The National Catholic Review

Silence and fervent prayer for vocations are no longer adequate responses to the priest shortage in the United States. As the church prepares to observe the Year of the Priest, which begins on June 19, open discussion about how to sustain the church as a eucharistic community of faith and fortify the pastoral life of Catholic congregations has become imperative. For making do within the limits set by present demographic trends presents a double threat to Catholic life: Catholic communities will become only infrequent eucharistic communities, or eucharistic communities will be severed from the pastoral care and public witness of priests.

In 2008 the sociologist Dean Hoge said: “We need at least a doubling of ordinations to maintain the American priesthood as we know it now. But this is impossible.” Of current diocesan priests, only 70 percent are available for parish ministry, with the rest sick, retired or absent for a variety of reasons, according to Mary Gautier of the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate. An increasing number of Catholics are unable to participate in a Sunday or weekday Mass. All this prompts the question, Will the priest shortage impose a eucharistic famine on the Catholic people?

The de facto remedy already applied in many places— making the priest a circuit rider moving from parish to parish to dispense the sacraments—risks narrowing the ministry of the priest and impoverishing the Christian life of the communities he serves. A narrowly sacramental definition of priesthood satisfies the requirements of only one of the three canons that define the pastoral responsibilities of the priest, Canon 530. As a consequence the sacramental office is as a practical matter severed from its integral connection with comprehensive pastoral care. Canons 528 and 529 provide a broader understanding of the priestly ministry. The first sees the priest as one who instructs, catechizes, fosters works of justice, shows special care for the education of children and brings the Gospel to those who have ceased to practice the faith. The second requires that he should come to know the faithful entrusted to his care, visit families, share their concerns, worries and griefs, help the sick and seek out the poor, the afflicted and the lonely. Diminishing numbers make it difficult to carry out this holistic vision of the priest’s pastoral ministry.

We hope that the upcoming Year of the Priest will lead to a broader discussion of the priesthood in the contemporary world and, in particular, will open examination of the various ways the shortage of priests can be addressed honestly and with imagination. New vocations can be promoted through youth rallies, the Internet and, as always, with prayer. In addition, the pastoral needs of parishes may also be met in part by more effective pastoral assignment of permanent deacons and by increased leadership by lay men and women.

What about the recruitment and training of married men as priests? Married priests already minister in the Catholic Church, both East and West. Addressing the married clergy of the Eastern Catholic churches, the Second Vatican Council exhorted “all those who have received the priesthood in the married state to persevere in their holy vocation and continue to devote their lives fully and generously to the flock entrusted to their care” (Decree on the Ministry and Life of Priests,” No. 16). That exhortation now applies to the more than 100 former Anglican priests and Lutheran ministers who have entered the Catholic Church, been ordained and now serve in the Latin rite. As we face the challenges of the priest shortage, some of the more than 16,000 permanent deacons in the United States, many of them married, who experience a call to priestly ministry might be called to ordination with a similarly adapted discipline. In addition, the views and desires of some of the more than 25,000 priests who have been laicized (and are now either single or married) should also be heard.

Our plea is modest. The bishops of the United States should take greater leadership in openly discussing the priest shortage and its possible remedies. These should not be conversations in which we face a problem only to find every new avenue of solution closed. Rather, they should be exchanges fully open to the possibilities offered by the Spirit.

In March, Cardinal Edward Egan, the newly retired archbishop of New York, said in a candid moment that the topic of married priests “is a perfectly legitimate discussion.” He added, “I think it should be looked at.” The cardinal later nuanced his statement, but the need for a creative re-visioning of priestly life to sustain the eucharistic life of the church in its fullest sense can no longer be delayed.


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John Ryan | 4/28/2009 - 1:00pm
A young man (in his early forties) who is a deacon in my parish lost his wife to a terminal illnes this past year. A requirment of becoming a permanent deacon is that one remain celibate for the rest of his life under such circumstances. This requirement, along with the requirment of celibacy as a condtion of ordination to the priesthood in the Latin Rite, is one that is purely arbitrary and one that has no inherent connection with ordination to either the diaconate or the priesthood. It is well known, or it should be, that a good number of our current priests struggle mightily with this requirment, and that there are more breaches than we would like to believe. In the case of our good deacon, with three young children to boot, tell me how the church will be better served by requiring his lifelong fideltiy to this requirment. The National Working Group for Priest Support of Voice of the Faithful ( has been advocating for a serious exploration of these and other areas relating to our priests and the priesthood. We invite your particpation in these conversations.
