Married Priests – the Magic Bullet?

Again today I had a conversation which has been repeated numerous times: “Father, you are so good with the children, and you understand marriage first hand. Don’t you think the church should allow priests to marry?”

First of all there are some distinctions to be made. The first question is, “May priests marry?” or “May married men be ordained?” The first is very unlikely to happen because the Church continues to uphold the fine and ancient tradition of priestly celibacy and a priest has taken a vow of celibacy which is life long and cannot be broken. The second question is more interesting: “May married men be ordained?” The Eastern Orthodox discipline is that married men may be ordained, but priests may not marry. In other words, if you’re already married you may be considered for ordination, but if you’re an unmarried priest you may not marry. This would seem to be in accord with St Paul’s instructions to single men that they “remain as he is” (I Cor. 7.25-27) and his instructions to Timothy on the other hand, that bishops and deacons should be the husband of one wife.(I Tim. 3) That is to say men who are already married to only one woman (he forbids polygamy) may be considered worthy of ordination.

It is the discipline of the Western Church that clerics are celibate, but it is a discipline which could be changed. Paul himself says in I Cor. 7.25 that his opinion that the unmarried remain so is not mandated from the Lord, and implies that it could be changed. Should it be changed? Should we allow married men to be ordained?

It would certainly seem to solve a lot of problems, not only in the West where, arguably, the mandatory vow of celibacy is one of the greatest deterrents to increased vocations, but it would also be a great help in Africa where celibacy is culturally unheard of. It would, arguably, also solve some problems of the modern priesthood in the West. So many of our priests are isolated and alone and a huge number of problems surround the men who struggle with celibacy. So is married priests the answer?

Not necessarily. Having married priests would certainly help the vocations crisis, and they may relate better to married people etc. However, believing that married priests are the answer assumes that they are mature, happily married men. Errr, I’m afraid marriage does not automatically make a man mature, self giving and happy. In my experience of married clergy in both the Evangelical Churches and the Anglican Church it is not the magic bullet. Having married clergy will not necessarily solve the vocations crisis, nor will it necessarily improve the priestly ministry, and it certainly won’t be the solution to the priestly sex abuse problem.

Remember married men are not perfect. Married clergymen are workaholics. Married clergymen are immature. Married clergymen have affairs. Married clergymen have drink problems. Married clergymen struggle with porn and same sex attraction and abuse children. When a clergy marriage breaks down it is usually disastrous and scandalous and the hurt and pain ripple right through the whole church. I don’t mean to paint a horrible picture of married clergy–just reminding people that it’s not all quite as happy and wonderful as they seem to think.

There are other practical problems. Catholics say they want married clergy, but do they want to pay for them? I can get by because I work two jobs–parish priest and school chaplain. In addition to this I speak and write and Mrs Longenecker works. Not all married priests and their families can do this. Furthermore, remember that a married priest and his wife will be living by all the teachings of the Catholic Church. If they’re young and fertile they will have a large family. Do Catholics really want to provide a rectory and the income for a family of 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 or 12? It’s not really cheaper by the dozen.

I think the only movement there may be on this in the future is that the church may decide to ordain some older, married deacons. But the faithful should think it through carefully. Yes, there are problems with celibacy for priests.

Believe me, there will be equal or greater problems if we have married clergy.

About Fr. Dwight Longenecker
  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12134773583909850747 Courtney

    Thank you thank you thank you! I'm so tired of the magical thinking of eliminating the celibacy requirement immediately soves the vocations crisis too! It shallowly assumes that the vocations crisis is only about sex and ultimately ends up merely trading one set of problems for another.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00639369749327986414 Shaughn

    Fr. L,Thank you for this article. It helps to divorce us from simple solutions to what are very complex problems. The shortage of vocations isn't solely a lack of married clergy. Anglicans and Orthodox of all stripes a) have married clergy and b) have a shortage of priests.Another contributing factor, I think, concerns how laity and clergy view the function of a priest, vs. a lay Eucharistic minister or deacon. If a lay Eucharistic minister can give people the consecrated host, give them the chalice, deliver communion to the sick, and so forth, why give up the benefits of secular employment for the burdens of priesthood? Because most of the work a priest or deacon does is behind the scenes, our most visible element is the liturgy, and it's something we have, for better or worse, often ceded to lay control.Increasing lay involvement in the liturgy is a fine thing; the Orthodox do a fairly good job of it. When that increase comes at the cost of clergy's responsibilities, however, I fear that lack of interest in the priesthood results as a consequence.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08758314961163692341 August

