“As a priest, I am terribly saddened…”

The following comment appeared in response to the posting on Fr. Thomas Williams.  I think it deserves a wider audience, so I’m posting it here separately.


“As a priest, I am terribly saddened by reading most, if not all of these comments. These comments only mirror the lived experience the majority of priests face on a daily basis from many of their parishioners, especially if a parish school is attached to it. (After all, we excel at telling people in life what they are not doing right but often fail to praise.) I don’t presume to know what happens in any one of my parishioner’s homes, just as they don’t know what happens in my office, confessional, sacristy, shopping at Kroger as we can often be confronted by parishioners at times. I don’t make judgments as to even guess what was going on in his life when this happened. Just as I wouldn’t judge any parishioner who fathered a child out of wedlock, broke a marital commitment or brother priest who has fallen from grace. Rather – as Christ would do – help them see the right path as the stones around them plummet to the ground…or in this case hopefully angry words at how someone we trusted with spreading the message of our faith sinned. My sense, most of us are angry that a popular priest, whom we trusted, has again let us down. Yes, it is terribly disappointing to learn he broke his promises. Yes, it is sad that the Catholic Church is once again being dragged through this mess, again. “Celebrity Cleric Collapses to Celibacy” – doesn’t boost those of us in the trenches. But he is human – weak – vulnerable – and I bet lonely; and to that, I can personally relate. Perhaps you can too! I know when I get on my knees this evening before bed, I’ll pray for Fr. Williams and his family. “This I command you: love one another.”


  1. I have to agree with Father in his comments here.. Why do people forget that priests are real human people? They put them on a pedastil and when they don’t live up to whatever expectations some may have of them right away they bash them etc… Priests are HUMAN.. They have weaknesses and failings like ALL OF US.. They need our prayers more than ever.. While some priests say celibacy is a gift , for others I know it could be hard to live.. I pray for all priests as well as this man who fell just like the rest of us..as to the Priest who wrote this comment, please know not ALL of us look at you as some super human being that can do no wrong..We realize you are human just like us and get lonely, sad, depressed just like the rest of us.. Much love to you father and know you’re in my daily prayers..

  2. ron chandonia says:

    Just as I wouldn’t judge any parishioner who fathered a child out of wedlock . . .

    But I trust you would help your parishioner to recognize that he now has a lifelong moral obligation to the child he fathered. And I hope that the “family” of Fr. Williams for whom you are praying includes his child at the very top of the list.

  3. Robyn: Most of the priests I know would agree that they are human but these Legionnaire priests have prided themselves on their orthodoxy and commitment to Church teachings.

    The bigger they are, the harder, they fall.

  4. Finally a voice of reason. Thank you Father for your wise words. Sometimes the faceless comments in blogs can get rather cold, rather non-Christian in their attitude.

  5. With all due respect to the priest who posted here, I think that many of the reactions are due not to the fact that Fr. Williams was an unfaithful priest, but because Father Williams is another unfaithful Legion of Christ priest.

    The Legion pretended for years that nothing was wrong with Maciel. Certainly he never abused any boys. Then they pretended that he died in holiness. Then they pretended that they were all shocked, deeply shocked and horrified, that he had fathered children out of wedlock, allegedly with at least two different women…

    And even after the Vatican issued a statement that included this quote: “The Apostolic Visitation was able to ascertain that the behaviour of Fr. Marcial Maciel Degollado has caused serious consequences in the life and structure of the Legion, so much so, to require a journey of profound re-evaluation. The serious and objectively immoral behaviour of Fr. Maciel, supported by incontrovertible evidence, at times constitutes real crimes, and manifests a life devoid of scruples and of genuine religious feeling….” from inside the Legion some still raised the possibility that Maciel would one day be canonized, and even the ones who spoke of him as a “flawed vessel” insisted that this flawed vessel was one into whom God still poured out a beautiful true charism, and they kept his picture in places of honor and read his letters in prayer.

    To me, then, the news about Fr. Williams personally is sad and calls for prayer, for him and his partner in sin and for the innocent child who is the real victim here; but the question as to whether any true process of reform has even just begun in the Legion in light of continuing allegations (see here): http://www.life-after-rc.com/2012/05/new-abuse-investigation-in-lc.html and this recent revelation is not only not uncharitable, but a question that must be asked.

  6. …especially if a parish school is attached to it.

