11 Confused Thoughts On Married Priests

11 Confused Thoughts On Married Priests April 28, 2014

Since I seem to have a predilection for controversial topics, and for no particular reason other than this is a frequently recurring topic (see just yesterday) and I want to have a place to point people to when they ask me about it, here are some confused thoughts about whether the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church should allow married priests as a matter of course. (EDIT: my Patheos co-blogger Fr Dwight Longenecker, who’s a married priest, and awesome, has done me the pleasure to write up some thoughts of his own.)

  1. Right off the bat, the things that must always be pointed out: no, priestly celibacy is not a dogma of the Church and it can be changed; yes, the Church had married priests as a matter of course for a thousand years, and still has married priests in her Eastern Rite churches, and in the Latin Rite through the pastoral provision and the Ordinariates (and perhaps other exceptional cases). So this isn’t something that poses an insurmountable doctrinal problem.
  2. But this can’t be the end of the conversation. After all, the Holy Spirit is not only active in the Church through doctrinal decrees. And in any case, prudential concerns very much apply, starting with Chesterton’s Fence.
  3. The first thing is that the reasons commonly advanced for allowing married priests fail to convince, namely as an answer to the “vocations crisis.” First of all, many denominations that also accept married priests have experienced a similar vocations crisis. Second of all, it stands to reason that the celibacy requirement creates self-selection on the part of candidates. If the past few decades have taught us anything, it’s that it’s better to have a few holy priests than many corrupt ones. (You understand what I’m saying: not that celibate priests are necessarily holy and married priests necessarily corrupt, but that the celibacy requirement creates a selection effect that, at least it is reasonable to suppose so, increases the “average holiness” of the seminarian “mix”.) Thirdly, there is mounting evidence that the vocations “crisis” is abating. In the various jurisdictions I know of, on both sides of the Atlantic, seminary entry is either leveling off, ticking up, or even showing real sustained (not always modest) growth. And finally, most importantly, the Church is not some big corporation that needs to adjust its HR policies based on the vagaries of the labor market. The Church is the Body of Christ; the Church does not recruit priests, it is God who calls men to the priesthood; the Church must thoughtfully and prayerfully discern the will of her Lord.
  4. Speaking of which, there is a serious aporia there. Where the Church has married priests, it is related to historical contingencies, whether it’s the Eastern Rites or the Pastoral Provision/Ordinariates. Nonetheless, we have to believe that it is true that God Himself has called these men to both the vocation of marriage and the vocation of priesthood. If He called these men to these two vocations at the same time, can we seriously think that He is calling no one to these vocations in places without Eastern Rites/Ordinariates? The answer may be yes. But I think it’s a real question, and it deserves serious prayer and thought.
  5. Priestly celibacy has lots of practical advantages for the Church. Every priest I know works basically 24/7. Since we’re dealing with practical considerations, would the Church really get more “priest man hours” if there are more married priests but married priests naturally spend less time on ministry? A celibate priest is married to the Church and dedicated to her. If the Latin Rite allowed married priests, there’s little doubt I would be studying for the priesthood right now–maybe that’s the best argument against married priests! But when I try to imagine it, I have no idea how I could be a good priest and a good husband and father (though I’m sure many married priests are just all those things).
  6. As somebody pointed out, there are lots of other practical concerns: the Church, which is always short on cash, would have to pay married priests very differently to allow them to support a family. There would be housing questions too. The point is that this is something we need to study very carefully and thoroughly, from every possible angle. I mean, there’s a wealth of experience and data on what married priesthood is like, both inside and outside the Church. Let’s not reinvent the wheel. Let’s see actual, rigorous studies, on every imaginable metric, instead of speculation. Pragmatic investigation is not decisive, but it should definitely be part of the conversation.
  7. Please don’t do it through the bishop’s conferences. This was one suggestion. “Let each bishop’s conference decide.” No. No no no no. This way lies madness.
  8. On the other hand, I really like the fact that in the Eastern practice, the priest’s wife is the parish’s “mother” and also has a role in the parish. It sounds like such a helpful pastoral thing on so many levels to have parish “mothers.”
  9. Relatedly: is this model sustainable for the future, or is it tied to cultural norms? Will wives of priests, most of whom will presumably have advanced degrees, really want to be parish mothers? A (celibate, Latin Rite) priest recently told me that several Eastern Rite Churches are moving towards celibacy because of social change; namely, in many places, unofficially, being pastor of the parish was something that was passed on from father to son; and now, as elsewhere, the sons don’t want to take over the “family business” (and young women don’t want to marry seminary students); and the priests who are taking over are often celibate. This is all hearsay and anecdata, but it’s an angle worth pondering. Maybe priestly celibacy is the most modern option, and married priesthood works, but works best when tied to certain kinds of social structures that are by and large going away (I say all this with no value judgements and as a hypothesis).
  10. I honestly fear the slippery slope, especially on the timescale of the Church. I’m grateful for our married priests, Eastern and Western (hi Dwight! Hi Patrick!) and I think the Ordinariates are wonderful, and I can see all sorts of reasons for allowing married priests in various limited ways. But it’s impossible not to think that, with more and more exceptions, through no coordination and for no particular reason (see point 7!), over several generations, the married priesthood, though still technically an exception, would in fact have become the default (think of how the use of the vernacular in the Mass is still technically supposed to be an exception…). A robust theological and pastoral case for married priests is something the Church must be open to, but if a “default-married” priesthood simply “happened” I would very much view that as a tragedy.
  11. Last but not least–frankly, what my gut tells me, and what I keep coming back to, is this: particularly now and for the foreseeable future, it seems to me that society everywhere has a great need for the apostolic witness of chastity, of the power and beauty of chastity; if anything we need more of it. Because of her Latin Rite’s tradition of priestly celibacy, the Church proclaims this virtue better (or, at least, louder) than any other denomination, and it’s hard not to see a Sign there. Priestly celibacy is one of the greatest gifts from God to His Bride. It was unknown in Judaism and in the Greek and Roman world, and Jesus gave it to His apostles, who gave it to us. Consecrated celibacy is holiness, in the literal sense–it is to be set apart by God and for God. Between her profusion of religious orders and her celibate priests, no Christian denomination cultivates this precious fruit as much as the Church. It is hard not to think that this is a treasure very much worth safeguarding.