    I think it would be helpful.So, I have this sort of scatter-shot, internet driven approach of learning about stuff, and one of the things I have noticed is that confession used to be a much bigger deal- and that folks generally had one confessor. The confessor knew who you were, probably for your whole life and knew your situation. He could help you to grow spiritually.Now, when I think about what it really takes to get back to that, with people going regularly to confession and the confessor knowing them well enough, I run into the Dunbar number- a very interesting theoretical limit to 'tribe' sizes (I highly recommend looking into it). This is a soft upper limit of 150 people. Now, if we had 1 priest for every 150 people or so- things would look pretty different. I've just shoved up the bare bones of an idea that I have, just touching on confession alone. It probably looks flaky, I apologize; I wanted to put this up here so you and your readers will know that a call for allowing married men to be ordained doesn't come from the usual suspects. I think what worked in a smaller population, in Europe, doesn't work for several billion now, and, I think any move in a direction the Eastern Orthodox would interpret as towards them would be helpful as well.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03792937108732259684 priest’s wife

    aaaarghhhh Father! Didn't we just blog about deacons last week needing to set their wives up in different living quarters so they can remain continent (just kidding- sort of)There is no 'magic bullet'- only men called to SERVE the Church and protect their souls with the help of God from the constant attacks from evil.of course- I have written on this subject from an Eastern standpoint :)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03792937108732259684 priest’s wife

    August- even 100 families to 1 priest would be great- the local RC Church here has 3 priests and 3 deacons- great numbers right? -until you realize that is for 15,000 families- church is certainly NOT a place where 'everyone knows your name'

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05810707774675254803 Peter Brown

    Two thoughts:1. Thank you, Fr. Dwight, for pointing out that married men are sinners just as much as celibate men are. I'm pretty sure that the suggestion that married men are (in some useful sense) holier than celibate ones has less to do with any part of the Gospel than it has to do with our cultural inability to grasp that somebody can actually live a full, complete life without being sexually active.2. One thing I haven't seen mentioned in this discussion is the witness of celibate priests in a sex-soaked age. The very existence of a substantial group of men willing to make a burnt offering of their sex lives for the sake of the Gospel is a pretty powerful sign of contradiction for a people with our particular cultural blind spots. That is not, of course, anything like a definitive argument for the discipline of priestly celibacy, but we should at least note that there are positive benefits to the discipline, beyond just the practical ones.3. August, my experience has been that the priests do get to know the folks who go to confession regularly (in my case, I've probably averaged around once a month over the past few years, so it's not exactly like I've been haunting the confessional). My parish has over 1000 families (so around 4000 people); we have (my best guess, based on observation) something over 1000 people coming to Mass each weekend. Given 2 priests for most of that time, the number of laypeople per priest is way over the the Dunbar number, no matter how you slice it.It's not clear to me, therefore, that the underlying problem with lack of Confession is a lack of priests (although the priest shortage certainly doesn't help matters).Peace,–Peter

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16927506431388485893 Altar Ego

    Fr. L…just wondering…..As an older convert – late 50's – the issue of contraception hasn't come up – but does the Church stand against contraception on the line that it interferes with God's natural order? If that is so, wouldn't that be also true of ANY medication that effects changes in body chemistry??

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15268507379933286863 naturgesetz

    Altar Ego — Fr. L. can probably do better, but meanwhile let me offer that the problem with contraception isn't exactly that it interferes with nature. The reason artificial contraception is wrong is that it falsifies the marital act. As Pope John Paul II so eloquently explains in his Theology of the Body, the spousal relationship is an image of the relationship among the persons of the Trinity, as well as of the relationship between Christ and the Church. In both cases, the parties give themselves totally to one another, they belong totally to one another in a love which is unending and life-giving. In the marital act, this total donation of self is physically imaged. For the parties to introduce a barrier, or for them to withhold their fertility in some other way, is to limit their self-giving and to destroy the life-giving potential which is part of how they are called to be the image and likeness of God.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09583237860468104240 Belen