Pat Ryan | 4/28/2009 - 10:28am
Opm How interesting to read “America” talk about the shortage of Vocations. Does the Editor care a fig? When one sees how a large number of Jesuits have intellectually walked away from Rome, is it any wonder that confusion has entered into the minds of young men who may be considering entering the priesthood? I truly believe that The Jesuits have much to answer for when one sees the fall in vocations. The Society of Jesus has recently given such bad example to so many people, just look at the Jesuit Universities. Why not be positive and promote the many ways young people can be encouraged to enter the Priesthood, as illustrated in the vocations web site called instead of harping on your pet projects i.e. married priests and then at a later stage women “priests”. Shame on you Jesuits. St Ignatius would not know you.
Greg | 4/28/2009 - 8:50am
Will the "discussion" offered be in the same spirit as Obama being honored by certain factions at Notre Dame? It's just another compromise. The sad truth is that the majority of those who responded favorably to this married priest article all have many more days behind them than in front of them and so few have actually been catechized appropriately. Our last two Holy Fathers have made ample statements on this topic. Unfortunately, it is being manipulated by some to further very un-Catholic ideologies. Our Lord has not stopped calling men to serve Him. There is no "vocations crisis." We have simply faltered in Trusting in Christ and have started looking elsewhere for a solution. The answer to the "vocations crisis" is fidelity to Jesus Christ and His Magesterium, not to "explore other avenues" because we can't see a solution ourselves.
Iohannes | 4/28/2009 - 8:31am
All I can say is that if and when the Church allows priests to marry, this married former Catholic with two young children will not only start attending Mass again, he will, in all likelihood, become a Jesuit.
jreynolds | 4/28/2009 - 8:28am
Grow up! Let's talk finances. An American marrie4d Catholic clergy would mirror the American culture -- half the marriages would fail. Who pays the alimony and child support -- the parish? Who pays for the housing, health care and education of this family? The parish --who cannot afford to pay for their own health insurance? Will the wife and children of a priest agree to move from a middle class life to a life among the poor and uneducated? Get real! Anyone who recommends a married clergy should accompoany his recommendation with a complete budget. Only teenagers expect their parents to support them after they get married.
Brigid M Rauch | 4/27/2009 - 9:45pm
Thank you
Brian | 4/27/2009 - 7:28pm
I think both are acceptable. That is, the Oxford comma is perfectly OK, but is optional.
PAM | 4/27/2009 - 6:28pm
The "ME" society is hitting hard for what it wants-Not what is Holy. I guess we cannot use the K.I.S.S method here KEEP IT SIMPLE SINNERS! God have mercy on all of us!
Mo Clark | 4/27/2009 - 4:59pm
You should get out of the habit of leaving off the comma between the penultimate element and the conjunction in lists of three or more. It makes you look like foreigners writing English as a second language.
Liesl | 4/27/2009 - 4:55pm
A modest proposal that I hope prompts the Bishops to organize a national commission to address the broad issue of the shortage of priest. As a church, we are on the edge of a crisis (if not already there). Without a comprehensive and successful plan to increase the number of parish priests, we will rapidly become a much smaller church. How many souls will be lost as a result?
Mike Evans | 4/27/2009 - 4:38pm
A lot of fear is being expressed out there and a lot of pressing the wider agenda regarding gender and orientation. First, perhaps honesty might prevail as we really take stock of the problems of the current situation. What do we do about third world dioceses where there is often one priest for 18,000 faithful? Do we pretend that is as adequate as one for 3,000 in the USA? What if all the fallen away and young folks suddenly came back? How could we possibly take care of them? I think we are just too afraid to explore this subject very deeply - we might find out we are in deeper trouble than we know.