Hey, I warned you that these would be confused thoughts.


The Best Defense Is A Good ..."
"The point that leapt out at me from this post is the complaint that atheists ..."

The Amazing Incuriosity Of The New ..."
"I'm glad to see the atheist reaction against New Atheism becoming more widespread. Although it's ..."

David Hume Against The New Atheism
"Which may indicate you don't actually know the Gospel. Tell me: if you died and ..."


Browse Our Archives

What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Not so confused. I like your thoughts. Mainly perhaps because I’ve come to the same conclusions.

  • NicholasBeriah Cotta

    I think available time is the most important practical factor. During one homily, our pastor was noting how he recently got a phone call from a local hospital requesting a priest to baptize a newborn who might not make it. He said he asked them, “Why do you always call the Shrine?” and they responded succinctly, “because you’re the only ones who answer.”
    Our parish has four priests, which make this 24/7 service practical – to parishes with only one celibate priest, the individual must obviously find it tough to be spiritual counselor, building administrator, accountant, etc. etc. while routinely baptizing newborns in the middle of the night. It is literally as taxing as to be married to the church as it is for me to be a dad – to do both will see a suffering of quality in both, I have no doubt.
    As for the most important spiritual factor, the idea of heaven sums it up for me – we are going to a wedding feast, and to prepare ourselves, we should understand our own marriages here on earth as deeply as we can – two concurrently muddles the picture! If the history of the Church has allowed concurrent sacramental unions (in Anglicans and Easterns currently obviously), it does not mean we can’t contune to bind and loose as we see fit to deal with the practical nature of the world. We are always striving to be perfect as our heavnly Father is perfect.

    • nurses and hospital staff are trained to perform emergency baptisms- ‘all’ one needs is running water and the Trinitarian formula- at the local Roman-rite parish, there are 10,000 families- how is one pastor and an 85 year old retired priest supposed to make it to every emergency?

  • I resemble these remarks. I keep going back and forth on it, and my thoughts mirror yours.