    "Having married clergy will not necessarily solve the vocations crisis"no, but it would help decrease some numbers, you know? "nor will it necessarily improve the priestly ministry" No, but some married people would feel identified with married priests.Some need that sense of identification, that their spiritual counselor not only listens and counsels, but also KNOWS first hand what they're going through. "and it certainly won't be the solution to the priestly sex abuse problem."ABSOLUTELY NOT!!! it's immature and ignorant to think that a married man cannot abuse your children"There are other practical problems. Catholics say they want married clergy, but do they want to pay for them?"1 solution for that is to start creating a culture of tithing in the Church. Start preaching about giving much more, and even tithing.Married priests will have other problems. Not greater but different. Problems the Church can solve. "Everything in life has a solution, except death"

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08758314961163692341 August

    Peter, I'm not suggesting that more priests would lead directly to more people confessing. Rather, I am looking at the past and trying to get some inking of how things actually worked. Impulses towards traditionalism gets you no where in a situation where even 'tradition' has been changed. To that end, let me suggest that celibate priests do not, and indeed cannot provide any real symbolism in this sex-soaked age. For a symbol to work, it must be seen; a celibate man looks pretty much the same as a single man. Single men are what the sexual revolution has wrought. Celibacy used to be much more of a sign, because more people were married. This is a commitment problem, not just a problem of not having enough men for the priesthood.So, to be clear, celibacy is a good thing. I just don't think it flies as a visible symbol. Babies, in this abortion soaked world, seem to be better symbol…

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10959196612796771847 Fr. Jay Toborowsky

    Two more potential problems:A married clergy would change the nature of Priestly assignments. As it is now, celibate Priests are (in theory) easily moveable. A married clergy would mean consideration would have to be given to the employment of the Priest's wife. Also, what about children and the question of transferring schools? The whole dynamic of obedience would change (what my Bishop wants vs. what is best for my family).Also, another result of the question of a parish's ability to pay a living wage to a married Priest would, I believe, create a division between parishes in affluent areas and those in impoverished places. Parishes with better collections and more money would be able to afford housing and the support of a married Priest and his wife/family. Parishes that can only afford a single Priest would be out of the competition for such clergy families. Also, what would a married Priest have to consider about having his wife/children live in a parish in a dangerous neighborhood?

    • Nobody

      The money issue is what will kill this idea in America, if numbers of people ever start thinking things through.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12858120820470784593 Anneg

    Fr L, I thought we didn't resort to magic:) Just wondering if the experience of the Anglicanorum Coetibus will be a proving ground for some of these questions in the modern world. But, someone mentioned that the most important thing is having a call. I pray every day for vocations in my parish and for some of my grandsons (only 1 so far, so this is in faith) to be called to a vocation. My only son is already married, so no chance there.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10705270251238023966 Quanah

    Thank you, Fr. L, for this insightful post. Another thing that occured to me is that many who call for a married priesthood see the priesthood more as a job, rather than a particular way of life. I imagine they often think a married priest would be just like them, except they hear confessions and offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. The fact that married clergy are called to continenece (of one degree or another) flies in the face of this type of thinking. Though in our sex-soaked society when would someone ever consider continence.

  • http://catholic4areason.wordpress.com/ catholic4areason

    I think it needs to be said as well that being a pastor's/priest's wife isn't the easiest job in the world either. There are men who leave Protestant ministry because of the strain of ministry on their families. The priesthood is very different from Protestant ministry–you don't just stop being a priest because it doesn't work for the family. Also, if your kids are in the Catholic school and there are problems, that wraps the priest into these problems on a much more personal basis than if his children weren't involved. Then, of course, there are those who homeschool. How would it go over with the parish if the priest doesn't send his kids to the parish school?Nope, there are a lot of dynamics that come with a family that most priests don't have to deal with.I admire you greatly, Father, for doing what you are doing. My husband also worked another job while pastoring–he was hardly home and when he was he was in his office. It's not the bed of roses so many people imagine. Even with a great parish (and we had a great church), it just isn't easy.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09322135500288738561 Bender

    It is the discipline of the Western Church that clerics are celibate, but it is a discipline which could be changed.I would suggest that 1800-1900 years of the tradition of a celibate priesthood, combined with an ever-increasing understanding of the theology of Holy Orders (as well as the theology of Matrimony), combined with Jesus Himself not being married, is a pretty strong indication from the Holy Spirit that this has become something more than a mere "discipline," much less one that could be changed. More than once the Church has seen what started out as a mere traditional practice or belief become doctrine.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09322135500288738561 Bender

