Could this be the the next Synod’s theme? Married priests!

The last two Synods of Bishops were really fun, weren’t they?  Weren’t they great?

The next Synod’s theme may… may, mind you… have identified. HERE

We need to start lining up writers for the 58 Cardinals Book™:

The Next Synod Is Already in the Works. On Married Priests

In mid-February Pope Francis will go to Chiapas, where hundreds of deacons with their wives are pushing to be ordained as priests. And in the Amazon as well the turning point seems to be near. It was all written down in the agenda of Cardinal Martini

ROME, December 9, 2015 – While waiting for Pope Francis to rule on communion for the divorced and remarried, which two synods discussed and split over, there is already a glimpse of the theme of the next synodal session: married priests.

The selection of the theme is up to the pope, as happened with the past synods and will take place with the next, independently of what will be proposed by the fourteen cardinals and bishops of the council that acts as a bridge between one assembly and the next.

And that married priests will be the next topic of synodal discussion can be gathered from various indications.


The first indication is the evident intention of Pope Francis to implement the agenda dictated in 1999 by Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, in a memorable statement at the synod of that year.

The archbishop of Milan at the time, a Jesuit [Surprised?] and the undisputed leader of the “liberal” wing of the hierarchy, said that he “had a dream”: that of a Church capable of getting into a permanent synodal state, with a “collegial and authoritative exchange among all the bishops on some key issues.”

And here are the “key issues” that he listed:

“The shortage of ordained ministers, the role of woman in society and in the Church, the discipline of marriage, the Catholic vision of sexuality, penitential practice, relations with the sister Churches of Orthodoxy and more in general the need to revive ecumenical hopes, the relationship between democracy and values and between civil laws and the moral law.”

Of Martini’s agenda, the two synods convened so far by Pope Francis have indeed discussed “the discipline of marriage” and in part “the Catholic vision of sexuality.”

There is nothing to prevent, therefore, the “key issue” of the next synod from being that which Martini put at the head of them all: “the shortage of ordained ministers.”  [In seminary, some of the the heretics that ran the place forbade us from using the word “priest”, to which we referred as the “P-Word”.  Instead, we had to say “ordained ministers”.  After all everyone is a “minister”!  Right?]


The shortage of priests – who in the Latin Catholic Church are by rule celibate – is felt especially keenly in some regions of the world. Above all in Latin America.  [And that seems to be driving things right now… like a kind of crazy manifest destiny.]


I have an idea.

I need to start work – NOW – to set up my new venture:

a match-making service for priests!

Fathers, start getting your CV’s ready.

We need to come up with some good names for it.


A priest friend sent:



About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. donato2 says:


  2. iPadre says:

    so how long do we have to wait for another Synod? Not long enough!

  3. SaintsSQPNcom says:

    “Collar2Collar”? “Celibex”? “Roamin Catholix”? (guess that sounds more like hook up than matchmaking)

    “Helping you celebrate all 7 Sacraments”

    the logo should be a clerical coller linked to a marriage ring

  4. Michelle F says:

    Have you ever noticed that the people who promote the idea of married priests in the Latin Church NEVER point to the Eastern Churches as an example we should follow? It’s enough to make one think they have ulterior motives!

  5. I thought they had to be married BEFORE ordination. Surely even Pope Francis couldn’t be considering letting them marry after ordination?

    But perhaps I shouldn’t anticipate …

  6. A name for the dating app could be Fathr.

    The orthodox ones would all have to join Ave Maria Singles, though, surely.

  7. jfk03 says:

    Of course, in the Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Churches, priests may be ordained if the are already ordained. Once ordained, a priest cannot marry. A married priest cannot become a bishop. Assuming the Jesuits in control follow the Orthodox model, there won’t be a need for a priestly match making service.

  8. orlandocruz says:

    I see it now , priest marry , some will become bishops, 50% will want to leave there spouse but no worries because I guess they can grant themselves an annulment ! When will this nonesense end?

  9. frjim4321 says:

    It doesn’t seem to be very well known that from apostolic times married men were “ordained,” but we don’t have a record of an already-ordained person marrying. In other words most Catholics don’t know that a priest can’t marry, although theoretically there is no theological reason why a married person can’t be ordained.

    It’s hard to imagine, in this era, a young person possessive of the maturity to enter into a viable marriage while at the same time maturely discerning priesthood. I’m trying to imagine many of those ordained in the past 15 or 20 years as viable marriage material and I just don’t see it.

    Not that I don’t find the idea of a married priesthood theoretically attractive.

  10. Papabile says:

    While opposing the general concept of the married Priesthood for the latin rite, it’s something that I can see where we could potentially lose on.

    While opposing it vociferously, I also think we should demand that the idea of the return of simplex Priests. If the Holy Father were to decide to go forward with viri probati, they should all be simplex.

  11. ChrisRawlings says:

    Priests On The Prowl and its women-seeking-men(of the cloth) variant, Sugar Fathers. [Sugar Fathers… for the September/May thing.]

    Recommended first date: zoological light show.

  12. MarkJ says:

    Liturgical Liaisons. No, that doesn’t sound very good…

  13. Maltese says:

    Of course, there are married priests in the Catholic Church, and of course in the Orthodox (except for Bishops). While I agree that celibacy is the preferred norm (and heaven knows priests’ lives are full enough without having to raise a family on top of their rigors), I do think this norm has been subject to change through the centuries, and there are many former Anglican priests, who are now Catholic priests (with families), who are doing a fine job for our Church.

  14. Bosco says:

    “But He said to them, ‘Not all men can accept this statement, but only those to whom it has been given.

    For there are eunuchs who were born that way from their mother’s womb; and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men; and there are also eunuchs who made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven.

    He who is able to accept this, let him accept it’.” – Matthew 19:11-12

  15. Susan M says:

    If married priests are allowed, then homosexual priests will want to get married in the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony.

    [I might hold out for polygamy. But that’s where it stops. None of the same-sex or other-species stuff that the liberals are into.]

  16. organistjason says:

    Let us pray that God the Father, “hit’s the shift key and closes this set of parenthesis” in an expeditious time frame. So this “modern relativism” is halted right in its path.

  17. Maltese says:

    I never thought I would hear myself saying this (as conservative Catholic as I am), but I truly believe relaxing the rules on married priests might bring some relief to our beleaguered Church, and bring in a fresh-batch of manly priests (who felt shunned out of the church). Objectively I agree with a celibate priesthood, but I think some priests with wives, and children, might help the conservative church inasmuch as a man with a family can sometimes better understand his flock as Father. Not to say priests don’t now, but the priesthood has become feminized in many quarters to the point where–in some countries–a more masculine priesthood might only be achieved by more married priests; who would, in turn, have a synergistic impact on those priests who are celibate (with celibacy remaining the norm.) Married priests, of course, could never be ordained as a Bishop, so in that sense their ministry would be limited.

