The Vatican recently released a report on the increasingly dire problem for the church of the lack of men willing to pursue a priestly vocation. The reports conclusion is that the fault lies everywhere but within the church and its official policies regarding priesthood.
The sexual abuse scandal has tarnished the image of the priest and contributed to a crisis of priestly vocations in the Roman Catholic Church, the Vatican said on June 25, while also faulting a widespread “secularized mentality” and parents' ambition for their children, which leaves “little space to the possibility of a call to a special vocation.” ...
The document says candidates to the priesthood shouldn't be accepted if they show “signs of being profoundly fragile personalities,” and says future priests should learn the “importance” of their future commitments, “in particular with regard to celibacy.”
The guidelines acknowledge that “in many places the choice of celibacy is questioned” and say that such “erroneous opinions within the church” are responsible for a “lack of appreciation” for those who make the choice to remain celibate.
In fact, Western culture, with its “indifference to the Christian faith,” is “unable to understand the value of vocations to a special consecration.”
While, according to the story linked above, there is an acknowledgement that the abuse scandal has played a role in the decline of vocations, it ignores and in fact denies the relevance of the central issue of priestly celibacy. Is there any doubt that there are many, many men who would happily pursue the Catholic priesthood if they were allowed at least the option of marrying? There is no reason that within the Catholic Church celibacy couldn't remain as an option for some, perhaps even a requirement for elevation to Bishop, as in the Orthodox churches. But clearly celibacy is and will remain a lingering and unresolved issue within the church.