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09322135500288738561 Bender

    the spousal relationship is an image of the relationship among the persons of the Trinity, as well as of the relationship between Christ and the ChurchSpeaking of that increased understanding in theology.A celibate priest is already married. He already has a spouse — the Church. The relationship between priest and Church, like the relationship between Christ and Church, is, or at least should be, a spousal relationship. A relationship that, in the fullness of virginal love, is both unitive and fruitful — it involves both communion of the priest with the Bride and bears the procreative fruits of, not only spiritual children (parishioners), but the other fruits of the Spirit of Love, namely, further love and charity, kindness, gentleness, generousity, and patience, goodness, faithfulness, modesty, chastity, and self-control, as well as joy and peace.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09627986880884206811 flyingvic

    Father, I'm intrigued by your idea of a 'magic bullet'. Does it work on the mother-in-law?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16376858784972563684 Archaeology cat

    altar, to add to what naturgesetz said, contraception is used as a means of divorcing the procreative and unitive aspects of sex. A physical barrier interferes with both of those, and hormonal contraceptives at least interfere with the procreative aspect. All hormonal contraceptives also have the potential to act as abortifacients – as far as I know there's no way to know how often this might happen, but the package inserts on the pill admit that this is one of the ways the pill works.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12373317560249811006 Fr Longenecker

    Vic–yes the magic bullet works on mothers in law. However magic bullets are very difficult to find these days as the demand outstrips the supply.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05118747216132040457 Ismael

    I am not sure that married priests would solve the vocation crisis.Perhaps we would have a few more people to join the holy orders, the ones who reconsidered them in order to get married.However, looking the trends in Anglica, Protestant and even Orthodox churces… well the 'vocation' for priesthood (or being a preacher in the protestant case) is still quiite meager.I think that to improve vocations we must improve our evangelization and extended into new media more effectively.I am not, a priori, against married priesthood, since it's a canonical rule and not a theological one, yet I do favor towards the celibate priesthood. It's a sacrifice, sure, but a worthy one. Nothing of value comes cheap.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09955441929057516259 David

    I appreciate your analysis and I think it should also be pointed out that it could be a difficult life for a priest's wife and children as they might sometimes be held to unrealistic expectations by the rest of the parish. I think you are correct in thinking the only change we might perhaps see in the future would be the ordination of some mature married men whose marriages have had long-term stability and whose children have already reached adulthood.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09375821456239515443 Steve

    I would like to highly recommend the following article from First Things,titled: Celibacy in Context. The author is a married Byzantine monk.Celibacy in Contextby: Maximos Davieshttp://www.firstthings.com/article/2007/01/celibacy-in-context-48

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06349146033236890779 Giovanni A. Cattaneo

    Dear Father,As you may know I am very traditional in my views and I do attend only the TLM it is thanks to the discovery of this Mass that I stayed a Catholic, though not the only reason. I never had a chance to discern my vocation as I got married before encountering the Tridentine Mass. As with many other things that this Mass opened to me was the idea of a vocation (married, celibate, religious) and at the same time the richness of our 2000 year old Faith was opened to me. I was at this point angry and confused, why wasn't I taught any of these things? Why did my catechism not explain to me things clearly? I have been fed mush for 20 years and left a Church that I was never given the opportunity to know. I can almost tell you with certainty that I had I discovered the TLM a year before I got married I would have at least considered the Priesthood. And if tomorrow the rules for the West were to be relaxed as far as married clergy I would be talking with a priest that same day about going to seminary. However does this mean I am going to be picketing Rome with signs of married clergy now, of course not. Protesting is for protestants. I pray, pay and obey.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08110491371985845560 kentuckyliz

    I would never go to Confession with a married (or apparently sexually active) priest.(The parenthetical expression means, I wouldn't go to Al Cutie while he was still a Catholic priest, but after his bit-o-stuff became known and published. Publicly celibate, but apparently sexually active.)If a married clergy were normative, I would have to seek out religious order priests for that sacrament.Hey, anyone can be "ordained." My ECUSA brother went online to the Universal Life Church and did it. I went ahead and also ordained his cats (all who have human names).http://ulc.net/index.php?page=ordain

