Skip to comments.Catholic priests demand the right to marry
Posted on 01/25/2005 5:56:05 AM PST by Catholic54321
Australian Catholic priests are urging Rome to overturn its ban on married clergy as the church grapples with a chronic shortage of ordained priests.
The unprecedented submission to the Vatican directly challenges the obligation of celibacy, a prerequisite of the Catholic priesthood, and has reignited a debate within the church that has been simmering since the Middle Ages.
The National Council of Priests wrote to the Vatican's Synod of Bishops last month arguing that marriage should be no bar to ordination and asking the church to consider readmitting priests who had left the clergy to marry.
It also asked the church to extend the right held by thousands of married clergy who converted to Catholicism from other faiths to practise as priests to other married men.
About half of Australia's 1649 Catholic clergy, including 42 bishops and three cardinals, are members of the National Council of Priests, including the Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal George Pell
The council's chairman, Father Hal Ranger, said the changes were necessary to ensure Catholics had continued access to the sacraments. Vast distances and cultural or lifestyle factors, combined with decreasing priest numbers, meant the opportunity for some Catholics to celebrate the eucharist was "drastically limited". It was important to take decisive action so that Sunday mass and celebration of the sacraments was reasonably available.
"We request that ... the Synod Fathers examine honestly the appropriateness of insisting upon a priesthood that is, with very few exceptions, obliged to be celibate. Priesthood is a gift, celibacy is a gift: they are not the same gift," said the statement, which was written in response to a discussion paper on the place of the Eucharist in Catholic life.
Father Ranger said Australian priests were loyal to Catholic traditions and adverse to liturgical abuse but "we are scandalised when the gnat of abuse is so carefully strained out while the camel of dying communities is being swallowed".
Last month the Sydney Catholic Diocese announced plans to "twin" more than 50 local parishes to overcome falling priest numbers. It came as a survey of more than 300 Australian priests presented to Catholic bishops showed little support for mandatory celibacy and linked celibacy with thoughts of resignation.
A Melbourne priest and statistician has warned that the Catholic Church in NSW faces a dire shortage of priests in the next 20 years as its clergy ages, retires or dies. Father Eric Hodgens predicted the church would have fewer than one-sixth the number needed to conduct Sunday Mass.
Celibacy was the single biggest obstacle to the priesthood, he said, but while admitting married men would make a difference to recruitment numbers it was not the only answer. "The package at the moment is male, full-time, life-long and celibate and I would think that whole package is difficult for most people to embrace," Father Hodgens said.
Cardinal Pell yesterday declined to say where he stood on the issue of celibacy, only that he agreed with much of what had been written by the council, but not all.
"Reflections on the lineamenta [discussion paper] are offered by the executive of the NCP as 'indications of the thinking of many Australian Catholic priests'.
"As a member of the NCP, I would agree with much of what they have written, but not all of it. There are many rooms in the Father's house," he said.
Wrong answer! Liberal dioceses have the least vocations; orthodox dioceses have the most.
But they never suggest fidelity to the Church's teaching as a solution, do they?
The beat goes on.........
The lack of a condemnation of this letter from Cardinal Pell is very telling.
Yawn... You might think the traddies have one issue, but you are really a one-issue pony, aren't you?
This is something that really makes no sense. Priests who are not married are giving marital and other family oriented advice to those that are? Yet, in other christian religions their church leaders do marry but still serve God as members of their community.
Just a question but you think that marriage might cut down on the bullsh*t that goes on in the church?
Yes. I am concerned about the dwindling number of priests. You should be, too.
This is something that was caused by the liberals and modernists of the past 40 years. They mentored no one because they were too busy fulfilling their sordid sexual desires with the boys they should have been mentoring. I have been "concerned about this" for as long as I have been awakened to what has been going on. The liberals/modernists caused this crisis in the Church, and NOW they will have no one to take their places for a generation or so.
There is no shortage of vocations to the priesthood, just as things stand with the celibacy discipline right now. In fact, two college-age and college graduate friends of mine left two and three weeks ago to begin seminary training because they heard God's call and responded.
The liberals/modernists/sodomite priests and bishops made their beds (literally) and now they will garner the fruits of their efforts. God always respects man's free will and his infidelity.
