A priest opines on the effect of optional priestly celibacy

I received this from a priest friend who, for reasons that are riotously obvious these days, desires anonymity.

He reflects on the discussion of optional celibacy that the Amazon Synod is sure to push.  Of course the Germans, who are pouring their Rhine into the Amazon, know exactly what they want to accomplish by their ongoing destruction of all things Catholic.   It’s good to think this through as, at the least, a mind exercise.

Thus, my priest friend:

So it occurs to me that allowing men to marry before being ordained (as priests) will do four things:

1) Encourage a significant portion of young men with a normal sexuality, who were open to the priesthood, to postpone that decision, to pursue marriage first. If they enter, it will be after raising a family, 20-30 years later;

2) Saddle those young men with a normal sexuality who nevertheless are willing to embrace celibacy with an additional stigma (if they still don’t marry, they must be homosexual); some subset of this group will, therefore, opt for path of option 1;

3) Have little to no effect on those young men with a disordered sexual attraction entering the seminary and becoming priests as they would face the same stigma regardless. Nevertheless, would they not inevitably become a more significant portion of the young seminarian population?

4) And, given that married priests would, as they always have, be excluded from consideration as a bishop, what now becomes more likely?

In short, this would seem to be a very useful way to strengthen the “Lavender Mafia,” no?

It’s interesting to see where that mind exercise went.

I can’t say that he’s wrong!  This would indeed play directly into the hands of the corrosive homosexualist agenda.


I’m getting some really interesting feedback on this.   One of my friends wrote:

It will push all the (even latently) same-sex attracted or those who “aren’t interested in marriage” into religious orders.

All bishops will be chosen from religious orders.

The diocesan clergy will then have either young men enter seminary who will have to find a wife before ordination to the diaconate; or we will only be ordaining men who are already married — and where will his wife and kids be while he is in seminary?  [And there’s the problem if DIVORCED priests.]

Most of the Eastern Catholic Churches have a history of issues with this, having both married men and single men often training together in the same seminary. Dating during seminary…..has its challenges.  [Indeed.]

Or do we wait until the man’s children are all adults, and thus we will be ordaining men who are significantly older, investing years of training for someone who might only serve 15 to 25 years at the most, instead of 40 or 50?

Also, moving a married pastor means moving his whole family. Pastor’s terms (6 years) probably would have to be scrapped (not a bad thing, but…).

[NB:]The dollar in the collection basket that people put in will not work: we will have to do what synagogues or some Protestant communities do and charge parishioners a membership fee (in the case of a synagogue, the cost of running the place — staff salaries, heating and electricity, music, etc. — is divided up by the number of registered members and then everyone is sent a bill; and if you are not a member, you buy a ticket at the door for the high holy days). The cost of a married man, his wife, and their ten kids (they’ll have ten, right? not just the politely contracepted 2.2 kids……) will require a lot more money — especially braces for all ten children plus their schools. etc.

What about “simplex priests”? You and I both know some devout Catholic single men, middle-aged, who could be given a short program of training, just to offer Mass — they would not be given faculties for confessions or preaching, ….  And after all, so few people go to confession, that it’s not like there’s a huge demand for it.

We are now getting brass tacks.


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This entry was posted in Mail from priests, Pò sì jiù, Priests and Priesthood, Seminarians and Seminaries, Synod, The Coming Storm, The Drill, The future and our choices. Bookmark the permalink.


  1. dcncg4 says:

    I would point out that the East has always had a married Priesthood. While some people delay ordination until they marry, I don’t know of any who delay ordination until after they raise a family. My own (married) Priest has five young children. Bishops are selected from the ranks of the monastics, and I don’t know of any men who rejected a calling to the Priesthood because they had to choose between the Episcopacy and marriage.

    I would also point out that your own Byzantine Rite Priests are allowed to marry and have families, as were many Latin Rite Priests received from the Anglican Church. As such it is hardly unknown to the West.

  2. gretta says:

    It would then be incumbent on Western seminaries and bishops to be more viligant about not ordaining men with disordered sexual attractions. The Latin Church would also need to start examining whether imitating the Eastern Churches and looking to religious orders to find celibate bishops could be a remedy for this.

