Explainer: Will Pope Francis allow married priests?

Pope Francis listens to a question from a journalist aboard his flight from Panama City to Rome, Jan. 27, 2019. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Another wide-ranging and frank press conference with Pope Francis on his flight home from World Youth Day in Panama raised a number of questions for reporters—and resulted in some wildly divergent headlines. Among the confused questions: Is Pope Francis open to married priests? Is he committed to maintaining celibacy for priests? Will men who are already priests be allowed to marry? Who are these “viri probati” who might make up the bulk of married priests? And what are we to make of the fact that there are already some married Catholic priests? Part of the confusion has to do with the variety of options and terms that come together in this conversation.

In an in-flight interview with reporters on the papal plane yesterday, Pope Francis drew a distinction between his own personal beliefs regarding celibacy and what might be required for the church to provide proper pastoral care. “Personally, I believe that celibacy is a gift to the church. Secondly, I’m not in agreement with allowing optional celibacy. No!” However, he continued, “there could only be a possibility in these far, faraway places—I think about the islands in the Pacific. It’s something to think about when there’s a pastoral need; there the shepherd has to think about the faithful.”

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Pope Francis drew a distinction between his own personal beliefs regarding celibacy and what might be required in order for the church to provide proper pastoral care.

Pope Francis also referenced the writings of Bishop Fritz Lobinger, the bishop emeritus of Aliwal, South Africa, who published two books on the subject: Teams of Elders: Moving Beyond “Viri Probati” (Claretian Publications, 2007) and Every Community Its Own Ordained Leaders (Claretian Publications, Philippines, 2008). Bishop Lobinger, Francis noted, said:

The church makes the Eucharist and the Eucharist makes the church. In the islands in the Pacific Lobinger [asks], ‘Who makes the Eucharist’ in these places? Who leads in these communities? It’s the deacons, the religious sisters or the laity. So Lobinger asks, whether an elder, a married man, could be ordained, but only to perform the sanctifying role: to say Mass, give the sacrament of reconciliation and the anointing of the sick.

Francis then noted that “priestly ordination gives three roles or functions (munus)”—teaching, sanctifying and governing—“but the bishop could give the license for only one: the sanctifying role.” In that formulation, the ordained man would not necessarily be a pastor or even a homilist, but might perform the sacramental duties from which Catholic deacons are currently restricted, presumably including hearing confessions and presiding at Mass. Such a provision could help the church attenuate the “sacramental famine” occurring in various geographic locales worldwide, where a shortage of priests prevents many Catholics from access to the sacraments—in particular, the Eucharist.

Pope Francis on relaxing the celibacy requirement for ordination: "There could only be a possibility in these far, faraway places...it’s something to think about when there’s a pastoral need."

But what exactly is Pope Francis suggesting? The reality is that many of the different terms around married clergy are conflated or misused, with the result that clarity suffers. Below are some of these terms, explained:

Celibacy. While the term is often used to indicate abstention from sexual activity, in fact, celibacy simply refers to a state of life in which one is not married. “Celibate” simply means “unmarried” (for example, the Italian word for “bachelor” is “celebe”). Diocesan priests in the Roman rite make a promise of celibacy to their local bishop when they are ordained. The Code of Canon Law for the Roman rite states that “Clerics are obliged to observe perfect and perpetual continence for the sake of the kingdom of heaven and therefore are bound to celibacy which is a special gift of God by which sacred ministers can adhere more easily to Christ with an undivided heart and are able to dedicate themselves more freely to the service of God and humanity” (No. 277). Because celibacy is a practice of the church rather than a doctrine or dogma, exceptions to the rule can be made, as seen below. More information on the theology behind the celibacy requirement can be found here.

Chastity. While often conflated with celibacy, chastity means something rather different: It is a virtue required of all men and women according to their state of life. For unmarried people, this means abstention from sexual activity. Married people are also expected to be chaste, in the sense that they are called to avoid excessive lust and to abstain from sexual activity outside of marriage. For vowed religious, chastity is one of the three traditional vows (along with poverty and obedience) that constitute consecrated life and allow for communal living and apostolic availability.

Continence, in church terms, is abstention from sexual activity. “From the early fourth century forward,” historian John O’Malley, S.J., has written, “popes and bishops issued a number of decrees enjoining continence on married men who had been ordained to the diaconate, priesthood or episcopacy.” While there was no prohibition on married men being ordained until the Second Lateran Council (1139 AD), they were expected in most cases to abstain from sexual activity with their spouses after their ordination.

