Irish Married Priests?

The Irish Independent reports that the majority of Catholics in Ireland want married priests and women priests. Why I don’t understand is why they don’t just nip along and become Anglicans. They will immediately have all their wishes fulfilled. There will be other benefits as well:

  1. They won’t be expected to attend Mass every week.
  2. They won’t be expected to be against contraception and abortion
  3. They can have gay marriage and lesbianism
  4. They can still be ‘Catholic’ (just not “Roman” Catholic)

If they want a church that conforms to the world, the Anglican Church is just the ticket. This is what is called “Erastianism”–in other words a state church–a church that goes along with society rather than challenging society. The best thing about being a Catholic today is that increasingly the Catholic Church is counter-cultural. It’s subersive. It’s making people mad. Powerful people.

And when this happens an amazing power is unleashed. Catholicism finds its voice.

Apologetics 101
Atheism or Catholicism - You Choose
Here's Why You Hate Round Churches
Abortion and Obi Wan Kenobi
  • Lindsay

    Those are my thoughts when friends and family express these sorts of ideas, but my only response to myself is, “well, at least they ARE still Catholic.” There must be *something* of truth that they perceive in the Catholic church for them to remain in it and not readily move to Anglicanism.

  • annie

    A good question and one I’ve asked myself – often.

  • priest’s wife

    …I hate it when a longstanding tradition such as the possibility for married men to be ordained deacon/priest is mixed up with women ‘priests’

    but that’s just me.

  • Peter Brown

    I think such folks don’t want to become Anglican because that would entail admitting that they aren’t fully Catholic, when they’re convinced that they are. It’s a kind of mirror image of the Anglo-Catholic’s dilemma—for the Anglo-Catholic, swimming the Tiber would entail admitting that there’s something deficient about the Catholicism of Anglo-Catholicism, which many Anglo-Catholics are unwilling to do.

    In both cases, the person wants to believe himself (or herself) Catholic without acknowledging the indispensable role of the hierarchy and its teachings in being actually Catholic (in the sense of “according to the whole”). It’s an inconsistent position, of course: trying to be individualistic and non-individualistic at the same time and in the same matters.

    Equally of course, however, it’s entirely understandable how someone might come to such a position, particularly under current circumstances; the entire intellectual and spiritual atmosphere of the West has been strongly individualistic for centuries. Even apart from that, though, repentance is just flat-out hard (read: impossible for us sinners apart from God’s grace).

    As long as these Irish folks remain nominally Catholic, though, they’ll remain exposed to (and to some extent identified with) an institutional voice calling them higher than themselves. So at least they’ll be playing somewhat better odds of coming to resolve their inconsistency in the correct direction.


  • Alan

    The Anglicans tried to become everything to everybody.
    They ended up becoming nothing to nobody.
    This is a powerful lesson.

  • Julie Culshaw

    At a retreat here in Halifax, a priest of the Companions of the Cross was asked just those questions – would the Vatican consider married priests? His reply “yes, the Vatican would consider married priests, but in this day of 50% marriage failure rate, why would we want to promote marriage amongst an already-stressed clergy?” He also pointed out that, here in Canada, no Anglican married priests who have become Catholic are given parishes of their own. They have to have another job to pay the bills, and they are associates or in organizations other than parishes. There simply isn’t the money to pay for the priest and his family. People forget to consider the cost of a married priest; besides the priest, you have his wife and children to support. And then if a divorce should happen, whoa, you’ve got a parish paying for alimony and child support too. What a mess!

  • passon

    but why there are oriental catholic priests that are married?

  • tubbs

    And they would have had it easier during the Hunger, had they merely converted.

  • tubbs

    BUT THEY DIDN’T CONVERT. May God’s grace come back to them.

  • priest’s wife

    Passon- in many of the Eastern Catholic churches, we have retained the tradition of the possibility of married men being ordained (there are still celibate priests, of course- traditionally they would be monks)- I have some good links about the tradition in the sidebar of my blog.

    about money- it really depends on the community. Our church is so small, it couldn’t support the priest (my husband) let alone a family. But the ‘mega’ Roman-rite parish that my husband assists at (he has bi-ritual faculties) supports their celibate priests very well- giving them more in stipends and benefits than my husband gets as director of spiritual care at a local hospital. One of their priests owns a plane and regularly flies to distant locales. But yes, I’m sure that money would be a concern for many parishes.

