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November 17, 2006

Comments

pazdziernik

Thanks for the chapter-length response! Very interesting considerations on the Pope being "open" to the questions being raised. Can we expect "JimmyAkin.org: The Book: A simply country apologist" any time soon?

Ed Peters

Interesting remarks, as usual. As I mentioned over at AmericanPapist, here's "something on the Milingo case that WOULD warrant a dicasterial meeting: applying the last clause of 1983 CIC 1394.1 -- clerics who attempt civil marriage ... can be punished ... by dismissal from the clerical state. Maybe the time has finally come to dust off the old canonical tomes and look into the process for bouncing a bishop out of the clerical state."

If you've worked for the Church, you know how a meeting like this can appear to be way, way, more important than it was. I can easily conceive of a routine committee meeting feel for this whole thing. But yes, there's always the ambiguity of "maybe this time."

Well, it won't be this time, imho, and there are many things besides celibacy in play here. In other words, saying yes to marriage means adequately answering a host of other issues too, and you don't see mention of them anywhere.

Inocencio

pazdziernik,

Who do you think should play Jimmy in the movie version of "JimmyAkin.org: The Book: A simply country apologist"

Ed Peters,

"by dismissal from the clerical state. Maybe the time has finally come to dust off the old canonical tomes and look into the process for bouncing a bishop out of the clerical state"

I think you are on to something here.

Take care and God bless,
Inocencio
J+M+J

tim

Jimmy, please remove the above post. It was hasty and unnecessarily inflammatory. I apologize.

Brian John Schuettler

Too late, Tim...but it's the thought that counts.

Ed Peters

I hate to go off point in comboxes, but once in a while: I wasn't worried by tim's post, though he might have meant it (originally) as nasty. There is a question about whether JP2 was great. I think the answer to that question was Yes, but it's not impious to ask the question. If one's motive in asking the (otherwise plausible) question was mean-spirited, then retract it. But I, for one, am uncomfortable with modernity's penchant for bestowing the accolades of the ages on our contemporaries. It's another example of our age's vast conceit. If we lived during a Great papacy, lucky us. But history is better at deciding who was great; we have get used to waiting our turn.

Monica

"Who should play Jimmy in the movie version..." I think it should be a musical.

Jeannette

I arrived too late to read Tim's comment, but it sounds as if he's troubled by the JPGreat title. Those of us who have been closely affected by the abuse problems, have been greatly disappointed in John Paul the "Gullible"s handling of the situation. We have family and friends who fled the Church at top speed over priestly abuse. I can't see them coming back any time soon if this is glossed over. (Granted, since one beloved wouldn't speak to me for several years, simply because I didn't also leave the Church, odds of his/her return are slim anyway).

chris K

Shouldn't the women/wives, (the present commitments through new vows by their former priest husbands) be a bit demoralized by the following and seemingly ongoing undercurrent of desires by "their" men?:

Here's my question: is there any basis for me to hope that one day I might be allowed to exercise my Priesthood again? Perhaps in old age if I were a widower (my wife is older than I am)? I would be willing to go to the missions, a quiet monastery, or anything to be able to celebrate Mass and minister again.

and

Under present praxis, a return would be possible (conceivable) in the case of a laicized priest whose spouse had died.

Just what or whom is being given primary position here??

I once heard a well known healing priest state that he has always found priests who left and married to still have a foot in the priesthood and a foot in the new marriage. Maybe that's what scripture meant, through the Holy Spirit, when it speaks to putting one's hands to the plow and never looking back. Of course, these are such tempting times with all kinds of stronger than ever influences upon the person.

And, in all of this discussion, where is the concern for the true position of the wife, and following that, the true and separate calling of the marital state which has gained so much during the years of JPII? Do wives feel that their marriages are whole and with normal/natural expectations of both the spouse and their Church? Even if a wife's desire is for her former priest/husband's happiness (whether or not it's truly her own personally), her status and personal desires may not really be on an equal footing of consideration in such talks.

Frankly, if all that is mentioned in Jimmy's assessment were truly being seriously considered ... all of a sudden .... I would think that there would have been some mention that such serious discussion is to be ongoing (for the sake of not confusing the faithful with the implied finality) with special persons appointed...rather than just a rather short, one time event called rather precipitously at that.

Rather, I see it only as an authoritative pre-emptive strike before Milingo's upcoming major public displays in order to dull his shouts of rejection of excommunication; archbishop in good standing position; and egotistical justifications of himself and his movement over and above Church authority. He cannot now continue to say that the Church will be moved by his actions, being that they have not spoken about his challenges since he has acted. Now they have spoken. And this also gives the bishops of Africa ammo to direct their own faithful to beware of any meetings Milingo holds in trying to sway the Catholics (so fruitful of late) there to his manipulations:

http://wpherald.com/articles/2127/1/Zambian-Archbishop-takes-married-priests-crusade-to-Africa/Vatican-fears-schism.html

Jack

Chris K:

Reality.

Most priests are married to something else besides the Church, even if it's not a woman. Their golf game. Their hobbies. Their travels. Careerism.

There are good and holy, focused priests out there. But your average diocesan priest, especially those who have been ordained over 10 years, have a fully developed personal life that has nothing to do with their priesthood and, as time goes on, usually is valued more than the priesthood. Priests who have left know this dynamic, and know the fallacy of the priest throwing his heart and sould into his ministry every second. Priests who have left know about the priests with the housekeepers and secretaries and female lay ministers who function as permanent female companions (not to mention the whole gay contingent, but we'll stay away from that.) Priests who've left know about the pastors who refuse to be on call at night or go visit nursing homes, schlepping all of that on the associates. Priests who've left know how priests speak of their parisnioners behind closed doors, and it's not as a beloved spouse to whom they are devoted. It's as pains in the neck who bother them with minor problems and don't give enough in the collection basket or, on a good day, take them out to a nice country club for a round.

That's what priests who have left know. They know that "the witness of celibacy" as most laity romanticize it, is a fantasy and a farce. Priests find companions and escape from parish life - even if it's not a woman.

Al

Chris K,

The Church's discipline in the Latin rite is that celebacy is a requirement for Holy Orders. There are exceptions. The petitioner is asking about the exceptions: "is there any basis for me to hope that one day I might be allowed to exercise my Priesthood again?" You, apparently, find this egotistical or hypocritical.

The call to ministry, however, is not exclusive of marriage and so I think you're premature in judging that the wife or the marriage is being given second short shrift. Just one man's opinion...

TerryC

Jeannette,
Perhaps the real point here is that the Holy Spirit is pulling these unfortunate men to both positions. Some would see the fact that these men left the priesthood to marry as either an indication that their vocation was not truly discerned or that they betrayed it by marrying. I think that celibacy has not served the Church well, at least not in the last century, and that these men have been put in the unfortunate position of belonging to the wrong rite, had they belonged to any of the rites that allow a married man to become a priest they would most likely have married first and then gone onto the priesthood.
How celibacy has not served the Church well should be obvious. Considering the relatively large number of pedophiles that were attracted to the job (Because in their case it was a job and not a vocation. I say this because I do not believe that God would call such a man to a position as shepherd) and the actions of others, most of whom are in the episcopate, in covering up for them it becomes fairly obvious to me that the lack of a personal attachment to ones own children makes it easier to look the other way when there is an accusation. I believe if Bishop Law or some of these other bishops who had enabled these pedophiles had children of their own that their actions would have been quite different.
Is celibacy a good thing spiritually? Perhaps. Should there always be monastic and other orders where celibacy is a required vow? Certainly. But should the Church continue to require celibacy of all priest, especially when there is a great priest shortage and many men, both ex-priests and simply faithful married men who would be willing to take the long discernment path the priesthood should they have the chance, are available to fill positions at all those clustered parished that lack priests?

Esau

JACK:

PLEASE -- you get real.

Most priests are married to something else besides the Church, even if it's not a woman. Their golf game. Their hobbies. Their travels. Careerism.

That's like saying: I love my wife. I love ice cream. Therefore, since love is said to be there in each, it entails a similar degree of love in each; which is not at all true!


But your average diocesan priest, especially those who have been ordained over 10 years, have a fully developed personal life that has nothing to do with their priesthood and, as time goes on, usually is valued more than the priesthood. Priests who have left know this dynamic, and know the fallacy of the priest throwing his heart and sould into his ministry every second. Priests who have left know about the priests with the housekeepers and secretaries and female lay ministers who function as permanent female companions (not to mention the whole gay contingent, but we'll stay away from that.) Priests who've left know about the pastors who refuse to be on call at night or go visit nursing homes, schlepping all of that on the associates. Priests who've left know how priests speak of their parisnioners behind closed doors, and it's not as a beloved spouse to whom they are devoted. It's as pains in the neck who bother them with minor problems and don't give enough in the collection basket or, on a good day, take them out to a nice country club for a round.