    This could command a whole post of its own. God help us.

  7. I dont see how it matters what order the priest belongs to or what they profess too… The point IS, he is human just like you….he has temptation just like you and he may fall at any given time to any thing,….just like…..you…….he needs our prayers and our love. Not criticism….

  8. It shouldn’t matter, yes. But if there is a pattern, then it’s time to see what’s going on with the order. And when you look at the Legionnares and the behavior of their founder – and how he was able to get away with it for so many years because of his “orthodoxy” and with some money involved as well – you can’t but help look at every case involving a member of that order with a jaded eye.

    Not saying that Father Williams doesn’t need our prayers…as I said in the other thread, ALL our priests need our prayers. But here, IMHO, is a great hypocrisy – the tendency of Legionnares to come across as “I’m holier than you because I belong to this order.” Obviously not.

    priests….call each other on to holiness
    priests…..protect yourself against PRIDE and satan’s attacks!

  10. It’s a great injustice to tar the rank and file LC priests with the crimes of their leadership. Most of them are distraught and coming to terms with a great betrayal. And yes most of them are orthodox in their faith. It’s no reason to mock them in their hour of desolation.

  11. Erin, I’ll readily agree that the LC leadership was corrupt and that the order is irredeemably compromised. But I am unable to believe that most of its members are guilty of anything more than misplaced zeal and a perverted formation.

  12. We Catholics will readily agree that we are all sinners. And we’ll eventually get around to agreeing that the correct Christian response is to pray for Father Williams. But don’t we have a sense that that’s too easy? Too lazy? It reminds me of those movies where the Mafia guys would be bumping people off right, left, and center, then you’d see them going to confession. It just does not compute. Yes, we’re all sinners, but some sins are graver than others. Our God-given human intellect enables us to differentiate between various types of sin. Is there anyone on this blog who would say that we shouldn’t “judge” Madoff, or the Nazis, for example? A Catholic priest is not the same as a lay person. A Catholic priest has assumed a position of trust and authority. Father Williams has written books instructing us about having an informed conscience. I have read and recommended his books to friends. I am outraged at his choice of behavior. Oh, and the woman? It takes two to tango. But let us say that we do not have the same expectations of her as we do of our Catholic priest. His choice affects the woman with whom he chose to commit adultery, it affects the child he fathered, and it affects the Church. In failing to say “Get thee behind me Satan,” he has hurt the Church. How many more of these blows from our shepherds can the flock endure before we decide to flee?

  13. But, Romulus, that’s the whole trouble.

    The perverted formation may be responsible for men having been ordained who never really had a priestly vocation in the first place, or were not soundly prepared (spiritually first and foremost, and then emotionally, psychologically, etc.) to be priests once ordained. The perverted formation may be why Fr. Williams could write a book about how to know right from wrong while spectacularly failing to live according to that principle himself. And the misplaced zeal is why many LC/RC members are reacting to this news by lecturing everyone about how uncharitable it is to express dismay that a priest has violated his vows, committed a serious offense against chastity in the context of an illicit relationship, and fathered a child.

    All of that does, indeed, need to be addressed. It needed to be addressed years ago. As an observer of the unraveling situation, I am convinced that it has not yet been addressed with anything like the proper actions.

  14. S. Quinn says:

    Yes, he is human etc. My problem is that AFTER his very grave sin, he went on for years, presenting himself on television, the other media etc. as a faithful priest. This wasn’t one slip but years and years of deception. He only “confessed” because he was outed.
    Again… A single sin, confessed in the sacrament, is none of our business. This is something else entirely, a very PUBLIC act and a very PUBLIC scandal.

  15. Seems like any priests associated with EWTN are dropping like flies lately.

    Father “Black Sheep Dog” Corapi, Fr Francis Mary, Msgr. Eugene Clark, Fr. Kenneth Roberts, Rev. Real Bourque, Father John Bertolucci, Father Alberto Cutie, Fr. Pavone, etc…

  16. Barbara P. says:

    Romulus I agree that many of these priests were victims. But the fact remains that the priests who joined the Legionaires under Maciel agreed to take a vow that they would never criticize a superior and participated in an order that seems to me had all the trappings of a cult. It seems that they were not only victims of Maciel but were also victims of the Vatican hierarchy that apparently approved this vow and was all too happy to accept expensive gifts and cash from the Legionaires. I am in the middle of reading a book “Render Unto Rome: The Secret Life of Money in the Catholic Church.” Obvioulsy I cant attest to its accuracy but the story it tells is very disturbing.