  • flyingvic

    I believe St Paul tried the same thing, but without trying to score cheap points.
    This too is a powerful lesson.

  • flyingvic

    “Catholicism finds its voice.”

    What a shame, then, that this Catholic voice spends so much time speaking unkind half-truths about the Church of which he was once a valued and trusted member.

    Have you nothing to speak of to Catholics about Catholicism? Or to non-Christians about the faith?

  • Deacon Ed Peitler

    There is only one proper response to the Irish sentiments: gather a team of orthodox Catholics and do missionary work among the Irish to re-evangelize the Emerald Isle. The Irish were generous enough from the mid 19th century on sending missionaries to the USA, we could now return the favor.

  • flyingvic

    So the objections to the married priesthood in the Roman Catholic Church are not theological at all, then?

    They would seem to be:
    a) We’re happy to put the stress of a single life-style upon our clergy but not the stress of a married life-style;
    b) We’ll feed and house a priest but not his family;
    c) We’re frightened of alimony and child support; and
    d) We don’t trust a married man to run a parish.

    As a married Anglican priest whose wife goes out to work, whose son is a civil servant and whose grandchildren are utterly delightful, those reasons all seem pretty lame to me!

  • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

    You’re correct Vic. The utilitarian arguments for or against the married priesthood are all red herrings.

  • Jedesto

    “They can still be ‘Catholic’ (just not “Roman” Catholic)”
    Wrong! They would not remain “Catholic” at all. The modifier “Roman” adds nothing to “Catholic”.
    I have been a Catholic for 88+ years–since my baptism at age 10 days–and I have always identified myself, and been known, as a “Catholic”. Is there ANY reason that I should call myself a “Roman” Catholic” instead?

  • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

    that comment was tongue in cheek…

  • Ronan

    The reason married priesthood has been raised in discussion, on those few occasions that I’ve heard it discussed, is because of a shortage of priests. In my neck of the woods, the bishop has visited parishes to tell them the last of the priests will be dead in a few decades and so we will become a church of laymen. That people look at practical solutions like ditching the vow of celibacy is only natural. To equate such a suggestion with supporting infanticide … well, I can only respond to that by telling you where to go in that good old anglon saxon phrase.

  • savvy

    I have more respect for the Protestant reformers when I come across Catholics like this. They were honest enough to get rid of the Mass and the sacraments. These people want to have their cake and eat it too.

    They don’t want to be fully Catholic and don’t want to be fully Protestant either.

    They do sound Anglican.

  • tzard

    Note that the poll was conducted by a group with a vested interest in the results. The news article correctly states: “… liberal clergy have found.”

    I wonder from whom their flocks have learned the truth about these important issues?

  • veritas

    No he didn’t!

    He witnessed to all, and this way was all things to all men, but without ever cheapening or lessening one jot of the truths of the Christian faith.

  • flyingvic

    “To them all I have become everything in turn, so that in one way or another I may save some.” (1 Corinthians 9.22)

  • veritas

    Please don’t quote verses of Scripture out of context.

    St Paul in all of his epistles absolutely condemned any teachings or actions that were contrary to the faith. So obviously the comment in 1 Corinthians does not imply that he “adjusted” his moral teachings, like the Anglican Church does, to suit every cultural whim of the various communities to whom he witnessed.

  • flyingvic

    veritas, please read and understand the context – both of the verse and of the discussion – before you accuse others of quoting “out” of context.

  • SteveD

    Father this is exactly the question that I have posed several times to the Irish Association of Catholic (sic) Priests on their website. I never get a reply so still have no idea why they just don’t go ‘down the road’ but how I wish that (if they really cannot accept the Magisterium) they would.

  • Novus Catholicus


    So what the bloody hell are you talking about “context” with regard to St. Paul’s “all things to all men”? Do you imagine St. Paul telling us by such that we should be, like the sorry state of your happily and peacefully united Anglican communion, “chums” with the world?