And all of the things you've mentioned here, like the priest having an affair with the housekeeper or other any other possible female associate, the possible homosexual affairs, etc., that these are typical of the average priest?

Your cynical view and the way you have generalized and debased the entire clergy with such depravities in such a surreptitiously underhanded way in order to get unsuspecting folks to view the whole priesthood as a farce, all those who serve in the priesthood as perverted, morally-depraved villains, with There are good and holy, focused priests out there as a means for pretense of a 'balanced' view, as well as a way of subtly insinuating that if anything, should we actually find such good priests, it's more of an exception to the rule kind of thing since generally, all priests are scum and such good priests are a rare find.

Your view wreaks of anti-Catholicism, if anything else, as demonstrated by the very insidious content of your comments!

John

I am a Byzantine Catholic, in full communion with the Apostolic See at Rome, and as such, find this entire discussion puzzling. In the Eastern Catholic churches, married men are routinely ordained to the priesthood.

The pastor of the Eastern Catholic church of which I am a member is married and has three children, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

Even the Roman Rite admits that its celibacy regulation is a matter of discipline and not a matter of faith. It could not take any other position and be consistent with Scripture.

The Roman church, throughout most of its history (until 1123) permitted married clergy. The unnatural insistence on celibacy is the road block to this discussion. It is not scripturally required, and it should be eliminated.

Esau

FROM JACK: That's what priests who have left know. They know that "the witness of celibacy" as most laity romanticize it, is a fantasy and a farce.

Anon

Jack said, "That's what priests who have left know. They know that "the witness of celibacy" as most laity romanticize it, is a fantasy and a farce. Priests find companions and escape from parish life - even if it's not a woman.".

Sounds like your speaking from the personal experience of yourself or someone close to you. It's not suprising that former clergy would look at their former peers with a jaundiced eye and have a myriad of excuses and justifications for compromise. The problem of mediocrity in the clergy is not new, and I would suggest is one of the reasons why the faith is so weak in our Western culture. However, I believe you are wrong to say it is the norm.

I have been lucky enough to have been close to the Church my entire life and I have known many diocesean and religious who are/were dedicated and holy priests. They are all human, with human shortcomings. Most of them are "above average" and a few are truly "holy" - enough to assure me that Christ is still present to His Church in the ministerial priesthood.

Easu

FROM ANON: However, I believe you are wrong to say it is the norm.

I have been lucky enough to have been close to the Church my entire life and I have known many diocesean and religious who are/were dedicated and holy priests. They are all human, with human shortcomings. Most of them are "above average" and a few are truly "holy" - enough to assure me that Christ is still present to His Church in the ministerial priesthood.

AMEN, Anon!

Inocencio

John,

No one is disputing that it is a discipline. But you cannot deny that our Blessed Lord offered the gift of celibacy to those who would choose it for the sake of the kingdom of God. Or that St. Paul clearly recommended the same thing.

Take care and God bless,
Inocencio
J+M+J

John

Inocencio, with all due respect, you are arguing beside the point.

To say that Jesus offered celibacy as a gift to those who choose it does not justify the imposition of celibacy a prerequisite to ordination.

Celibacy is not required as a matter of faith, and the Roman Rite, by insisting on this unscriptural, unnatural discipline, is driving men away from the priesthood, and discouraging many qualified persons from joining it.

If a man wishes to observe celibacy and be a priest, that is fine. But married men should not be turned away merely because they are married.

Inocencio

John,

With all due respect the Church has the God-given authority to bind and loose exactly such prerequistes.

Since you are in communion with Rome please read CCC1578

"unscriptural, unnatural discipline

And CCC 1579 and the footnotes.

I find it hard to believe that someone who claims to be in union with Rome would assume and authority they do not have.

Take care and God bless,
Inocencio
J+M+J


Esau

John:

I, myself, am open to having the strict requirement of celibacy for the priesthood lifted since it is a matter of discipline, not necessarily a matter of doctrine.

Plus, considering the days of the Early Church, the Orthodox Church, and also those married Protestant ministers who have converted to the Catholic Faith and have been asked by the Catholic Church to consider the priesthood; it would seem, at least to me, to be something that can be a matter of Church discipline that can be modified.

HOWEVER:

...by insisting on this unscriptural, unnatural discipline...

This, what you have said here, is not at all true.

Please consider the following:

The Roman Catholic Church's practice of clerical celibacy is both theological and practical. Theologically, the Church desires to imitate the life of Jesus with regard to chastity and the sacrifice of married life for the "sake of the Kingdom" (Luke 18:28-30, Matthew 19:27-30; Mark 10:20-21), and to follow the example of Jesus Christ in being "married" to the Church, viewed by Catholicism and many Christian traditions as the "Bride of Christ". Also of import are the teachings of St. Paul that chastity is the superior state of life, and his desire expressed in I Corinthians 7:7-8, "I would that all men were even as myself [celibate] — but every one has his proper gift from God; one after this manner, and another after that. But I say to the unmarried and the widows. It is good for them if they so continue, even as I."

Practically speaking, the reasons for celibacy are given by the Apostle Paul in I Corinthians 7:7-8;32-35: "But I would have you to be without solicitude. He that is without a wife is solicitous for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please God. But he that is with a wife, is solicitous for the things of the world, how he may please his wife: and he is divided. And the unmarried woman and the virgin thinketh on the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and spirit. But she that is married thinketh on the things of this world how she may please her husband. And this I speak for your profit, not to cast a snare upon you, but for that which is decent and which may give you power to attend upon the Lord without impediment."

tim

Dr. Peters, thanks for the post. I did not mean the comment as a nasty one (in fact, I credit JPII for being instrumental in my growth to take my faith seriously), but I just realised it had little to do with the topic of the thread, and might be seen as nasty, so I asked it to be yanked. Since the cat is out of the bag, the comment in its entirety was, "John Paul the Great?"

I agree with Ed that the rush to anoint him as Great is worth a discussion. I used to think so, but now I don't know. That's ok, he doesn't need my approval, and since it is off topic I'll leave the discussion for later. I do appreciate the comments, though, because I really didn't mean to offend anyone.

Oh, and if he deserves the title "Great", and is canoniz-able (a word?) "subito", then I know for sure he is holy enough to pray for me especially!

Ed Peters

tim, yup.

Tom Kelty

Was it F.J.Powers or J.F.Powers who wrote "Morte De Urban" way back in the 50s, focusing on the life of a shallow fellow who wore the collar somewhere in the mid-west. The author was himself a priest and a highly regarded writer, scorned by his own, for publishing many powerful stories. He was a master at exposing the cruelties many nuns suffered quietly under the absolute rulers loving care. He was not welcome in any chancery because he was pulling at the threads of the huge tapestry adorning their inner sanctums. Google his name and see how much he wrote and when.

chris K

The Church's discipline in the Latin rite is that celebacy is a requirement for Holy Orders. There are exceptions. The petitioner is asking about the exceptions: "is there any basis for me to hope that one day I might be allowed to exercise my Priesthood again?" You, apparently, find this egotistical or hypocritical.

No, you must find it as "egotistical". I simply posed the reality of living in two worlds which is pretty obvious for so many ... and that, not necessarily "in the present moment" and in the real conditions that one chose freely...without opting out in the heart or mind or spirit. That choice involved another person who just may feel that she remains secondary to the underlying and remaining desire of the ex-priest husband. It isn't all that different from women with a husband who wishes to really be with another woman and already is thinking of just what conditions will have to apply first before the possibility of fulfilling that desire! And those conditions just happen to be one's own demise!! So, then, where's the priority in such a promise of complete self giving within such a marriage? Often it is even grounds for annulment.

The Roman church, throughout most of its history (until 1123) permitted married clergy.

What a whitewash. You had better get acquainted with all of the many stipulated sacrifices that have always been ordered and still are, even when exceptions have been granted in history. It's never been your "father's marriage" as is implied by your comment.

by insisting on this unscriptural, unnatural discipline, is driving men away from the priesthood, and discouraging many qualified persons from joining it.

Tell it to Jesus. He wasn't kidding when He demanded the relinquishing of everything for the Kingdom and the promise that went with that call ... and then we have the reply by the married Peter as well that speaks to those demands and the compliance with.

and the actions of others, most of whom are in the episcopate, in covering up for them it becomes fairly obvious to me that the lack of a personal attachment to ones own children makes it easier to look the other way when there is an accusation.

Obviously you haven't had much experience working with abused kids and their families, friends and neighbors in the regular world. Even their own mothers in most cases refuse to report boyfriends, husbands, family members. It's just a fact. So, not having one's own children doesn't matter that much ... especially when such abuse is more prevalent by far in all other areas of our culture than within the Church. You've been listening to media concentration only on one area for its own purposes!

The call to ministry, however, is not exclusive of marriage and so I think you're premature in judging that the wife or the marriage is being given second short shrift.