    Having older priests with some life experience is not a bad thing, though it certainly would shorten the number of ministerial years a priest would be active. Instituting a married priesthood on a widespread basis is a much more complicated issue than one would think, with the law of unintended consequences being fully in play.

  3. Kate says:

    I just like the idea that my shepherd is so in love with God that “God alone suffices.”

  4. Sonshine135 says:

    How long do you think it would take, once married Priests were allowed as a norm, for “Gay Married” Priests to be allowed? I know this seems absurd, but id attitudes like Fr. James Martin, SJ prevail- God help us all.

  5. “1) Encourage a significant portion of young men with a normal sexuality, who were open to the priesthood, to postpone that decision, to pursue marriage first. If they enter, it will be after raising a family, 20-30 years later;”

    There are married priests in the Byzantine Rite coming to North America, virtually none of whom wait until their children are grown. Indeed, at least three were received into the Eparchy of Passaic for the Ruthenians in the past year, all of whom are married, and all of whom have brought their wives and young children with them. Others are expected to follow.

  6. APX says:

    Let’s not forget those ordained after marriage are also required to remain celibate if their wife dies. Get a younger priest with a young family widowed at a young age and he has to raise and support a family alone and lead a congregation. That’s a lot

  7. Unwilling says:

    Sometimes I feel like I am just one of those turkeys.

  8. hwriggles4 says:

    A priest friend once told our young adult group (this was about 15 years ago, but I remember the story ) that he had a seminary classmate from an Eastern rite. His classmates girlfriend wanted to arrange with his bishop to move his ordination because of wedding scheduling. Gee, do you know how hard it would be to reschedule an ordination?

    One thing I have said often if married clergy was the norm – chancery offices would not get much done – can you imagine the phone calls on “why can’t we take vacation during Christmas ” and “why is my husband being transferred to a rural area (or the ghetto)?”

    By the way, my pastoral administrator is a Pastoral Provision priest. He is good, but there are challenges, and he will say that his vocation is unique, like a zoo exhibit.

  9. Ultrarunner says:

    Imagine the sense of resentment and betrayal that will be felt by faithful priests who took vows 20, 30, 40 years ago, when they see young married priests, with their new brides and children, enter the church. Expect juries in the US to look benevolently upon these greyhounds without a family and conclude that $10 million, quite frankly, isn’t enough for each of them.

  10. Didn’t Luther cement his revolt by encouraging priests and religious to “marry,” and thus enter into spiritual and emotional entanglements that would make it all but impossible for them ever to repent?

    Also, it has been pointed out that a supreme advantage to a celibate clergy is that they cannot be silenced by threatening their families, or their means of supporting their families. Clearly, clergy can be silenced and intimidated in other ways; but in an age when that is already happening too much, why would we want to increase their vulnerability?

  11. The Egyptian says:

    You bring up Simplex Priests, sadly our director of RCIA has said more than once ” Deacon Freddie will be having regular communion services, there really is no difference, it’s just like going to mass” When I tried to question her she looked down her nose and informed me that she is RCIA coordinator and so therefore knows better than me, [“Shut up!”, she explained.] plus my wife (a convert) has worked with the RCIA team and I don’t what to sleep out in the barn. So anyway many think that deacons are just about a priest, so why not a simplex priest. I see many advantages at least out here, our Pastor and his associate cover 5 parishes, all small rural and close knit, both say a Saturday night and 2 Sunday masses, Think if Fr could listen to confessions during or right after mass and let Fr simplex stand outside and shake hands and visit the parishioners once in a while.

    [Ask her why stipends and intentions are exchanged for Masses but not for Communion services. Ask her why there is a two-fold consecration during Mass. “No difference?” She should be instantly let go.]

  12. The Egyptian says:

    A sacerdos simplex is a priest who is ordained for celebrating Mass, and little else (beyond the usual obligation of praying the Divine Office). No confessions, no preaching, no pastorships of parishes. To be “simplex” is to exercise only the core of the presbyteral ministry, which is offering the holy sacrifice of the Mass. The rest, while certainly integral to the priest’s mission on earth, is not essential to it. Imagine if, in large parishes that stretch their priests thin, the bishop says to the pastor:

    “I want you to approach your deacons and your three most devout, older laymen (no younger than 45) and ask them if they’d be willing to apprentice under you for three years and then be ordained priests. Their sole duties, other than praying the Office, would be celebrating Masses that you can’t cover yourself, helping distribute Communion, and bringing Communion to the sick. Other things such as teaching catechism are up to them, but they can’t hear confessions except in danger of death, and they won’t perform baptisms or weddings unless you specifically delegate them. They can only preach if they were already formed as deacons beforehand. Finally, they do this service only for love of God, with no expectation of income.”

