A - Good question. Thanks for bringing it up. Let us first look at what Scripture says about celibacy for the sake of the Kingdom of God:
**"Some are incapable of marriage because they were born so; some, because they were made so by others; some, because they have renounced marriage for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Whoever can accept this ought to accept it." -Matthew 19:12We can see that the consensus from Scripture is that celibacy is a good thing that is preferred for those who are ordained. But, marriage is not prohibited in all circumstances. As you referred to above, there are situations where the discipline of celibacy is relaxed.
**"At the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage but are like the angels in heaven." -Matthew 22:30
**"Are you free of a wife? Then do not look for a wife." -1 Corinthians 7:27
**"I should like you to be free of anxieties. An unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord. But a married man is anxious about the things of the world, how he may please his wife." -1 Corinthians 7:32-33
Celibacy is a very good thing and here are some reasons why:
- It is the model of Christ and the 12 Apostles. Even though 11 of the 12 were probably married at some time (John being the exception), the early Church affirms that they remained continent (inactive sexually). The early Church Fathers also echo this preference for celibacy. Thus, it is historical.
- It is preferred as an objectively higher state of living, as affirmed by Scripture.
- It frees up the priest/Bishop to live a life totally dedicated to the Church.
- It is a greater way of being a sacrament (sign) of Christ and conforms the man more perfectly to Him.
- Celibacy shows the great gift of marriage. A cleric gives up the right to marry and have children. Through his celibacy he "marries" the Church and looks to the time of heaven where all of us will be celibate and married to Christ. This foreshadowing of heaven shows the great dignity that marriage has, being in the image of Christ and the Church.
I think there is still a debate whether it is doctrinal or not. In order to be a doctrine, it must have been a rule given by Christ and handed to the Apostles. There is certainly clear evidence that it is a preferred state of life, but was no universal prohibition on married clergy either. There is strong evidence that even early married priests/bishops were asked to live a continent marriage (without sex) and there is some evidence to this. This gave rise to the prohibition of ordaining married priests to the episcopacy later on.
But, we have to remember that doctrine can develop over time, even if it does not change. Doctrinal development means that our understanding of that truth grows, even if the core of that truth stays the same.
In other words, the question is still somewhat open until the Church definitively rules on it. If they do, my guess is that it is declared a doctrine. But, this is merely my guess and I have been known to be wrong before - just ask my wife or my Bishop.
I hope this helps.