    But here’s a cautious case I’d like to see tried: the reversal of previous declarations of laicization for men who left the priesthood to get married, *after* either widowhood or with the express permission of the wife and after all children are at least 18. I think it would provide an influx of men into the priesthood who have experience with family life, and therefore would provide fresh insight into certain pastoral problems.

  • I certainly agree that ordained married men to priesthood in the Roman-rite as a response to the vocations crisis is going too far- at the local mega-parish, there is 10,000 families, 1 pastor, a retired priest and 10 married deacons- this is the solution. Properly formed the deacons can celebrate baptisms, weddings, teach RCIA, etc, but they don’t have the authority of consecration and confession- I think this is a perfect middle way for the Roman rite

    • Dan13

      I think this is the current solution–merge urban and suburban parishes into “mega-parishes” and turn rural parishes into mission parishes where one priest is responsible for two or three locations. Deacons, sisters, and lay ministers will have to add administrative and pastoral work.

      Although, I think “mega-parishes” may not be a good idea in the long run as they can be less personal. If there are only one or two priests for 20,000-30,000 people, it’ll be tough for both the people and the priest. In addition, closing parishes are painful for people and can cause silly turf wars between volunteers (my parish recently merged with another). Worse, I think a few people will leave the church because of mergers.

  • but- celibate priests working 24/7? hmmmm….maybe- but try to get one on the phone between 5 on Friday and 9 AM on Tuesday- with their office workers being off for the weekend and then Monday being a well-earned day off- can a non-VIP contact a priest without the gatekeeper? With 10,000 families- you need boundaries

    • NicholasBeriah Cotta

      I am a husband 24/7 and this is the point of this discussion I think – it is not a job, it is a vocation. Everyone deserves their rest of course, and the logistics are more difficult for men who are effectively married to their flock, but a shepherd who cares about every last sheep must maintain some sort of continuous vigilance. I think you’re leaning toward Pascal’s objection here, “And finally, most importantly, the Church is not some big corporation that needs to adjust its HR policies based on the vagaries of the labor market.”
      Lay staff should field phone calls and handle other administrative tasks but relying on the diaconate to farm out sacraments doesn’t seem right to me. I agree that we just flat out need more priests but like Pascal also notes here, the situation is sort of in God’s hands and I read somewhere that even during storms, it is best not to let our worries disturb the Lord – the boat is in capable hands. Let’s just pray and donate to the CSA…

      • I see your points…but I disagree that having deacons perform the sacraments they can to be ‘farming them out.’

        • NicholasBeriah Cotta

          I use the term “farm out” because I feel like using deacons to alleviate priestly duties (while I recognize that it is theologically completely acceptable) would be trying to “clericalize the laity” and I agree with Il Papa’s recent thoughts on the matter –


          • Dan13

            The deacons are not the laity. I believe Pope Francis’ point was not to pressure devoted lay men to become deacons but rather to affirm them as lay men.

  • JohnMcG

    One thought I had when this was proposed as an answer to the abuse crisis.

    Many said that one of the roots of the problem was that the culture of clericalism make bishops reluctant to get rid of priests that should have been sent away.

    My thought is, wouldn’t this be more difficult if it also meant impacting a bad priest’s innocent wife and children? Wouldn’t we look harder for reasons to keep him around and not subject his family to destitution?

    • The original Mr. X

      Plus of course there have been plenty of abuse cases involving people who are allowed to get married and whose actions have been hushed up. (Here in the UK it seems that the leadership of our third largest party covered up allegations that one of the MPs was molesting children.) So there’s no real reason to think that allowing married priests would make any difference.

  • Stuart Koehl

    1. Call them Eastern Catholic Churches, not Eastern “rites”. A rite is a liturgical-spiritual-theological patrimony which is followed by a Church. People belong to Churches, not rites.

    2. The advantages of priestly celibacy are greatly overstated, particularly the thought that since a priest works “24/7” that married priests somehow must either give short shrift to the Church or to their families. Let me be quite clear: this is just outright insulting to the millions of married priests in the Eastern Churches who, down through the centuries have provided pastoral care for the faithful, even to the point of giving up their lives. You don’t insist on a celibate fireman, or a celibate policeman, or a celibate doctor–why then a celibate presbyter?