    In a stroke, these simplex priests, some of whom are perhaps married, will have already resolved all the pragmatists’ objections:

    They’re mature in both age and faith, and if they’re married, their children are older or out of the house
    They serve at no expense to the faithful; no salary, no housing, no retirement pension or other benefits needed because, like deacons, they’re expected to maintain their own income and (if necessary) secular employment
    They have a shorter course of study under their pastor, as most priests did before the arrival of the seminary system after Trent–again, at no cost to the faithful

    In exchange, we could reap the following benefits:

    Many more priests to celebrate Mass in “non-priority areas”, especially in remote rural parishes or near-abandoned urban parishes, or in chaplaincies for the neglected like prisons and hospitals
    More priests to offer Sunday Mass at the parishes (especially early and late Masses) so that pastors only have to celebrate the principal Sunday Mass; thus keeping to the traditional rule whereby priests are only supposed to celebrate Mass once per day (there used to be an indult required for “binating” or “trinating”, meaning offering Mass twice or three times a day)
    More priests around to distribute holy Communion, thereby reducing the need for lay extraordinary ministers
    More priests to deliver holy Communion to the sick, in place of lay ministers
    More priests to lead hours of the Divine Office
    More priests to offer personal instruction to catechumens, as was common prior to Vatican II
    On an as-needed basis, pastors can delegate baptisms and weddings to simplex priests to free time for themselves

  13. KateD says:

    The Catholic Priesthood is a permanent order, whereas the Protestants do not have a permenant priesthood. Protestant pastors can and do cease to be pastors at a very high rate frequently are divorced and have an alarming rate of suicide. It is akin to the problem of serving two masters, neither can be satisfied which leads to harakiri.

    A man cannot have two marriages, one to a physical woman and one to the Church. He cannot be fully committed in two different marital relationships which require he give of his whole self. He only has one self to give. It’s like taking a dollar and buying a soda with it and then trying to take that same dollar to buy an ice cream. Sorry that dollar was spent. You don’t have it to spend anymore.

    A priest needs to be of a mentality of Christ, going into the brothel/prison to find and pull out the sinners…bring them the Word and forgive them and embrace them. (A wife is sitting in the car would be thinking “Why has he been in there so long”). A husband needs to be able to crack skulls and protect his family from any and all potential threats…he steers his family away from people and places who may bring harm and dishonor to his wife and children. The objective of priests and husbands are diametrically opposed. A husband is weighed down by the worldly concerns of his primary responsibility which is to provide for his family. A priest must be free to act as the go between for Heaven and Earth. He cannot be attached by Earthly fetters. But isn’t that exactly what Satan wants to do to priests: Chain them up and hold them down so that they cannot perform their responsibilities to God? This is precisely what marriage would do to a priest.

    Marriage can be a great comfort to a man….if that marriage is well tended to. A priest has obligations to God and parish which prevent him from being present as he would have to be in a healthy marriage. A woman left to wonder what her husband is up to and not cherished as she should be is a force to be reckoned with….Hell hath no fury like a ticked off wife…and she can (and will) make her husband’s daily existence a living Hell -priest or not.

    You think it’s bad when you have a pain in the….neck parishioner who comes after you to tell you what you’ve done wrong after EVERY Mass….lol….imagine being married to THAT woman. You wake up and she is by your side, snoring and farting. You try to drink your coffee and she’s in your ear until you escape to your car, then there are the text messages and phone calls. Yeah, don’t pick up or respond…lol….And there she is at Mass…even if you found sanctuary in the Church during the day, there she is again at home and in your bed still talking as you’re falling asleep. Wake up the next day and repeat that same process. And this isn’t even taking into account the joys of hormonal fluctuations due to pregnancy and post partum depression.