So, who said it was?? Nice spin, but "ministry" in all of its various forms was not the point here. It's the priesthood within this rite and its ideal ordering to the example of Christ of Whom the priest is acting "in Persona". And I'm not "judging". I offered another perspective which I've heard of especially from women who have separated from former priest husbands ... and for just that reason. He wasn't totally in the marriage .... and she couldn't satisfy his remaining feeling of loss no matter how hard she wished to.

And if you go ot "rentapriest.com" you will see the number of such men who now also involve their wives in their disobedience in acting outside of Church authority and in great disobedience to the point of similar stances as those of Milingo.

And, btw, if being married to your golf game is anything similar in one's mind to real marriage, well, what can anyone say! It's also implied then that if one was "really" married he wouldn't also be "married" to golf ... or even the boob tube!! We're talking about people who really strive to be like Christ ... not the excuses. They'll always be there ... always were ... why the road was called "narrow".

Tom Kelty

It is JF Powers. I took my own advice. He was not a priest but he was an astute observer of the clergy in the mid-west. Late in life he published Morte D' Urban but prior to that he won awards for stories of the body of the church. He is very much worth attention because he takes us to our roots in faith. Some of the details of his stories are still in my mind especially of the power struggles between the pastor and the nuns. Read him and become a believer. You will not regret the time and effort.

chris K

A good article for real reference to historical celibacy:

http://www.tfp.org/TFPForum/catholic_perspective/tracing_the_glorious_origins_of_celibacy.htm

a portion:

The Apostolic Tradition
Among the Apostles, only St. Peter is known to have been married due to the fact his mother-in-law is mentioned in the Gospels. Some of the others might have been married but there is a clear indication that they left everything, including their families, to follow Christ.

Thus, in the Gospels, one reads that St. Peter asked Our Lord, “What about us? We left all we had to follow you.” The Divine Master answered: “I tell you solemnly, there is no one who has left house, wife, brothers, parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God, who will not be given repayment many times over in this present time and, in the world to come, eternal life” (Lk 18:28-30, cf. Mt 19:27-30; Mk 10:20-21).

St. Augustine
Early Church Councils Reaffirm Practice
This brief overview does not allow us to look at the whole history of celibacy amply documented by Cardinal Stickler. Let us present some of the most outstanding cases. The Council of Elvira in Spain (310) dealt with priestly chastity (canon 33), and presented perfect continence as a norm that must be maintained and observed and not as an innovation. The lack of any revolt or surprise attested to its widespread practice.

At the Council of the Church of Africa (390) and above all at the Council of Carthage, (419), which St. Augustine attended, similar norms were adopted. These councils recalled the ecclesiastical praxis of the obligation of perfect chastity, affirming that such praxis is of apostolic tradition.

Pope Siricius answering a specific consultation about clerical celibacy in 385 affirmed that bishops and priests who continue marital relations after ordination violate an irrevocable law from the very inception of the Church that binds them to continence.

Several other popes and regional councils, particularly in Gaul, present day France, continued to recall the tradition of celibacy and punish abuse.

St. Gregory VII (1073-85) when struggling against the intervention of the Holy Roman Emperor in church affairs, had to fight simony – the purchase of Church posts – and Nicolaitism – the heresy that preaches, among other things, priestly marriage.

Some mistakenly conclude that St. Gregory VII introduced the law of celibacy into the Church. Quite the contrary. What St. Gregory VII, and later the Second Lateran Council (1139) did was not to “introduce” the law of celibacy but simply confirm that it was in force and issue regulations for its observance. Since most recruiting for the priesthood was already among the unmarried, the Second Lateran Council forbade priestly marriage, declaring it null and void in the case of priests, deacons or anyone with a solemn vow of religion.

Chris

my $.02 worth:

For a long time, i didn't understand the reasoning behind celibacy in the Roman rite. But even then, if the Church had ever decided to remove celibacy as a requirement, i was against allowing men who had left the priesthood to marry to return to their priestly roles. Celibacy was part of the rules under which they were ordained, and they left the priesthood because they didn't want to remain celibate.

The other thought that occurs to me on this subject is this: If a man wishes to be married and a priest, and only the Latin rite of the Catholic Church requires priests to be celibate, why not seek ordination in one of the rites within the Church which allows married men to be ordained?

chris K

from:

http://www.ewtn.com/library/Liturgy/zlitur97.htm

we can also consider that all Eastern Churches, Catholic and non-Catholic, hold clerical celibacy in high esteem. All of them choose bishops exclusively from the ranks of the celibate clergy, and while some of them admit married men to ordination, no priest or deacon marries or remarries once having received ordination.

snip

Follow-up: East-West Difference Over Priestly Celibacy [09-27-2005]

After our comments regarding priestly celibacy (Sept. 13) a priest from Australia asked that I clarify that priests or deacons can never marry after ordination. We certainly mentioned this point in our previous column but it is worth highlighting this important aspect.

Our correspondent wrote:

"[I]t might be helpful to correct the notion that, 'in the Eastern Catholic Churches, priests can marry, unlike in the Roman Catholic Church.'

"In the East, married men are eligible for priesthood (there are restrictions varying from place to place, e.g., a higher age than celibates [e.g., 30 or 35]; consent of the wife; sometimes ordination only after the first child is born, etc.). But in East and West, uniformly and from the beginning, no priest can marry. A married man can become a priest, but a priest cannot marry. A widowed priest cannot remarry. Even if the Pope were to change the Church's discipline regarding celibacy (out of the question), this would not affect one priest."

Other correspondents mentioned several scientific studies defending the historical priority of priestly celibacy, or at least permanent continence if already married, over the practice of temporary continence of married priests accepted in many Eastern Churches.

I am aware of these arguments, and they are very important, but I eschewed dealing with them both because of their complexity and because the question of the origin does not affect the fact that, today, the Catholic Church respects the legitimacy of this tradition in those Eastern Catholic Churches which ordain married men to the priesthood.

Another priest mentioned that, since 1998, in the Roman rite, some permanent deacons have been permitted to remarry, a concession that seemingly breaks the tradition that the ordained can never marry or remarry.

The principle that a married deacon cannot remarry if widowed is still the norm in the Roman rite. However, some rare exceptions have been made for extraordinary situations such as a widowed deacon left to raise several young children. In such cases the permission to remarry has been granted, taking into account the needs of the family as a whole and not just the personal whims of the deacon.

In order to limit such situations, many bishops do not admit fathers of young children to the diaconate. ZE05092721

Since, then, in the Eastern Catholic rites an already ordained priest is not allowed to marry, if the Latin rite allowed all of these married priests to return to the active priesthood it might upset relations even more since men who were already priests would then be seen as permitted to be married. At least on this point there is a certain established unity of practice and ideal.

Esau

Why are Catholic priests not allowed to marry? MATTHEW PINTO

-------------------------------------------------
Q: Why are Catholic priests not allowed to marry?

-------------------------------------------------


A: Although the early Church allowed married clergy, the Church later came to see celibacy as a better example of the norm and model of Jesus’ priesthood.

In referring to celibacy, St. Paul says: "Indeed, I wish everyone to be as I am, but each has a particular gift from God . . .Now to the unmarried and to widows I say: it is a good thing for them to remain as they are, as I do" (1 Cor. 7:7-8). He goes on to say: "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, and he is divided" (1 Cor. 7:32-34).

Jesus said: "And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands for the sake of my name will receive a hundred times more, and will inherit eternal life" (Mt. 19:29).

Celibacy is a discipline, not a dogma. This means that the Church could change the rule. In fact, there are a few instances when the Church has allowed married clergy, such as with some Eastern rite clergy and in the case of some Protestant ministers who converted to the Faith. These, however, are the exception.

It is unlikely that the Church will change this teaching at all, or any time soon, because of the many positive and practical benefits of celibacy. Here are 10 reasons why a celibate clergy makes good sense:

It leaves the priest free to more fully commit his life to the service of the Lord and the laity.

The Church has found it is better to keep priests moving from parish to parish every few years, perhaps for a few reasons, including the desire to prevent a cult of personality from building around a particular priest. This situation can put too much focus on the man rather than on the Gospel message. So, the Church prudently moves priests around. Can you imagine how much stress it would cause a priest to have to move his wife and family each time he is assigned to a new parish? Having a celibate priesthood also enables the bishop the full flexibility he needs to move priests around.

To be able to lay his life down for his flock. Because a celibate priest does not have the obligation of a wife and children, he can give of himself more easily, including his own life, if necessary. For example, Blessed Damien de Veuster of Belgium was able to work with lepers on the island of Molokai, Hawaii, because of the freedom he had in being a celibate minister. This work eventually led to his contracting and dying from leprosy.

It is a sign of contradiction and a great Christian witness to our society, which is flooded with sexually permissive messages. Celibacy surely gains the Catholic clergy a hidden respect from many people.

It gives the priest greater credibility when he asks the laity to make sacrifices, because the laity knows that celibacy involves sacrifice.