    If your Anglican evolutionary and modernist theologies would easily adapt to what the world says in contradiction to what has been handed down by historic and objective Christian theology, then consider this:

    “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.” (Gal. 1:8)

    “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?” (2 Cor 6:14)

    Ah, it is because of the Anglican church’s top priority to accomodate the trends of the world that gets into your head that is why you pick and choose what you want to believe! Sorry, authentic Catholic faith believes in objective Revelation. So if you ever think that the Christian’s belief and attitude is something that he or she (or it) must figure out because it is creative tension, ongoing revelation, and nice-sounding-openness-avoidant-of-narrow-minded-romanism (“ya know nobodies know the mind of God, ya know), then be honest with it: your religion is plain sentimentalism, a man made creature that you conjure according to your whimsical fantasies. The Catholic faith once labelled it as the beast of Modernism. Thank goodness, a Pope saint once condemned it by name, that although it is wreaking its havoc among us Catholics, it has already killed your peacefully and happily united Anglican communion.

  • flyingvic

    Novus catholicus, I confess I haven’t got a clue what you are talking about – and neither do you, for you do not know me at all.

    Do I really need to spell out the meaning and context of my comments? Alan disparagingly commented about Anglicans trying to become everything to everybody. I replied that St Paul claimed to have done just that; and when veritas jumped in with, “No he didn’t!” I quoted chapter and verse. When he still complained I invited him to consider the context: “I behaved like a Jew . . . as if under the law . . . as if outside the law . . . I became weak . . . I have become everything in turn . . .” In short, I was talking about St Paul, veritas was talking (for whatever reason) about moral theology and you were talking about . . . well, goodness only knows what you were talking about!

  • savvy

    You are saying all the right things the wrong way. I do agree that we orthodox Catholics are more knowledgeable, but we need to also be charitable. Or you end up sounding like this.

    I agree with the church 100%. I am just fed up of the lack of charity on ALL sides. It goes something like this.

    Liberal: “You are a poor indoctrinated soul. Blindly following whatever the Vatican tells you. Learn to think for yourself. You anti-woman, anti-gay hating, faux news watching zombie.”

    Conservative: “You are an ignorant hippy, brainwashed by Jesuits. You should go become a Protestant, with your happy clappy guitar masses. I will report you to the Pope, for attacking Holy Mother Church.”

  • veritas

    I have. Don’t assume that because I don’t agree with your interpretation of a verse that I therefore have not a good knowledge of Scripture.

    One thing I know for certain is that St Paul was no Anglican. He condemned every heresy that the Anglican Church is now embracing.

  • Novus Catholicus


    Ah, so I didn’t get you? Ok lemme see…

    (1) According to the article, Fr. Dwight says that if you want a church that goes with the trends of the world, you just join the Anglican church. Plain and simple. You have the women and gay stuff, abortion, contraception, and whatever else you want… The Anglican church is “a church that conforms to the world”.

    (2) Alan says Anglicans try to become everything to everybody…

    (3) You, flyingvic, say that St. Paul tried to be just that! (*my comment* Why in the world would St. Paul be mentioned in replying to Alan? Are you saying that Alan’s words directly quote St. Paul when Alan is most probably seconding Fr. Dwight’s assertion that Anglicans conform to the world? You seem to be implying that St. Paul’s “all things to all men” is a justification for the Anglicans being “chums” with the world)

    (4) Veritas says “No, he didn’t!”

    (5) You gave that chapter and verse to insist that St. Paul probably supports your idea of Anglicans-justified-for-being-chums-with-world.

    (6) Veritas answers you back that St. Paul’s “all things to all men” does not support your Anglican doctrinal modernist relativist mindset. “St. Paul was no Anglican!”

    (7) Novus Catholicus comments that you, flyingvic, are using St. Paul to mean what Veritas understands you were saying: you are a doctrinal modernist-relativist. (Are you not, vic?)

