Below is a very good report looking at the life of Fr. Larry Blake, a married priest in Minnesota.
Father Andrew Cozzens with the St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity said, “Well it’s actually a sign of how important the Church sees it that only the Pope can give this permission.”
Fr. Cozzens says this exception should be viewed as a positive ecumenical statement rather than a statement about what church discipline should be.
He adds while certain things in the church remain unchanged, exceptions can be made for disciplinary norms, including celibacy.
“So what we’re saying is Fr. Larry Blake was already a minister in his Christian congregation. When he becomes a Catholic it makes sense to let him continue that ministerial role as a Catholic priest. So ecumenically we want to respect what he was versus to say it makes sense to have married Catholic priests in general. We still believe that it makes sense priests would be celibate,” Fr. Cozzens said.
The Catholic Church’s history with celibacy goes back as far as church scholars know, but before the 12th Century there were married priests. Those men were required to takes vows of continence, meaning they were not allowed to live as husband and wife. Since the year 1139 only celibate men were ordained. In 1999 when Larry Blake became Fr. Larry Blake he joined a group of about 70 or so married men who came to the priesthood from other denominations.
Fr. Blake’s been a priest for 12 years now and a married man all throughout with three children. His most recent Christmas card looking like any family man’s.
Fr. Blake said, “Does my married life make me better? Again, I would hesitate to answer that. I have had people tell me, they say, ‘Father, I really want to talk to you about my family because I know you’ll understand.’ So that comes up quite a bit; so people will say that. I have such a high regard for my fellow priests too who are celibate and have made a different decision. So I’m hesitant to say this is better than another way.”