  18. sirmaab says:

    I’m waiting for the irrefutable Dr Ed Peters to chime in on the historical distinctions — and tensions — to be made between clerical celibacy and clerical continence; he would say that, though celibacy has come and gone at the practical level (though some would add that, theoretically, it’s been around since the First Council of Nicea),clerical continence has always been a requirement of the ordained, and herein should lie one’s hesitation at immediately eradicating all dictates toward celibacy. Though one might make celibacy easily disappear, one might not so quickly get continence to budge, and this could give rise to a whole series of other problems.

    He speaks about this issue of itself, but also within the context of a Canon Law that states that all in Holy Orders should maintain sexual continence, and the tensions between this Law and the current situation of men being ordained to the Permanent Diaconate under the impression that the sexual dimensions of their married lives can exist as they did before.

    Fr Z, you should ask Dr Peters to write a small op-ed here regarding those topics; of course, he’s well educated in the matter and qualified to speak on it, and his analyses regarding celibacy and continence always help me to navigate these conversations; I’m confident it would help make distinctions for my fellow readers here.

  19. Hank Igitur says:

    plate collections would need to go up sixfold with married priests. Firstly a 300% increase so the priest’s wife and family would be looked after. Second, on top of that a further 200% increase since half the priests’ time would be taken up with his family so we would need twice as many priests to fulfil existing work load. Who wants to fork out for this?

  20. Geoffrey says:

    Would there be liturgical dancing at the wedding reception?

  21. Xopher says:

    I couldn’t help but hone in on the use of the phrase “the ‘DISCIPLINE’ of marriage”, emphasizing that it’s ONLY a discipline, after all. Also, why are deacons and their wives “pushing” to be ordained pr-uhh, err…uh..ordained ministers…? Aren’t deacons ordained ministers? What is it about priesthood that these men (and their wives) want? A salary? A title? To be the star of the show?

    It couldn’t possibly be about the responsibility of shepherding souls. Surely, they aren’t pushing so hard to be able to consecrate the Body and Blood of Christ and forgives sins by His Blood. It just feels so immature to demand that an exception be made for you because YOU WANT the position/title of “priest”, because you’re so special, and entitled (don’t you know) to fulfill your greatest dreams of singing the Mass in front of 500 adoring fans–err–uhh–sheep.

  22. lmgilbert says:

    Given the fact that people are living much longer now on the whole, there is not necessarily any conflict between familial and pastoral duties if men are ordained after their families are raised. I can think of a man who who has just been accepted for priestly formation in a seminary at age 63, another who was ordained two years ago at age 70. The first is an ordained deacon and has about two years of study before ordination. There are very like a plethora of men over 50 whose families are largely raised and who may well have another thirty or forty years of life in which to serve the Lord as priests.

    Beyond that, too, it may well be that the discipline of continence is demanded of them. Ignace Potterie has an article on the Vatican website in which he shows that “husband of one wife” was demanded in scripture of each of the three orders of bishops, priests and deacons, and that this very likely implied future continence from marital relations after ordination.

    Here is a brief summary of his thinking as I laid out in a recent paper for Pauline studies:

    In his article on the Vatican website, “The Biblical Foundation of Priestly Celibacy,” Ignace de la Potterie shows that the practice of priestly celibacy in the Church flows from practically nothing but the careful exegesis of Pauline texts in the early church.

    Of Scriptural arguments for celibacy, the CCC mentions only two, one of them being 1 Cor 7:32-35:
    “I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs—how he can please the Lord. But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world—how he can please his wife—and his interests are divided. An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world—how she can please her husband.  I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord.”

    Potterie points out, however, that 1 Cor 7:32-35 only highlights the value of celibacy in general and is equally valid for religious and people living consecrated lives in the world as for priests. This verse is not particularly connected with the ministries of the Church.

    So then the question arises: Are there texts in Scripture which specify a connection between celibacy and the priesthood? There are, and every one of them is from the letters of St. Paul, particularly those in which the Pauline norm of “the husband of one wife” is presented. As Potterie points out, however, this is a great paradox: “How can one base the celibacy of priests on the evidence of texts which talk about married ministers?” The middle term is that of continence, but this requires some discussion. First though, Potterie writes,

    “The . . . reason why these texts are especially important from the strictly biblical point of view lies in the fact that they are the only passages in the New Testament where an identical norm is laid down for the three groups of ordained ministers, and only for them. For, according to the Pastoral Letters, the bishop ought to be unius uxoris vir (1 Tim 3:2), so ought the priest (Tit 1:6) and so ought the deacon (I Tim 3:12), whereas that formula (a technical one, it would seem) is never used for other Christians.”

    According to Potterie, up to the Fourth century that a minister of the Church should be the husband of one wife was understood as a biblical, apostolic argument in favor of celibacy. It was understood as assurance that just as a candidate for ordination had been faithful to one wife up to this point, he would be capable of continence after ordination for,

    “Already in New Testament times the Pauline stipulation actually does propose the model for the ministerial priesthood of a marital relationship between Christ the bridegroom and the Church his bride, on the basis of the mystical view of marriage which St Paul frequently mentions in his letters (cf 2 Cor 11:2; Eph 5:22-32). From this, it will become abundantly clear that, for married ministers, their ordination implied an invitation to live in continence thereafter.”

    It is impossible in this synopsis to do full justice to Potterie’s article, much less to the centuries of prayerful thought and exegesis which gave us a biblical theology of priestly celibacy, but this should be enough to establish that the biblical theology of priestly celibacy derives almost entirely from Pauline texts.

    So ends my treatment of his paper.

  23. Pingback: THURSDAY EDITION – Big Pulpit

  24. Supertradmum says:

    Several points if I may.

    One, who pays for the wife, the kids, health care of all, education of the kids, vacations, etc.? No contraception, of course…..

    Two, a priest is not a dad like other dads. I have know Protestant preachers’ kids who were angry as their dads come not spend time with them, as the kids needed-cancelled fishing trips, missing school concerts the kids were in and so on.

    Three, it takes a woman with a vocation herself to be the wife of a priest. She is NOT first in his life, but second, as he is married to the Bride of Christ, the Church first, first first.

    Four, celibacy is a gift, so why should it be refused? Married men have the gift of being husbands and dads, living in the world, with less prayer time, less time for contemplation, less time for study.

    Five, if the couple agreed to Josephite Marriages, maybe. I know for a fact that St. John Paul II and the Pope Emeritus, wanted permanent deacons, (one point) and their wives to agree with celibacy after ordination, and the Ordinariate priests and wives as well–(second point here). Over-ruled by some bishops or blatantly ignored.

    Six, what if the couple gets a divorce? Scandal–divorced priests…..

    More could be said on this
    Read this…

  25. Chris Garton-Zavesky says:

    Surely this whole post is the effort of someone at some extreme, fundamentalist, neo-pelagian sect to discredit the Holy Father? Or Lutheran Satire?

