Deacon Greg notices that the subject of married priests does not come up on the agenda of the Synod for the Family and comments here.
Here are a few of his observations:
- If—and it’s a big if—the rules regarding priestly celibacy are one day relaxed, it does not mean that priests will start dating. Those already ordained will not be allowed to marry. This has never been a practice in the church, even in the Eastern rites (which have always had married clergy.) You can expect that tradition to continue. In a nutshell: men who are married can be ordained, but men who are already ordained cannot get married. It’s a distinction, but an important one.
- Some people in the pews (and in blogging comboxes) have set off alarm bells, asking “How can a parish afford to support a priest and his family?!” I’d encourage people to look at Latin rite parishes that already have married priests (many, thanks to the Anglican Ordinariate). In most cases, the priest has an outside job—often as a teacher, administrator or chaplain—and that income (along with whatever his wife may earn at her job) supports the family. Also, the family usually has its own home and does not live in the rectory.
- With married priests holding down outside jobs, this requires a greater sharing of responsibilities at the parish level, with deacons and lay people taking over many areas that had previously been managed by the priest. If married priests take a prominent place in the life of the Latin rite Church, the people in the pews will need to change their understanding of how a parish operates, and make some adjustments to their own expectations of the priest’s role.
Read Greg’s post here.