It helps the priest master his passions amd also gives him more time for prayer, which is the lifeblood of any ministry.

It enables a priest to be more objective when counseling married couples. Because he is not married, he is not going to project any personal marriage problems or biases onto the the couple he is counseling.

In many cases it enables the priest to be a "spiritual father" to more people than he would as a married man (1 Cor. 4:15).

It allows the Church to put the hundreds of millions of dollars it saves in priestly salaries to the evangelization and charitable assistance of a needy world. Although priests do receive salaries, they are much lower than they would have to be if they had families to support.

It’s a foreshadowing that there will be no marriage in heaven (Mt. 22:30).
No one is required to live a permanently celibate life (Mt. 19:12). The Church says that people are free to marry. In fact, the Church glorifies the married state. Only if one wants to become a priest, brother, or religious sister does he or she have to live a celibate life. The religious life, and the requirements that come with it, do not have to be chosen by anyone. However, when it is chosen, it needs to be followed in the manner our Lord and His Church requires.

Sure, celibacy can be difficult, especially in this sexually permissive age. But if a priest has good seminary formation that strongly supports celibacy and if he stays close to our Lord in prayer, he will be able to turn this sacrifice into a wonderful aid to his work.

elena maria vidal

It is clear that the Holy Father sees fit to uphold the ancient tradition of clerical celibacy in the Latin rite. I am glad to see that priestly vows still count for something in spite of the abundance of dispensations in this Age of Annulments.

Fr. Erik Richtsteig

I would hate to see married men admitted to the priesthood in the Latin Rite. This for many reason not the least of which being the additional problems wives and children would bring and have brought upon them. (An Orthodox priest friend once commented on the naivete of thinking a married clergy would solve all our problems.)

I am even more adamantly opposed to readmitting the laicized. They have already proven themselves untrustworthy. There is no need to give them another opportunity to betray their vows and scandalize the faithful.

John

Married Eastern Catholic priests are the rule, not the exception, at least on a worldwide basis. Starting about 1880 and through most of the 20th century, however, they were not sent to the United States or Canada, because they provoked resentment and jealousy among the Roman Catholic clergy. Fortunately, the Eastern Catholic churches are reasserting themselves, honoring their ancient traditions, and declining to be "latinized" in matters of discipline. True, a married priest is not a panacea, but it makes him a more normal person better able to identify with the needs and aspirations of his parishioners.

The Pope occupies two roles. He is the head of the Roman rite, and in that capacity, he is free to regulate the Roman church in any manner that he may desire.

The Pope is also the Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church, of which the Roman rite is only a part (there are 23 different rites within the Universal Church). As members of the Byzantine Rite, we submit to the Pope in his capacity as head of the Universal Church as to matters of faith and morals. Beyond that, however, we are members of self-governing churches that have our own bishops, priests, and deacons, and follow our own liturgical discipline and style of worship.

We are in full communion with the Apostolic See at Rome, and there is intercommunion between Roman Catholics and Eastern Catholics. I invite any Roman Catholic who may be interested in learning more about us to visit a nearby Eastern Catholic Church.

You may also wish to visit the following website:

http://www.byzantines.net

Jeannette

Esau's second point, the one about a priest and his family having to move all the way across the diocese every few years, isn't a strong argument to military families, who have to move across the world or country every few years.

It seems to me that the cost argument isn't strong either. I have no idea about salaries, etc, but I would imagine that a married priest would no longer need a housekeeper or cook, and there are many unused or underused rectories, with one priest covering several parishes.

Most American priests in suburban parishes aren't assigned to leper colonies, either. I suspect that those assignments would go to the unmarried ones.

Friends who have encountered married (former Episcopalian) say that those priests bring a better understanding of the difficulties of family life.

Titus 1:6 asks for bishops "married only once, with believing children who are not accused of licentiousness or rebellious." (NAB)

Somewhere, I think St. Paul suggests that it better to marry than burn, too.

If the Latin Rite Church continues to take these slow steps toward optional celibacy, they might want to look at the marital problems of military families, especially deployable ones, though. The last thing the church needs is divorced priests... The 35-year-old minimum is a good idea, too. One priest friend pointed out that requiring marriage first, priesthood second might hurry some would-be priests into marriage.

mat

Jeannette speaks very wisely. I don't think Catholics would have any problem supporting a priest and his family. Most parishes employ substantial lay staffs, to whom they often do not pay a living wage, granted, but the problem with Catholics is not that they don't want to give - it's that they don't trust the Church to whom they are giving. When CAtholics KNOW where their money's going, they give. And I think your average Catholic parish would be very happy to each pony up a couple dollars more a week if they know it's going to support the priest and his family and not Fr. Gay and his cruises.

Admitting married men to the Latin Rite priesthood would go a long way to break the Lavendar Mafia's power in our church. YOu will find that they are usually the most vehemently opposed, since they know that obviously heterosexual priests will bring a different dynamic into their enclaves. It will bring its own problems and challenges, to be sure, but hopefully the Latin Rite can learn from the experiences of the Eastern Rite, the ORthododox and even PRotestant ministers, in reshaping the ministry. Which is going to happen - B16, as Jimmy pointed out, is not closed to changing this.

And I assume that all of you ranting in opposition are opposed to pastoral provision? No? Why not?

It is nice to know that over the next couple of months, two very sound, deeply Orthodox former Anglicans - Al Kimel and Dwight Longenecker - will be ordained to the RC priesthood, both with families. It would be interesting if part of the regaining strenght of Orthodox Catholicism comes from married priests like these two.

Further, you folks need to remember that the RC church has something that no other Christian denomination w/married clergy has: religious orders. The vigor and flexibility of the celibate priesthood that has spread Christianity throughout the world has come, not from diocesan priests, but religious orders, who would remain celibate as part of their charism. It would clarify things immensely, would reinvigorate religious orders, clarify their charism, and reinvigorate the diocesan clergy as well, as it is infused with the life of...well...life.

Esau

Esau's second point, the one about a priest and his family having to move all the way across the diocese every few years, isn't a strong argument to military families, who have to move across the world or country every few years.

Jeanette,
Obviously, it seems you didn't read the post carefully. It wasn't my point -- it was Matt Pinto's. Also, you seemed to have overlooked my previous posts that mentioned that I am open to having the strict requirment of celibacy lifted since it's a matter of Church discipline rather than doctrine.

Esau

Jeannette speaks very wisely. I don't think Catholics would have any problem supporting a priest and his family.

Really Mat?

Tell me (and I speak only to Mat as it concerns the Roman Catholic Church), how well do you think married priests can support their families and the children they may have on $1/week Catholics, among other things?

Do you even realize how much it actually costs to have a family let alone supporting the children? If you do have children, you can only realize the extent of the expenses.

How much do you think priests should get paid by the Church?

How much do you think would be a decent wage for a married priest and the family he'll be raising? Please, tell me -- I'd be really interested. Also, do you think the Church can actually pay a salary that would be decent for both a married priest and his family? Do you think the Church can do this in addition to the many other expenses such as the maintenance of the many parishes within a diocese and other integral costs?

Esau

It seems to me that the cost argument isn't strong either. I have no idea about salaries, etc, but I would imagine that a married priest would no longer need a housekeeper or cook, and there are many unused or underused rectories, with one priest covering several parishes.

Jeanette:
The costs that you are speaking of above wouldn't be the only costs that would need to be considered in terms of married priests. There would also be the issue of costs that would be entailed in his raising a family and his children as well, which I highly doubt that the archdiocese can cover, especially during these times.

Do you really think with $1/week Catholics, the lack of funds that the Catholic Church is suffering these days, and all the other complications that have arisen in the Church, that we can actually support a decent salary for priests who do get married (his family, his children), should the Church even allow married priests, let alone, cover the rising costs to run and maintain all the parishes, all the churches within a diocese?

Esau

JEANETTE & MAT:

Do you both even know the fact that priests get paid from anywhere between $12,936 to $15,483?

Do you really think a married priest can raise a family on this kind of salary?

If you are going to suggest a salary increase for these priests, how much do you think they SHOULD get paid?

I mean, even with these low salaries of priests today, the Catholic Church still has a difficult time with their finances due to the rising costs of maintaining their churches, the fewer parishioners in those churches, add to that the complications that have arisen due to the scandals.

How much more the financial burden should the Church raise the salary due to married priests?

guest

bold off

J.R. Stoodley

The United Methodist Church has an interesting problem in my area: to many clergy. Is having a married clergy responsible for this situation which seems so desirable a problem to us Catholics, yes but not in the way you might expect.

There are very few ordinations a year, and pastors are often spread very thinly, often with two or more local churches under their care. The thing is, even this is too many for the laity. They just can't support the pastors and their families financially, sending the kids through college and all, so few churches want a full-time pastor. By having two or three churches share a pastor (part-time at each church) they can manage the situation somewhat.