    Fathers, give thanks to God for the wisdom of Roman Catholic Church and your life of celibacy. You have no idea of the great gift you have been given.

  14. JonPatrick says:

    This concept of simplex priests sounds like a bad idea. If I am living in East Overshoe 100 miles from the nearest parish with a “normal” priest and I just have Fr. Joe Simplex at my local church, if I like any good Catholic want to receive communion in a state of grace I now have to drive 100 miles to get my confession heard. To me it seems like any priest who can’t hear confessions is not that useful.

  15. KateD says:

    dcncg4- I love the Eastern Rites. If I had my druthers, I’d be torn as to which to attend, East or West and I’d probably lean East, if all things were held equal. The incense, the reverence, the chant…ethereal.

    But while rites were allowed in with married priests, they were not supposed to continue ordaining married men once they came under Rome. It is stiff neckedness and obstinancy, like the Jews with divorce in Jesus’ time. Yes, it is now permitted and they are validly ordained, but it isn’t right…it is an abuse that should never have been permitted to continue.

    Sonshine- Thank you for stating the true purpose the issue of married priests is being discussed at the rumble in the jungle. It is the homosexualist and pedophile cabal seeking normalization in the culture. The teachings of the Catholic Church are the last remaining obstacle to their success…hence the infiltration and attacks.

  16. Dcncg4 & David Alexander point to the example of the Eastern Churches. But let me point out the obvious: we’re talking about the Latin Rite, not Eastern Rites.

    Or, to put it another way: if you want to see what may happen if married men are invited to become Roman (not Eastern) Catholic priests, why not look at the actual experience with the permanent diaconate. Where are all the young deacons? Time after time, I have encouraged men in their 30s to consider being a deacon. Guess what they all say? “But not till my kids have grown.”

    And, yes, it’s true that many (most? all?) dioceses don’t allow a man to enter formation as a deacon until 35, but guess why? Precisely because of the no-marriage-after-ordination issue.

    Why would any of this be different with men entering the priesthood, when the training and preparation for the priesthood is longer and more arduous than for the diaconate?

  17. The Egyptian says:

    If Fr John and Fr Simplex switch off every other week you can have confessions at both parishes instead of the way out one being closed since it is almost impossible for fr John to handle both and there are no other priests to help
    If you read the proposal I posted, follow the link, Fr Simplex would NOT be in charge of a parish. We are lucky here so far that The Precious Blood priests in retirement at the former St Charles seminary fill in when needed, I hate to think what happens when the biological solution finally hits them

  18. I am from a post-communist Eastern European country where a small proportion of the population is Greek Catholic. In my 20s I shared a flat with a girl whose father and one of her brothers were both married priests. After hearing about their everyday life I have been grateful that I am Latin Rite, and that we have celibate priests. Just… no.

    Like a previous poster, I also hold dearly the fact that our priests believe that their whole life can be filled and fulfilled by God. That He is great enough not to leave a hiatus.

    Furthermore: when the communists took over my country of origin, the (mainly Latin) Catholic Church stood firm and resisted. The protestant churches did not. Why? Because when you threaten a Catholic priest, you threaten a Catholic priest; but when you threaten a Calvinist minister, you threaten his wife and his children, too.

  19. jaykay says:

    All wonderful and huggy-wuggy. Except… just who, in our aging and declining parishes, is going to pay for all this?

  20. The Egyptian says:

    read the post

    They’re mature in both age and faith, and if they’re married, their children are older or out of the house
    They serve at no expense to the faithful; no salary, no housing, no retirement pension or other benefits needed because, like deacons, they’re expected to maintain their own income and (if necessary) secular employment

  21. jaykay says:

    Egyptian: I did read the post. You seem to be speaking only about the case of older married men with no “attachments”. That, with respect, is not what the substantive post is all about. It’s mentioned in the fifth para of “update”, and then in rather unfavourable terms, it seems.

  22. robtbrown says:

    A sacerdos simplex is someone judged, before or after ordination, to be incompetent in pastoral matters. That means only saying mass privately, not hearing Confessions, not involved in administering any of the other six Sacraments, and no catechetical work,

    The idea of a worker priest who only functions as a priest during mass contradicts the essence of the priesthood.