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16454624391767903943 CAADA

    How about just obeying the wisdom from the Bible found in 1Timothy 3:1-5, and in Titus Chapter One, for SPECIFIC qualifications for those in ordained ministry?Paul had something to say about the men Jesus chose to be His aposltes, in 1Corinthians 9:5.How about trying it God's way, for a change, and just for the sake of OBEYING HIM?Opinions are like belly buttons, everybody has one. What WE think is immaterial. Unless our opinion squares with what the Holy Spirit, the Author of the Bible, and Jesus, the HEAD of the Body of Christ say, toss it out. Mandatory celibacy does not square with what is in Scripture.Let's keep it simple & structure the Church HIS way. It's time to stop taking Bible wisdom out of context, to make it fit with our own opinions.End mandatory celibacy for clergymen. Any priest, bishop, cardinal and pope should be allowed to marry a woman at any time in their life. Give women their rightful place in the church.According to specific Bible verses that apply to the ordained ministry, and according to universal Church Tradition (St. Patrick's grandfather was a Roman Catholic priest, and his father was a deacon), priests are ideally, married men.Even in the Old Testament, when a man took a "Nazarite Vow" to be solely devoted to God, his vow was threefold: 1) to not touch the fruit of the vine (wine) 2) to not cut his hair and 3) to not touch a dead person.No man devoted to God promised never to marry. It was unheard of. If only fellow Catholics (the men in the Vatican included) would just read the Bible – and OBEY it.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06349146033236890779 Giovanni A. Cattaneo

    @CAADAIt is times like these that made me wish I had a nice thick king james near by so I can throw it at your thick skull. I doubt it, but it may knock some sense in to your heretical head. For once that book would do some good aside from fulling my camp fire.Here a couple of fun facts1. The Church precedes the Bible by 400 years.2. The Church precedes your version of the Bible by 1600 years3. Jesus Christ founded a Church not a book. 4. Jesus Christ gave his authority to men not a books. Since you claim to take Bible so seriously take these verses seriously. 1 Timothy 3:15John 6:53-65Take them seriously and repent.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/04103806100012342518 felicity

    I think priest who are in their late 40 to 60 should be able to marry…. especially those who are close to retirement. I meet priest who feel so used up and left to fend for themselves with no family, they get depressed turn to alcohol and are very very lonely… Jesus chose married men to be priest.St Peter was married as well as many others…. If Jesus didnt want married priest he wouldnt have chose them from day one…. The protestant pastors have familys and do good and spread the gospel… Satan is having a hayday with the church on this issue….God intended man and woman to be together….. Men are men and it is not normal for a man to be alone !! GOD DIDNT DO THIS THE CHURCH HAS DONE THIS TO OUR PRIESTS AND THEY WILL PAY….

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06349146033236890779 Giovanni A. Cattaneo

    St. Paul would have disagreed and still does.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16454624391767903943 CAADA

    Giovanni – I like you. You're funny. By the way, I am a life-long Roman Catholic and I read a Roman Catholic Bible, not a King James version.But ALL Bibles say the same thing: for specific qualifications for MEN (not women) in ordained church leadership, they are to be married, with children, St. Paul reasoned, "For if a man cannot manage his own family with dignity, how can he take care of the Church of God?"About your lack of credence for Biblical wisdom, according to the Roman Catholic Church, Who is the real Author of the Bible?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06349146033236890779 Giovanni A. Cattaneo

    @CAADAI should apologize, I assumed you were a protestant that was unfair, to protestants that may read this of course. For they may not know and hence may not have sinned but you claim to know so I say your sin remains. You are heretic if anything you are a better example of one as all of the protestant reformers were at some point were "life-long Roman Catholics and I read a Roman Catholic Bible." The contemporary protestant has the excuse of not knowing any better, what do you have? but a cunning forked tongue filled with poisonous rebellion against divine authority. Just as all great heresies you hide your insidious malice behind Sacred Scripture by taking passages and twisting them to serve your own purpose or rather that your master that is Satan. As he is well known to know how to quote Scripture as well. Yet as it was said by a great Saint of the Church I would not believe the Gospel its self were it not taught by the Catholic Church.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15634235894433276073 Nan

    felicity, priests stand in for the bridegroom and are married to his bride, the church. The best thing you can do for these priests is to pray that they always remain focused on Christ so they bring Christ to all. Yes, they're human. Yes, humans get lonely. If marriage were the solution, married men would neither claim to be lonely and screw around on their wives nor become alcoholics. Priests retain their human frailties.In re: vocations shortage. I don't know about where you are, but where I am, our seminary is chock full and we'd love to keep it that way. Praise God that we have a good, solid Bishop who shares church teaching with all and leads by example. He asks us to refrain from eating meat on Friday's year round to join his intention to foster vocations.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/04241086014013583564 Verdad y Libertad