R. Brown | 4/27/2009 - 2:13pm
Such lies! Parishioners are not willing to pay for one priest, let alone a wife! And God forbid that a married priest have 7 to 12 children. People in the parish go crazy about me and my wife having 7 children and I'm not a priest! If a priest practices the true "Pro-Life" nature of marriage all of these lairs will be extremely critical and offensive! Doing this will only allow parishioners to think they can tell the priest how to raise his family, because "they" are paying for his family. And what if the wife wants a divorce? Who pays for that? And child support? How many side jobs will the priest have to do to support his family? I have these so called, "liberal", lairs trying to tell me how many children I should have and how I should raise my family. I can only imagine and it isn't hard for any church going Catholic too; how much trouble and grief a parish would give a married priest. God forbid adultery on the part of the priest's wife. All these people are looking for is the opportunity to create scandal!
Innocentsmith | 4/27/2009 - 12:35pm
Whereas the ordination of married men in the Roman Church has a historical precedent, the suggestion of ordaining women is something new. Linking the two only conflates the issues and must be considered separately. I'm certain they'll be resolved in a century or two.
Brian Thompsonm | 4/27/2009 - 10:44am
...And those young priests have something in common: a strong sense of identity, unwavering orthodoxy (but not legalism), immense compassion. They make the priesthood look worth the sacrifices, they illustrate by their actions how no one but a priest can provide their particular brand of hope and compassion (just as religious have something unique to offer, as do married people). These men show very clearly in their lives that they Are Jesus for us in a very special way. It is a shame that people ignorantly misunderstand this new generation of priests, labeling them as rigid and/or clerical and/or antiquated. These men are modern people who also respect tradition; these men are fully and joyfully aware that their consecration is wholly for service.
Wally | 4/27/2009 - 7:44am
One of the problems in encouraging vocations has been the resistance offered by many rank and file Catholics of the Baby Boomer generation who have staffed many of the schools and campus ministry programs in the US. Many of these people were in religious life themselves at one time, or knew people who had been in religious life and left. They either have not encouraged vocations or actively discouraged them. Fortunately, this generation is starting to move on and new people with a deeper respect for the religious life are starting to mature. We are starting to see a change. More young people are considering religious life thanks to the inspiration of younger priests and religious. This won't solve the problem, but it's a step in the right direction.
novak | 4/26/2009 - 10:23pm
April 26, 2009 Laudetur Iesus Christus in saecula saeculorum! The reason the Church changed Its policy to one to ordain only men promising their celibacy is well known to those, who were willing to learn Church's history. I do not expect the mentioned U.S. Cardinal to know much of the world's and Church's, in particular, history as such study calls for lots of patience, diligence, a very intelligent memory and a constant willingness to read documents of the Church from the very past, past and present real, caring for the Church sources. With a sadness I note what I see in churches in Canada where visibly nothing is being done to bring new priests, religious orders to the service of the Church and of the society. I could list an endless list of mishandling of the problem of vocations right from the level of parishes to the level of most if not almost all members of Canadian Episcopacy and I would bet there is no better situation in the U.S.A. The "Modest Proposal" is an another proof what I said in above lines. God bless America the further evolved song reads I quote "some of our people have forgotten Your role in America's greatness, Lord And honesty and character don't seem to count much with our leaders anymore. Lord, when You were involved, America was a beacon to the world, and with Your help, she can be - again. So please, God, - bless America - again" and I add - bless a neglected on all levels - Your Church.
William Allison | 4/26/2009 - 7:42pm
We are more than 2.5 billion baptized catholics in the world. We are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of his own, so that we may announce the praises of him who called us out of darkness into his wonderful light. The so-called lack of vocations might be a wonderful gift of the Holy Spirit to his Church, so that we all should assume our responsibilities partially hijacked by the clergy.
STAN FITZGERALD MR/MRS | 4/26/2009 - 7:16pm
I commend the Editors for addressing "the elephant in the room" that no one else will. Your suggestions are worthwhile. Sadly, if decades ago, our Church had opened its heart to considering women, religious and lay, we would not have a "priesthood problem" today.
Daniel Walters | 4/26/2009 - 7:11pm
I believe that there is no shortage of vocations to the priesthood today. There are many married men, and also many women, who feel called to be priests today. I think that the Holy Spirit is asking us to 'think outside the box' with regard to vocations to the priesthood.
