoming priests in the Roman Catholic Church. In the ongoing discussions about reforms, a wide range of church members have asked for the abolishment of the celibacy requirement in order to meet the changed social and moral standards of believers and to increase the quality and quantity of priests. However, this paper shows that from a strategic point of view, there are good reasons for the Catholic Church to keep, or even to increase, the role of celibacy for its priests. Using celibacy as a resource selection device, it allows the church to credibly signal its religious orientation to believers. Based on a game theoretic model, this paper analyzes the optimal use of celibacy in the market for religious services. Additionally, we discuss the relevant impacts of higher income levels, higher opportunity costs, increased aging and changed moral standards relating to homosexuality.

Suggested Citation

  • Men-Andri Benz & Reto Foellmi & Egon Franck & Urs Meister, 2009. "Should the Catholic Church abolish the rule of Celibacy?," Working Papers 0115, University of Zurich, Institute for Strategy and Business Economics (ISU).
  • Handle: RePEc:iso:wpaper:0115
    as

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    File URL: http://repec.business.uzh.ch/RePEc/iso/ISU_WPS/115_ISU_full.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Guido Heineck, 2001. "The Determinants of Church Attendance and Religious Human Capital in Germany: Evidence from Panel Data," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 263, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    2. Eli Berman, 2000. "Sect, Subsidy, and Sacrifice: An Economist's View of Ultra-Orthodox Jews," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 115(3), pages 905-953.
    3. Azzi, Corry & Ehrenberg, Ronald G, 1975. "Household Allocation of Time and Church Attendance," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 83(1), pages 27-56, February.
    4. Ekelund, Robert B. & Hebert, Robert F. & Tollison, Robert D. & Anderson, Gary M. & Davidson, Audrey B., 1997. "Sacred Trust: The Medieval Church as an Economic Firm," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195103373.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Blog mentions

    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Why the Catholic Church should not abolish celibacy for priests
      by Economic Logician in Economic Logic on 2009-12-22 21:56:00
    2. Gastbeitrag:Keusch und reichWarum die katholische Kirche am Zölibat festhält
      by Johannes Eber in Wirtschaftliche Freiheit on 2010-04-02 04:01:51

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    Cited by:

    1. Janine Höhener & Christoph A. Schaltegger, 2012. "Religionsökonomie: eine Übersicht," CREMA Working Paper Series 2012-08, Center for Research in Economics, Management and the Arts (CREMA).

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Religion; celibacy; strategic resource selection;
    All these keywords.

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