My short answer is yes and no.
On one hand, yes, there will be female Roman Catholic priests in my lifetime because there already are. As my fellow Patheos blogger Tony Jones has noted, there already are “renegade Roman Catholic priests who just happen to be women.”
On the other hand, a recent New York Times article on “Catholic Church Unveils New Home for Ex-Episcopalians” perhaps tips the Vatican’s hand for the foreseeable future: “Since the Vatican’s grant of an exemption from celibacy in 1980, scores of Episcopal priests have joined the Catholic priesthood, remaining married.” Currently, “It’s been very clear to everyone that these married priests will be an exception, that celibacy remains the norm…. It’s an act of generosity to these communities so they can come in with their pastors, and maintain the bond that has developed between them.”
However, perhaps the new norm within my lifetime, will be married Roman Catholic priests. After all, Peter, the so-called “first pope” had a mother-in-law (see Matthew 8:14 and parallels), and the only way I know of acquiring a mother-in-law is through marriage! And the Eastern Orthodox Christians have always allowed married priests. Priestly celibacy is a peculiarity of Roman Catholic Christianity that gained dominance in the Middle Ages. Ironically Anglicans, a branch of Christianity birthed from a king’s desire for divorce and remarriage, may be the occasion for catalyzing the passing away of Roman Catholic priestly celibacy as normative and mandatory.
The Rev. Carl Gregg is a trained spiritual director, a D.Min. candidate at San Francisco Theological Seminary, and the pastor of Broadview Church in Chesapeake Beach, Maryland. Follow him on Facebook (facebook.com/carlgregg) and Twitter (@carlgregg).