  17. I pray for him, and all priests & religious.

  18. Is celibacy contrary to Natural Law?

    If the Anglicans and Episcopalians may be married, have kids, and serve, let’s let men and women born and raised Catholic do the same.

    The “gift of celibacy” is over promoted. It may in certain cases be a “gift” for the individual who voluntarily choses it. In too many instances, it is a life long struggle forced upon those who wish to serve as priests as a price to pay to be in the exclusive club.

    I hope to see the day when we have married Catholic men and women serving as priests, not just the ones who defected from Canterbury. Let’s also pray for the day when the Vatican has a First Lady. It looks like the Twelve Apostles had one, with Mrs. Peter.

  19. Chris Mac says:

    @Peter, Your comment is “not even wrong.”

  20. Diakonos09 says:

    Amen, Father. Amen, alleluia.

  21. Peter, you labor under so many misconceptions and so much confusion, it’s hard to know where to start.

    If celibacy were contrary to natural law, the withholding of consent in sexual relations would have to be seen as a disorder. Do you believe in free will?

    Priestly celibacy is “forced upon” no one. If there are men being ordained against their will, I think we should be told.

    A married priesthood would ensure that everyone — both family and faithful — would be shortchanged. More than that, it would obscure the sacramental significance of what a priest is. The theological impossibility of a woman priest would utterly overturn, contradict, and violate that same significance.

    We are not at liberty to rearrange doctrines and disciplines to accommodate ignorant impulses, passing preoccupations, and fads. It’s a good thing.

  22. I’m not aware that more than three of the priests you list have had an EWTN presence of any sort, and their difficulties vary widely in gravity. If you’re trying to imply an unwholesome influence on the part of EWTN, that’s just silly.

  23. Huffington Post had Katie Couric’s interview with Father (father) Williams in 2008. He is quite the spokesperson for the Catholic Church, even knows the pope.


    Contrast his demeanor with the more recent interview by Raymond Arroyo on EWTN when the Maciel issue exploded. He looks to me as though he is in shock. I wonder what is going through his head, considering the fact that he has stated that he fathered HER child “a few years back.”


    Addendum: Hope the priests in the Legion do not spend $400 on haircuts! (See EWTN interview.) Is it in their rule that they all must part their hair on the left?

  24. Barbara P, I hope you know it was Joseph Ratzinger who was disgusted by LC perversions and campaigned for years to have them reigned in — as happened VERY soon after his ascension of the throne of Peter.

  25. Oregon Catholic says:

    Absolutely right S.Quinn. It is so similar to the abuse scandal problem. It’s not just that priests committed crimes, it was the coverup. the denials, and the lack of obvious remorse by the hierarchy that has outraged so many.

    I’m afraid once again the culture in the Church has been the cause of why so many people are so critical. You can’t hold out the priesthood as being an especially holy vocation without making such falls from grace seem worse. Growing up in Catholic grade school in the 60s I was taught to believe that all priests were holier and more deserving of respect and reverence than anyone in the laity. The deference shown to the parish priest when he came to the classroom to hand out report cards was total. I remember our sister teacher drumming into us that we had to behave perfectly when the Archbishop came to confirm us, the implication being that it would be a gravely sinful disrespect to his holy person to do otherwise.

    This is the legacy I was given and it wasn’t until long after I became an adult that I could even feel comfortable approaching a priest on a personal level or seeing him as a flawed human just like me. I guess I’m saying that to some extent the Church is reaping what it has sowed when people find out not only are priests just humans but some of them are actually monsters.

  26. “A married priesthood would ensure that everyone — both family and faithful — would be shortchanged.”

    I’m not convinced of this.

    Ministry is not a zero-sum game in which a priest who devotes sixty hours a week is a lazy-a** compared to a guy who serves eighty.

    For people who are accustomed to being serviced by the clergy, perhaps short-changing is called for in order to get them off their duffs and into the field with the other laborers. In a way those who support mandatory celibacy might well be the least traditional and the most modernist of us all.

  27. Barbara P. says:

    If that is accurate the point remains that he had to “campaign for years to get them reigned in”. Why would that not have happened immediately? Why did he have to fight the Vatican establishment for years ? Has there been a complete house cleaning and change of organizational culture in the Vatican that accepted this cult like order? I am not convinced that there has been.