    So what did I misunderstand Vic? ;-) Sorry, if you feel so sensitive… And… I have followed this blog of this Catholic priest for a long time, so I know you Vic and your feelings (oh, what a big deal fer ya!) when this Catholic blog comments on the state of your happily and peacefully united Anglican church.

  • Novus Catholicus


    Feel offended by the seeming lack of charity according to your estimation?

    Well, have you ever engaged in discussions or debates savvy? If you feel offended when ideas are attacked, then you should stay away…

    But… attacking personal lives irrelevant to a discussion is a different thing… Sometimes, it is called string “below the belt”. And I hope we do not do that here. And in Christian charity, yes, Savvy, remind everyone that they should be charitable when they chart through an individual’s personal territory.

    But as for discussions again, have you ever heard about rhetorics? Oh, it has nothing to do with personal attacks, my dear! And here, G.K. Chesterton is my favorite! How he would send shivers into the spines of his opponents (in discussion) when he would vigorously attack their mstaken ideas. It is a pity that not even Fr. Dwight is as close to Chesterton in the intensity of bringing home the message ;-)

  • flyingvic

    Why do I feel I’m running through treacle here? Why do you keep imputing thoughts to me that are yours rather than mine?
    1. Father frequently mentions the Anglican Church, (Why?) but does not always tell the whole truth about it. To build a case upon your reading of him, therefore, when attacking the Anglican Church, is to have shifting sands beneath you.
    2. Agreed – but was it a serious comment or a ‘smart’ one?
    3. Why? because “all things to all men” is a fairly clear echo of what Alan said and of what St Paul said. It is frequently used as a derogatory description, but in the sense that St Paul uses it, it shouldn’t be. “Chums with the world” is your spin, not mine.
    4. veritas appears to think that when St Paul said, so to speak, “all things to all men”, he didn’t actually mean “all things to all men.” No, I don’t understand that objection, either.
    5. I gave the chapter and verse to show that I think St Paul really did mean, “all things to all men.” Who are these “chums” you keep talking about?
    6. I have a doctrinal modernist relativist mindset? Really? And your evidence is . . .?
    7. Oh, is THAT what you were talking about? You really don’t know me, do you? So what did you misunderstand? just about everything, it would appear!

    And I don’t think I’m any more sensitive about the attacks on the Anglican Church than many of those who leap out of the wordwork on here to defend what they see as attacks on their Roman Church; though I would counsel you against the use of sarcasm – it is the weakest form of wit.

  • Novus Catholicus

    Ah, Vic, so let me repeat this to you,

    Fr. Dwight says, that the Anglican church is “a church that conforms to the world.” And Alan says that “Anglicans try to become everything to everybody”– you reply YES to this remark of Alan. (And my gosh, just because Alan says “everything to everybody” you equivocate that with St. Paul’s “all things to all men”. Goodness gracious!). And therein lies the problem… because you equivocate St. Paul with what the Anglican church is doing. Not a chance, Vic! What Alan was talking about has nothing to do with Anglicanism’s Erastianism and your hurt feelings regarding what Fr. Dwight and most of us see about the Anglican church.

    So, you are grossly misunderstood by us Vic? Then, why not articulate your mind? Tell us what you believe about objective Revelation, about the non-ordination of women, about the plain unscriptural stupidity of same sex blessings which your Anglican church happily proclaims in the spirit of openness? Ah, let me think. You seem to have articulated yourself more than once about those things Vic… which gives us a fair idea of what you are. Why not state plainly what you believe in, so that we may not misunderstand you? Accuse Fr. Dwight of not telling the truth about the Anglican church? I guess you are the one who misunderstands him…

    And Vic, to be plain honest, if you have issues with what Fr. Dwight is writing and you are hurt by it, then don’t complain if you are engaged with sarcasm but with truthfulness just the same regarding what we see as your church’s relativism. And besides, is this not a blog of a Catholic priest? Is he not free to say what he wants regarding Catholic doctrine and about the Anglican church vis-a-vis the Catholic faith? If you are hurt by it, then go and start your own blog, and nurse your own hurt feelings there…

  • Vladyk

    It’s interesting how all throughout the later middle ages and increasingly after the Reformation, you have Catholic priests complaining how the majority of the lay people are practically pagan, you don’t find them telling those people, “go on and join a pagan group, there you can be happy being pagan, and we the pure will remain!”
    What i’ve always loved about Catholicism is how ingrained it is on a deeper level, a parish where everyone recites the catechism line and verse and thinks like one hive mind, just seems creepy…

  • Novus Catholicus

    No, Vladyk, you got it wrong. That is not the way how Catholics work. And it is not a “we-pure” vs. “you-damned” either.