  26. TWF says:

    Your characterization is unfair and uncharitable. These deacons serve communities that may not see a priest for weeks or even months. Can you imagine no mass and no confession for that long? These deacons see a desperate need and want to help their communities receive the sacraments more frequently. Trust me, the priest shortage in Latin America, and even more so in remote areas such as the Amazon, makes the US Church look pretty blessed by comparison. Don’t get me wrong. I have no doubt that certain liberal members of the hierarchy are pushing married priests for the wrong reasons…and the idea of ordained priests taking a wife is repulsive and completely at odds with tradition. I just think these deacons in poor, sacrament starved villages should be given the benefit of the doubt.
    Now whether the discipline should be relaxed is a matter for the hierarchy. Religious / monastic life will always be with us and will always be the greater calling- celibacy won’t die. Orthodoxy has a thriving monastic life and the bishops continue to be drawn from their ranks…2000 years of married priests hasn’t hurt celibacy at all.

  27. Mariana2 says:

    In my naivety, as I read the title of this, I thought it was a spoof. For heaven’s sake!

  28. Gratias says:

    The Jesuitical Spirit of Vatican II is trying to finish off the Catholic Church that was passed on to us. We must fight them in our hearts, in our families, in our episcopal palaces and at the Domus Santae Martae pensione.

  29. Pingback: The Next Synod: Married Priests? |

  30. Rachel K says:

    Drum, I don’t want to sound too cynical, Fathers, but if you thought priesthood was difficult…….

  31. Rachel K says:

    Sorry, should say Erm…

  32. Nicolas Bellord says:

    a permanent synodal state? Forget it. A synod was held, it was manipulated in every way possible and it still came up with the wrong answer. It will not be tried again. Instead we will have the divine right of Kings (sorry Popes) to control what happens.

  33. Benedict Joseph says:

    Everyone in Rome apparently is under the impression that “vocations” to the protestant ministry are over the top. They seem to think that young men are flocking in hordes to serve the Lord without respite, wives and children in tow.
    Everyone in Rome apparently is blind to the fact that that “vocations” to the protestant ministry are in deep crisis, particularly among men. The vicarage is inhabited by a vicaress, the manse is referred to as the “womanse” without “romanse,” but of the aberrant sort.
    Everyone in Rome apparently is thinking the financial resources are available to support the wife and the children, send them to school, pay their medical benefit, their legal fees for divorces, alimony and all manner of “stuff” that happens.
    Everyone in Rome thinks Masters and Johnson are the path to a vocation boom.
    Stupidity, absurdity of the ecclesial type is boundless.
    A significant portion of the hierarchy has not merely slipped into heresy, but into a mindless atheism generated by blind narcissism.

  34. Filipino Catholic says:

    There is of course historical precedent for there being married clergy, as high up as the papacy even (where I remember one pope was the grandson of one of his predecessors). Other than that, people more capable than myself have already written on the matter, though of course this strikes me as a worrisome capitulation of sorts in that we are becoming more and more like the “sheep outside the fold” or the “separated brethren” so to speak.

  35. ReginaMarie says:

    Let’s just make sure our opposition toward married men being ordained in the Latin Church (which is permitted on a case by case basis) doesn’t become an occasion of denigrating the tradition of married men being ordained in the Eastern Churches. I am blessed to know several (young & older) married men who are serving the Church here in the US as Eastern Catholic priests. These men are some of the most orthodox, faithful & zealous priests that I know. Yes, it is a sacrifice for their wives & families (esp. those with younger families)…but God has given them the grace to serve the Church as such. For the record, I am 100% in support of retaining the tradition of unmarried men being ordained in the Latin Church.

  36. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    hi sirmaab. The thought crossed my mind, too. Indeed, for all I know, a synod on married priests might occasion, once and for all, confronting the reality of the unbroken Western tradition of absolute continence (which has been so disregarded lately) and, as well, at last, a serious and frank discussion of where the East went off in this area, albeit centuries ago. My concern, tho, is for my own tradition, so I’ll focus on that. But, focus on it, I will.

  37. Kathleen10 says:

    Dismantling the Church, brick by brick.
    I wish to emphasize that as scandalous as this papacy is, it is just as awful to hear crickets from the Cardinals and Bishops. I shan’t forget that, even when we can put this papacy behind us. Frankly, that has been a terrible spectacle, disappointment, and example. Is there no Cardinal or Bishop willing to take one for the team in defense of the faith?? I grow more disenchanted with them by the day, and the realization of their lack of zeal is not going to leave even after this pope does. They started out with a strike against them anyway, since the Cardinals are responsible for this whole mess in the first place.

    One Fulton Sheen. Give us one Fulton Sheen.

  38. Fr. Timothy Ferguson says:

    In honor of the suggestor of this synodal topic, and also of the one thing that’s helping me get through this all, I propose the name: Martinimony.

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  39. mburn16 says:

    This isn’t a subject that arouses any great passion in me. As some have pointed out…we already have married Priests. So the real question is whether we will ordain married men and/or allow those already ordained to marry. If we do, so be it. If we don’t, so be it.

    Yes, there are legitimate motives and rationale for the discipline of Priestly celibacy. But there are also motives and rationale for ending it. Rather than ask “how many of the men who are ordained today would be good marriage material”, why not ask “how many married men out there would be good Priests”? I suspect quite a few. There are undoubtedly many good and holy Catholic men out there who would strongly consider the Priesthood if not for this discipline.

    And moving beyond that…does it truly make sense, in the current time of trial for both the Church and the family, to force men to choose between one or the other?

  40. Imrahil says:

    As a matter of fact, “husband of one wife” includes, to St. Thomas, that said wife was a virgin at marriage (or only corrupted by the husband himself)… and that if the woman should commit adultery and the husband afterwards sleeps with her again (to which he may even be obliged in conscience), he becomes irregular likewise. (Summa theol. Supp 66)

    Also, though pace Dr Peters I think that the Church somewhat revolutionarily did allow use-of-marriage to deacons (it being the clear intent of the legislator)… married priests are obliged to continence.

    Have a lot of fun.

    Dear Maltese,

    though the thought might arise that examples of masculinity are rather found among married men than among priests (I would except many priests I know, though),

    I think in the comparison of unmarried priests with married people who would be interested in priesthood, the relation is if anything vice-versa.

  41. Matt Robare says:

    I would suggest that the priest-shortage is entirely man-made and could be cleared up with an increase in reverence at Mass and reforms in seminaries so that devout, pious and orthodox Catholics aren’t bullied or bureacratized out:

  42. Imrahil says:

    Reverend Father Ferguson, you couldn’t have sent in more clearly your application for our reverend host’s gold star.

  43. pelerin says:

    lmgilbert mentions the possibility of older married men being ordained their children having grown up.

    I remember reading about a widower in Brittany who was ordained at the age of 66. I presume widowers have always been accepted for ordination though I am not sure about this. This particular Priest has seven grownup children and 28 grandchildren and yet at an age where he would have expected to be slowing down he offered himself to God in the Priesthood.

  44. thomas tucker says:

    I think many would see this as the raising of the white flag of surrender on the notion that one can live one’s life without genital expression. It would be the ultimate victory of the Sexual a Revolution.

  45. romanrevert says:

    St. Bridget of Sweden, the Patron Saint of Europe, stated:

    “And therefore, through God’s preordinance and his judgment, it has been justly ordained that priests who do not live in chastity and continence of the flesh are cursed and excommunicated before God and deserve to be deprived of their priestly office. But still, if they truthfully amend their lives with the true purpose of not sinning further, they will obtain mercy from God.

