Our society is always changing so the Church and its ministers must always be open to renewal by the Spirit of God, reading the signs of the times. Whatever the changes in society or the renewed insights of the Church, however, the ordained ministry will remain the living sign and instrument of Christ the Good Shepherd. The pastoral love of Jesus our High Priest is made present in the pastoral work of bishops, priests and deacons, the three ordained ministries of the Catholic Church.
Celibacy is the universal norm for all bishops in all parts of the Catholic Church. It is also the norm for priests in the Latin rite of the Catholic Church, most commonly found in Western Europe and those places evangelised by Europeans. In the Eastern rites of the Catholic Church, found in Eastern Europe and the Middle East (including communities who have migrated to other countries), married men can be ordained to the priesthood. In recent years, the Latin rite has extended this Eastern custom of ordaining married men to former ministers of other denominations who have become Catholic. No part of the Catholic Church allows priests to get married. Ordination to the diaconate is open to married men but deacons who are single or who become widowed are not permitted to marry. All the ordained ministers of the Catholic Church are in a stable state of life so that bishops, priests and deacons can build stable, pastoral relationships with the people they serve.