    Don’t you notice that we have hordes of sinners in the Catholic Church? And by golly gosh, you can bring up the case of the worst of sins in her history. Don’t you notice that the Church doesn’t drive those worst of sinners away? Or tell them to join another church?

    But look at her history: the moment you have severe cases of people who want to believe what they want, who want to change the paradigms of what is right and what is wrong, who go nuts why Apostolic tradition and the Magisterium won’t agree with their outlook, then the Church reacts… And yes, she has the severe medicine from Apostolic times: excommunication!

    Why is this so? Does it mean that the Church takes sins and crimes lightly while she goes nuts with those who question her doctrine? No, it isn’t that way. But look at it this way: a person who sins but with his paradigms intact on what is right and what is wrong as taught by the Church can be reformed, however slim the chance may be. But a person who changes the paradigms cannot be reformed: because the standards by which things are judged and understood are now different, even corrupted. Ever wondered why the Lord Jesus when He started His public ministry said: “Metanoiete!” (literally translated as meta=change/noia,nous=mind) Mk. 1:14

  • Vladyk

    Wow, thanks for the lesson. I know what the church teaches, and what the church requires. However, there is a big gap between what’s on paper and what actual happens. In actuality, i.e. historical facts, the church has always tolerated widespread lack of conformity with its teachings. The vast majority of Catholics in history have received their faith as network of customs, practices handed down, and would fail a catechism test or an apologetics match. They’ve also ignored in large part what priests told them to believe and do. That’s the reason that most dissenting Catholics have no problem staying in the church, they’re able to recognize instinctivly that there is much more than what can be said in religious practice. In practice(i.e. outside of documents) such conformity has rarely been required.
    I also want to point out that given the traditional Catholic attitude towards religious liberty, priests would have never taken the attitude “go start your own church!” The attitude has always been that it’s better for there to be Catholics in error than ex-Catholics in their own ecclesial communities.

  • Vladyk

    It’s funny, Father, historically a priest who suggested that dissenting Catholics join a different church would be suspected of dissent himself since the church has not historically recognized that heretical groups have a right to exist.

  • Pompous Ass

    I have become rather suspicious of reports stating that a majority of Catholics and/or Catholic priests want this-or-that. Please note that the report in the Irish Independent gives a number for this group of priests (some 800, they say – I wonder, how many of these priests know that they are members of something), but the Irish Independent doesn’t report a) how many Catholics were interviewed in this poll, b) how many parishes participated, c) how many Catholics responded at all (other than “leave me alone”) and d) how many Catholics were in favour of the demands of this group. I have only found that they claim the support of “a vast number of Catholics”.

    Similar polls have been tried in Austria by Prof. Zulehner (may the Lord have mercy on him). If I remember correctly, he tried polling the Catholic priests in the Austrian dioceses for their opinion on a reform of the Church. About 20 % of the priests responded, most of them in favour. And now, please, try to imagine how this was spun in the media …

  • flyingvic

    You really should be more careful in reading what is written before you get on your high horse to reply.

    Nowhere have I accepted completely what Father or Alan had to say, nor did I say that Father didn’t tell the truth. I did voice the opinion that he doesn’t necessarily state the whole truth in what he says about the Anglican Church, and that is a very different thing altogether.

    I did not say that Alan and St Paul were saying and meaning exactly the same thing. In answer to a ‘smart’ comment I suggested that there was an echo in it of St Paul’s ‘all things to all men’, as indeed there is.

    Of course this is not my blog, that’s why I visit to read and to comment but don’t stay to preach.

    “Ah, let me think.” If only you would.

