This sounds like a litany of questions from a school assignment, or, at the very least, a survey. I hope that you are not looking for a shortcut from doing more of your own research but here are some general thoughts.
Celibacy is a tradition in the Western church, meant to signify the personhood of Christ, who Himself was, in effect, the Bridegroom of the whole Church (He took no singular wife, contrary to conspiracy theories claiming the Catholic Church suppressed the truth). Because it is not a dogma, the practice can be changed but it has ancient roots in both the West and East inasmuch as those who were ordained would not subsequently be married.
In other words, you could be married first, then ordained, but if your spouse died, you could not remarry. That tradition remains in effect in both the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches. I believe most Catholics appreciate the sacrifice priests make to be wholly available to the Church, and they don't have an objection, one way or the other, as to whether the tradition changes or not. Most Catholics of deep devotion are probably more inclined to be in favor of keeping the status quo. I am for the status quo because I feel it is a necessary sign especially in these times where selfishness becomes more and more the cultural norm.
Chastity has always been the norm for Christians, though sadly, it is not often understood or practiced widely. Chastity is the calling to live according to one's state, where sexual acts are reserved for married love. The sexual act is fundamentally a reproductive act, and is meant to be practiced in the context of the conjugal embrace between the married spouses.
The rearing and development of children is best in a family, with two commitment-loving parents: the context for which God intended children to be conceived and raised. When a parent dies, or other unusual circumstances arise, it still doesn't undermine the standard to which God calls us. Circumstances are often uncontrollable and not in the plan but He doesn't lower the bar. He just supplies the grace to make up the difference. Therefore, abstinence until marriage will always be the norm. Children are best raised with two married parents despite what is commonly practiced. For most ardent Christians and Catholics, if you really want to get with your lover and get at it:
- get your independence together
- be able to provide for your children
- marry your girl, and
- knock yourselves out.
Getting married in your early twenties is not a bad thing, though society keeps making it harder to make a living, pushing the normal age back and back. It works against our biology. The sex drive gets woken up in the teen years, matures in early adulthood, and these young adults are physically ready for parenthood though, due to our culture, maturity is often lacking. All the couples I know who married right after college (young by today's standard), who practiced their faith, waited and got down to family making — they are thriving as couples and families. It is beautiful to watch.
We ought to change the culture and encourage young adults to become more independent sooner — that way they can line up biology with maturity.
Instead, we tell them to contracept, abort, wait on marriage, find yourself, do this, do that, etc.
- Why do you want to be bogged down with kids?
is the mantra too often chanted to the young. We hurl contradictions at them and expect them to be happy. It doesn't work that way. We find happiness in true love, commitment, relationships, faith, sacrifice, heroism, and transcendence. Our careers are certainly important but our families are more important. We need to rediscover this reality.
About sexual reproduction or the conjugal embrace itself:
Putting food in your mouth, chewing and swallowing is a natural act of eating for the sake of sustaining life and health (simply tasting without swallowing defies the ultimate purpose of feeding your body), likewise sexual reproduction keeps family and society going on through space and time. No sex; no people — despite the current push to obviate the need for conjugal acts. More and more, society is happy to accept the scientific notion that life can be made through:
- human engineering efforts
- genetic research and manipulation
- hybridizing, and
- other unnatural means.
Though incremental steps, and often giant leaps, this progressive notion and movement keeps pushing people toward this acceptance.
For Catholics, this is human arrogance trying to circumvent and one-up God. It is one thing to try and improve health and fertility, but altogether another thing to redesign humanity. They say we can build a better baby with no defects: you choose the color of their hair, eyes, sex, I.Q., and eliminate flaws: no disease, and the list goes on.
According to them, mothers and fathers won't be necessary (for conception or rearing), rather community raising of children would be more appropriate, and ultimately it won't be a matter of a man and a woman, but a man and man, woman and woman, man and animal, whatever. It may sound like science fiction, but it is not.
Where we are going as a society is frightening, as we simply reduce sex to a pleasure act between two consenting parties and not about procreation at all.
Already in countries like Spain and Sweden they have appointed an official government position: Minister of Sex, to promote sex as reproduction to get Spaniards and the Swedish to produce more babies because the birthrate in all of Europe, and the western world is dangerously low and not sufficient to replace and sustain the current population. This threatens these very countries within a generation or two so the governments are trying to react. Ironically, there is plenty of sex, but not enough given to it's true purpose: the loving conception and raising of children.
This is because the sexual revolution sought to reinterpret the meaning of human sexuality and reorient it to something subjective: man's lust. It is popular to condemn greed (corporate greed that is) and lust for power, but not so much sex — unless it involves unwilling partners and small children. Consensual sex with whomever you choose for the sole purpose of pleasure is the societal norm. Fertility has been treated like a disease with all kinds of devices and pills to prevent or destroy conception, with no regard for the life of the child.
- So, where is western society now?
Depleting itself into oblivion. If not for the immigration of immigrants from Latin American countries, the USA would suffer the same fate, as our indigenous birthrate is below sustainability.
The Catholic view of sex would solve a lot of problems. People would understand that sex:
- is beautiful
- is meant to create life
- is meant build and create families
- is meant to keep parents close and intended to bond each other for life, and
- is meant to bring us to see each other as more than objects of pleasure, but persons called to participate in the deepest mysteries of the universe — a true participation in the creative power of the God of love, who teaches us generosity, commitment, and sacrifice.
Society and economies would benefit by the additional persons, as producers and consumers, and older persons would have the younger to help them in their elderly years.
But as it is, society has largely discouraged reproduction and considered it a threat to planet Earth. More persons are considered rapers and pillagers of the precious resources of mother earth, and bringers of more climate change. Gloria Steinem recently said that:
Forcing women to have children they don't want has been the fundamental cause of climate change.
Given the push by progressives to stop reproduction and redefine sex as a simple act of pleasure, the Catholic view will continue to be counter-cultural and unaccepted by main stream society.
In a thousand years, Catholics may be the only ones who will be left to repopulate the earth, the natural way, after everyone else has given up or their machinery fails.