    Know this too: that if some pope concedes to priests a license to contract carnal marriage, God will condemn him to a sentence as great, in a spiritual way, as that which the law justly inflicts in a corporeal way on a man who has transgressed….

    …For that same pope would be totally deprived by God of his spiritual sight and hearing, and of his spiritual words and deeds. All his spiritual wisdom would grow completely cold; and finally, after his death, his soul would be cast out to be tortured eternally in hell…. Yes, even if Saint Gregory the Pope had made this statute…he would never have obtained mercy from God if he had not humbly revoked his statute before his death.”

    The Holy Father may wish to reconsider any desire to do away with priestly celibacy.

  46. Grumpy Beggar says:

    God bless you for your sense of humour Father Z – it helps maintain the troops’ morale . . . like a nice breath of fresh air periodically amidst all the spiritual pollution we encounter.

    Names for the match-making service that I could come up with were of the more predictable mundane type such as “Well Alb Be Darned” , and “Indulgents”, but I just couldn’t seem to turn the tap off after that . . . “Continental Shift” , Altarnatives – helping you find the girl who wants the Presider Beside Her , or perhaps the more appropriate Altar Egos, boasting that “We can definitely set you up . . .Fall Romance , Fall for her, Fall in love, but mostly just Fall.”

    On the serious side, has anyone ever stopped to consider what type of effect changing the rule on celibate priests in the Latin Catholic Church would have on, say, women’s religious orders – specifically those orders which require the vow of chastity ? Hey, if the Latin rite priests (Western Church) can marry, then why can’t the nuns too ? Just imagine how it would undermine the structure of their order – couldn’t ask all those pious nuns to live apart from their husbands and children – could we ?

    Eastern rite priests are just as much priests as any Latin rite priests are – be they married or not. But marriage cannot come after holy orders according to the Eastern Church’s way of thinking.

    Before making the claim that the first priests were all married, we should back up a little further and consider the very first priest – the one High Priest in Whom all ministerial priests have their priesthood. He was born of a virgin, and our Blessed Mother’s perpetual virginity means she was a virgin before,during, and after Christ’s birth. Thus both our Blessed Mother and St. Joseph lived a continent, holy marriage, and our Blessed Lord Himself remained both unmarried and celibate.

    The Eastern Church is part of our Catholic whole, and they aslo have the fullness of truth. But there is great power in priestly celibacy (and the devil knows this – so don’t expect the criticism/attacks against priestly celibacy to end anytime too soon).

    Neither must we be too quick to admit that biological fatherhood would be exclusively advantageous to the ministry of Latin Catholic priests . We should recall that a priest is foremost, a father of souls : He begets children in the spiritual order. And what really increases the magnitude of that power to beget children in the spiritual order is, yup . . . priestly celibacy.

    There are many beautiful tracts written on priestly celibacy, but I’ve always appreciated Pope Pius XII’s Apostolic Exhortation MENTI NOSTRAE for its no-nonsense way of zeroing right in on the connection between spiritual fatherhood and priestly celibacy. The pertinent excerpt follows:


    20. The priest has as the proper field of his activity everything that pertains to the supernatural life, since it is he who promotes the increase of this supernatural life and communicates it to the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ. Consequently, it is necessary that he renounce “the things of the world,” in order to have care only for “the things of the Lord”.[30] And it is precisely because he should be free from preoccupation with worldly things to dedicate himself entirely to the divine service, that the Church has established the law of celibacy, thus making it ever more manifest to all peoples that the priest is a minister of God and the father of souls. By his law of celibacy, the priest, so far from losing the gift and duties of fatherhood, rather increases them immeasurably, for, although he does not beget progeny for this passing life of earth, he begets children for that life which is heavenly and eternal.

    To all you Latin Catholic priests who have answered the call to the priesthood and embraced the gift of celibacy: THANKYOU and God bless you. We, your spiritual children probably owe you a lot more than we know.

  47. JKnott says:

    There is a parish in my state that recently had their pastor reassigned. The bishop assigned the former assistant as the new pastor. The new pastor was a former Anglican and is married. He is orthodox and well loved by everyone – no complaints. However it has been heartbreaking to see how overwhelmed he is now. He has not received any other priestly help and because he doesn’t live at the rectory, it complicates many things that the former pastor used to be available for. So here we have the cream of the crop of traditional orthodoxy and the parishioners have less offered to them because he has a duty to his family. Some people are starting to leave the parish.
    Even though many comments here have been made in clever jest, I think the idea of celibacy as a gift of purity from the Lord should not be ignored. It is a precious gift in a world sunk in and smothering in the notion of “having sex,” as if that’s all there is to live for. I also don’t agree that a married priest might be more manly. Frankly, I find that truly good priests are outstandingly manly, especially those who offer the EF for some reason.

  48. tgarcia2 says:

    While I am slightly in favor of Priests getting married (we don’t ask those coming into the Church via Anglicanorum Coetibus to get a divorce), Holy Orders and Holy Matrimony are TWO separate sacraments. A friend who is a Priest said, you need to be dedicated as a Priest, and dedicated in your marriage…can you be fully dedicated to both? In most if not all cases, probably not.

  49. StMichael71 says:

    Being Byzantine, I am less inclined to get my knickers in a twist over married priests. If we did it, though, I’d counsel accepting the whole Eastern package – only monastics/celibates becoming bishops, periods of abstinence from relations within certain periods for the married clergy, etc. And, given certain visible problems with not a few priests being not-so-closeted and calling for revising our system of sexual morality, it would be a nice change to introduce all that family life we are promoting into the presbyterate.

    However, it is quite fun reading the other side of the story: dating seminarians. Here’s a post from the aptly-titled Orthogals blog:

  50. msc says:

    If the Church would do a better job educating its youth in the faith and encouraging (helpfully, supportingly, not with hectoring) parents to raise their children in greater holiness and understanding of the Church, the shortage of priests would correct itself. Of course, all that is “if pigs could fly” stuff, but I’d like to see the church try it before abandoning celibacy.
    Why do most people seem to assume that the wives of priests could not earn money. A lot of women manage both to raise their children and do some work outside the home.

  51. MarylandBill says:

    I suppose one could argue that the discipline of celibacy maintained by most priests in the Roman Rite might be a bit burdensome since their brother priests in the Eastern Rite and in the Ordinates are allowed to be married (provided they are married at the time of ordination). The problem I see, like others, is that it will be used as a wedge to try to undermine the proper understanding of what a priest is. At the very least, this particular issue, does not by its very nature undermine the Church’s clear teaching on faith and morals (like the communion for divorced and remarried does).

  52. sw85 says:

    “The Church spends too much time talking about sex and not enough moving out to the peripheries among the poor, the hungry, and the persecuted. … Now let’s call not one, not two, but THREE Synods, forcing clergy to haul their behinds from the peripheral, poor, hungry, persecuted African and Asian countries where they live to Rome to discuss the plight of German divorcees and horny Western priests!”