    3. The implication is a married priest is somehow superior to a celibate one, and that, since the Latin Church mandates celibacy, and the Eastern Churches do not, that the Eastern Churches are willing to settle for less. It makes one wonder, quite seriously, if any Latin Catholic is at all capable of defending clerical celibacy without denigrating the Tradition of the Eastern Churches.

    4. The (celibate) “eastern rite” priest who told you several Eastern Catholic CHURCHES are moving towards clerical celibacy was either ignorant or disingenuous. In fact, the vast majority of Eastern Catholic parish priests are married. It is only in the United States that the majority are celibate, and that only due to the baleful influence of Bishop John Ireland and the unfortunate papal decrees Cum Data Fuerit and Ea Semper that suppressed the ordination of married men in this country (and, coincidentally, led to the exodus of about 300,000 Greek Catholics into the Orthodox Churches between 1896 and 1930). In accordance with both the Vatican II Decree on the Oriental Churches AND the Code of Canons for the Oriental Churches, the Eastern Catholic Churches in the United States have slowly but steadily been increasing the number of married priests both by importing married priests from Eastern Europe and the Middle East, and by ordaining them here. Bishop Nicholas (Samra) of the Melkite Eparchy of Newton recently announced his intention to begin ordaining married men to the presbyterate without asking permission of Rome. Even in the heavily latinized Ruthenian Byzantine Catholic Church, where maintenance of clerical celibacy was heavily wrapped up in the ecclesial identity due to the schisms of the 1890s and 1930s, a trickle of married men have been ordained in the past few years. For all that, it’s not a little bit ironic that there are now more married Latin priests here than there are married Eastern ones; John Ireland must be spinning cartwheels somewhere.

    4. As regards the slippery slope argument: if you can only maintain your Tradition by suppressing ours, maybe yours isn’t worth keeping. Just a thought.

    5. With regard to this:

    “Because of her Latin Rite’s tradition of priestly celibacy, the Church proclaims this virtue better (or, at least, louder) than any other denomination, and it’s hard not to see a Sign there.”

    Oh, gag me!

    • NicholasBeriah Cotta

      Hmm, many good points and you’d be right Latins aren’t acquainted with married priests so our judgments are not very good concering the actual practice (and our ignorance further signified by using the word “rites” as a reference and not “Churches” so bravo on that point as well). Overall though, I would desrcibe your response as “acerbic,” haha.
      There was a caveat in the original article’s “24/7” point that admitted married priests are surely successful at both, so your complaint about us discussing it is just an excuse to end the discussion before it begins, and is fallacious in many ways. If you take your argument to the absurd, we have to accept without evidence that there was no consequence from the double duties over the years, and also we can’t assume that adding duties to any single person’s plate wouldn’t be harmful if any other person could handle it successfully. I mean, just off hand, the Eastern churches have been less historically successful at growing their churches and I could reasonably assume that a clergy comprised of bachelors enabled the Latin churches to more easily go on missions. Latin America, the Phillippines, Africa, and most of the most heavily cultivated mission work in the last 1000 years has been done by the Latin Churches. Could it not be possible that it is easier to evangelize with unmarried clerics?
      Also, asking us if we demand celibate civil servants in order to justify celibate clergy is equating those two things. Do you view a priest’s duties to be of the same importance to him as a police officer’s?

      • Stuart Koehl

        “There was a caveat in the original article’s “24/7″ point that admitted married priests are surely successful at both,”

        Which is, surely, the equivalent of the notorious caveat, “Some of my best friends are ____”

        His statement is quickly followed by what I call a “Yeahbuttal”–Yeah, but married priests can’t devote themselves 24/7 to the Church, etc, etc.

        “I mean, just off hand, the Eastern churches have been less historically successful at growing their churches and I could reasonably assume that a clergy comprised of bachelors enabled the Latin churches to more easily go on missions.”

        Just where did you study history, to come up with such an absurd statement. Or, are you just referring to the Eastern Churches in the so-called “diaspora” of North America, where, of course, we have existed under the thumb of the Latin Church since we first arrived, and, of course, have not really been able to ordain married men to the presbyterate since the 1930s?