Married priests do exist in the Catholic Church, largely in the Eastern Catholic churches that do not have a tradition of celibacy for priests (though Eastern churches do mandate celibacy for bishops). Traditionally in these churches, while married men may be ordained, priests are not allowed to marry after ordination. In addition, in the Roman rite, Pope John Paul II created a provision in 1980 for married Episcopalian and other Protestant ministers who wanted to be ordained Catholic priests: They are exempt from the celibacy requirement and are expected to practice chastity (but not continence) in the context of their marriage.

Viri probati is a phrase first used in the first-century First Epistle of Clement, meaning “proven men” or “men of proven virtue.” It has been used in discussions around ordination in the decades since the Second Vatican Council to describe elders and respected, virtuous members of society who might perform sacramental ministry in a re-envisioned model of priesthood. Part of the attractiveness of the “viri probati” model is that it both provides a commonsense solution to priest shortages but also accords with the practices of the early church, at least as seen in Acts of the Apostles and the Pauline Epistles. (For example, all three synoptic Gospels attest to the fact that St. Peter was married, and I Timothy 3:2 requires that a bishop be “the husband of one wife” only.)

The Belgian theologian Edward Schillebeecxk argued in 1981 that if baptized Catholics have the right to the sacraments, the real leader of a local church has the right to preside at the Eucharist. Further, “the criteria for admission which are not intrinsically necessary to the nature of the ministry and are also in fact a cause of the shortage of priests, must give way to the original, New Testament right of the community to leaders.”

A danger of this model is that it could erode the discipline of celibacy in the priesthood as a whole (as noted above, Pope Francis has said he would only consider this model in “far, faraway places” where there is “pastoral need”). Others have criticized it as a stopgap that does not address larger systemic issues of patriarchy and misogyny. “Allowing married men into the priesthood while continuing the ban on women’s ordination,” wrote Jamie Manson in the National Catholic Reporter in 2004, “will only further the exclusion of women’s voices, expertise and insights from church doctrines, canon laws, moral teachings, and decision-making offices.”

Part of the attractiveness of the “viri probati” model is that it not only provides a commonsense solution to priest shortages but also accords with the practices of the early church.

Deacons are ordained ministers whose duties include baptizing, proclaiming the Gospel and preaching at Mass and presiding at weddings and funerals. A man must be ordained a deacon prior to being ordained a priest, and for a long period in the church, these transitional deacons were the primary way this ministry was preserved. The permanent male diaconate was reinstituted after the Second Vatican Council. As with married priests in the Eastern Catholic churches, men who are already married can be ordained to the permanent diaconate, but a deacon whose spouse dies is not permitted to remarry. In the United States, the diaconate grew rapidly, with the result that there are more than 15,000 permanent deacons in the United States today, approximately a third of the worldwide total.

Women’s ordination. The Catholic Church holds that ordination is restricted to men alone, and in the encyclical “Ordinatio Sacerdotalis” in 1994, Pope John Paul II declared that “the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women” and that “this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church’s faithful.” In 2016, Pope Francis set up a commission to study the question of women deacons in the early church, with the implication that women deacons might be a possibility in the future (though without indication that their role would be the same as male deacons). Both Pope Francis and his doctrinal chief at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Luis Ladaria, S.J., have reaffirmed Pope John Paul II’s statement on women’s ordination to the priesthood.

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Donald Muench
6 months 3 weeks ago

What is more important - access to the sacraments (EVEN IN LESS "FARAWAY" PLACES) or the preservation of celibacy?

Tatiana Durbak
6 months 3 weeks ago

It appears to me that, to the hierarchy and to the Pope, celibacy is the ultimate priority.

Fred Keyes
6 months 3 weeks ago

It seems to me there will be disappointment if it is expected that allowing priests to be married will reduce the number of scandals the Church has endured in recent years. If anything infidelity is as rampant as ever in society as a whole. Probably not as frequent among clergy as the general population, but still.

OTOH I'm sure there will be an increase in the number of vocations.

OTOOH, there will be a lot less money for buildings and schools, etc. Supporting families—salaries and fringe benefits—will become a major "cost center" for dioceses.