RICH BRODERICK | 4/26/2009 - 6:55pm
Prayer and Silence and Priestly Vocations The idea of praying for vocations is like waiting for Godot. They are not going to show up. The suggesting of circuit riding priest coming in to a different parish each week to celebrate eucharist is a little like bowling alone. It should be a rare exception not the norm. I remember once being told that the stole the priest wears for the liturgy, was like a the yoke that binds him to the needs, aspirations, sufferings, joys hopes, and fears of his community. He is yoked to their daily lives. A visiting priest is at a big disadvantage if he does not know the story behind any one face in the gathered assembly. How can he find the right words that would touch the hearts of the congregation in his homily? How is it possible to pray the eucharist prayer with them in a way that expresses the ethos of that community if he is not living among them day by day. The presbyter needs to feel the pulse of the living community. He cannot pray as effectively in a vacuum. Sunday mass is the summit of the community’s prayer life. It is the most important thing done that week. The role of the priest presider is very crucial in the faith life of the community. As the number of priest decline, perhaps we will go back to the future and follow an ancient tradition in our Church when each community presented to their bishop, one from among them, whom they called to preside at eucharist and serve their community. Remember St. Augustine? And what about all those gifted women! fr. rich broderick
Jim McCrea | 4/26/2009 - 4:59pm
He was right when he said this and he remains right today: "It is the present day mission of the Church that defines the priesthood (i.e., celibate or married), not yesterday's priesthood that defines the mission of the Church." Bishop Jacques Gaillot of Evreux, France.
Thomas Snyder | 4/26/2009 - 1:28pm
At last! And Bravo! We and our friends have entertained this notion for decades. Several of those friends would eagerly undertake the education requisite to this calling. We also know holy and devoted women--some ordained and ministering in Protestant churches only because they are not welcome in the Church of their upbringing and preference--who would love to fulfill those three canonical mandates. One must hope that God will inspire the American Bishops--and perhaps the Bishops of Rome--to see the need, and the wisdom, of this idea.
Ed Murray | 4/26/2009 - 7:19am
Modest, indeed. While it is refreshing to realize that any serious options are being considered anywhere within the confines of Catholic thought, this proposal only looks at the question from what appears to be point of view of "self- interest." The "signs of the times" are going to require much more rigorous and fundamental inquiry. The Church , especially within this area of investigation, needs to take a serious look at priesthood as THE fundamental dilemma in the Church today - globally. The concept of priesthood has to be "stripped down" to its very basic elements. Right now we are living with an institution of clericalism that so surrounds the reality of priesthood as to suffocate it or at least make it invisible. We are seeing the results of that suffocation in the U.S. and Europe right now. The rest of the world will follow. Simply patching the problem won't be sufficient. We need the courage to open up the patient, find out what's really wrong and fix it.
Gail | 4/26/2009 - 1:30am
The Holy Spirit has answered our prayers for increased vocations - there are many who are hearing the call but unfortunately the hierarchy has prohibited them from serving. It is time for the institutional Church to say yes to God and open up the priesthood to all those who are called by God to serve.
Robert Koch | 4/25/2009 - 11:49pm
I notice a call for ordaining women in these comments. I for one, would NEVER go to mass officiated by a women. NEVER
Shelley Keith Benjamin | 4/25/2009 - 11:46pm
America and Europe must return to the Original Organizational frame work of the forefathers who established the states on the basis of the teaching of Holy Bible ( Old & New Testaments).Biblical teachings must be made Obligatory in all schools.As to the question of shortage of Priests, more Priests must be brought from Asia to run the churches in order and to strengthen faith. Married Priest must be allowed in the Church. Important point is a Priest must be well qualified, dedicated, devoted and the real follower of the Church.
Paul Leddy | 4/25/2009 - 9:43pm
A legitimate opportunity presents itself to comment on the reality of the unfairness that the Catholic Church absolutely opposes gay-marriage forever, but now finds that the once sacrosanct obligation of celibacy imposed on Catholic priests may be lifted for mere expediency’s sake. In an editorial “America, the National Catholic Weekly,” an influential magazine published by the Jesuits, suggests that the priest shortage may be alleviated by lifting the celibacy requirement. The editors are to be reminded that their sympathy for the “struggle” that priests endure to remain pure simply ignores and remains unsympathetic for the gay men who will always have to live a chaste life (no sex). “America” endorses the double standard; unwittingly, though as we all know, with severely damaging results, consigns gay men back into the closet and forgives those hearty, red-blooded American heterosexual men-among-men, who are too weak to control themselves. And then, there’s the added indignity of looking forward to having to pay orthodontist’s bills for Father’s children. If that doesn’t foster resentment in gay parishioners, I don’t know what will.
