Saturday, November 17, 2007


In discussions regarding the growing shortage of priests, many people assume that on a world-wide scale there would be a seem-less transition to married clergy. What they don't often realize is that there would be many complications, especially regarding what the Church would have to provide.

This news story, brought to my attention by Stella Borealis, highlights those complications. A woman is petitioning for her ex-husband/pastor's church to be considered an asset. Yikes! "I'm sorry Bishop, but St. Mary's was awarded to the ex-Fr. O'Hoolihan." Probably not going to happen in the reported case, but...

You can read the full article here.

Actually, this issue of complications is my least favorite argument against the abrogation of mandatory priestly celibacy. My favorite is the "band-aide on a gunshot wound" argument.


Tom in Vegas said...


First of all let me say that as far as mandatory celibacy goes, those are the current rules of the Church and we HAVE TO abide by them. For me that is all the argument I need to respect that hierarchical decision. I also agree with the assertion that lifting this ban would NOT automatically produce the right man for the job as well as the necessary numbers of priest. Having said that, would married priests be as catastrophic as some people say it would be? I think not.

Father, I can assure you that mandatory celibacy will ve lifted within our lifetimes. I just see the Church evolving in that direction. As far as risking Church assets as the result of a failed clerical marriage, why should this be so? Since they have no real structured organization, Protestant churches are built with the individual pastor as the “owner” of the establishment. Hence the lawsuits that pit one divorce lawyer against another in the battle for Protestant church property. That isn’t the case with the Catholic Church. I know that a good divorce attorney might find a loop-hole, but all that basically means is that the Church should take EXTRA measures to ensure that the property of the diocese is not somehow compromised.

How much of this battle for Church property do the Anglicans (Episcopalian) and Orthodox experience?


Adoro te Devote said...

Certainly priestly celibacy is a discipline, not doctrinal, thus it can be changed, but I agree; it shouldn't be.

Especially in today's world. The witness of celibacy is incredible and spiritually builds the rest of us up! Speaking as a single woman, it's awesome to me to look to those who live the celibate life as an example. No, my struggles in this regard may not be the same...or are they? That could be debated to a certain extent.

We need that kind of radical witness, for it goes FAR BEYOND the Church. Every sacrifice we make, if offered in union with the suffering of Jesus Christ, always goes far beyond the obvious. And right now, the Church and the world is in DESPERATE need of the continued discipline of celibacy in a constantly more-secularized and over-sexualized world.

The Church is in a facet of the Dark Night; and as St. John of the Cross observed, the first things to be purified are:

1. Patience, and

2. Chastity.

See a parallel? I do. We NEED this spiritual purification of a form of "dark night", as a whole, and we NEED our shepherds to maintain this discipline and lead us through this crisis of morality we face. To forego the discipline of celibacy in current times is to give in to the fickle winds of secular culture.

Yes, it's a discipline and can be changed, but NOW is not that time nor in our lifetimes, because it's going to take a few generations to purify us spiritually.

But, as in all things, God's timing is best, and I will support what the Magisterium determines as long as I'm alive.

Adoro te Devote said...

Oh, and Father, this is OT, but I was wondering...

Over on Cathy's blog you mentioned issues with Dei Verbum and some problems you see as arising from it. Do you have a specific paragraph in mind?

I'm looking forward to your observations with regard to this but as I am in the class now and we did discuss this document last month, would like to take another look at it in light of what you are proposing.

Fr. Andrew said...


I'm not sure what crystal ball you're using but a magisterial change in the discipline of celibacy is highly unlikely. It was briefly discussed at the 2006 World Synod of Bishops on the Eucharist but strongly opposed- both by Pope Benedict and the Bishops present. See the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis paragraph 24.

The issue of vocations comes down to discipleship. Lifting the discipline of celibacy might cause a few more vocations to come but the root problem of discipleship remains. That is why I call it a band-aide on a gun shot wound.

People are struggling to live their lives from a wholly Catholic perspective. "He who wishes to be my disciple..." Mark 8:34-38. This is also why there are many failed and simulated marriages- we have failed to impart that full perspective of the Catholic faith. Catholic vision, if you will.

