Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Married Priests

News is the Holy Father is meeting with Bishops in a closed session to address the issue of married priests in light of crazy Archbishop Milingo's recent antics. Media likes to speculate on this question, but if they are hoping for any reversal on the discipline of a celibate priesthood, don't hold your breath.
I'm very happy with celibacy as a single Catholic man, as I think most priests are. The argument that it would elevate the dignity of marriage is a silly one, as is the argument that more men would be willing to enter the priesthood if celibacy was an option.
One of the chief reasons men and women are reluctant to enter religious life seems to me to be that there are so many lucrative career options for people today. In other words, people are immersed in a materialistic and hedonistic culture, relishing their freedom to do as they wish. There exists with this a reluctance to sacrifice this freedom and live under obedience. Naturally, this would indicate a lack of spirituality and mystic vision. (I also think when priesthood is presented as a career choice, and Bishops and clergy act more like CEO's and administrators, working in a 9-5 manner, with 1 day off a week - it isn't an attractive career path.)
A married priesthood would result in the understanding of the sacredotal state as just another career option, as opposed to a supernatural vocation. Meeting the new permanent Deacons and their wives suggests to me that a married priesthood would look much like this group.
Granted, the married Deacons are very fervent and dedicated to their ministry, while their wives, who usually go through training with them are a wonderful support. I have no problem with that. One does notice the wives are often very involved; some, not all, work in Church offices, or act as liturgists, etc. I could see this happening with married priests. The priest would appear to be a team with his wife. I think my confidence in him would somehow be compromised. If I needed advice, would his wife know about it? Would he turn to her for advice about ministry issues, instead of going to prayer and looking to his spiritual director or superiors for counsel?
I think the rule of celibacy vivifies the priesthood, raises it above the natural to the supernatural, freeing the priest to act in persona Christi.
I don't like the idea of a married priesthood. Archbishop Milingo is nuts - I hope they don't spend a lot of time discussing his issue.


  1. No matter how much time the Pope and the Bishops spend actually talking about this issue, the Press is going to build it up into more then it is: "oh, look they are considering allowing married priests"

    Your paragraph about the married team is right on. Of course, the priest will turn to his wife for advice first. How much damage would this do the "brotherhood of priests"? Why have such a thing at all. I've got my wife.

    I would love to see a honest, unbiased, study of the success/failure of the marriages of the few Catholic priests who are married because they converted from another faith that allows it.

  2. If celibacy was such a deterent to men who otherwise felt called to the priesthood, wouldn't the Byzantine churches in this country be stacked to the rafters with extra priests? I don't see any evidence that suggests that, though.

    Great post, Terry. I agree with all of the points you've made (and made so well).

  3. Just saying . . . I know many excellent married Ukrainian Catholic priests, devoted husbands and fathers, men of prayer, reverent in the celebration of the Holy Mysteries, true fathers to their people. That being said, priestly celibacy is a gift given to the Western Church: a treasure for the Kingdom carried in fragile earthenware vessels, an invitation to intimacy with the Lamb.

  4. A few weeks ago one of the priests at our parish spoke to the RCIA class about ordination/ priesthood. He discussed the issue of married priests and very candidly addressed it. He said that he would not have time for a wife and children, nor would it make sense.

    And to give another perspective, I have a co-worker who is a Protestant Pastor, not sure which denom, and he left his ministry in order to be able to spend time with his wife. He cited the demands on his time, which were necessary for the church, the midnight calls, ranging from the inane to true emergencies, etc. He is in full agreement with the celibate priesthood, recognizing that a line has to be drawn somewhere....God and God's family....or one's personal family. We cannot give ourselves fully to the world and to God both without having to compromise something.

    Personally, the only people I see crying out for the married priesthood are people who don't understand what either ordination, or marriage is about. They see divorce as inevitable, not a broken vow. They see the pursuit of personal happiness as paramount to the happiness of another.

    And some people simply haven't thought of it at all and are wallowing in ignorance. (I used to fall into this category--Thank God for good, faithful friends!)


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