  53. sw85 says:


    “I never thought I would hear myself saying this (as conservative Catholic as I am), but I truly believe relaxing the rules on married priests might bring some relief to our beleaguered Church, and bring in a fresh-batch of manly priests (who felt shunned out of the church). ”

    A pleasant fantasy, but still a fantasy. The people who drummed good faithful orthodox unmarried men from the seminary will continue to drum the good faithful orthodox married men from seminary. The kinds of men who will become married priests will be the kinds of men who today become married permanent deacons: a small smattering of good mixed with about three times as much as bad and the rest just awfully mediocre.

  54. The first suppression of the Jesuits may have been a bad move, but a second one, now, doesn’t seem like such a bad idea.

  55. yatzer says:

    Having been round my overwhelmingly Protestant (if they bother) family for a long, long time:
    Celibate priests actually know more about marriage and can be more objective because they DON’T take their own experience and project in onto everyone else. A lot of them are kind of “feminized” if you want to put it that way. What makes anyone think these clerical marriages/families are going to be free from snogging with the organist, divorce, serious kid problems, even more clergy who have no faith but stay because of financial considerations?

  56. oldconvert says:

    I don’t know about the finances of the Church in America, and we all know how well the German Church is fixed*, but as far as I know the Church in the UK is not exactly rolling in money. Now, who is going to pay to support these wives and families (which could be very large, after all!) In some areas they already have trouble finding enough money to support celibate priests, as well as seminarians in formation. They (the families) are going to need to be housed, fed, clothed, educated, and given health care. I would be interested to hear the views and experiences of married ex-Anglican priests.

    *German Catholic clergy are, I believe, employees of the State.

  57. DonL says:

    Married Priests?
    But can’t the Church (the “bride of Christ”) then file for bigamy?
    And who will handle the annulment procedures….?
    And those weddings where the priest is rushing back and forth changing between vestments and tuxedo as he marries his bride as both priest and husband boggle the mind.
    Will he hear her confession and require her to obey her husband in all things?
    Will the children then have to obey their father, father?
    Will the kids have to give two presents to him on Father’s Day?
    Won’t Catholic kids have three fathers? One biologically, one sacramentally and one in heaven?

  58. Fr. Vincent Fitzpatrick says:

    We now know that the last Synod was not merely “rigged” or “manipulated.” Since the Exhortation was all written in September, we now know that the Synod was a total, complete, absolute fraud.

    What should it be called when the Holy Spirit is repeatedly invoked–as in “listening to”–at a meeting where the “result” of all that “listening” has already been written? How about “taking the name of the Lord thy God in vain”? How about “blasphemy”?

    There were calls for the bishops to walk out of the Synod. They didn’t listen. Now we know that the only appropriate response to an invitation to a Synod–as long as the same thugs are in power–is to send an actor dressed up as a bishop.

  59. The Masked Chicken says:

    – Log10 (Harmony) = pHarmony?

    The Chicken

  60. ReginaMarie says:

    You doubt that a married man who has been ordained can be fully dedicated as both a priest & a husband/father? Does God not offer sacramental graces to those united in the sacrament of matrimony as well as those ordained to holy orders? Of course these are two separate sacraments. No one is implying they be combined as one. Nor is anyone implying that living a life in service to Christ’s Church will be without sacrifice (whether one be married, single, religious or laity). I encourage you to seek out & meet some of the married Melkite Greek Catholic, Ukrainian Catholic, Byzantine/Ruthenian Catholic, & Romanian Catholic priests serving right here in the US.

  61. frahobbit says:

    Who knew!? That mercy is really sex in disguise. At the end we shall all be invited to the Pope’s wedding.

  62. Anita Moore OP opnied:
    “The first suppression of the Jesuits may have been a bad move, but a second one, now, doesn’t seem like such a bad idea.”

    I’ll load up the van with 2×6 boards and big nails to barricade the doors to their residences and colleges. Say the word.

  63. robtbrown says:

    The irony is that the priest who said mass this morning is married. A member of the Anglican Ordinate, he was an Episcopalian “bishop”. Good man and good guy. BTW, he told me there are about 75 and 85 in the US and British Ordinariates. Also an Ordinariate in Australia and probably one coming soon in Africa.

    My understanding is that those married men being ordained were previously Anglican clergy. It’s not a matter of married men wanting to be priests through the Ordinariates.

    BTW, I had a classmate in Rome who was a Uniate. Before the diaconate he took some time off, during which he also was married to a physician. Then he resumed his studies and was ordained to the diaconate and priesthood. But as the infomercials say: That’s not all!

    A few years later while they were living in Austria, she left him for another doctor

  64. SimonDodd says:

    Maltese says: “Married priests, of course, could never be ordained as a Bishop, so in that sense their ministry would be limited.”

    I don’t see any reason why one might think that. Once you say that a thousand plus years of tradition isn’t a good enough reason to not ordain married men to the priesthood, you cannot possibly say that it is, however, good enough reason to not consecrate married men to the episcopate.

    I remember that there used to be Anglicans who weren’t happy about women “priests,” but at least women couldn’t be “bishops.” I used to wonder what they were smoking–as if female “bishops” weren’t absolutely inevitable the moment that the “priesthood” was opened to them.

    I understand your point about the utility of ordaining married men to the priesthood, and I’m sympathetic to that argument; I think that the NCR people who claim to want married priests have not quite realized that opening the priesthood to married men means a flood of priests like me. But let’s be very clear: If we allow married priests in the Latin Church as a general matter (as opposed to specific situations such as the Ordinariates, and contrasting with the Orthodox situation), it will lead to married bishops. If you’re uncomfortable with married bishops, you must oppose changing the rule even if you’re comfortable with married priests.

  65. robtbrown says:

    Re 1 Tim 3:2: “Husband of one wife” does not necesarily mean that she is still alive.

  66. Jarrod says:

    I have to say I don’t see the need for any special urgent reaction to this question the way there was for the previous marriage issues. There are two reasons for this:
    1) The settled question of whether a man who is married can be validly ordained as a priest (he can, and it seems to be normal in other rites).
    2) The much rarer cases of married men being ordained to the priesthood in the Latin Rite. (I’m not familiar with all the criteria for such an exception being granted, but seems to be done at least for some Anglican clergy who convert and subsequently discern a vocation.)
    Since it is already done, the only possible objection I can see is over whether it is a good idea for the Latin Rite to adopt a general practice of ordaining married men to the priesthood rather than continuing the current practice of severely limiting such ordinations. On that note, I lean a little on the conservative side simply because what we have now seems to be working. (I find the argument that demands of the job are incompatible with a family suspect; there are many jobs that remove fathers from the home completely for months at a time and we muddle through somehow. As far as income goes, I don’t see why the Church couldn’t implement some of that just wage idea she keeps talking about (not without merit) and adjust her priests’ salaries based on family size. But I digress.) But I don’t see the harm in discussing it, since it is, as far as I can tell, a practice that the Church is at liberty to change according to her discernment.