Fred Keyes
6 months 3 weeks ago

Thinking about it though, maybe the church could require a kind of dowry for men who wish to become priests. I.e., they should provide "tent making" skills, so to speak, or support of one kind or another in order to enter the seminary. Or just support themselves the way permanent deacons do now, knowing that their administrative service as priests might be limited as long as they are raising families.

Jim Lein
6 months 3 weeks ago

The problem is not infidelity; it is child abuse. Adult-adult affairs may break marital or priestly vows, but are not criminal. Child abuse is, rightly so, a crime.

Fred Keyes
6 months 3 weeks ago

I suppose you make a point.

Margaret More: Father, that man's bad.

Sir Thomas More: There's no law against that.

William Roper: There is: God's law.

Sir Thomas More: Then God can arrest him.

Maude: God'll get him for that.

Rhett Segall
6 months 3 weeks ago

Thank you, Fred. I love this pertinent reference to" A Man for All Seasons"!

Jason & Amy Rogers
6 months 3 weeks ago

Preserve celibacy if you must, but admit women to the clergy. The future of the church hinges on admitting women to equal positions of authority as men. Having a lot of married priests may be a good idea in my opinion, but it does present practical complications in the medium term. Ordaining celibate women would be easy, from a practical standpoint. A church that continues to exclude women from its most visible and influential roles will not survive to the 22nd century.

Fred Keyes
6 months 3 weeks ago

Predictions of the Church's demise for any reason always make me smile. If it was going to fail it would have happened a long time ago.

Failing to ordain women isn't a problem given the theology behind the practice of ordaining males only. The real problem would come if the Church stopped beatifying women... but there's not any chance of that.

Nora Bolcon
6 months 3 weeks ago

What is more important, allowing optional celibacy or creating a just church for all members?

Optional celibacy instead of ordaining women priests (deacons are a no authority joke not worth fighting for really) creates gender segregation and an extreme abuse against all Catholic women everywhere, and all women everywhere. As Martin Luther King, Jr. stated "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." How true.

We, the laity, should revolt against any attempt to make Latin Rite Catholic Married Priests until we have ordained women priests and bishops, and have made women cardinals and seen all bias against women taken out of our canon law, and that includes in the Amazon. Make the religious sister the ones who preside over Holy Eucharist or hear confessions etc. - not married men!

Misogyny is sin and Jesus commanded against treating women or anyone differently than anyone else. This is a way to continue to subjugate women under men and it is ethically and morally reprehensible! If we say that men are born able to do to women sacramentally what women cannot do back to them, then we declare by that action, law, or tradition that women are less sacred and therefor less human than men. Actions speak louder than words. Neither Jesus or the apostles stated women should not be ordained or made priests or presbyters and anything any man could be in our church. Quite the opposite. This is pure sin and we will pay the price for this evil against women, if we carry it out anywhere in the world!

Married men have a higher rate of abusing young children and teens sexually not a lower rate. Sexism itself also supports directly pedophilia and has supported it in our church yet we refuse to demand the end of patriarchy which Jesus would himself condemn. See below for ways in which our church's misogyny and sexism prospered pedophilia and the abuse of teens in our church:

Sexism and Pedophilia in Catholicism - How One Supports the Other

During the mandatory abuse prevention video trainings lay ministers must now take in the Catholic Church we are informed that there is no link or evidence that either homosexuality or celibacy causes child abuse of any variety. This is true.

However, why does our hierarchy not also inform us that there is a most certain and proven link between all-male leadership in religion and pedophilia?

Below are just five of the many ways single gender or all-male leadership in our church has been directly linked to our church's pedophilia crisis. (These are a sample only)

1. Because women abuse children not even near half the rate men do (6-10% compared to men), including married men (who have a slightly higher rate than unmarried men), simply having a hierarchy consisting of half females would have lowered our rate dramatically and automatically since less pedophiles leads to less victims.

2. Women, because they are often victims of sexual abuse, are more likely, statistically, to point out and report abusive behavior against children, teens, and women than men. This reporting is far more frequent when the women are at the same authority level, or higher level, than the abusing males.

3. Male priest abusers tend to use their state of high prestige due to clerical exclusivity, respect, and admiration from women to "groom" them, in order to gain access to attack their children. This was often the case in our church crisis, as many predatory priests narrowed in on and sought to become more intimate friends with recently divorced and widowed women or single women with mental disabilities who had children still living with them. Having no concern for the women, they used their priestly aura and believed spiritual potency to enchant these vulnerable and often lonely women, gaining them greater and more intimate access to their vulnerable children. Why is this sexism? - these priests intentionally did not go after the kid, in the family, whose father was present and an ex-marine.