    Seems that here is forgotten the meaning of presbiter, being an elder, experienced, mature, tested in life but yet fallible as the apostles. Jesus chose 90% married men and the exeption was the celibate. Shouldn't we look at the statement He make doing that? The system used in the weste is insane. The east reflects better the original church, nevertheless is still imperfect. Peter was is married, still after the training didn't get it, deny Christ etc. True, there is no magic bullet. Holyness is the nectar of the life of the church and what vreally sustain the vitality of the Church. We need more saints, true Christians that live the virtues of the Tree of Life.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09627986880884206811 flyingvic

    "Catholics say they want married clergy, but do they want to pay for them? I can get by because I work two jobs–parish priest and school chaplain. In addition to this I speak and write and Mrs Longenecker works."I must admit I blinked at this. Does your church not take seriously that "the labourer is worthy of his hire"? In the CofE we are certainly not paid a princely sum; but the clear understanding is that we are to be paid sufficient to live on so that no other job is necessary. For our priests there are to be no paid obligations beyond their given ministry.When I was a curate I was a member of the local ministers' fraternal: one Roman, one Baptist, one Methodist and four Anglicans. We met weekly for prayer, breakfast and discussion. The two who could be guaranteed to have read the same radical theology (and have the same opinion about it!) were the young Roman curate and the elderly Baptist minister. (The Roman was part of a 'priestly' family: his father and brother were also Roman priests.) When we discussed celibacy, the young Roman looked at the two single Anglicans and said: "They tell us that celibacy makes us free to do the Lord's work in the parish at any time, day or night, because we do not have family ties to consider. What they don't tell us is that, living in a clergy house, if we're not there at six o'clock when Mrs O'Hooligan puts the dinner on the table then there's hell to pay! You guys, single by choice or circumstance and looking after yourselves, you're the ones who are truly free."

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05118747216132040457 Ismael

    @ CAADAYour interpretation of 1 Tim. 3:1-5 is incorrect: here St. Paul is NOT saying that a bishop must be married (several bishops in Paul's time were not) but that a bishop, if married, should be married ONCE.Paul here is making a case against divorce and re-marriage and agaist polygamy.In the Orthodox Church (and eastern Catholic rites as well), where married priesthood is allowed, they still prohibit bishops to be married nonetheless.—You say St. Paul advised:"For if a man cannot manage his own family with dignity, how can he take care of the Church of God?"Quite true but this does NOT imply one should be married to be a clergyman!Instead that a married clergyman should be able to manage his family otherwise he will hardly be able to manage his flock.Analogously, a psychologist who deals with children problems does not have to have children to be competent at his job. However if said psychologist is incapable of controlling his own kids… then one might quite doubt his ability.This advice from St. Paul actually can be seen as an argument AGAINST married priesthood: a priest should rather dedicate his whole life to his flock, instead of dividing himself between a family and a flock.Hence a priest competence does not depend on him having a family and a family COULD actually be a problem (not necessarely though, it could also be a blessing), since the priest might care more about his family than his flock, neglecting the latter.The point is that being a priest is not a job.A priest should not be someone who cares about his flock from 9 to 5.Being a priest is a calling and a privilege.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12373317560249811006 Fr Longenecker

    Vic, if Catholics had married priests they would pay for them. They're just not used to it.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09627986880884206811 flyingvic

    Sure. What I blinked at was the way you said you 'got by' because you had two jobs, plus your writing, plus your speaking, plus your wife having paid employment. I was aware that my young Roman friend wasn't paid enough to have to pay income tax; you make it sound as if your basic pay is still not enough to be a 'living wage'.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08537382347604754135 Br. Tom

    To Fr. Jay Taborowsky: Thank you for your comments. I agree with you wholeheartedly. One of the great blessings of the Catholic Church is that we can be found all over the world, including in the poorest and most dangerous places. This is due to our celibate clergy. When you go to the poorest and most dangerous regions of the world, you don't see Lutheran, Anglican or Methodist churches. I have no doubt that it is because their married ministers don't want to bring their families to these places- understandably. I feel that having a married priesthood would eventually lead to divisions within the clergy between those who chose celibacy and those who chose marriage because the celibate priests would be pressured to take the poor parishes and those in dangerous areas, while the married clergy would be in the wealthier or more desirable parishes.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09583237860468104240 Belen