Esau

There are very few ordinations a year, and pastors are often spread very thinly, often with two or more local churches under their care. The thing is, even this is too many for the laity. They just can't support the pastors and their families financially, sending the kids through college and all, so few churches want a full-time pastor. By having two or three churches share a pastor (part-time at each church) they can manage the situation somewhat.

Well said, J.R., as usual!

The other thing to understand here is even should celibacy be lifted, does anyone really think that vocations will really improve to such a significant degree? Yes, there will be some who will find it more appealing for those who have a problem with the celibacy requirement and would like to have a family in addition to being a priest, but does anyone here think it'll be a cure-all for the vocation problem that we face?

I doubt that there will be droves of folks applying for the priesthood just because the celibacy requirement is lifted.

Imagine the even greater problem when married priests are allowed and the problem of the lack of vocations still stands (which I think will continue in spite of the lifting of the celibacy requirement), can a married priest really be able to attend to the needs of two or more parishes due to the lack of priests that would still exist then versus an unmarried priest?

bill912

One thing to keep in mind is that the priesthood is much more than a career choice; it is a calling from God. I think it was St. Thomas Aquinas who wrote that God always calls enough men to the priesthood to give us the priests we need. It's just that, in some eras, an insufficient number of those called are listening.

Esau

One thing to keep in mind is that the priesthood is much more than a career choice; it is a calling from God. I think it was St. Thomas Aquinas who wrote that God always calls enough men to the priesthood to give us the priests we need. It's just that, in some eras, an insufficient number of those called are listening.

Very well-said, bill912.

Becky

I am quite sure our diocese pays priests better than that. I do know that our 1000-family parish brings in about $30,000 in donations a week or so on average, with some fluctuation. Most of that is spent on the school (which is tuition free) and 10% goes to the diocese. Since I know that some families don't/can't give anything, many are giving a significant amount. Our diocese probably could support married priests financially, although we have many vocations now.

Celibacy does have a long tradition in the Church, but I do think that we need to think about how it is best implemented now. I like the idea of the distinction between the religious life and the diocesan priesthood, this seems reasonable to me.

However, I do not think that a married priesthood would significantly increase vocations, although there may be a "boom" at first. The lack of vocations stems from a lack of willingness to suffer and sacrifice, something that is difficult for most American Catholics today. Moreover, many of those calling for a married priesthood challenge the Catholic doctrine of the role of the priesthood and dissent on other issues. Right now would be a bad time to relax the celibacy requirement, IMO.

J.R. Stoodley

I forget who, but some saint said that one of the worst afflictions God can send on a people is to reduce the number of vocations to the priesthood. This seems at odds with St. Thomas' position but is also interesting. Perhaps our situation is a combination of the two.

Looking at it from this perspective, we certainly can't control God and have him give us more vocations to the priesthood by lifting the requirement for celibacy. We need instead to sanctify ourselves and do penance for the sins of the past.

Looking at it from this perspective, we certainly can't control God and have him give us more vocations to the priesthood by lifting the requirement for celibacy.

If lifting the celibacy requirement to foster vocations is "controlling God," then isn't demanding that he call to the priesthood only those also called to celibacy "controlling God" to? Either most Eastern priests throughout history (i.e., all the non-celibate ones) have been false vocations, or the Catholic Church has been refusing to honor true vocations/forcing men not called to celibacy to be celibate, OR Church discipline DOES affect whom God calls and whom he doesn't*. I don't see a fourth option.

For the record, I am not an advocate of abolishing celibacy, especially not now when it is linked to so many non-disciplinary issues, I just question your reasoning.

*I suppose that would fall under "whatever you bind on earth is bound in Heaven."

Inocencio

Becky,

"Celibacy does have a long tradition in the Church"

Since our Blessed Lord gave us not only His example but also the recommendation for celibacy, it goes back to the beginning. St. Paul gave us the same example and recommendation.

Take care and God bless,
Inocencio
J+M+J

bill912

Amen, JRS! Your last sentence hit the nail right on the head.

Lisa

There are married priests in the Catholic Church right now, and I'm not speaking just of the Eastern Rite.

Priests who have come in via the pastoral provision serve all over the country, and some serve as pastors ("by the rules" they are not "supposed" to, but as a priest I know said, "You can get a dispensation for anything".)

Catholics will be willing to support married priests. They are obviously willing to do so in the Eastern Church, and have been for centuries. Modern parishes are.

And Esau just refuses to acknowledge the reality of certain parishes. In large parishes, the "head" lay ministers are often paid 40,000+ - DRE's, and such. The religious brother who was DRE in my parish in Florida made 45,000, I think.

No, not all parishes can afford it, but as someone said above, I think more Catholics than you think would be delighed at the prospect of digging a little deeper to help support a priest and his family.

One of the largest, if not the largest parish in the Diocese of Fort Worth is pastored by a married priest, Fr. Gremmels.

Inocencio

I would like to recommend the following articles for anyone following the discussion.

The Gift: A Married Priest Looks at Celibacy
By Rev. Ray Ryland

The link below seems to suggest that the Orthodox are taking an honest look at the problems their married clergy face.

A Series Of Papers Prepared By The Holy Synod Of Bishops Of The Orthodox Church In America Concerning Contemporary Issues.

Take care and God bless,
Inocencio
J+M+J

Ryan C

For another take on the Eastern view of things I suggest this article and website by Andrew Dragini, PhD, who works for EWTN and is an Eastern Rite Catholic:

http://www.east2west.org/Celibacy.htm

mick

Those of you touting the Ryland article might wonder...if he is such a fan of the celibate priesthood, why did he seek ordination, considering he is married? If it's okay for him, why not for other men?

I find it very, very hard to take Ryland seriously. He really has no credibility. No one forced him to be ordained. He could have chosen another form of ministry or work after leaving the Anglican church. But he didn't. For him to critique the very idea of other married men being ordained to the priesthood is borderline appalling.

bill912

Do you have reasons for your beliefs, mick?

Eileen R

Lisa:
Catholics will be willing to support married priests. They are obviously willing to do so in the Eastern Church, and have been for centuries.

Sadly, this is not entirely true. I'm very familiar with the Eastern Orthodox churches in the Anglophone world and the priests of many of the churches are not supported by their congregations at all, many of whom don't have the money to support their priests even if they're generous. Priests take on a job other than being a pastor. Waiting tables, driving a taxi, anything. It's called the tent-maker model of priesthood, after St. Paul who supported himself by making tents. While these men and their families are heroic, it's not an optimal situation.

The higher organization of the Catholic church in North America might make this irrelevant but it's something to consider before rushing into a situation with more married priests.

Jeannette

Actually, I do lean against lifting the celibacy requirement but I wouldn't really have a huge problem with it; it comes up in conversation with priest friends, and they aren't really opposed to it either. Sorry to mistake you, Esau; it's a long post.

They are reasonable arguments against the financial question, but you really should be realistic and add in the housekeeper's and cook's salary, and take into account the lodging (and board?) It wouldn't be much different in the military, too. The priests make as much as any other unmarried officer does, and there is already help in place to help wives with deployed husbands (and vice versa, of course).

And, yeah, married Latin-Rite priests are already here and it looks like what happened at the meeting is that some laicized priests will get "reactivated"-sorry, what's the term?

John

I dont know, we had quite an abundance of priests before Vatican II and the curiculum and even the ordiantion rite was changed after the Second Vatican Council. Ever think these men leave the priesthood because they are being blackballed for being heterosexual in a 50-70 homosexual profession? Or they dont prescribe to the liberal agenda's being pushed forth? Read what Father Trugillio just came out with as well as the book "Good bye Good men". Or from experience, try meeting with a formation direction, many of whom are woman or feminuns, but I never go there as it is the past


Formation starts with a love and respect of the church from the earliest of your childs days, from an amazement of what is actually taking place at mass (can one really feel that at a Novus Ordo Mass?), serving as an altar boy without the fear of being abused (I for one would never let my child serve as an altar boy as my cousins all who have boys would never either, my cousing actually said "Go_ forbid that"!), the introduction of altar girls to be PC and so on

This has been planned for over 40 years to get a married priesthood as the church is and wants to become more and more Protestant. The annulments that are now allowed by JPII's 1983 Canon law is on par with Protestants and Eastern church's as far as allowance of second marriages for Catholics, and the married priesthood and contraception are really the only two stumbling blocks to the full destruction and reformation of the church from within-Instead of from Without-and then all can feel quite comfortable attending mass as a three time divorced person using contraception as this is actually now allowed by the church-Hey even the priest up at the altar is married and is a sinner just like me! What a wonderful example Our Lords church is

The truly devout will find their way to the Traditionals or the strict Protestant (who in many ways are more Catholic than what the church is today) and then one will have to decide what is Catholic and what is not Catholic and where they trust their child's soul to be placed in care of as our time on this earth is short and our Lords teachings are clear, as was the past teachings of the church

Inocencio

John,

And his hobby horse ride again! John you have been warned twice.