Paul Leddy | 4/25/2009 - 8:41pm
Following is a post from the yahoo group: GAMMA (Gay and Married Men Association) "A paper was given not too long ago to the Primate's Task Force on Alternative Episcopal Oversight of the Anglican Church of Canada supporting marriage for same-sex couples. The author is Gary Thorne, Diocesan University Chaplain of The University of Dalhousie and King's College, Halifax In the USA, the argument for gay marriage is approached as a civil rights issue but there is little discussion of the human aspect of friendship and love; or little discussion of what is friendship and love and how these support same-sex marriage. This paper does explore, in some depth, love, friendship and why same-sex marriage gives meaning to them and why no one should be excluded. For the record, I don't support same-sex marriage. I certainly do support serious discussion on why, or why not same-sex marriage is valid. Cardinal Egan (retired) formerly of the NY Archdiocese, in an interview, March of this year, said that celibacy for priests ought to be reconsidered. Of course, that fired-up opinions that celibacy is an unnecessary, cruel inhuman burden on young, healthy, red-blooded Amercian men who would have entered the priesthood if it wasn't for the realization that they faced a life-time of no sex. etc, etc. Of course, this is all understood that these manly men among men are straight and would marry women. So, priests would have an option ...unless they're gay. And, what am I? chopped liver? It's very difficult to tell a guy who is gay, who is not likely to marry, who has no calling to the priesthood, that he is required to live a life of perpetual chastity, i.e. no sex, after all the arguments on why celibacy is so absolutely necessary for the priesthood are tossed aside. It's certainly no comfort to me. Cardinal Egan has done no favors for me."
Isabel M. | 4/25/2009 - 6:13pm
I am so glad that you included the laicized married priests.My husband has been in Church ministry since we got married.In every diocese in which we both ministered he was allowed to teach. (theology and scripture) He never left and is so dedicated and commited to his priestly ordinaion. May the Church leadership listen to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit
David | 4/25/2009 - 5:07pm
I converted 6 years ago, and some will say I have limited background, they will be right. Little did I know that the relatively activist but conservative parish I joined was so ideologically fractured. Far right to far left and certainly at it's most liberal, far to the right of the typical American equivalent. I see people jumping lines during sacrament to receive only from a priest and not a lay person. I see people jump lines to receive sacrament from the bishop in attendance over that of the priest's offering. In Canada, the military will take me back into military service till the age of 55 with advanced degrees, yet the Catholic church ignores one after 42. Income I don't need, yet avenues of service seem closed one after the other. Here female priests will never fly, but I see opportunities lost no matter which way one turns. Unfortunately, at the age when one must make a committment to service of one's peers, we seldom have the emotional or historical maturity to take advantage of that choice. An interesting concept put forward in the article, but history is against it and any appreciable change.
Christopher Mulcahy | 4/25/2009 - 4:13pm
In the minor seminary I am familiar with, 88 young men admitted in 1960. Two ordained. Run like the Prussian military. No "letters," no awards, no attention. Never was it said "you're doing well--you'll make a good priest." No mentoring. Lots of discipline. No respect. Guys quit. Seminary #2 we did Karl Rogers "community" touchy-feely sensitivity. No purpose, just American liberalism run amok. Abstruse theorizing. The food was great. Quit.
John Ryan | 4/25/2009 - 3:45pm
While celibacy will continue to be a special charism given to the few, men and women, there is no inherenct connection between a call to celibacy and a call to the priesthood. Nor can a charism be "mandated" as it is a gift from God.The priest shortage in our country will be what finally prompts serious conversations about solutions that presently are not on the table, but the anomaly of making celibacy a requirement of ordination to the priesthood is the more profound and unresolved issue.
ed gleason | 4/25/2009 - 3:30pm
Of course married priests are needed to staff the sacramental life in todays church........The first question is; why have the hierarchy stonewalled this for so long? answer is; they are stale. the second question is; How can the laity FORCE this change?... answer; start demanding change now.. The third question is; Why do celibates who have no children, no grandchildren, therefore a stunted generational perspective, get to shape the future of the Faith? answer;= they have fear of change and an obsessive focus on past triumphalism. To the 'radical Catholic right'.... your smaller, meaner, leaner Church hope is heresy...