  28. Absolutely!!!! The rosary is our best weapon.

  29. St Paul didn’t think so. 1 Cor 7:32-35 Celibacy is a gift.

  30. Oregon Catholic says:

    Romulus, I think you are probably correct. However, if true it bothers me greatly that Rome (B16) has beatified JPII. How can the 2 positions be reconciled? I don’t believe JPII could have been naive or ignorant where Maciel was concerned because he wasn’t a dumb man. His friendship and promotion of Maciel is troubling to me in the extreme.

  31. The history of the Romans Catholic Church is replete with examples of supposedly celibates fathering children. It was such an accepted/tolerated occurance in the papacy, the the term for a Pope’s bastard child was the “cardinal nephew”. THe Cardinal -nephew (cardinale nipote in Italian) was usually one of the most powerful and favored in the College of Cardinals. They had lavish palaces in Rome, filled with art collections. Such an example trickled through the ranks, and a great many people on this earth have been fathered by priests.
    The situation is not good for a great many reasons, especially the impact on the child. However, isn’t the real problem that the Church has an unhealthy attitude about all things sexual? Really, why not a married clergy and married hierarchy, if they want to? Sexual intimacy and marriage are good paths toward holiness, and not at all incompatible with priesthood. If it were incompatible, the current Pope, in his wisdom, would not be heavily recruiting married priests from other denominations to join us, wives and kids too. Let’s call a spade a spade.
    The world wide priest shortage would be greatly alleviated. Millions more Catholics would be served by this expanded priesthood, more people would find God. Just because something took hold in the Middle Ages, or was a tradition, does not mean that we should be stuck with it forever if it is not really working well.
    I hate to disillusion folks, but I have a well founded impression that a substantial percentage of our male celibate clergy is not celibate 24/7 for their careers. Rather than having a system that encourages sneaking around, dishonesty, lying, resentment, hurting others, why not move ahead with trying for a solution with married priests?

  32. What the Church united with Peter is promised is infallibility, not impeccability. JPII was not a corrupt man, but since he was not much interested in governance, some pretty sordid things were allowed to go on too long. The LCs knew how to share the wealth. Ratzinger flatly refused their largesse, but other prelates were not so fastidious. Maciel and his accomplices were able to purchase a lot of protection in high places. That crowd has now been almost entirely displaced.

  33. Barbara P. says:

    I pray that your last sentence is correct but again, why haven’t they all been displaced? There is no excuse for any remaining within the hierarchy. Respectfully, I dont understand your first sentence. It seems you are making semantic excuses because the reality that these people had (have?) so much control is so depressing.

  34. Midwestlady says:

    This is a gloss because there’s far more that goes on here than you’re intimating and you know it, Todd.

    Laypeople don’t get off their rear ends for a huge number of reasons, and they have nothing to do with whether the priest works 40, 60 or 80 hours a week, how many papers he signs, how many football games he watches or anything of the sort. If a priest isn’t very ambitious, doesn’t work enough and so on, the parish languishes, period. In the American Catholic subculture, that may be regrettable, but it’s still an acceptable outcome and it happens all the time. Laypeople, particularly the kind of laypeople that could make a difference, will usually not come roaring to the rescue for a huge number of reasons of their own, most of them cultural and very, very ingrained.

  35. Midwestlady says:

    Then explain why the breakdown in the Episcopalian and protestant congregations whose clergy can be married is even more aggressive than ours. Your argument is not at all convincing, Drake.

    Marriage is a state in life. It’s no magic pill. It can’t make a mediocre man into a great one, and it’s can’t make a spiritual midget into a holy man. Generally, as all married people know, it usually just results in children which are an appropriate end for that state in life. If this is what you want, then very well, but don’t go trying to imbue it with some kind of fairy-dust magic with respect to religious life, because it doesn’t exist. It’s about babies and underpants and dirty laundry, as much as about anything else. And huge swaths of expense. Catholics who clamor for married priests have no idea how much more they’d have to put in the collection plate to keep a parish open. No Clue.

  36. joe mc Faul says:

    I feel bad for the priest that authored the original post. It must sometimes be a tough and lonely job to be a priest. I am not a “conservative” Catholic but I reject any attempt to suggest there’s something inherent in EWTN or any other conservative organization that causes priests to stray.