  23. robtbrown says:

    Interesting topic of married priests who are Eastern Rite.

    I had some classmates who were Eastern Rite. Later, during grad school I asked what had happened to one of them, a good guy, normal, and not a liberal I was told that he took some time off to decide whether he wanted to marry.

    A few years later I ran into him. He married, then was ordained He and his wife, a physician, had two children. A few years later I was told she had run off with another physician.

    Last week I discovered that he had re-married and (of course) left the priesthood.

  24. robtbrown says:

    Except for Cathedral Canons, there is no tradition of diocesan priests and Community Office. And Cathedral Canons have never really existed in the US.

  25. I think the idea of minimally trained priests (which is what so-called “simplex” priests would be) is a bad idea. And I think the idea of a two-tiered priesthood is also a bad one. “Excuse me, father, are you a real priest, or one of those ‘simple’ priests?”

  26. bobk says:

    “1) Encourage a significant portion of young men with a normal sexuality, who were open to the priesthood, to postpone that decision, to pursue marriage first. If they enter, it will be after raising a family, 20-30 years later;”

    Yes.. I’m an Orthodox layman, here to ruin your day…… [Not even a chance, though I am rather amused that that is the tone you take at the very beginning, and at the same time not amused in the least. Your proposals might work for your house – feel free to express them there. This is our house, thank you very much.]
    My proposal which will not be taken, includes this. I suggest two things.
    1) 100% married clergy. (Orthodox do this almost always anyway.)
    2) 100% late vocations, as the earlier comment mentions. (This is a good idea for Orthodox, too.)

    This takes care of at least two problems. First, the shortage. There is NO shortage of men who will marry and have a family. There will always be a shortage of men who will never marry for good and bad reasons. There will always be too many of the bad reason ones who get into the priesthood track. They have and will cost **billions** of dollars in the long run due to legal problems. I live in western Washington. The Seattle archdiocese is surronded by 3 dioceses that are bankrupt because of this. The late vocations idea takes care of the young fellows (I know of both episcopalian and Orthodox examples) who marry a “beard” before ordination. This victimizes a woman and always fails. The late vocation AND married, RAISED a family as the norm takes the gay men out of the process. Nobody thinks that’s a quick trip to ordination. By the way, isn’t it just possible the Church meant what it said when it called these men Presbyters? I never think of that term to refer to 20-somethings. Old, MARRIED men who have RAISED a family. If men think they are “called” to celibate priesthood then the monastery is down the road, behind that tall wall.
    You will have more than enough older men, married, who know what a normal life is and are more experienced in it than any young single man ever will. It wouldn’t be quick, but you would save a vast amount of the hard earned money of the laity in this way. The eastern Church has done it for only the last 2000 years, ever since St. Peter had a mother in law. It works.
    By the way, remember a man marries BEFORE ordination to the deaconate. If divorced or widowed he does not remarry, though the widowed priest being able to remarry is being discussed among the Orthodox.
    As for cost, I often see Catholics who actually think that’s an issue with married priests. Please. Are you kidding?? I see parishes around here with one priest and around a 1000 familes. Do the people there give a quarter a week or something?? Orthodox parishes sometimes have 200 familes and 2 priests. Maybe if you had more clergy you wouldn’t HAVE to have massive parishes. The clergy might even know everybody, which I can’t imagine happens in some of the places now. Again, how have Eastern Catholics and Orthodox done it for 2000 years? Easy.
    I’m sure there will be objections that this would necessarily change the way training for the priesthood is done. Good. The 10 years of Aristotle and such hasn’t been exactly working too well over the last 50 or so years, has it? Maybe a reset is needed. Older married men are generally harder to push around than 20-somethings. They will change the way clergy are trained for the MUCH better. The GI’s returning from WW2 on the GI Bill took a lot less crap from college profs back then, I can’t wait for a similar revolution in theological training.

    [At least your very last sentence made some sense.]

  27. bobk says:

    I hoped you’d be rather amused but you weren’t. It wasn’t an attack, it was meant a s a joke. I tried to offer an old solution that has and continues to work to for an old problem that isn’t going away any time soon. I’m sorry if I offend. I don’t take pleasure in seeing troubles people are going through.

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