        If, on the other hand, you are speaking of the Eastern Churches in their own homelands, I refer you to the high degree of oppression to which they have been subjected since the 7th century, first under the Saracens, then under the Turks, then under the Latins (in Poland and Hungary), then under the communists, and today, in the Middle East, under the Islamists. We’re still here. And I’ll also remind you of the great missionary successes of the Eastern Churches–the evangelization of the Georgians and Armenians (Armenia was Christian before Rome), Bulgars, the Slavs, the native peoples of Siberia and Alaska, and, of course, the successful mission of the Church of the East to India and China (before it was largely destroyed by Tamurlane, the Church of the East in the 13th century was larger, both in adherents and in territorial expanse, than the Churches of Rome and Constantinople combined).

        Today, whether you are aware of it or not, there are highly successful Orthodox missions in Africa, South Korea, China, Japan and Latin America. Most of those missions are headed by married priests, both immigrant and indigenous.

        So, no matter which way you cut it, that’s a specious argument on your part.

        “Also, asking us if we demand celibate civil servants in order to justify celibate clergy is equating those two things. Do you view a priest’s duties to be of the same importance to him as a police officer’s?”

        When you need one, you need one.

        • NicholasBeriah Cotta

          I don’t want to set the Latin Churches versus the Eastern Churches, so I am not saying “we’re better” by saying that we spread more effectively. It could very well be that Eastern Churches build more lasting and robust faith-filled communities by allowing married clergy – the idea being that the family weaves an even deeper thread through the community – thus they are more likely to persevere under adverse conditions as you noted (the stars of the East will save us all in the end I’m sure). But are you going to argue this comes at no expense whatsoever?
          The missionary efforts you name are much smaller than the numbers in the Latin rite despite my reputation as a historian. The Churches that employ Eastern rites are maybe a fourth of what the Latin rite Churches are and the newest and fastest growing denominations are overwhelmingly Latin. This should not be a dispute.
          Maybe I should say this: quantity and quality are different things and I might say that I could come up with a pretty good argument that married clergy hurts the first and helps the second. After all, maybe in the Holy Spirit’s wisdom in allowing concurrent apostolic traditions, the benefits of each Church (and associated disciplines) reinforces the idea of complementarity and not contradiction.
          Ultimately, what I don’t like about your response to the argument above is that it is trying to force a dichotomy that is more defensive than it should be. Saying that unmarried clergy benefits “X” does not imply we are better or you are worse. In even our current Pope’s governing wisdom, he would admit that both/and is alive and well.

  • Stuart Koehl

    I think the next time a Latin Catholic feels the urge to write about married priests, he should put a wet compress on his head and lay down until the urge passes. Then, when he feels better, he should spend a year or so shadowing married Eastern Catholic and Orthodox priests and their families, and then MAYBE he might be entitled to have an opinion on the subject.

    • even though the title of the post is ‘confused thoughts…’ I believe that the writer is being charitable- and we Eastern types should be the same. He is responding to rumblings that things could change in the Roman-rite. and it would be a big change.
      I DO invite the writer to find a local Eastern church with a married priest and see how it would ‘work.’ Two big differences- in general, Byzantine parishes are very small and this has been our unbroken tradition even when the practice was suppressed in the US.
      If anyone lives in S California, email me and I will give you info. on our mission

    • JohnMcG

      Thank you for outlining the conditions under which Catholics are permitted to have an opinion on the direction of their own Church.

      Clearly, according to you, it is impossible for a church to consider any possible drawbacks to adopting a practice of other churches without deeply disresepecting the churches that have adopted that practice.

      Obviously, your church does not think priestly celibacy is important, whereas ours does. We necessarily think (or have thought) that we’re right (and thus you’re wrong); you think you’re right and we are (or have been) wrong. Hence there is a disagreement.

      This disagreement need not be an institutional or personal insult.

      • JohnMcG- Stuart has strong feelings…and the Eastern Churches DO hold celibacy in high esteem- but there is a different way of looking at it. Celibacy versus marriage is discerned first. So- a man might have a vocation to celibacy/monastic life even without being ordained a deacon or later priest. Most Eastern celibate religious live as monastics (this is our tradition)- it is respected greatly- so much so that celibate brothers are called Father

        • JohnMcG

          Perhaps I should have rephrased that we have held the *requirement* of priestly celibacy in high esteem.