ROBERT ROWDEN | 4/25/2009 - 1:14pm
Bravo America! At last a major moderate Catholic publication has pushed for a dialogue on a sensible alternative to a forced fast from Eucharist. Perhaps not all of your spunk disappeared with Tom Reese after all.
Gabriel Austin | 4/25/2009 - 12:13pm
"Silence and fervent prayer for vocations are no longer adequate responses to the priest shortage in the United States". Lordy, Lordy, now we have the U.S. Jesuits telling the Holy Ghost how to run His Church. Not surprising as the Jesuits seem to have forgotten that the priesthood is a vocation - a calling. Not a job.
Maggie Casciato | 4/25/2009 - 11:33am
Bravo! As many of my Protestant friends already know, a married priest can fully understand and sympathize with the daily struggles that their married parishioners (especially those with children) encounter as they try to become better Christians. My heart sinks, however, when I imagine what the Vatican's knee-jerk reaction to your proposal would be. One of my acquaintances is a married WOMAN priest (gasp!) - I won't even go there right now....
Brian Thompson | 4/25/2009 - 11:29am
There are a few good ways that seem to be helping bring men into the seminary, or at least the men I know. Prime among them is like the first commenter said, present the priesthood as a manly thing to do. Also, a good understanding of the nature and power of the priesthood would help; It is a life of great joys, yes, but also enormous sacrifice, and if we are teaching our kids that there really isn't much difference between the baptismal and the ordained priesthood, such sacrifice just doesn't seem worth it. The Priesthood is SO worth it, at least from this seminarian's view. I don't think married priests are necessarily the best solution, though I do like the pastoral provision in that it allows people to realize now that they have the Truth the vocation they were seeking way back when they did not have all the Truth. In the wider world, we need to rediscover the idea of vocation in the Church. God made us for a reason and we will never be as happy as we can possibly be unless we are doing His will. Also, presenting Marriage as just as much a vocation as Priesthood and Religious Life and giving unequivocal pro-family and pro-life messages to our people will be a great boon. If any state of life is seen as a vocation, people will take them all more seriously. On the organizational end, deacons can be our saving grace. Read Acts, that is what they are there for, to help take care of the charitable work and mundane stuff. Well trained and knowledgeable Deacons really are good fits in chancery positions and as pastoral assistants. They can help extend the ministry of the Bishop and Pastors by freeing them up for more sacramental and pastoral work. That doesn't mean treat Deacons like mules, however.
AnPiobaire | 4/25/2009 - 10:18am
Thank you. For all those who thought the editorial too timid, please read between the lines and see what was necessarily left unspoken. We don't need any more good "former-editors" of America.
Mary Platner | 4/25/2009 - 10:15am
Shame on you for your "modest" solution to the priest shortage. Talk about a "head in the sand" solution! In our northwoods community surrounding Eagle River, Wisconsin, we have 10 churches in our "Vacationland Ministerial Association" of which 6 are women pastors who are heading vibrant "Christian" communities. The answer is to open the priesthood to those who are called, regardless of gender or maritial status.
Charls J. Beirne, S.J. | 4/25/2009 - 9:59am
This is a superbpiece -- written clearly and in a balanced way, and it suggests that only a new paradigm or a development of the arrangements with the Anglicans and Lutherans might be helpful first steps, but ordination of women must be on the table eventually to enrich the Church in so many ways.
Gregory Muckenhaupt | 4/24/2009 - 11:54pm
Your comments are especially apropos for the many dispersed Catholic communities in "mission" areas which have been and continue to be nourished primarily by catechists and in some places by married deacons. In 1984 during a conference in Rome on the topic of lay catechists, this refrain was raised by a number of participants. I wonder how strongly this remains an expressed desire in newly evangelized areas of the world.
OBI OBIEKWE | 4/24/2009 - 10:47pm
There are two opportunities for ameliorating the shortage of priests in America that were not addressed by the article: 1. How many American missionary priests are serving in Asia and Africa, continents that do not experience shortage of priests? Can they be repatriated to save the fatherland? 2. America is 6% of the world-wide Catholic Church. In the past, the country provided missionaries to other parts of the world. Are Americans ready to receive the same blessings from other parts of the world?