  67. Dafyd says:

    It’s been said that a married priest will not be able to devote his full attention to the parish. A few disparate thoughts:

    1) There are other ministries outside of parish ministry — chaplaincy being the chief one that comes to mind. A chaplain’s cure is typically smaller and more focused than a parish. The Catholic parish on base here, for example, had maybe 300 members in attendance, and a diocesan priest cares for it part time since our base lost the billet for a Catholic priest. So few of them, they’re pulled overseas, usually. Married clergy in those types of positions would be force multipliers elsewhere, and chaplaincies also mitigate the issue of payment (see #3).

    2) People who have to divide their time learn to use their time efficiently. I don’t mean to say that unmarried folks are ipso facto less efficient than married folks, but marriage and children necessitate efficient time management. So, the extent to which Father is busy with his kids and his wife (and is that really a bad thing to model for a parish?) is quite often mitigated by Father being forced to use every ounce of his time effectively elsewhere. Heaven knows parenthood required me to dilly-dally a lot less.

    3) It’s been said parishes would have to cough up more money to support a married priest and children. More likely, budget prioritization would have to be rethought considerably. In addition, it seems to me very likely that people’s conscience would be pricked if they knew they were directly helping their priest feed his family. It’s a surmountable obstacle.

  68. mysticalrose says:

    The priest is already married . . . to his Bride, the Church.

  69. chantgirl says:

    Family member of a married priest (Lutheran convert) here.
    A married priest has two vocations. He cannot fully serve his parishioners or his family. He has two families, and neither will receive 100%. Either the parish will suffer, or his family will suffer, and the priest is guaranteed to suffer because he can’t be everything to everyone. A family makes it harder for a priest to fulfill his spiritual duties of daily prayer, and a parish makes it harder for a priest to fulfill his duties as a husband and father. It is not a situation set-up for success.

    The reality of marries priesthood is: the wife is no longer her husband’s first love, a family will have little stability if the priest is frequently transferred, the wife and children are frequently looked upon as burdens (extra expense) by the chancery, the wife is asked why she does not work outside the home by the very priests who should be encouraging a mother in the home, homosexual priests tend to resent married priests, Catholics do not give enough to support married priests and the priests often have to get a second job, further limiting what time and energy they have to give to their family and parish, the kinds of things a priest hears in confession or counseling often takes a lot out of them emotionally and that can be carried home, the authority of a father and the authority of the Church are tightly married in the mind of a priest’s child and if they reject one they frequently reject the other too.

    If the Latin Church allows married priesthood, get ready for a good number of divorced priests, women suing the Church for alimony and child support…… basically Jerry Springer-type tabloid fodder.

    Every liberal nun who has ever asked me if I was happy to have a father who was a married priest was unwilling to listen to the real experience of it because it didn’t fit their fantasy. Of course, the liberals I have spoken with assume that married priesthood will be sexually active priesthood. Continent Catholic married priesthood has to be the most difficult vocation I can imagine. Somehow I doubt that the Vatican powers that be are envisioning continent married priesthood.

  70. Benedict Joseph says:

    Long over due, a synod on asceticism. Easily covering a multitude of problems, it could make the need for synods almost nonexistent.

  71. andia says:

    I would not be comfortable with a married priest for Confession or Spiritual Direction. Married couples tend to tell each other everything, I don’t want my conversations with my priest to be fodder for dinner table discussions- or even pillow talk.

    And old convert is right who is going to pay for the families –and are we going to have one “stipend” for marrieds and one for celibates – based on family size? is that how it will work? So much thought to go into this. I wonder if a synod would think of the repercussions of having a church support a priest’s family–or if a parish would even want to.

  72. Imrahil says:

    Dear oldconvert,

    that is not correct. Priests are employees of the State in Belgium and Alsace-Moselle as far as I know, and in the German military (and perhaps prisons and some, increasingly rare, schools where they may serve as teachers for religion and perhaps in addition as school chaplains); but most German priests are employees of the Church. The bishops’ and perhaps some cathedral-canons’ salaries are paid for by the State due to historical reasons, which doesn’t make them employees. The rest is also paid by the Church.

    However, the revenues from the Church tax (which is not a State subvention, but levied at the Church’s request, in exchange for a fee and from Catholics only, and thus to all practical effect a compulsory sort of tithe) make it possible that they are paid (roughly) in analogous application of the paygrades for German civil-servants. A German parish priest gets, I believe, more in pre-tax income than a Cardinal at the Roman curia. However, the taxes, social security contributions, the compulsory rent for the parish-house, and if he follows that tradition, most part of the salary for his cook goes of course off of that.

  73. TWF says:

    We already have married priests in the Catholic Church…hundreds if not thousands worldwide. That fact alone refutes the various charges of bigamy (a priest is already married to the Church), etc. cropping up in the comments on this post. I think we Latins have lost sight of the key distinction between a secular priest and a religious priest. Religious priests will never ever be married men. This isn’t because they’re priest, but because they’re religious. Religious, consecrated persons, in general must be celibate by definition. Secular priests, on the other hand, take no vows and are secular men, not consecrated men. Yes they have a special vocation – a most holy vocation – but they are not called to consecrated life as religious are. As witnessed by 2000 years of Eastern practice, married parish clergy does not at all negate the vital role of monastic / religious life.

    Oldconvert: Yeah, German bishops get paid a 6 figure salary. I’m sure German priests could support a family just fine. Priests elsewhere would struggle… perhaps we should see how Eastern / Anglican Ordinariate priests are handling it?

    andia: Of course a married priest wouldn’t break the seal of confession and run to his wife! That would be a grave sin and he would incur automatic excommunication. That’s just silly. I’ve confessed to a married priest (Anglican Ordinariate). He was a very holy, humble man, and his liturgies put to shame 99.9% of all Roman rite masses around the world…

  74. ReginaMarie says:

    Benedict Joseph: I think your proposal for a synod on asceticism is a fantastic idea!

    andia: I think it is safe to say that the married priests I know would be hurt & insulted by your insinuation that they would break the seal of confession. I have found these priests to be excellent confessors…just like the faithful, celibate priests I know.

  75. Maltese says:

    @chantgirl: “homosexual priests tend to resent married priests..”

    Exactly, that is more the reason to allow them. The road wouldn’t be easy for them, to be sure. I was personally propositioned by a gay priest during confession in my early 30’s. At the time, I was slightly built (and still so, and I have mannerisms that some mistake as homosexual), but unbeknownst to the priest, in law enforcement (I have been a prosecutor, Sheriff’s Deputy, and FBI Agent.) That experience, and the knowledge I have about the gay-priest problem in America (and I’m sure elsewhere), has perhaps tainted my view (ala Rod Dreher, who left the Church after he started investigating the problem.) I have a friend who is gay, so I don’t judge homosexuals, but to say that we don’t have a major problem (still on-going) is having one’s head in the sand. I have seriously considered leaving the Church over this issue, but I love the Church, and made a vow I would stay with her. I don’t like Kasper the unfriendly ghost, and other libs in the Church, but I agree with relaxing the rule on married priests, and that is a subjective view, based on experience. I truly believe, objectively (and the Church has survived as long as it has by being objective,) that to re-invigorate it, and put some “manliness” back into it, it should allow married priests, in some additional circumstances.