Jimmy's definition of a hobby horse:

Commenters whose interaction on the blog consists principally of discussions of the same subject over and over...the evils of Vatican II, the current rite of Mass,...or any other single subject) are being rude. Conversation involves an ability to talk about more than one thing, not an obsessive harping on one subject.

Take care and God bless,
Inocencio
J+M+J

Mary Kay

Inocencio, you're right.

Ryan C

I would really like to see John and Realist go jousting with their respective hobby horses sometime here.

M. Archangelo

I am an "inactive priest," laicized by rescript and married in the Church. Marriage was not the reason for my departure, nor were there any theological reasons for it. In the midst of a debilitating physical illness, undiagnosed then, I became fearful of harming the faithful with a lack of patience and a temper that were overcoming me. At my ordination, my bishop had commissioned us to "love the people." I had come to the conclusion that I could not, and removed myself from ministry so as not to become the cause of greater scandal to the Church and harm to the faithful because of my lack.

Besides this, I have remained faithful to the Church. I believe everything she believes and accept the consequences of my choice. According to the Rescript Granting Laicization, these consequences include never being able to serve in any ministry in Church, never being able to teach religion in a parish or school, and not being able to celebrate the sacraments except under the emergency provisions of Canons 976 and 986.2. In effect, laicization makes me less than a layman in the Church. I understand the Church's reasons for this, and accept them.

Nevertheless, I remain "a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek." What this means in my life and in the life of the Church is now out of my hands, and I place my hope, as always, in God's mercy. I am acutely aware that everything I do -- from attending mass and praying the Office, to caring for my family and raising my son -- I do as a man who is a priest. I ask for nothing but mercy, and I don't deserve it. With the Church, I believe that celibacy is a unimaginable blessing for both priest and people. I know I will never be able to serve in an active priestly ministry ever again. Yet, if the Church ever permitted me to celebrate Mass again --privately-- I would count it as among the greatest of mercies a man could ever know, being a son of the prodigal Father.

J.R. Stoodley

Though I am totally in favor of keeping the general requirement for priestly celibacy, M. Archangelo seems like the kind of priest who I would definitely support returning to ministry (as opposed to ones who left to get married or because they are heretics), assuming his illness is now cured or sufficiently under control, as it sounds like it is.

It is well and good to have general laws concerning things like celibacy, but I think we should also look at individual cases and have a method in place to make exceptions where it is deemed right to do so. Perhaps this is what B16 is thinking of doing.

Ryan C

That was very moving, M. Archangelo. You have my prayers.

Jeannette

"then all can feel quite comfortable attending mass as a three time divorced person using contraception as this is actually now allowed by the church-Hey even the priest up at the altar is married and is a sinner just like me!"

Thank you, John. That's the funniest thing I've read today

Mary Kay

Well, at least John amused someone today.

chris K

I don't know ... I don't think a priest with a temper is so bad. We certainly have known plenty of them as well as other human religious who let their tempers fly now and then and due to their obedience on the whole we learned our faith much better than in the current of climate of "luuuuv". St. Jerome was known to let his temper fly - like throwing books at visitors while chasing them away; Mother Angelica always spoke of trying hard to be patient with others but acknowledged that it wasn't in the cards for her with her built in temperament! I'd certainly find it more refreshing to experience that in an honest priest than to later discover that Fr. "wonderful" or Fr. "charismatic" was living a whole other life in the dark as we sadly experience so much these days. Now if one has some pathological kind of personality disorder then that's something else. But then one wouldn't think that would be so good for marriage either. Such a person would need help and then maybe be called to practice his priesthood in some more individual, quiet setting. The priesthood should never be seen as if it was meant only to be someone's personal comfort blanket.

Those of you touting the Ryland article might wonder...if he is such a fan of the celibate priesthood, why did he seek ordination, considering he is married? If it's okay for him, why not for other men?

Because he was not a priest who was allowed to be married. Rather he was already married before he was aware of the fullness of Truth - an exception; not the rule ... which he fully acknowledges. He means to communicate that if he had been aware of the Truth beforehand he would then have chosen the celibate priesthood. Somehow here we have people wishing to make all of the exceptions the rule!

Esau

I would really like to see John and Realist go jousting with their respective hobby horses sometime here.

RYAN C:
I'd love to see this!!!

John, the Ultra-Trad "I-won't-read-your-posts-if-you're-a-lousy-Vatican-II-Lover-but-I-want-you-to-read-all-mine-plus-the-books-I-want-you-to-read" Thunda from Down Unda

versus

Realist, the "Out-of-his-'Crossan'-mind" Heretic of the Jesus Seminar & the Liberal Theo Camp fanatics!

SHOWING TONITE ON JA.O!


Let's Get Ready to R-U-M-B-L-E! ! !

Lisa

Chris K:

But the point remains - why did he seek ordination, then? He is a poor witness for the all-celibate priesthood.

Ego, ego, ego.

Inocencio

Mick,

"He really has no credibility. No one forced him to be ordained."

Lisa,

"But the point remains - why did he seek ordination, then? He is a poor witness for the all-celibate priesthood."

Can either of you offer evidence to refute his argument or research?

Take care and God bless,
Inocencio
J+M+J

Esau

And Esau just refuses to acknowledge the reality of certain parishes.

LISA:

Might I ask, when did I refused to acknowledge this?

This situation you mentioned:
In large parishes, the "head" lay ministers are often paid 40,000+ - DRE's, and such. The religious brother who was DRE in my parish in Florida made 45,000, I think.

This was the first I have ever heard of it, and it's the very first time it was ever presented to me. So, how can you even say that I actually so-called refuse to acknowledge this when this was, in fact, the very first time I was ever presented the information in the first place?

Regardless, do you really think that this type of pay is the norm (assuming the accuracy of the information you presented)?
If you do, kindly provide me with your evidence for this, because I would really be interested in seeing this. Plus, the religious brother you cited had a DRE. This might explan the reason for the higher pay (though, I'd still be interested to know how accurate that pay information is). Also, can you really say this is actually the average pay for a typical priest? If so, please present this data to me.

I have available in hand the financial information of many parishes and the financials for many archdiocese, and I don't really think that the data you're presenting is actually typical or even representative of the average parish. Yet, you're presenting it as if it's the norm when it isn't.

Again, kindly respond to the following:

Among other things,
1. If there were married priests allowed (and let's say for the sake of argument that there are parishes able to provide this strong financial support you speak of for such priests), you mean to tell me that these married priests should be given a sort of "preferred status" and be specifically selected to serve at such well-endowed parishes over the celibate priest?

I mean, I know to some celibate priests may be the most God-awful people in the world (I mean, even Fr. Corapi must be a "Fr. Gay" in hiding based on some folks' posts here!), but to flat out treat them like lepers and promote the married priest as some sort of higher ideal that deserve such preferred treatment over the former, not to mention, all the luxuries that only a few wealthy churches can give them, this is plainly discriminatory, not to mention, highly prejudicial!

2. Do you think that the lifting of celibacy will actually increase vocations in the Church and solve the vocation problem, making the priesthood such a preferable occupation as opposed to others out there?

Yeah, like I can really see the droves of young men out there lining up to become priests, merely waiting for that celibacy requirement to be lifted!

I think, as some have wisely pointed out earlier, it's a calling that comes solely from God.

It's not this sort of ambitious career choice that any person would actually aim for as they would a medical career or any distinguished or well-paid occupation!

Thus, given a future where married priests are actually allowed (that is, priests are allowed to marry as opposed to the few excepted married priests already out there in the Catholic Church), though, regardless, the vocation shortage problem continues (which, I believe, it will unless you can clearly demonstrate to me the contrary), do you really think that in a situation where a priest has to handle more than one parish due to the lack of priests out there, that a married priest will be able to pastor several parishes over one who is not (i.e., the celibate priest)?

I mean, a married priest would be dealing not only with the misses, but also their children as well! He would be spread all too thin for such a responsibility!

3. How much do you think the married priest should earn? How much should the archdiocese pay them? On the other hand, how much do you think a celibate priest should get paid? Where a priest has something to offer, like a certain degree of higher education or expertise or even rank that would necessitate a salary commensurate to their responsibility, that is certainly fine. But, if you are to suggest a higher pay for a priest just because of his being married, then you certainly are subscribing to a point of view that is in fact discriminatory.

4. As I mentioned, I doubt that there are a great number of parishes out there that actually are as well-endowed as you would have them.

You did know that even before the Church scandal, there were many parishes closing down because of the lack of funds to keep them up and running, right?

As someone had correctly mentioned, there is a percentage of money collected by a parish that goes to the archdiocese and funds can be accordingly allocated to the needy parishes. IF the situation you presented were the norm, I highly doubt that any of these parishes would have closed down since such lack of funds (which was the reason for their closing down) would've been non-existent in the first place had such wealthy parishes been the norm!