      • Stuart Koehl

        On the contrary, our Churches hold celibacy in the highest regard, but within the context of monasticism. We do not believe that the choices open to a man are marriage or ordained ministry, but rather marriage or monasticism. In the native lands of the Eastern Churches, almost all parish (secular) priests are married, while almost all celibate priests are monastics (the East is rather suspicious of celibates living outside of monastic communities or rules). We select our bishops from among our monastic presbyters. So it is wrong to say we do not hold celibate priests in high regard. Rather, we hold ALL priests in EQUALLY high regard, and we hold marriage and monasticism in dynamic tension. When one is weak or suppressed, the other gets out of balance.

        As to why I am vehement, it amounts to this: Because of the Latin Church’s fears for the future of its own Tradition of celibate presbyters, it has suppressed and inhibited our legitimate Tradition in this country, causing incalculable harm to our Churches. The Vatican II Decree on the Oriental Churches says that all the Eastern Churches are equal in grace and dignity to each other and to the Church of Rome (the Latin Church), but in practice the Latin Church believes it has priority (“praestantia ritus Latini”), and that we should surrender our practices when they conflict with yours.

        Thus, as I mentioned, the incongruous situation of more married priests belonging to the Latin Church in the U.S. than there are married Eastern Catholic priests. When asked, the Australian Bishops Conference wrote a letter to the Congregation for the Oriental Churches stating that it had no objection to married men being ordained to the presbyterate of the Eastern Catholic Churches in Australia. When asked to produce a similar letter by the Eastern Catholic bishops in this country, the USCCB refused. “All Churches are equal, but some are more equal than others”, to paraphrase Orwell.

        Beyond that, there are repeated attempts by Latin theologians–the latest being Cardinal Strickler–to prove (or at least insist) that celibate clergy is Apostolic in origin (which would mean it was dogmatic and not disciplinary), memes frequently taken up by Latin apologists who are pretty much clueless that there could be any other way.

        Speaking of clueless, most Latins don’t quite comprehend how their arguments against married priests sound when they fall on our ears. For instance, saying that a priest “is married to the Church”, and therefore cannot have a wife, is only slightly less offensive than Bishop John Ireland’s characterization of the wives of Greek Catholic priests as “little better than legalized concubines”. And we have already gone over the matter of “a priest must be available 24/7”, or how a celibate priest “can devote his whole life to his ministry”. Consider the unspoken corollaries of those statements, and you’ll get a good idea of why we get upset.

        Beyond that, the best thing would be for Latins to support Eastern Catholics in recovering the fullness of our Tradition–including the Tradition of married priests; and we, for our part, will support your Tradition, including the Tradition of celibate priests, as a matter of mutual respect for different and equally legitimate practices. But let us desist from saying on the one hand that married priests can’t give their all to the Church, or conversely, that married priests will end the vocation crisis and prevent sexual abuses in the priesthood. Neither of those is warranted by an examination of the facts.

        • JohnMcG

          I suppose that would all be pertinent of PEG’s post were advocating that we suppress the Eastern practice; he was thinking out loud about whether or to what degree the Roman rite should adopt the practice.

          If we did not think there were possible drawbacks to doing so, we would have done so already. The only way to overcome them is to talk openly about them. If to even discuss them must be shut down as disrespectful to the Eastern practice, then nothing will ever move.

          I read PEG as acknowledging that many who comment on this issue (not excepting himself) are doing so out of some ignorance of the experience of the Eastern practices, and is calling on that to change.

          • Stuart Koehl

            All we ask is that you find some AFFIRMATIVE way of defending your Tradition, one based on the unique virtues of celibacy without comparing them with the perceived disadvantages of marriage. Whether you like it or not, every time you say a married priest just wouldn’t be able to give himself completely to the Church, you are saying that married priests are in some way either defective or inferior. So find an argument that doesn’t involve any comparison of celibate priests to married priests, and we’ll be happy as clams.