Bert Monster | 4/24/2009 - 10:44pm
There is no shortage of priests today! There never was and never will be. Those prayers for vocations have already been answered by hundreds, nay thousands and perhaps many, many more. The only shortage that exists is the myopia in the Vatican. Look for the many gifted and devoted women and men who already serve your parish, your community, and your Church. The answer has been given us for more than two centuries. A whole town in Samaria came to know our Lord due to one insignificant, sinful, but devoted woman. Surely, there are others like her among us?
CHARLES SCHRAMM REV | 4/24/2009 - 8:02pm
Bravo! Let the discussion begin! Open dialogue is always healthy. This would increase our bishops' credibility in the eyes of many.
Bridget Reidy | 4/24/2009 - 7:32pm
Thank you for not discussing women and married priests as if they are one and the same, but you have chosen the more radical of the two. Although we call them married clergy, what makes them different and less qualified is parenthood more than marriage. Abraham notwithstanding, no good person doesn't appropriately rearrange their priorities when they become a parent. I want a priest who puts Jesus first above all, whether he or she is hearing my confession or if someone is threatening them and asking "Do you believe in Christ?". Allowing women priests is a simple matter of fairness, as unmarried women are clearly as capable of resembling Christ in what matters as are unmarried men, and far better than a man who is tied by the responsibilities of parenthood. To bend the priesthood to allow the pressures of parenthood would change the institution more than allowing unfettered women, and therefore be even more an insult to women than maintaining the status quo.
Vince Fennimore | 4/24/2009 - 7:04pm
You have my strong concurrence with the proposal for married priests. I think the dedication of the permanent deacons provides strong indication that married priests could serve both flock and family. Let us pray this proposal receives prompt and serious consideration.
Denis Quinlan | 4/24/2009 - 6:49pm
The responses to the article on the shortage of priests generally fall under one of two categories - wisdom or the lack thereof. It is fundamental in human resources management that the larger the pool of applicants, the more successful you will be in staffing your organization with the quantity and quality of people needed to carry on its mission. By limiting the priesthood to celibate males (a decided minority in our society) the Church has allowed a major personnel crisis to take place, one that never had to happen. There is no redeeming theological or spiritual purpose served by depriving married men and women of the opportunity to serve the Church as ordained priests. Finally, as a now laicized priest, I commend the author of letter #12 above for her sensitivity and understanding of individuals like myself. She hit the nail right on the head.
John Chuchman | 4/24/2009 - 6:12pm
How can you ignore the church's discrimination against women as priests and the Treasure they will bring as ordained Catholic Priests?
joe driscoll | 4/24/2009 - 5:26pm
The church allows Anglican and Lutheran clergy to remain married upon conversion to the Catholic faith, yet will not allow Roman Catholic priests the same option. Something is amiss here. We have women who receive a calling to the ministry of Christ yet they are denied a fulfillment of that calling simply because of their gender. Something is amiss here, also. We have those within the Church who call for even stricter standards, arguing that ever since Vatican 2 the Church has been on the road to Perdition. Let's make things tougher, that'll surely attract more men to the priesthood. Again, I see something amiss. Perhaps there's something to be said for the notion "The Catholic Church. 2000 years of tradition unhampered by progress."
William Bagley | 4/24/2009 - 4:58pm
Nearly the saddest aspect of this debate is the certain unwillingness of American bishops to even countenance the conversation. But the part that is truly worthy of despair is the impact that their myopia has on young Catholics. Circuit riding priests are wonderful men on impossible missions... I know, the priests that serve my (former) parish serve four churches... the result (no fault of their own) is dismal. Non-native priests (also good men) are culturally and linguistically at a great disadvantage. Again, it is the young who are most impacted. To deny that the good Lord provided us with the intellegence to find smart solutions to vexing problems is to deny the capacity of God to invest us with the potential to do good. My children, now 27 and 29, brought up faithfully in the church (with a reverred uncle who was a distinguished priest) and with impeccable educations, now wonder why their church is so unwilling to create meaningful community. Married priests and priests who are women simply make sense... as do those men who choose to remain celebate priests. We should embrace those things that will make our church vital and strong... not relegate the children to an abandoned faith.


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