But I am young, so am open to being wrong. I do think this is some of the reason you see Pope Benedict XVI working hard on issues of identity- we need a defined someone/something to follow to be disciples.

Tom in Vegas said...

An individual who assumes a celibate life as a measure of both sacrifice and spiritual intensification has indeed consecrated a part of themselves to God. That is both admirable and holy. All Catholic clergy who remain true to their vows and vocation can be said to have entered into this hallowed spiritual awareness. And, if by doing so they remove impurities from the lambs that are entrusted to them, all the better.

But I just don’t see how a loving, caring, faithful, respectful, unpolluted, and spiritual relationship between a priest and his wife augment to the impurities all ready present in the world. Or - if this is the argument - nullify or delude the presbyter’s sacramental undertakings. The Catholic Church already ordains married men. There are multi-denominational conversions to Catholicism which involve not just the new priest, but his ENTIRE family. These men aren’t told, “Yes, we accept you and ordain you so long as you bid farewell to the wife and kids.” As if that wasn’t enough, Melkites ordain married men and they are in full communion with the Bishop of Rome. How have these priests and the laity been compromised by their married status?

As I stated previously, these are the rules right now and they weren’t made to be broken. But that doesn’t mean the Church can’t and shouldn’t evaluate itself at different periods in history and make adjustments where adjustments need to be made. The Catholic Church moves slowly, but it ALWAYS moves forward.


Fr. Andrew said...


It will be coming soon, but issues begin right around the time DV was published by such catechetical authors as Gabriel Moran (whom I critiqued in my thesis) and then worked their way to the leading author of the late '70's early '80's, Thomas Groome. The link isn't genetic (Methuselah begot Lamech) but it is there.

They use the first chapter of DV, especially paragraph 2, to make their assumptions. DV is trying to nuance/correct the locutio Dei model but some go overboard into the invitation and fellowship that DV says are the fruit of Revelation, not the substance.

I am trying to write a theological timeline (if you will) for our Catholic High School and to flesh out some connections in my own head. It might take some time...but hopefully no more time than tomorrow!

Mary Margaret said...

Fr Andrew, I just found your blog, and I am thrilled to read the thoughts of a young, orthodox Catholic priest. I also remember another young priest of SD, Fr Todd Reitmeyer, tragically lost in 2006. It is good to see that SD continues to call fine men to the priesthood. God bless you.

Back to the topic here. I doubt seriously that the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church will change the discipline of celibacy. I doubt that it would solve as many problems as it would cause. We Catholics, for instance, are notoriously poor givers of our money ("a dollar was good enough for my grandfather, it's good enough for me" attitude)and this would simply not do to support married priests and their families. We Catholics also expect an incredible amount of service from our priests--we expect them to be available 24/7, not just for those who are dying, sick, hungry, sick, or in prison--but for pretty much anything that we want. Doubtless, it would do us a lot of good to be more considerate of our spiritual fathers, but we are simply not! Also, we expect priests to celebrate daily Mass, which I don't think is necessarily the norm in other Rites--certainly it is not the norm in the EO church.

Well, don't want to go on too long. Final word here, I will be happy to accede to whatever the Magisterium decides on this issue, but I think it is very unlikely that this discipline will change in the foreseeable future.

Once again, may God bless and keep you, Fr Andrew. I'll be checking in on your blog frequently.

Ray from MN said...

Thanks for the link, Father.

My biggest wonder is, knowing how cheap Catholics are when it comes to the Sunday collection, just what kind of jobs will "Mrs. Father Jones" be able to have?

Cocktail waitress? Checkout in a convenience store that sells "dirty magazines?"

What if she has a really great job for Gizmo Electronics and they want to transfer her to Los Angeles? Will Father have to leave his parish to avoid abandoning his family?

What if Gizmo requires her to entertain customers? Will she and Father be seen in the finer bars, restaurants and golf courses every day? Or will she go solo?