  • I believe that the history of Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, and Eastern Catholic Churches is sufficient evidence that a married priesthood works just fine.

  • Sandro Palmyra

    There are respected and revered celibates in all religious traditions but it is a choice and not a requirement. By making celibacy a requirement for religious life the Catholic church dooms most of it’s religious to oathbreaking failure, cloaked in lifelong denial, secrecy and nefariousness. How can that be good?

    • JohnMcG

      Now *that’s* an insult.

    • “There are respected and revered celibates in all religious traditions but it is a choice and not a requirement. ”

      Not in the tradition I was raised in. Celibate clergy were discouraged and considered weird.

      “By making celibacy a requirement for religious life the Catholic church dooms most of it’s religious to oathbreaking failure, cloaked in lifelong denial, secrecy and nefariousness.”

      Why is that? Jesus said in Mat 19:12 “The one who can accept this should accept it.” Is that an impossible command to obey? If you can’t keep the vows then don’t make them.

  • Collin Nunis

    The question as to whether married priests should be ordained in the Latin Church or not, is a question for the Latin Church, and up to the respective hierarchs of the Latin Church to decide.

    For the Eastern Churches, I hope that our traditions will be eventually fully restored in the Western diaspora. But for the Latin Church, these are questions that are best answered by them. Should they wish to ordain married priests to respond to alleviate the priestly shortage in certain dioceses, that is their issue.

    • mmmcounts

      Congratulations! The ban was lifted a few months back.

  • One More Guy

    I just want to say that I don’t think that having married priests will solve any thing. Especially in regards to the lack of priests in the West. At least in the Latin Church. I don’t know how the Eastern churches are doing. My grandfather was a pastor and my father resented him for it. That is really the only input I have. Aside for some protestants that I knew. None of them were happy about it either. Especially those pressured to enter the “family business.” However, if the Church in her wisdom does decide to allow future priests to be married I will be obedient. I just hope the episcopacy is excluded.

  • Bill Freeman

    I think all these arguments are mute. B16 had no problem creating the Ordinariate and allowing married Anglican priests to become fully-functioning Roman Catholic priests.

    • Raguel

      This is a red herring, Benedict allowed married Anglican priests into the Ordinariate, he did not abolish mandatory celibacy. Either in the Ordinariate or the Latin Rite as a whole.

  • mmmcounts

    The single greatest barrier to devout young Catholic men joining the priesthood is mandatory celibacy. According to a study done at the Catholic University of America years ago. Also take into consideration the flexible character of the married priesthood, the responsibilities are different than for celibate priests. Married priests travel less, are moved around less out of consideration for children, and always have support at the parish level from celibate priests who travel more and handle the more difficult hours. This is possible because there are always more priests per parish when marriage is allowed. Also, even when marriage is regularly allowed, it is not so easy to become a married priest and you wind up with less than 50% of priests being married. Why? Well, you must first be married and then become a priest. And it is difficult to complete seminary (before you’re drawing a paycheck) while also starting a family, there tends to be an engagement period that allows marriage to coincide with ordination pretty closely but more often timing is an issue and men who start families will wind up doing other things to make money. Also, single men are pushed much harder in the direction of celibacy than anything else- it is preferred, and as long as a candidate is single, celibacy is encouraged rather than getting out there and dating. But overall, anyone who was going to be celibate will do so anyway and the addition of married priests does cause the ratio of clergy to laity to improve by an estimated 30-40 percent in the long term, all other things being equal. And let’s not forget about eastern monasticism, from which always-celibate Eastern bishops are selected. That does provide a testimony to chastity and celibacy, although an authentic sort of Eastern monasticism hasn’t quite made its way out of its ancestral homelands the same way as the married priesthood has just begun to.

  • mmmcounts

    One more thing to point out. When Pope Francis was a teenager and young adult in Argentina, he had two guys who were his primary mentors. One was a RC priest, and the other was a Ukrainian Catholic of the Byzantine rite. He would get up extra early for some years and participate in Vespers along with all that he did as a Roman Catholic. Those of you who are trying to figure out what is up with these Eastern rites, I suggest that you call up the Pope and ask him about these formative experiences. His opinion on the matter is valuable.