    However, Father must also recognize what it is like for those of us misled in the pews.

    We have been repeatedly lied to for decades (six of them, in my case) regarding celibacy. Priests have been held out as ontologically “differnet” and that celibacy is a gift offered willingly.

    It turns out that, truthfully, few priests are celibate. Celibacy is observed mostly in the breach and is the ideal, not the observed norm. Our paster was asked by a group of teenagers what was the most difficult thing about celibacy. He gave a very touching response about seeing children in church who bore a striking resemblance to their parents and how that reflecteded the glory of God, but that he would never have children reflecting his resemblance. He felt that loss but it was worth the sacrifice.

    Very touching…but a flat out lie. he had been “enjoying” youg altar boys for decades.

    Yet he told that lie in front of other priests who knew that it was a lie (because he was “on probation”). I and other parishioners were silly enough to believe him. His truthful answer would have been, “Celibacy is hard. We are all called to sacrifice and all called to chastity. We don’t always succeed but I do the best I can.”

    So now, I realize that all the priests I have known have either not lived celibately or condoned and concealed the non-celibate practices of other priests. I am sorry but that how I treat all priests today. I do not assume celibacy. I do not let my wife and children get into relationships with priests because generally priests are not likely to observe social bounds.

  37. Barbara P, I am not claiming that cardinals were being handed sacks of unmarked bills (though with the LCs, you can’t rule it out). Maybe the largesse took the form of a prelate’s favorite charity receiving a generous donation in his name. Maybe there were stipends or honoraria for appearances at conferences, for high prelates or for the clients they wished to promote. Maybe there were books purchased. Holy Orders isn’t a corporation, in which unsatisfactory executives can be discarded at will. Throwing people away is tidier, but less merciful, and our Lord advises against it. As I’ve said, all the senior curial prelates sympathetic to the LCs are now retired. If there were mid-level or lower men, maybe they have been reassigned or else quietly straightened out — no way for me to know. When I point out the pope isn’t promised impeccability, I am saying that John Paul the Not-So-Great was no more than human, and suffered from human vices, including no lack of ego. Also, for the last years of his life he was a very sick man, unable to roll up his sleeves and shove aside resistance to get to the bottom of things. Finally, as a survivor of Naziism and Communism, he had seen how the Church’s enemies peddle sexual scandal to corner and cow her. It was not surprising that he would be reluctant to accept scandalous reports at face value.

    I am not making semantic excuses. I am asking you to consider the difficulty of overseeing any large organization, let alone this unique culture so alien to our modern, secular sensibilities. Pope Benedict has come an amazing distance in a short time. I don’t know his plans for the LCs, but I am sure he means to bear down on them every bit as firmly as he’s now doing with the feral American women religious superiors, another serious problem decades in the making and similarly resistant to correction.

  38. Joe, I collaborate closely with many priests through my volunteer parish work. I serve Mass for them, go out to eat with them, have them as visitors in my home. I see them “on the clock” and off. As a life-long Catholic I can state categorically that I never caught the least whiff of anything improper about the priests I served as an altar boy. In college I knew one dodgy priest who befriended a roommate of mine for the wrong reason. Decades later, I can think of two or three others who give a gay vibe. While I don’t doubt your story, I need to say that of the dozens of priests and seminarians I’ve known in my life, I can think of very, very few whom I’d suspect of unchastity. I am not kidding myself about what goes on — just letting you know it’s far from being the norm. You need to start hanging out with different priests.

  39. The problem with priests who stray sexually, or with committing any grave sin, is that they cannot live in 2 worlds of influence at once. They can either be the representative of Christ, helping to bring God’s presence into our lives through the Mass, the Eucharist, and the Sacraments, or they are only human, indulging in their sinful side, and can and do commit grave sin.

    When they cross the line into grave sin, and still want to be Christ’s representative, that will not work. They cannot be both at once. Christ could not commit any sin, let alone a grave sin. It was and always has been time for decent priests to be supported, and the pretenders not have authority in the Church. They can be redeemed and loved by God, but they cannot be in authority, and spiritual guides and representatives of Christ, to all of the faithful. Only if they truly stop the sin, and repent and work to make things right somehow, can they start the road back to being shepherds to the flock.