4. If we had priests who were male and female, (and if this pool were still not sufficient, then perhaps even married priests, as well, along with celibate priests,) we would have no vocation crisis. Protestant churches with gender integrated hierarchies do not have any vocation crisis. This would give us ample candidates for priesthood and therefore we would be able to deny more of the questionable priestly candidates applying. When there are few choices to pick from, desperation has led our church into choosing candidates it knew had problems even before ordination. When I worked in a rectory during the late 1980s - early 1990s (for seven years), our pastor was a psychologist (rare at that time) so they sent him a couple of new priests that had issues, in the hopes he could somehow make them into capable priests. One of them was let go later on because he spread rumors from what some people had told him, only in the confessional, to other parishioners he had culled into his personal click. The other one, later on, was found to be a pedophile priest with multiple counts against him. We are still likely doing this, even now, that is picking candidates from desperation, because our candidates are still very few given our needs.

5. Already, through a rather low on the totem pole ministry, altar serving, we have taken a big hit at abuse access by allowing this ministry to become gender integrated. In the 1990s this change had still not spread into many of the parishes. By 2005 many parishes had well gender integrated alter server pools. Before this ministry was gender integrated, most parents of adolescent boys would allow a trip to the pastor's or associate pastor's family retreat at the beach or cabin in the woods, etc. because they trusted their priest and it was all boys so what is the worry? However, this type of access or these trips led to many male altar servers being victimized and often in multiple amounts. Having female altar servers in the mix makes this kind of trip offer uncomfortable for the priest to make. How does a priest offer a trip only to the boys without upsetting the girls? Most parents are not going to allow young girls on a trip with young boys with only a priest as a chaperone. Gender exclusivity allows greater access to male children and teens within patriarchy and has them treated less as children and teens by priests.

The above are only a portion of how sexism in our church causes evil and violence in our church. This does not even touch on the other horrors our religious sexism causes in our world. Our witness as Christians is soiled as we promote the view that women are not as sacred as men, or capable of representing Christ equally to men, ignoring what Christ has taught, that the flesh is nothing and the Spirit in a person is everything. People watch what we do more than what we say. As our witness of 'Sexism is ok with Jesus' takes place on our altars, and within our laws and teachings, we promote sexism in the workforce, governments, and family life outside our churches, on a global scale. What evils have already been proven to be promoted by religious sexism (including Catholicism's), in our world, include the following: war, terrorism, poverty, child abuse (sexual and otherwise), sex trafficking, disease, forced illiteracy, forced polygamy, rape, murder, female genital mutilation, and the list goes on.

Unlike other flesh biases, religion is perhaps the largest sponsor of sexism in the modern world. We must act within our religions to put an end to it, or there is little point fighting sexism in society, as it will only return, again and again, continually being re-energized by religion.

Fred Keyes
6 months 3 weeks ago

"Misogyny is sin and Jesus commanded against treating women or anyone differently than anyone else."

And yet he picked all-male Apostles. How do you explain that? Don't tell me it was a cultural thing. Jesus had no fear of changing the culture.

Nora Bolcon
6 months 3 weeks ago

I have no problem explaining it. It has nothing to do with sexism or misogyny or any kind of priesthood.

If you read the gospels and the old testament you will find the answer yourself. Jesus states in two gospels that he has called the twelve apostles to be judges over the twelve tribes of Israel, not priests ever in any gospel. They are to judge along side him those Jews who died before his birth since God promised this to king David that there would be twelve judgement seats for all Jews and the would be judged by one of their own kin and blood. Jews and gentiles who are saved are judged by Christ alone.

Also Abraham was promised the church as part of his personal inheritance when God promised him his offspring would be too numerous to count. In Jewish law only males could inherit in order to keep the tribes equally divided so if a women married outside her tribe, the tribe would not loose especially lands thru that marriage. Women were allowed all use of their husbands possessions and rights just not the right to give them away or sell them or inherit them. So in this way since man and wife are considered one being no one is left wanting unless the law is abused for misogynistic reasons.
Also because only men could inherit, the apostles had to be Israelite men with Abraham's blood. This way Abraham inherits the church into his body thru his blood descendants and Christ secures the possession of Abraham into his body too.