Publius

The argument that it would be discriminatory to pay priests with families more than priests without families is applying a market model to the priesthood which is really inappropriate. When we put money in the collection plate, it is (in part) to support them in their ministry, not to purchase their services like one would those of a lawyer or a plumber.

As for vocations being up to God alone, a pretty good argument was made earlier in the thread that who is called and who is not is affected by Church discipline. That isn't so incredible since Christ gave the Church the authority to forgive sins, not to mention the power to make him truly present in the Eucharist.

chris K

But the point remains - why did he seek ordination, then? He is a poor witness for the all-celibate priesthood.

Ego, ego, ego

Lisa, if you cannot see the difference within particular exceptions made by the Church, rather than the rule, then your only remedy for such men is that they somehow time travel back to where they were when they were still unlearned of the Truth and somehow make the necessary changes so they can fit into your desired perfection. Since that is impossible such men then are obediently following within the Church's guidelines ... therefore, obedient ... unlike those here who wish to tell the Church how to manage such vocations and being at least disobedient in spirit. Then the "ego, ego, ego" pointing has three fingers pointing back at the critic!

I see nothing wrong with a man being guided by the Church within his particular history and also stating agreement with that Church in its overall reasoning. You don't therefore agree with the Church's reasoning? Then who is really in error here?!

Tim J.

Problem is, we have allowed ourselves to be influenced by the culture that surrounds us... the materialistic what's-in-it-for-me culture that scorns the idea of self-sacrifice.

Celibacy is not the problem... selfishness is the problem.

We need to find a way to not only hand on the authentic Catholic Faith, but to hand on an authentic Catholic Culture to go with it. In fact, I don't see how we can do one without the other.

Pray without ceasing, folks.

Jeannette

Opening comment and 4) Geez, Esau, does Lisa need to have her anecdotal salary notarized? Sure looks like a "refusal to believe", to me. I suspect there is quite a range in the stipends paid to a priest, across the country and I don't see any reason to doubt your particular figures, but I don't see any reason to doubt Lisa's, either. You owe her an apology. Your last post went past "argumentative" to "nasty".

3) I know there is great variance in the cost of living, too. We're managing to raise our seven born children (Thomas, in utero, doesn't cost much yet) on one salary, and it doesn't cost as much as you might imagine. Used stuff is cheap (especially electronics), and so is offbrand food. Our income needs would be much lower still if we had lodging covered, and tuition. I think one goes into the priesthood expecting a modest lifestyle, and I expect most priests' wives expect a modest lifestyle.

2) I doubt married priests would solve the perceived priest shortage. It might keep some priests from leaving, in order to marry rather than burn. It might increase the heterosexual ratio (and I just don't know whose numbers are accurate on that) so that straight seminarians don't leave. God picks 'em and calls 'em. Glad to see you corrected yourself in that paragraph.

1) I don't know who Fr. Corapi is, and I don't think I know any gay priests, so I can't answer that part of your question.
I hope I don't get stuck with a pastor who thinks of the priesthood as a career choice, and only wants to be at my parish because it's well-endowed (this does NOT describe my current pastor). There probably are some priests who would prefer a well-endowed parish, and some who might resent being sent to the far reaches of the diocese. I don't know very many like that.

Esau

Geez, Esau, does Lisa need to have her anecdotal salary notarized? Sure looks like a "refusal to believe", to me.

Jeanette:

I don't think you noticed the fact that prior to Lisa even mentioning the bit in her post that:

In large parishes, the "head" lay ministers are often paid 40,000+ - DRE's, and such. The religious brother who was DRE in my parish in Florida made 45,000, I think.

there was really no 'refusal to believe' on my part since this data was not even presented to me prior to this post she mentioned it in.

How can I 'refuse to believe' something that was not even brought up to me in the first place prior to her posting that bit of info?

Also, I happen to know some bishops as close friends and the salaries that a cross-section of priests make in America.

I would have no problem with Lisa's data if it were actually true. That's why I am very interested in receiving confirmation of the accuracy of the data. However, from the present financial information I currently have access to, it is not reflected in the financials of the U.S. Roman Catholic Church.

Also, again, I have no problem with the lifting of celibacy since it is a matter of Church discipline; however, there are not only some theological implications for the Roman Church to consider as far as it is specifically concerned, but also the logistical as well as other additional repercussions that may ensue as a result.

The fact of the matter is at this point, I don't see how the current Church can support married priests given its current infrastructure and all the existing problems it currently faces.

I hope I don't get stuck with a pastor who thinks of the priesthood as a career choice, and only wants to be at my parish because it's well-endowed (this does NOT describe my current pastor). There probably are some priests who would prefer a well-endowed parish, and some who might resent being sent to the far reaches of the diocese. I don't know very many like that.

Concerning the matter raised above, unfortunately, as it is, there are those who are career-minded like that (but, mind you -- and I'm not condoning this behavior -- but only saying that even in the bible, James and John were competing for high positions in Jesus' kingdom).

This is a situation some might argue will only be exacerbated if we do in fact do a comprehensive salary restructuring as far as married priests are concerned; which, again, given the Catholic Church's present financial data, I don't really see entirely possible at this point in time.

As far as well-endowed parishes go, again, I don't see evidence that this is the norm. If that were true:

1. We wouldn't have had the problem of closing down churches due to lack of funds since if this were the norm, these wouldn't exist in the first place.

2. As someone had rightly mentioned, a percentage of money collected in parishes are allocated to the archdiocese which then the archdiocese can accordingly allocate to needy parishes. If there were even such a great number of well-endowed parishes that existed, parishes lacking funds would have been able to still remain in existence.

Now, even if we were to go with what some had implied here and assign married priests to such wealthy parishes (overlooking the prejudicial nature of this as far as celibate priests go), since there are only such a few out there, what to do with the other married priests that couldn't be assigned to these?

Kindly reflect on what J.R. Stoodley mentioned concerning the current situation with the United Methodist Church he raised:

The United Methodist Church has an interesting problem in my area: to many clergy. Is having a married clergy responsible for this situation which seems so desirable a problem to us Catholics, yes but not in the way you might expect.

There are very few ordinations a year, and pastors are often spread very thinly, often with two or more local churches under their care. The thing is, even this is too many for the laity. They just can't support the pastors and their families financially, sending the kids through college and all, so few churches want a full-time pastor. By having two or three churches share a pastor (part-time at each church) they can manage the situation somewhat.

Esau

Problem is, we have allowed ourselves to be influenced by the culture that surrounds us... the materialistic what's-in-it-for-me culture that scorns the idea of self-sacrifice.

Celibacy is not the problem... selfishness is the problem.

We need to find a way to not only hand on the authentic Catholic Faith, but to hand on an authentic Catholic Culture to go with it. In fact, I don't see how we can do one without the other.

Pray without ceasing, folks.


Tim J:
You hit on it exactly!

Thanks for this post!

We need to be reminded that the priesthood is not an earthly occupation but one that comes from God alone!

Esau

Publius:
The fact of the matter is that there are those here who have been applying the 'Protestant' model where in certain Protestant circles, the church that a minister pastors actually support that pastor and his family, as correctly mentioned by J.R. (which I myself am acquainted with as well due to my friends who are, in fact, members of such Protestant churches).

About your comment:
The argument that it would be discriminatory to pay priests with families more than priests without families is applying a market model to the priesthood which is really inappropriate. When we put money in the collection plate, it is (in part) to support them in their ministry, not to purchase their services like one would those of a lawyer or a plumber.

Yes, from a 'Catholic' viewpoint, this may appear to be correct. But, you must understand that I was merely exploring possible avenues in dealing with the issue of married priests.

I, myself, was not promoting the idea that married priests should get paid a higher wage than those celibate. If you read my post correctly, you would see that I found this to have its faults, not the least of which among them, the fact that it would appear discriminatory to those priests who were celibate.

I was merely trying to explore avenues here, not saying that those which have been raised are, in fact, at all exhaustive.

Some have raised the 'Protestant' model. Others have brought up the pay issue for priests.

Thus, I'll ask you specifically then, how do you propose to deal with the situation of married priests in terms of these issues and, all things considered, both theologically and as far as the logistics are concerned? Do you find it viable as far as the Roman Catholic Church is concerned?

Mind you, the Eastern Church, the Orthodox Church have historically had an infrastructure in place that have served them appropriately throughout time as far as their married clergy is concerned.

However, given the long history that the Roman Church has had with the celibate priesthood, the transition to that of a married clergy would have a vast number of transitional issues to consider both theologically, logistically, as well as the many unseen repercussions that have yet to be addressed here.

Esau

JEANETTE:

1) I don't know who Fr. Corapi is, and I don't think I know any gay priests, so I can't answer that part of your question.

Fr. Corapi is not gay.
I was simply calling attention to those who would actually generalize the whole clergy as being thus.

2) I doubt married priests would solve the perceived priest shortage. It might keep some priests from leaving, in order to marry rather than burn.