  40. Todd — This is not about lay people having clergy at their beck and call. This is about the priesthood as a vocation, not a job, to which a man gives himself completely or else not at all. I have seen this up close probably a lot more than you, Todd. My best friend from college is a married Episcopalian priest, so I know in intimate, familial detail, all about the conflicts and compromises and shortchangings that come into play. I know that time spent on family duties is time not given to study or to prayer or simply personal time. Protestant clergy frequently burn out, and divorce is very common. Frequently PKs feel neglected and act out in rebellious, unwholesome ways (I have seen this too).

    I am all about getting lay people more involved — my own parish gets at least ten hours a week from me, sometimes twice that — but untrained, unsupervised lay people, usually winging it on poor catechesis half-remembered and secular Americanist mores, can be worse than no help at all.

  41. What you said.

  42. Oregon Catholic says:

    Romulus, how casually you talk of corruption and vice in the Vatican under JPII who has now been beatified in a speeded up process by his successor – who according to you couldn’t wait to clean house. The cognitive dissonance makes my head ache.

  43. Art ND'76 says:

    I do not believe celibacy to be against natural law. Our Savior, the Son of God, stated that it was a gift given to some.

    I disagree that a married priesthood would inevitably shortchange both the laity and the families of clergy. If that were so, then why did Jesus choose the 12 that He did? Benedict XVI has said that the clergy crisis is due to a “lack of fidelity to Christ.” What does it say about the fidelity of the Latin Rite to Christ when many of the 12 apostles chosen by the Son of God Himself would not be considered for the priesthood today, much less the Papacy? Simply because they were married, with wives who were still alive?

    I do not doubt that the discipline of celibacy has been needed, and I do believe that the holder of the keys has the valid authority to impose it. But it was not a discipline imposed by Jesus before His Ascension.

  44. Joe Mc. Faul says:

    Well, all theses priests were assigned to my parishes and Cathoic high schools by three consecutive bishops so I’m stuck with the priests assigned.

    YMMV but I think I’m closer to the norm, I’m afraid.

    What did you do about the “dodgy” priest?

  45. Well, I looked this morning for prayer card that would involve priests (having been rather caught up with the Fr. Williams scandal). I came across one with a beautiful picture of Pope John Paul II. Flipping it over, I read the following:


    Lord Jesus,
    Grant saintly priests to the world, priests who live close to the Eucharist, who have a deep spiritual life, who work and suffer, yet with a joyful heart; priests who dedicate each minute of their lives for the salvation of souls and Your Kingdom.
    Father Marcial Maciel, L.C.
    Founder of the Legionaries of Christ

  46. There was nothing I could do, as I was only a second hand witness. We were in college, in a foreign country. My roommate (not a minor) figured it out on his own before anything got to the point of unchastity, and avoided Fr. R thereafter. Word got around, but there was no official complaint that I know of. Had there been one, Fr. R would have said (truthfully) that the relationship was consensual, not sexual, and with an adult. Maybe the guy would have been thrown off campus; maybe not.

    If you think your parochial situation is unwholesome, you don’t have to worship there. Find another place safer for your family and your soul.

    I continue to maintain you’re mistaken in your belief that most priests are unchaste.

  47. Actually, there is a lot of historical proof that while some of the apostles, and many priests for the first 1,000 years of the Church, were married, celibacy was for the most part seen as an essential aspect of the priesthood. St. Jerome wrote: “The Apostles were either virgins or continent [abstaining from sexual relations] after having been married. Bishops, priests, and deacons are chosen among virgins and widowers; in any case once they are ordained, they live in perfect chastity.” For the Latin Church, at least, the Church’s preference for non-married men in the priesthood was because a married clergy didn’t work. In the Eastern Churches, there is a lot of new historical research that seems to imply that the practice of chastity for married priests was dropped due to a misunderstanding or mistranslation of a letter from Rome. In any case, many bishops and priests of Eastern Churches favor a non-married clergy, and definitely don’t see it as an ideal. Just a few things to think about. Look it up.

  48. Art ND'76 says:

    lalis: I have, and did not include it in my previous comment in the interest of brevity.

    The concept of continence prior to priestly functions comes from our Jewish brethren and old testament scripture. I do not disagree with your statement from St. Jerome (and there are others that say much the same) concerning early church opinion and practice of priestly continence. I also agree that the practice of continence and other forms of spiritual discipline are highly commendable.