    Giovanni A. Cattaneo: for something to be inspired by the Holy Spirit, it has to be in the Scriptures and/or in the Sacred Tradition. Please provide 1, at least 1 example of a bible passage or a revelation on the patristic documents that indicate that God himself commanded His Church to restrain priesthood only to celibate men.By the way, it is my duty to say to you that telling someone "It is times like these that made me wish I had a nice thick king james near by so I can throw it at your thick skull. I doubt it, but it may knock some sense in to your heretical head" isn't exactly christian or charitable——————–Fr Longenecker: you say "if Catholics had married priests they would pay for them. They're just not used to it". Again, that's a problem that can be solved by, e.g., creating a "culture of tithing". Catholics weren't used to receiving the Holy Eucharist on the hand either, still, they got used to it. —————————Br Tom, it's funny to see how the historical evidence contradicts what you say. I mean, for aproximately 12 centuries the Church had married clergymen and there were still no divisions between celibate and married priests, at least not of the kind you suggest.

  • http://danightman.livejournal.com/ danightman

    I can think of one thing that can be opened up by allowed married men to become priests, as in Eastern Orthodoxy (and some eastern uniate Catholic churches too if I am not mistaken).Those in charge of discerning the spiritual fitness of any candidate to the clerical state would be able to observe how that person handles his priestly role as head of the domestic church. Or would that still be an added level of difficulty?Your thoughts?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06309931644080246027 Catholic Defender

    Why would a church that believes in Christ and life, promote a lifestyle that does not allow men to marry and have children? Can you image the number of children who would have come into the world and may have followed in dad's (the priest's) footsteps? It is frightening. I'm sure God will be asking us this question.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06349146033236890779 Giovanni A. Cattaneo

    @BelenAs to your first question that would be too easy for me to respond if you are too lazy to do the homework I am not going to do it for you. It is simply a ridiculous thing for you to say. As to your second contention first the truth is the greatest act of charity one can give to somebody. However you seem to confuse charity with niceness, I am not a nice person, never have been, never will be. However I do try to be a good person, were I not to rebuke a person on error I would be guilty through my silence of approving of what he said. My conscience which is shaped by the teachings of God's Holy Church would not permit me to do so uncharitable act as to leave my brother in the darkness of his heresy without proper instruction. Nice? No. Charitable, ALWAYS.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16454624391767903943 CAADA

    Giovanni- Will you please define "charitable" for me? You wrote you're always charitable.But I've read your last few posts, including the one you wrote to me. I find neither your tone nor your choice of words, "loving". I define charititable as "loving". How do you define it?Perhaps it is because this blog is in written form and it may sound differently than it would if a thought is shared, or perhaps one's language of origin makes it sound different, but I just do not interpret your comments as the least bit loving. Please, your response?As an FYI – This is my first time on this blog, although I have posted to others, and on similar subjects.It appears as if we're discouraged from thinking about our faith on this blog; instead, we're encouraged to maintain the status quo, thereby avoiding any growth in our faith. The same muscles used daily would prevent us from maturing in our faith.Of course, I want to know Jesus more and more every day – and the best way to know Him is through His revealed Word, the Holy Bible.The sacred Scriptures is the ideal way to become transformed into a character more like Jesus, who was the epitome of charity.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15268507379933286863 naturgesetz

    @ Belen & CAADA Giovanni A. Cattaneo is what is known in blogging as a troll: someone who just likes being inflammatory. If he were really interested in correcting erring fellow humans as he says, he would actually explain to them where their error lies, not just tell them they are heretics and give scripture citations without giving an explanation of what he imagines they have to do with the case. If he were sincerely interested in correcting error he wouldn't make supercilious remarks about refusing to do people's homework for them. It is the antithesis of charity to want to throw a bible at someone— that is not fraternal correction.I believe (as he seems to) that the Church has a right to impose clerical celibacy as a discipline, but he's a troll, and the proper treatment of trolls is to ignore them.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05118747216132040457 Ismael

    @ Catholic Defenderif that was true thank vocations for preachers in the protestant world or for priesthood in the Orthodox Church would be rampant… but they are not!!! Most children do not follow their father footsteps these days anyway.—ALSO being a priest is a VOCATION not a profession!It is something one must decide not because of their dad's job, but because they desire to serve Christ as priests!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14719254501639795592 EWTN Rocks