You need to keep in mind what Paul said in I Corinthians 7:7-8;32-35:

"But I would have you to be without solicitude.

He that is without a wife is solicitous for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please God.

But he that is with a wife, is solicitous for the things of the world, how he may please his wife: and he is divided.

And the unmarried woman and the virgin thinketh on the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and spirit. But she that is married thinketh on the things of this world how she may please her husband. And this I speak for your profit, not to cast a snare upon you, but for that which is decent and which may give you power to attend upon the Lord without impediment."


This is why I had implied that given a future priests are actually allowed to marry, where a priest has to handle more than one parish due to the lack of priests out there in the U.S. Roman Catholic Church (not to mention, considering the many parishes we have out there to date even with the closure of some), that a married priest could not really pastor several parishes over the one who is not (i.e., the celibate priest). I mean, a married priest would be dealing not only with the misses, but also their children as well! He would be spread all too thin for such a responsibility!

Just as Paul said: "But he that is with a wife, is solicitous for the things of the world, how he may please his wife: and he is divided."

chris K

I believe that all of the side issues of married priests, salaries, which canon laws can be stretched to serve the needs of these times only show just what state the faith is in within the hearts of the faithful these days.

We like to use numbers as the excuse for not hearing what we just aren't open to hear whether there be a tripling in the vocations or not. Just look at those cases in our Catholic history, during hard times, where just one holy priest converted the hearts of millions and their legacies continue to this day. We have the "ignorant" Cure of Ars - now the patron of parish priests...yet who would follow his example to that degree today? Are confessions not even more necessary today than in his time? The devil in fact telling him that if the world had just three like him it would be converted. Or Padre Pio. There were no internet connections then and yet the whole world heard of him in a relatively short time. His holiness and suffering saved us. Or Francis. And the lesson in all these cases was that not only were they faithful to their vows under tremendous temptations, they took on even more suffering in order to resemble their Master as closely as possible. Their holiness did not come without constant prayer and following the will of God wherever it led ... even to the cross of going against strong personal wills that also wished at times to cut and run. So, we don't need really that many ... in fact we've had many where only a few have caused the hardship and eclipse of the remnant good and faithful ones. It still is possible. It's up to our free wills.

Esau

What's also not being not being addressed is considering the following aspects of the priesthood in the Roman Catholic Church:

- the requirement for Celibacy
- the low wages
- the lousy retirement package
- the lack of support from factions in the church parish (be they liberal, ultra-conservative or just the fact that there is a shortage of members)
- the overwhelming duties that inundate the typical parish priest (be it due to he being the only priest in the church there or because of the many responsibilities that fill his plate because of lack of other necessary resources)
- etc.

That actually, as far as the Roman Church is concerned with all its vast resources, these aspects of the priesthood does weed out those persons who would otherwise take advantage of the Church and are really there for themselves and not for the priesthood.

I mean, given the above, it would seem more likely than not, those truly called by Christ would actually take up this "cross" rather than those who would be in it for selfish gains!

Lisa

It really worth thinking about - in the context of "oh, in the old days, people were willing to sacrifice more" that the real, hard cold truth was for most of Catholic history, priesthood was a step up in terms of status, security of livelihood and so on. The same could be said for women and religious life - when your basic, socially acceptable options were a)marry and have lots of children and maybe die in childbirth at a young age and get no eduction and b)join a convent, be educated (a little), and be free of the great fear that attended chilbirth, not to speak of the possibility of being yoked to a man you did not choose for the rest of your life..

uh...I'll take b).

chris K

Did those "old days" include the '50's?!

Lisa

Chris K:

In ethnic communities, of course. Plus you have the *widely* acknowledge foxhole effect. As in "God, get me out of this, and I'll become a priest."

You know, that business that went on from 1941-45.

Finally, if all of those guys were so marvelously formed and into the authentic priesthood, why were those guys (the guys who came in in the 50's) the guys who led the Church into craziness starting in about 1965?

Fantacize and Romanticize at your own peril

Publius

Plus you have the *widely* acknowledge foxhole effect. As in "God, get me out of this, and I'll become a priest."

If not for the foxhole effect, Martin Luther would have been a lawyer and we'd never have heard of him: he swore to St. Anne that he'd become a monk after being thrown from his horse during a thunderstorm, IIRC.

chris K

Lisa, I wasn't fantasizing, only adding something to your generalization about the reasons for women entering the religious life which painted only an either/or situation. All of my aunts received college degrees back in the '30s and were free to marry or not. Women were entering the fields of law and medicine, etc. And quite a few of the nuns who taught me were not of the either/or dilemma - some were debutants and gave up the "good" life! In fact I would say that none of the nuns who taught me, formed in the '40s entered under the conditions you outlined. I remember one teacher of Latin lamenting that she was able to carry through her vocation because her sister stayed home to care for the parents. She loved her calling ... it wasn't an escape.

Today, just the opposite is occurring with the feeling that because of the materialistic culture (as pointed to by JPII as the new "ism" to fight against) many real vocations are neglected and due to the smaller families parents discourage that life...even when a child shows a true inclination. So the "being fruitful and multiplying" times offered less resistance to the religious life by parents because there were other children to carry on the family name. Perhaps there is some bigger design behind those conditions that create fox holes, in order to replenish the faithful after times of certain wickedness. One could trace such back into OT times for sure...a remnant that holds on until a new flourishing occurs due to just such developments. If the fox hole holds for all (false vocations)...we should have had many more man made religions spewing forth all at once than we did by those particular individuals cited and the percentage of wickedness of the whole would be far greater than it actually was.

And I would say one would be hard put to not find all kinds of perversions within religious life all throughout history -we've certainly not cornered that market ...just not as easily advertised or investigated as in these days. And they were much more out in the open, interwoven into the culture itself and accepted. At least today, when they are spotlighted, there is still the scandal.

And it's also strange that your "craziness" was predicted as far back as Leo XIII and Pius IX:

As Pius himself said, "Since we have fallen on these evil times let us take care first and foremost, as good soldiers of Christ, not to lose heart. Indeed, in the very storms in which we are tossed, there is a certain hope of achieving future tranquility and greater serenity in the Church."

Pius was even forced to flee Rome. In fact the challenges he faced were much greater than what has developed so far today ... but I would say they are now growing to perhaps become quite similar.

With both popes then there was the caveat of a more diabolical influence over an entire century ... than just mere human or sociological reaction to crises. So, things are never as black or white as they may appear or as one would like to easily sum up!

joanne

I am grateful for the voice of reason in the original post, here. In such an emotional storm that voice is a gift. But what I find lacking in the discussion of allowing for married Roman Catholic priests and how that might ease the priest shortage is the "mother's perspective". Most of the reactions I hear in opposition to a married priesthood indicate the extent to which we disrespect the priests we already have. We worry about how much money we will have to shell out and whether or not a married priest can be at our beck and call far more than we worry about whether some of our priests are living in a context that is too difficult to bear; ie, the context of abuse.
True, our Blessed Mother knew that Her Son was sacrificing His life for an abusive "spouse", but that doesn't validate our abuse and our selfishness. While I would give my son regardless of the context if God called him to the priesthood, I would do it with much less pain and anxiety if I knew that his own Church intended to grant him at least the respect due to every man. And, hearing what I hear, I couldn't fault any mother who would shield her son from an abusive spouse. Nor would I accuse a man who prefers the "frying pan" to the "fire" of cowardice, when it might be good sense he is exercising at this time.
I offer the notion that a Church that obviously respects Her priests without indulging them is a more favorable context for their sacrifice. Such respect entails listening; therefore, I am happy to hope that whatever his decisions, Pope Benedict is listening.

Archbishop Peter Brennan

I know a number of priests who have been divorced and returned to full ministry. So the so called breaking of the promise of celibacy is not the issue. It is the marriage and the woman that cause the church a problem. The church needs to take a look at itself.

Even those priests who did not provide for their children or their wives in some way have been returned to ministry. Tsk, Tsk.

It sure questions the morality and ethics of the church when they allow deadbeat dads to return to full ministry.

+PPB Married Priests Now! Prelature

vgl1

I was laicized, and then married in the Church years and years ago. Eventually, my spouse divorced me, and then had the marriage annulled. I have not attempted a second marriage, and have no desire to. Strictly speaking I have never been married, as it were.

I have grown children and owe nothing to my ex. I accept celibacy, and am not looking for any exceptions to the rule.

Under Canon 293 I am looking for a benevolent bishop to accept me so I might return to the active ministry. Yes, I am elderly, but am in excellent health. I can't return to the Diocese I am from, and cannot approach the Diocese in which I lived. In the canonical sense, I may be said to be 'acephali', that is without a bishop.
I have SS and a pension which supports me.

I have had no success in finding this "benevolent bishop" of canon 293. One bishop said that he has no shortage of priest in his Diocese, so he is not interested. Another has not bothered to answer my letters.

I have a good reputation. Anyone have any ideas?

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