My blogging neighbor, Father Dwight Longenecker, is one, and has a few words of advice for anyone who thinks he might be called:
I am now receiving a good number of phone calls from men all over the world who wish to also be a “married Catholic priest.” There are, however, certain rules of eligibility so after I have listened to their conversion story I stop and ask them these questions. If you’re thinking that you want to be a married Catholic priest. Here’s the list:
- What denomination do you belong to now? If you’re other than Anglican or Lutheran your chances of being considered for ordination to the priesthood are not impossible, but slim. If you are a member of a small independent Anglican denomination and were ordained into that group your chances are not so good.
- What is your educational background? If you went to Podunck Bible College for two years and then completed a degree in underwater basket weaving your formation will probably be considered to be lacking.
- What is your work background? Experience in the church matters. Being a part time Anglican priest for six months while you worked at Home Depot is not best.
- Were you baptized as a Catholic? If you were baptized as a Catholic, then left to become a Protestant, then you are formally guilty of apostasy or schism. This usually presents an obstacle to ordination. So you Catholic guys who want to leave, become Episcopalian, get married, get ordained then come home to Rome. Sorry. It won’t work.
- Were you ever received into the Catholic Church then left? Same thing as number 3. Being guilty of formal schism or apostasy is an impediment to ordination.
- Were you or your wife married before, and is that former spouse still living? If you are in an irregular marriage your application will not be approved. It is possible that you might be approved if you go through the process to seek a decree of nullity for the former marriage from the Catholic Tribunal, but it’s complicated. An annulment from an Anglican diocese or some other authority doesn’t count.
- Were you ordained as a Catholic priest then left to get married? The pastoral provision does not provide for men in this situation.
In most situations the advice is, “If you are called to the Catholic Church, then obey the call and become a Catholic. The call to be a priest is a different call which must be discerned once you are in the Catholic Church. Come on home and buckle your seat belt. You may soon be experiencing some turbulence.”