    CAADA – Congratulations on having the most logical and compelling posts on this topic.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16454624391767903943 CAADA

    Thank you: EWTN Rocks! Also, Naturgesetz: your point is well taken!This is a very important topic that can, and should, be broached not only among pew people, but in the Vatican too.The time has come to make this formerly "non-discussible" topic, [per JPII] discussible.The Vatican's image is badly tarnished. It appears as if right now, the Vatican leaders are much like the wizard, in the Wizard of Oz, who had the curtain pulled back by Toto (in the form of the secular press), revealing men that are small physically, and sadly, perhaps even small spiritually, yet who have been able to sound bold & strong, by using a system they have enjoyed since the Middle Ages.The wizard used a voice enhancer. The Vatican uses the mystique of the clerial culture.But it's time for pew people to step to the plate now, and become engaged with our Church. We do have a role in the church.The Body of Christ is not to sit in pews, merely being "takers"allowing our priests and bishops to become "Sacrament Dispensers" for us. We must be concerned with matters of Eternal Value, as our faith life is of critical importance, when we consider eternity. We ought not be satisfied with giving only money, or "time, talent and treasure" as they call it today.No. We must become involved in our faith lives – becoming active in making our church healthier. We owe it to the next generation. And we owe it to ourselves, to God and to our clergy, that is expected to abide by rules established by the Vatican.Step One is for pew people to read the Bible, the Word of God, and Step Two is to obey it. God will honor our loyalty to His Word, by bringing health to our church.Ending mandatory celibacy will also give women their rightful role in the Church, as priest's wives. Women, per Scripture & universal Church Tradition & the Deposit of Faith, are not to be ordained to ministerial priesthood, as women are never to be pastors over men.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00321116582419879267 marflu

    Have you kept up with Ed Peters interpretation of of Canon Law and continence of married priest and deacons?http://canonlawblog.blogspot.com/

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02990567091971514921 David C Nicoll

    Looking after a family of 12 only needs a church of 120 adult members. If they all tithe ;-) ……..

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15268507379933286863 naturgesetz

    David C. Nicoll —You seem to have forgotten that in addition to personal maintenance, there are also the operating expenses of the parish itself that must be provided for. Most Catholic parishes are fortunate to cover expenses without maintaining a pastor's wife and children; and there are a lot that can't even do cover their current expenses as it is..

  • rosanne

    You say, “Remember married men are not perfect. Married clergymen are workaholics. Married clergymen are immature. Married clergymen have affairs. Married clergymen have drink problems.”

    The same can be said of celibate priests so what’s the point? If we limited medical school to celibates, we’d lose out on many quality MD candidates and the same is true for RC priesthood. We cannot afford the fewer priests and limits on candidates that mandatory celibacy requires in an age where the number of catholics per priest have doubled since 1970.

  • http://annalesecclesiaeucrainae.blogspot.com Father Athanasius McVay

    “the mandatory vow of celibacy is one of the greatest deterrents to increased vocations, … Having married priests would certainly help the vocations crisis.”
    I think this is pure myth, as far as the western world is comcerned. In Eastern Catholic/Orthodox Churches in affluent, materialistic societies there is an even greater vocation crisis than in the Latin Church. I am told this again and again by my married-priest confreres.

  • John Burt Polhamus

    I think another reason against married clergy might be that, as the church clearly has a sex problem (unrelated to heterosexual marriage), adding more sex to the equation might not be the obvious answer to the conundrum. Better practice of celibacy might be a remedy which provides more immediately positive results. Also, since pederasty has been a major problem, and not just in the church but in society at large (indicating homosexual relations between grown men and pubescent boys, and amounting to a veritable ethos among the “gay” set), and since 90% of the true pedophilia – there is a BIG difference – is directed at girls and occurs among married men with children, adding married priests not to mention altar-girls to the current sex problems of the church might just be the accelerant that consumes it utterly (aided, we might suspect, by an unknown element which enters the church for just the purpose of destroying it in that way). In my humble opinion, if Paul’s advice to remain as you are holds true for individuals, it ought to hold true for the church as a whole.

    • Frank

      Incest is also a great problem for society. Can’t we assume that is a heterosexual ethos? Or does being Catholic entitle you to tell any lie you wish about homosexuals to incite hatred and violence agains them?


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