    I do have a source in scripture before St. Jerome. Check out what St. Paul says about the rights of apostles in first Corinthians 9:5. He appears to state what I did above: that the practice of celibacy is laudable and praiseworthy, but definitely not required of an apostle. He strongly implies, and there is historical evidence that Peter did travel with his wife, as did other apostles.

    You may object that Peter, while traveling with his wife, was continent with her and she with him. I also see that as entirely possible. It still does not change my statement that the Latin Rite of the Church of today will not consider men like Peter or those married apostles for the priesthood. If Jesus had used the criteria of the modern Latin Rite, He would have limited His choice of apostles to men like St. John. He did not, and that is a message from God.

  49. Art, I understand where you are coming from. We’d both agree that the discipline of the church of non-married priesthood is a difficult one. There are two issues: one of celibacy, and one of marriage. Since the beginning, celibacy was considered a gift, and as time passed, the connection with celibacy and the priesthood grew, both theologically and in practice. I would argue that Christ did, indeed, preach celibacy with his own life, and we have it on good authority that the apostles did, too. So, where did that leave the wives? Where did it leave marriage? It didn’t seem right to have all these sexless marriages (as sex and procreation are essential to marriage) and the Church had an incredibly difficult time reconciling celibacy and the priesthood with a married priesthood. It seemed as if they were taking two vows: one to Christ and the Church, and one to their wives and families, and one was going to suffer. In the middle ages, priests often lived in one house, and their family in another! The Latin Church eventually began to prefer to non-married men for the priesthood, and that’s where we stand today. As the Church continues to grow in its understanding of celibacy, and the possibility of a love-filled life without sex, the more I think that a married clergy will never happen again in the Church.

  50. Art ND'76 says:

    Let’s not forget about our Eastern Rite brethren who are also in submission to the Pope. The Melkites have always had a married priesthood in addition to a celibate one and still do to this day. There are other Eastern Rites also in submission to the Pope with married priesthood alongside celibate priesthood. I carefully used the term “Latin Rite” (sometimes alternatively referred to as “Roman Rite”) when describing celibacy requirements for the priesthood because they do vary according to the Rite in question. That is also why I could see the reasoning behind Benedict’s “dispensation” for the Anglican Ordinariate, since it really comprises its own “Rite” even though it is not formally one, and that type of “dispensation” has a long history in other Rites of the Church that many are not aware of.

    I see the possibility of a return to a more prevalent married priesthood as not requiring a change in the Latin Rite’s celibacy requirements at all. It could simply involve a sizable shift in the preferences of the Laity concerning which Rite they feel called to, which presumes that the Laity know that the other Rites exist in the first place!

  51. Lynne Newington says:

    After reading this story and the comments, no mention from those with Christian charity, of clergy who want to leave, and through valid process within the church and been refused, the main objective- to preserve the priesthood. They would prefer to have the paternal father downgraded to a sexual deviate, and guilty of abuse than release him with dignity, to take his place beside the child he has created and brought into the world.
    With two exceptions: 1. the proposal of living a life of deceit by remaing active in the ministry under the guise of the “brother/sister” relationship with his “sister and child. 2. To runaway together, forced to live a life of subtefuge.
    It appears the Franciscans have a following of these formulas, not being under episcopal governance for many centuries and answerable only to the Pope, and obviously, Rome is far far away.
    Now Cardinal, then Archbishop Malcom Ranjith, is recorded as leaning ever so gently on a brother archbishop to “have understanding”, in responding to such a longstanding request, “due to the element of scandal”, that became a dying friar’s wish, never rescinded on his deathbed, yet still denied.
    We are a church of contradictions, most definately.

  52. Daisy girl says:

    I too grew up in a catholic school where we feared not only the priests, but the nuns as well. I strayed from the church as a teenager but returned in my 30′s. We now have two wonderful priests serving our parish. While they are very strong in their faith filled life, they both come across as human. They have their struggles just like us and aren’t afraid to admit to them. Our pastor has a very outgoing personality and is such a pleasure to have around. Our vicar is very grounded in his faith and is a wonderful example of how to live a spitball life. We are blessed to have them both.

  53. Daisy girl says:

    A correction to spelling in my last post. Our vicar is a wonderful example of how to live a spiritual life. Sorry!


  1. [...] After reading some of the posts in Deacon Greg Kandra’s combox, a priest felt moved to plead for understanding on Williams’ behalf. He writes: “[Williams] is human – weak – vulnerable – and I [...]

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