  76. Cincinnati Priest says:


    I think there are some holes in your argument. Regarding the situation in the U.S., while I agree that there was a problem with a feminized priesthood, I think that is a thing of the past. The men entering into seminary now (who are supportive of celibacy, by the way) are very masculine. Man enough, in fact, to make the heroic sacrifice to give up the goods of marriage and family life for the sake of the kingdom and eschatological sign.

    Second, I think you are being naive in saying that there would be “synergy” between the married priests and the celibate ones and that this would be positive for their flocks. The much more likely scenario (in addition to the obvious practical problems of financial support, what to do if the marraiage becomes troubles, dividing their time and priorities between a family and a parish etc. etc. all indicated herein) is that the people would begin to mistrust the celibate priests as either, frankly, homosexual (even if they weren’t) or “not good enough to be married.”

    They would begin to treat the unmarried ones as “second rate” because they aren’t just like them. Which is of course part of the witness of celibacy — a pointing ahead to the state we hope to attain in heaven, where “they neither marry nor are given in marriage.”

    Mark my words, in the unlikely event that celibacy were to become optional in the U.S., it would have disastrously negative consequences for the Church. It would be good neither for the priests nor for the people.

  77. doozer125 says:

    As an Eastern Catholic (Ukrainian Rite) I see no problem with married priests, and I’m about as conservative as they come. The problem with liberals and their idea of married clergy is that they see it as an attack on the conservative wing and they see it as an eventual road to “womyn priests”. Eastern Catholic clergy and Orthodox clergy are about as conservative as they come. I pray that if the Romans ever get married clergy it will fly back in the face of all the liberals.

  78. Mary Jane says:

    I haven’t read through all the comments yet but I wanted to speak to something andia said. There should be no concern that the Seal would be broken. I think what chantgirl said probably would, instead, apply…the Seal would be kept, while the ” kinds of things a priest hears in confession or counseling often takes a lot out of them emotionally and that can be carried home” – “that” being the stress and emotional toll…

    Ok now…obviously not in favor of this…I was hoping this was from Eye of the Tiber or some such site.

  79. Patti Day says:

    Seems like a great waste of valuable time to even put this on the agenda of a synod when there are so many weighty issues that need attention. One would expect that Francis and his party planners would already have considered what the commenters have suggested. It just looks like one more attempt to confuse and disrupt.

  80. pseudomodo says:

    Dr. Peters,

    These issues on the synods recall to my mind something that a local Monsignor floated some time ago.

    He asserted that ordinations like “marriages” , if there was a serious defect that they could be annulled. Not sure what the law or praxis has to say on the matter. Doesn’t seem unreasonable to me.

    Consider this- would there be anything that ordinand could do that would nullify or invalidate his ordination? Has there been any cases? Our local monsignor asserted that this case would be for a bishops consecration.

    So now to the ultimate question:

    In law and in practice, latin rite catholic men are ordained under conditions with due consideration of celibacy and continence. Would an ordination be valid and licit if he undertook it with the implicit or even explicit desire for marriage at later date? Or if married and ordained a deacon while desiring (or demanding) full conjugal rights and ordination to the priesthood etc etc.

    Would it invalidate his ordination if the condition were serious enough?

    And considering the Holy Fathers promise of swifter annulment processes. ….you can see where this could end up.

    Seems like these two synods can be combined with the latest changes to canon law and then tossed into the blender with this apparent future synod topic, add in a dash of Papal visit to Chiapas, pour over ice into a nice Jesuit size Martini glass (sorry couldn’t resist) and serve immediately if not retroactively!!


  81. bobk says:

    Orthodox layman here, don’t be scared. There have been married clergy ever since St Peter had a mother in law. It works fine. [You recall the part where Peter left the Holy Land for good … right?]

  82. Imrahil says:

    I think Cincinnati Priest is right.

    One thing is completely naive and that is that there could be such a thing as “optional” priestly celibacy. Once married priests are allowed on a general scale, the unmarried priest will simply be a monk, in the farther sense of the word.

    Second, people would view either part of the clergy with distrust: either the one, the unmarried ones, as world-foreign, monkish, homosexual or (if the episcopate remains reserved to the unmarried) careerist, and possibly a combination of it. Or the married one as not-fish-nor-flesh, and certainly unapt as confessors. Or, perhaps, both.

    I even once mused that, well, the Eastern Empire suffered many defeats in the 8th century against the Muslims, right? Well, what was behind that? I don’t know, but as a matter of fact, there was a distinct loss of faith, marked by the heresy of iconoclasm, which happened at the time, and it cannot but be said that this at least contributed to the weakness. Oh and now, what was behind iconoclasm? An estrangement of the monks, who defended the orthodox doctrine, with their devout fellowship, on the one side and the laity (excluding the very devout people) alongside with the non-monkish clergy on the other. – Roughly half a century before, married clergy had been permitted to use their marriage, thereby effectively disestablishing the “middle layer” of a secular celibate priesthood between monks and laymen. Didn’t this lead to the estrangement?

    Third, there is even now resentment in the clergy against those who were ordained, with an education on a side-track as it were, without a first-class high-school diploma. How much would their be against married clergy? How much would unmarried clergy, viewing their abstention as a sacrifice vowed to God in order to be worthy of their vocation (which is not, other than as a concomitant, celibate life: but priesthood), be able to view this as any other thing than a slap in the face? “It wasn’t necessary after all?”

    How much, in turn, would married clergy resent it and regard it as, just as well, a slap in the face when the devout run in masses to the unmarried priests because that’s what priesthood was in the good old days? – At gatherings of the more devout subgroups, be they traditional, charismatic, world-youth-dayish or what not (whether we like them or not, I’m stating an objective fact) there never seems to be shortage of priests.

    Fourth, people always argue in favor of married priests as necessary for celebrating the Eucharist – and not, mind you, for celebrating the Holy Sacrament at all, or at all in a diocese or so; just for making it possible to celebrate it in more parishes.[*] Now celebrating It in parishes is not, for all the love for the sacrament, strictly speaking a necessity; deacons can hold liturgies of the word and distribute It, previously consecrated by the priest (the rule not to do so on a Sunday can be lifted**); they can also lead adoration. That’s not an ideal – but neither is the unmarried priest.

    If they said: we aren’t able to fulfil the desire for Confession (but will the penitents accept married confessors anyway?***), and we can’t give Extreme Unction, then that might be a different thing…

    Fifth, though we agree it’s theoretically not the chief point… one of the practical stumble-blocks of morality is, let’s face it, sexual morality. It makes sense if the teaching on the subject is entrusted to someone who doesn’t really so much have to worry about it or be influenced by his own needs to make compromises in the area. When things really matter, it’s better to hear about them from people not personally involved. We wouldn’t want a businessman, even a quite virtuous businessman, to lecture us on social ethics either. And would all of them, or all but the unpreventable exceptions, follow Humanae vitae?