  • savvy

    There was only One church and still is. So off course the church does not want people going astray.

  • savvy

    Dissent has it’s limits. If someone wants you to create a new sun in the sky, then they have to leave because this is not possible.

    The Protestant reformers new this which is why they rejected the Mass and nature of sacraments.

    Today’s dissenters want to have their cake and eat it too.

  • Little Black Sambo

    “Ok lemme see”

  • Little Black Sambo

    “There was only One church and still is.”
    No more to be said, then.
    (Thank you, Vladyk, for your civilized comments.)

  • savvy

    This does not mean others can’t believe as they choose. Heresy is basically calling something Catholic when it’s not and teaching others to do the same.

  • savvy

    The issue was these heretical groups were not different religions, but off shoot of the church, that held themselves up as the truth.

  • Joe

    Vladyk. I think your replies are not valid since this thread pertains to the Irish. The true reason the Irish will never join the Anglican church is the simple reason that this is the “Den of Iniquity” which oppressed them from 1690 to 1922. Your replies might be relevant for other nations but not Ireland.

    The 80% or so of Catholics who are Cafeteria Catholics mainly quit attending Mass rather than frequenting another religious establishment. Your response must acknowledge and address the unique situation in Ireland before it can be deemed relevent . The deep hatred of anything English still exists today among Irish and Irish descent . Forget the Ecumenical spirit when it comes to the English.

  • Sean

    Lots of Irish Catholics are making their own decisions. That means house churches are full, people are being real and ‘National Catholicism’ challenged…

    Catholic Church – give it what you have because of recent years its been pretty poor …. The Catholic Church will come out stronger, smaller and more relevant …

  • Irenist

    As Joe said above, Irish people are liable to convert to anything before the Church of England, for all manner of historical reasons. However, most, however disgruntled, are unlikely to formally convert at all:
    It can be hard for a denomination-hopping Anglophile convert with Amish ancestors like Fr. L. to understand, but to many Irish, changing their religion would be as absurd as trying to change their ethnicity: it’s not about doctrine (to which little thought has been given), it’s about tradition (to which much loyalty is given). The Catholic Church is not just a home for those steeped in the apologetics subculture; it is a tent big enough even for people who have no interest in doctrine and lazily take their opinions about sex and gender from the newspapers. We’re all sinners, yet the Ark of the Church carries us all.
    For more on the cradle/convert dichotomy, Mark Shea has a helpful essay:
    Less arrogance from those of us who try to follow Magisterial teachings would go further to change hearts than trying to shove today’s prostitutes and tax collectors out of Christ’s Church. Given how many Irish have remained loyal to the Church despite decades of catastrophic episcopal mismanagement of pedophiles in Ireland and America, the newfound appetite among Irish Catholics in Ireland and America for the anti-clericalism of people like Ireland’s Taoiseach Enda Kenny is unsurprising: people are enraged by what they see as hypocrisy.

    Humble apology and non-dismissive listening to their misguided opinions about sex and secularism are the Christian response, and the best way to save souls. “Don’t let the door hit you on the way out,” is the antithesis of the way great saints like Dominic treated the heretics in their day. Pray for their return to obedience, not their exit from the pews!

  • Steve

    High irony that a married man who is also a Catholic priest should rail against Irish Catholics who happen to want the option of marriage for Catholic priests. You know, Father, if you are so fully opposed to a married priesthood, you didn’t have to seek ordination in the Catholic church. But you did. As a married man. Ironic, no?

    Still, I’m glad that the Vatican has opened itself to the possibility of (some) priests being married–roughly a thousand years after that option was taken away in the Latin rite. Nothing about the ministry of married priests such as yourselves seems to make you incompetent or neglectful of your priestly duties. Perhaps you are evidence for the argument that a married priesthood (optional marriage) can once again work in the Catholic church? Or are you convinced that you and your formerly Anglican brethren possess some special grace that other married Catholic men could never possess?

  • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

    I’d rather they stayed in the Catholic Church and did a back to basics course…

  • Irenist

    Then it sounds like we’re in complete agreement. Y’know who’d be a fine, inspiring instructor for that course, btw? You.