No gentile or woman could have been one of the original twelve for these reasons but that is fine because Jesus never claimed he was trying to make them into any other kind of priests than all other believers become when they are baptized into Christ and join the royal priesthood which is the only priesthood Peter claimed to be a part with as he said all other believers in Christ.

Fred Keyes
6 months 3 weeks ago

Well that's a novel explanation, to me at least. My own understanding about the maleness of the priesthood goes like this:

By nature humans are analog learners. Jesus knew this and regularly explained the things of God by using parables, both in the words he spoke and the actions he took. The sacraments he established all follow this principle; i.e. we learn the things we don't know by comparison to the things we know. Accordingly Jesus called the first person of the Trinity "Father," not because God qua God is male (there is no gender in God as such), but because God the Father is the "generator" of all things if you will, through the Son (who in time *is* male) and the action of the Holy Spirit. The apostles were male because they are a sacrament; they represent the male Jesus who is the ultimate Priest. They are priests because they were commanded to celebrate Christ's singular sacrifice for the rest of time, and to exercise Jesus' mission of forgiving our sins, among other astoundingly loving actions.

Nora Bolcon
6 months 3 weeks ago

This is because you misinterpret the word man from the beginnung. God made Adam and then from Adams flesh made eve, even the female parts of eve are made from Adams flesh which is why God told us in Genesis that God created man, male and female he created them, they are the same creation. They are the same flesh. Also true with Christ as he was made solely from Mary's flesh since God is His father. So even Christ manly flesh parts are made completely of Mary's flesh. So christs flesh represents Mary's just as Adam flesh represents Eve's. They are same material. All mankind in the flesh I ultimately Adam equally just as all believers in Christ gain his spirit equally thru rebirth into his body. This I why we are all equally a part of the royal priesthood both men and women and none of the apostle were ordained to any other priesthood according to the new testament or the apostles or Jesus and women did lead churches as presbyters in the early church just like the apostles.

Fred Keyes
6 months 3 weeks ago

And yet...and yet...for all they have in common they are different, physically and psychologically. The different genders complement each other in so many ways *because* of their differences. Thank God for that!

bgmcgovern@me.com
6 months 3 weeks ago

I agree completely that ordaining women must come for two primary reasons. First, it removes the barrier that the Church has imposed on itself to be rewarded with the gifts of at least one-half of the population. And more importantly, it is the fair and right thing to do

Fred Keyes
6 months 3 weeks ago

If you can't discern the gifts women have brought, and still bring to the Church, from the BVM to a whole panoply of female saints, I can't help you.

Mike Macrie
6 months 3 weeks ago

Every Catholic Nun today should be named a Deacon of the Catholic Church without debate.

Frank Bergen
6 months 3 weeks ago

Were I in a position to do so I would ordain some women religious deacon, priest and then bishop so fast it would make heads spin. But not 'every Catholic Nun'. It's been over fifty years, but if memory serves I asked to be ordained; ordination wasn't simply imposed on me.

Fred Keyes
6 months 3 weeks ago

Padre, I'll agree with you the day the Blessed Virgin appears wearing a stole.

karen oconnell
6 months 3 weeks ago

according to my readings, he is pretty clear about NOT doing this during 'his time.' i don't know his thoughts but given his age, given his 'hints' about not necessarily remaining as Pope until death, it is probably better to wait until the ''next pope'' and hope and pray that the next pope will be ''more francis than francis is himself.'' in the meantime, we all lose!

Crystal Watson
6 months 3 weeks ago

The Pope won't allow optional celibacy because he doesn't want to pay priests with families a living wage. And it is much easier to keep control over priests when they have no other loyalties, such as loyalty to their family. There is no reason why only celibates are worthy to preside at communion, and about 50% of priests are sexually active despite their vows anyway. Let married men *and* married women to be priests.

Terry Kane
6 months 3 weeks ago

Crystal - you claim, "about 50% of priests are sexually active."

Where did you get that information?

Crystal Watson
6 months 3 weeks ago

In the movie Spotlight, Richard Sipe is quoted as saying this. Here's an article by him in the National Catholic Reporter about this. Here's an article about him in the Baltimore Sun - From 'Spotlight' to 'Keepers,' Richard Sipe sees celibate priesthood as problem for the Catholic Church

Terry Kane
6 months 3 weeks ago

One monk-priest says something, so it must be true? Michael Moore makes documentaries also, does that make him a reliable source? Because Richard Sipe believes something does not mean anyone else should, and it certainly does not mean we should post it as if it were a given.
Are about 50% of all the priests you have known throughout your life engaged in sexual activity? How would you know? Please do not disseminate unproven assertions regarding important issues (unless you work for CNN/MSNBC/NPR, then it's just doing your job LOL).