    Seventh, excuse the frank worlds but if anyone thinks that married men would be a good opportunity to “masculinize” the clergy: forgive the frank words, but be clear about which type of priest you would get. You’d get the “social-worker” type. Let’s hope he’s a practicing Catholic.

    Eighth, speaking of that, celibaby has been a great practical tool: Hiding one’s relationship is not popular these days. And giving up marriage for something you don’t really believe in is just something you don’t do; even most who’d otherwise try to “influence from within” in their sense (i. e. undermine) are shocked off by that.

    Ninth, the idea that “the Eastern clergy shows that it is possible” has some flaws in it too. It was introduced into the East in breach of tradition (which always demanded continence of married priests – which is included in the popular understanding of “celibaby”), and not very long time afterwards (by measure of Church history) there was the Eastern schism. The Pope has granted those that return to Catholic union to perpetuate that custom, and he imv should not, and as far as we can see will never, infringe (from as it were the outside) on their own traditions [though by primacy of jurisdiction, he theoretically could] – but Church history clearly shows that us Latiners have here preserved proper Church tradition.


    For which reasons, some conservative theologians have said that if there should be married clergy, he should be fixed to one Church, just hold Masses there, and most important of all, not receive any salary.

    But if you’d introduce that: if it is coupled with continence, you won’t get many to do it. If it isn’t, you’d break tradition for one thing; you’d reduce the deaconate to a mere station-to-pass-through once again (which to overcome was the precise reason why the last Council allowed practicingly married clergy into the deaconate but not the priesthood).

    And if there are many of them, and they are, say, old men that have somewhat finished raising their families, the phrase adapted (not by me) from an old German trade-union slogan might be appropriate: “On Sunday, Grandpa belongs to me”.

    [* In some countries such as Bolivia, the number of pastors undeniably is in a dire state. However, in others such as the Catholic regions of Germany, the ratio of priests to practicing Catholics is not too bad in fact; but the Church as the defenderess of everything without proper is acclaimed as, whether she will or she nill, Lady Keeper of the Seal for popular traditions and village identity, to which necessarily belongs a proper pastor who should speak the same dialect as his flock… even if people don’t come to his mass.

    **The rule did not exist previously (the old German prayerbook of the 1970s does not mention it), but was introduced so as to thwart the misperception that these would be “Masses”. If it is not necessary for that purpose, it could be lifted.

    ***This is not so much the insinuation that they would break the seal… after all, we could expect them to share the healthy horror of excommunication we also share… but just the instinct that you’d rather not talk about something with a married man.]

  83. a catechist says:

    Wife of a U. S. permanent deacon here, in the Midwest. It’s a terrible idea. My understanding of the Chiapas situation is that there’s a cultural/indigenous resistance to unmarried men having any kind of authority or leadership and the ordination of permanent deacons was suspended because the rejection of celibate priests indicated the community was inadequately formed in the gospel. It’s not PC to say a bunch of indigenous converts are religiously immature, but really–if African cultures with polygamy can accept celibate priests (and thank God, produce some of our staunchest defenders of marriage in the last synod) why shouldn’t the same be expected in Chiapas? A deeper transformation of the culture into a Christian one is what’s needed, not to change the practice of the Church to accommodate their bias.

    In many parts of the U.S., facing parish closures and very unpopular ‘clustering,’ a lot of good deacons & their families would be pressured by their hometown folks to pursue priestly ordination so “their” parish won’t be on the chopping block. Or in a largely rural diocese, putting a married priest in a rural parish where the wife (and perhaps offspring) is a permanent ‘outsider’ with little or no chance at a job is a recipe for disaster. The money problems are the least of the potential problems.

  84. Matthew Gaul says:

    Married priests are great. They are *the* hardest-working, self-sacrificing men I’ve ever met. They also tend to be more traditional. And it’s harder for bishops to play politics with transfers, because moving a whole family is a big deal.

    Priest’s wives are also incredibly giving people.

    Clerics’ children – in my observation – are more prone to practice the faith as adults, as well.

    Finally, there is no comparison with Protestant married pastors, as they do not have the grace of Orders or most of the other Catholic graces. Married priests are a whole different animal.

  85. Fr. John says:

    While, as a married Eastern Orthodox priest, I obviously have no problem with married clergy, I understand the reasons why more traditionally minded Latins would want to keep a celibate clergy. That having been said, since the Catholic Church allows for married clergy in the Eastern Rites, and since we (the Orthodox) do as well, many of the practical arguments given here don’t make sense, because they’re written as if there was no living experience to turn to.

    For example, the idea that married priests will either be bad priests or bad husbands and fathers. Is that what people really believe to be true about the majority of Orthodox and Eastern Catholic priests? Do you know any? Personally, my father is also a priest, and he’s always been a wonderful husband and father as well as being a very good priest. Most of my friends from seminary are married, many with large families, and they all seem to be doing quite well in their parishes and are very traditional in their faith.

    Also, the idea that a priest will naturally talk about what he hears in confession with his wife around the dinner table — any priest who did that would be defrocked. Generally, priests don’t even tell their wives whose confession they’re going to hear. I don’t tell my wife who I’m going to see on pastoral calls, unless it’s clearly something not private (ie going to bless someone’s house, going to a wedding rehearsal, etc).

    If a Latin Catholic believes that the rule of priestly celibacy should be maintained in the Latin Rite, I think there are good, solid arguments for why that might be a good idea. But I don’t think any of those reasons have to do with implying that married priests would almost certainly be bad spiritual fathers, bad husbands, and be living in poverty.

  86. SunnyFlowers says:

    Yes. Priest should get married because they make a lot of money to support a family. (Sarcasm)

  87. DeoAcVeritati says:

    Married Deacon here. I’m also a University Chaplain at a liberal arts college, so I am doing full-time pastoral work. I have a family and I love them and strive to be a good husband and father and a man of prayer and fidelity to Jesus.

    First, I will say that I am gravely disappointed by the tone of a lot of the commenters here. A lot of you should look into your hearts and try to understand why there is such meanness there.

    Second, I want to encourage all of you to read what our Orthodox brother Fr. John says above. There is a massive amount of lived, faithful experience and wisdom within the examples of Orthodox priests. The ones I know personally are exemplary, holy priests and excellent family men. Their experience should be instructive in a way that the mainline Protestant experience should not– our idea of priesthood is closer to that of the Orthodox, after all.

    Third, one part of that example is that many Orthodox clergy earn their livings outside of their priesthood. The Deacons of our Diocese are already expected to do this– we receive zero compensation from the Church, but we do everything we do out of love for Jesus and with the aim of saving souls.

    It seems to me that the basic question should be this: Given the evangelistic task before us– given the overwhelming need to save souls and to help God’s people grow in holiness and knowledge– how is the Lord asking us to structure ourselves? If (and I emphasize IF) the choice is between (a) maintaining celibacy as a universal expectation for priests and therefore saving fewer souls and (b) expanding the number of married priests and therefore saving more souls, it seems to me quite clear that the Lord would be calling us to the latter.

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