Journal of Religion and Health

, Volume 56, Issue 2, pp 649–668 | Cite as

Commitment to Celibacy in German Catholic Priests: Its Relation to Religious Practices, Psychosomatic Health and Psychosocial Resources

  • Klaus Baumann
  • Christoph Jacobs
  • Eckhard Frick sj
  • Arndt Büssing
Original Paper


We aimed to investigate Catholic priests’ commitment to celibacy and its relation to their religious practices, life and work satisfaction, and psychosomatic health. Results of our cross-sectional study of 2549 priests show that the majority finds living in celibacy helpful to minister more effectively. Nevertheless, a large proportion see it as a burden and would not choose celibate life again. Commitment to celibacy was predicted best by the frequency of religious practices (liturgy), work engagement and personal relation with God, explaining 39 % of variance. These resources are predictors for maintaining a celibate lifestyle and facilitate priests’ satisfaction with life and commitment to their ministry.


Commitment to celibacy Catholic priests Spirituality Religious practices Health Social support 



We are very grateful to the supporting team, particularly Andreas Günther, Cécile Loetz and Jakob Müller for their gracious assistance.


This study was an investigator-initiated trial without any influence of Church authorities.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

All authors are members of the respective universities; three of the authors are Catholic priests (EF, KB, CJ) working at universities as researchers. The authors disclose any financial or other competing interests.

Ethical Approval

All procedures were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. All individuals who participated in this anonymously conducted cross-sectional study were informed about the purpose of the study, assured of confidentiality and their right to withdraw their participation at any time and asked to provide informed consent by signing a form included with but separate from the provided questionnaires. None of them received any form of incentives.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Caritas Science and Christian Social Work, Faculty of TheologyAlbert-Ludwig UniversityFreiburgGermany
  2. 2.Faculty of Theology PaderbornPaderbornGermany
  3. 3.Department of Psychosomatic Medicine and Psychotherapy, Klinikum rechts der IsarTechnische Universität MünchenMunichGermany
  4. 4.Quality of Life, Spirituality and Coping, Institute for Integrative MedicineWitten/Herdecke UniversityHerdeckeGermany

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