Terry Kane
6 months 3 weeks ago

Doesn't the Church allow Episcopalian priests, married or not, to become Catholic priests in just a few steps?

Frank Bergen
6 months 3 weeks ago

Yes, but....... I don't know the steps but do you wonder why the Roman Catholic Church is willing, perhaps even anxious to welcome Anglican clergy? And of course the 'few steps' include ordaining again these already ordained men. I have no idea how many priests in the Roman dioceses of Phoenix and Tucson are formerly Episcopal clergy but in my 20+ years in Tucson at least eight formerly Roman priests have served the Episcopal church in southern Arizona. And the Episcopal church has recognized our ordination, not 're-ordained' us.

Franklin Uroda
6 months 3 weeks ago

If the Holy Father gave the choice to prospective priests to marry or not, IMO, there would be a flood of happy and eager priestly vocations the likes of which will have never been seen before. A major drawback to the Church with having married priests is the financial cost of priestly families.

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6 months 3 weeks ago

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6 months 3 weeks ago

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Henry George
6 months 3 weeks ago

If married men are going to be allowed to become Priests then the Seminaries are going to have to be restructured as there are no family dorms.

The tyrannical structure of Seminary life will also have to be restructured as married men with families will not allow the Rector or the Formation Board to treat them like they now treat seminarians.

The Church is going to have to open up her purse-strings to provide a living wage for the married priests with families.

Finally, a Bishop will not be able to assign married priests anywhere as pulling children out of schools, wives out of employment is not a simple matter.

That being said, Married Priests makes more and more sense to me.

rose-ellen caminer
6 months 3 weeks ago

Actually[IMO] contrary to what is being said today concerning celibacy, that it is unnatural and harmful, the reality is that there are and always have been people who were natural celibates. They exist in the Hindu religion and the Buddhist religion and they exist in the west. I know two people who are natural celibate. Even before I knew they was celibate, I thought there was something about them they were each more temperate , more gentle, more balanced, more self aware, more considerate more loving then most people you meet. I even thought to myself; I wonder if they are really priests .Neither are but both are practicing Catholics and one is a lay Franciscan.people are a drawn to them both like a moth to a light. So I do think that celibacy is an asset to the church;a sprinkling of married male priests is pragmatic and necessary , but to open the doors wide to married priest as a norm, would do away with this very real, very charismatic power that resides in the celibate male priesthood.It is an expression of the spiritual power, the presence of Christ , inherent in the Church. I know this sounds bizarre to many, but the Church has known this to be true for over a thousand years now. It is still true today. [IMO]it is not a totally rational thing I admit, [it is not totally irrational either as the apostles were all male but there are holes in that reasoning too] but it is real nonetheless.[IMO]."Leave everything and follow me"; that means celibacy[IMO].If martyrdom is the negative manifestation of leaving all[ needing evil doers] for Jesus, then celibacy is the positive expression of leaving all for Jesus.
Something has to give apparently as there is a shortage of priests and the sex abuse scandal has made everyone look askance if not question celibacy as a good even. I hope it remains the norm, even with a sprinkling of married priests here and there even ,with empowering the proven virtuous to administer sacraments.

Phil Lawless
6 months 3 weeks ago

If celibacy is a charism of value to the Church, then let it remain so. But consider the new ministry of lay Eucharistic Ministers. They have arisen after Vatican II simply because there are not enough priests to distribute communion in a timely manner (and most people in church now come to Communion.) Consider that the judgement of the church of old was that only priests could handle the Body of Christ (much less even the Precious Blood) and we understand that our relationship with God depends a lot upon what it takes to serve the people of God in a way that works. Let us give up on the importance of Tradition in our relationship and invent new, practical Traditions that suit our growing relationship with God.. And why should we not be open to understanding the worth of the Eastern Tradition in our worship? They have at least a thousand year's experience of married priests since splittingmwith the RCC. Is there nothing to be learned from this.?.

rose-ellen caminer
6 months 3 weeks ago

I appreciate all you say. Yes we should not be tied to Tradition for the sake of Tradition, and how we serve the people of God best is what needs to be taken into account .
[That there is a schism at all is the real scandal of the Church [IMO] a real obstacle to faith in Jesus Christ and in the Church.If the church is founded by Jesus Christ the son of God, how can this be? Which is the true church instituted by Christ? Why are we not ONE Church? Reformation sects do not pose such obstacles to faith.That there exists this schism has always been an elephant in the room, for me personally].

And there is no denying the awesome transcendent power of the Eastern Rite. There is no denying the arrogance that Roman Catholicism has historically displayed towards the Eastern Church.; an extension of western supremacism generally .As if ,as you said, it were not a fact that they have had married priests for a over a thousand years and survived and thrived with a deep spiritual litergy that humanity universally responds to. I have to admit my own ingrained prejudice on this matter. For knowing this ,I still think that a celibate all male priesthood, is a true charism of the Roman Church and to abolish it all together, would be a loss.Or it would feel like a loss to me. Why be Catholic; for the Pope; they have their Patriarchs. Is one really more in the line of Peter then another?Have there not been shennanegians in the Petrine line claim of Roman Catholicism?We might as well then just become Eastern Orthodox for their mass. But as my life here on earth is numbered now it is not really a strongly held conviction , certainly not a moral one; an impression really; a married priest, as good as holy as they may be just don't convey a giving all to Christ conviction ; a sign to the world of the reality of Christ. A married priest hood, dilutes. [IM not strongly held conviction based on reason but bias[its all i know] based emotions and impressions].

Phil Lawless
6 months 3 weeks ago

If celibacy is a charism of value to the Church, then let it remain so. But consider the new ministry of lay Eucharistic Ministers. They have arisen after Vatican II simply because there are not enough priests to distribute communion in a timely manner (and most people in church now come to Communion.) Consider that the judgement of the church of old was that only priests could handle the Body of Christ (much less even the Precious Blood) and we understand that our relationship with God depends a lot upon what it takes to serve the people of God in a way that works. Let us give up on the importance of Tradition in our relationship and invent new, practical Traditions that suit our growing relationship with God.. And why should we not be open to understanding the worth of the Eastern Tradition in our worship? They have at least a thousand year's experience of married priests since splittingmwith the RCC. Is there nothing to be learned from this.?.

Bruce Snowden
6 months 3 weeks ago

A lifetime ago, talking with a gentle, scholarly, former Seminary Professor whom I admired, I said to him, “You should be a Bishop!” Smiling his immediate answer was, “I am already a Bishop because I am, a priest!" His teaching, all priests through ordination are Bishops, having the full priesthood, lacking only the authority to exercise it as Bishops do. The priesthood cannot be divided into pieces. There is only ONE priesthood and if you are a priest you already have the whole enchilada! This was his teaching and it makes a lot of sense to me

What about the Baptized laity, who through Baptism inherit and share Jesus’ full identity as Priest? Also Prophet and King? Can they exercise their priesthood? Holy Father Francis seeking to overcome “Sacramental Famine” as he calls it, the deprivation of Eucharist in particular to the Church in faraway places, is thinking about ordaining married men of the area so as to confect Eucharist, especially sanctifying to the Faithful, hungry for Holy Communion. Great idea! This brings me to the following, read many years ago in a Catholic newspaper, very interesting and in line I suggest with effectual Baptism, a true or false story I do not know. I will tell it as remembered.

In the mid twentieth century Communism invaded Eastern Europe and the Church was forced underground. In many cases this left the Faithful without priest, Bishop, Eucharist. One Eucharist-starved Congregation did something about it – they called forth some men from their Assembly declared them priests, who in turn began celebrating Mass, confecting Eucharist satisfying their hunger for the Blessed Sacrament!

Subsequently this case was brought to the Pope and after study it was determined that the men called forth by the assembled Church were validly ordained priests and were allowed to continue their ministry. I spoke to a priest-friend about this and he told me to read Acts, there to discover that originally in the Church this was the way Ordination to Priesthood happened. I checked Acts but failed to find the sought after linkage. Maybe a more erudite reader bonded to well informed NT study might be able t o verify, or squash what’s been said. I certainly hope so! If true could men called forth from the Assembled Church, by the Assembled Church, be the answer to Pope Francis’ quest to address Sacramental Famine of the Faithful in faraway places?

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