"This is something that really makes no sense. Priests who are not married are giving marital and other family oriented advice to those that are?"
Jesus Christ was celibate. John Paul II is celibate. They have written the most beautiful and highest level of spirituality and practicality on the sacrament of Matrimony of any men ever. Have you ever read what the Church teaches regarding this sacrament?
And "No," allowing men to marry will not cut down on the feces going on because heterosexual men are not attracted to boys. Certainly you understand this...
Nice how you conflated sexual abuse with doctrinal views you don't agree with. I guess the gay priesthood didn't exist before Vatican II.
OK. Keep telling yourself that.
So with all of your altar girls, what are you and your priests doing to foster vocations and a Catholic spirituality in young men? Anything? I certainly do not mean youth group or lifeteen.
What specific programs do you have for the young men and boys?
Let me guess...
Poor babies. I feel really sorry for the modernists who have gained NO ADHERENTS from the younger generation. Poor little babies...
Whatever you do, do not EVER address the content of the message. Just look for ways to pick one point apart which you determine to be the weakest. Don't ever address the real issues. "We have a priest shortage. We are overworked. Woe is me."
Boo hoo hoo... Go cry in your mother's milk. What a bunch of crybaby whimps.
The thing that works best is for priests to talk to young men who might be interested in the priesthood. I've talked to a couple in our parish, but they're not convinced the priesthood is not a haven for gays, and I can't reassure them to the contrary. They're taking a "wait-and-see" attitude while they get their college degrees. They also want to determine if lifelong celibacy is for them.
We've got four men in training for the permanent diaconate, however, all of whom I encouraged to check it out and consider it.
I have to chuckle when laymen come on here and dismiss the concerns of men who are actually IN the priesthood.
It's very easy to take shots at something you know nothing about.
A married Catholic priesthood would simply allow a wider pool of candidates for consideration. Those men who are called to celibacy would remain celibate and bishops would be chosen only from the celibates.
Wouldn't that make them protestant if they want to change things around? They should have thought about this before they became priests.
...For the continual prayer of a just man availeth much. James 5.16
Could it be a denial of grace as a chastisement because of the rampant faithlessness and apostasy of our clergy and laity? God has a history of doing this kind of thing you know. Forty years in the desert comes to mind.
"Even 'orthodox dioceses' are not recruiting sufficient numbers of men to replace those who leave, retire, and die."
We are in Washington. Since the coming of Cardinal McCarrick, vocations have doubled here in Washington, going from about 5 per year (which would lead to an overall decline of priests of perhaps 20% or more) to 9 and 10 per year. Interestingly, seminary entries have increased beyond that, but the full effect hasn't shown up yet, because we appear to still be in the upswing. Even at 10 per year, we will eventually see about a 15% increase in the number of diocesan priests in the archdiocese. However, if ordinations increase proportionately with entries to the seminary, we will, in a few years, be ordaining about 15 priests per year, which will eventually result in an increase of about 50% in the numbers of diocesan priests in our archdiocese.
In the short term, though, the number of diocesan priests will fall, as we have a big bulge of folks who are approaching retirement age (or who have even exceeded it, and have not yet retired).
At least at the present time, the Archdiocese of Washington appears to be moving out of a vocations dearth.
As a side note, there were about 800 seminarians at the Mass at the MCI Center prior to the March for Life in Washington, DC. This must account, I'm guessing, for about 1 out of every 5 or 6 seminiarians in the United States. This, to me, is evidence of the growing orthodoxy of our newer priests.
Blessed be God forever.
Kol, correct me if I am wrong, but aren't the Orthodox experiencing this same "shortage of priests" as the Roman Church is?
And if so, then this proves that the thesis "allowing priests to marry would solve the vocations crisis" to be untrue, would it not?
I believe I have read several articles stating that the Orthodox Church is lacking priests also. So are Protestant denominations as a matter of fact.
The vocations crisis in the Roman Church is tied to a lack of fidelity; simple as that. God always gives His people the results of their actions. He always allows them to suffer do to their stupidity (in the Catholic Church, it begain in the 1960s, and in some quarters, continues until this day.)
"Could it be a denial of grace as a chastisement because of the rampant faithlessness and apostasy of our clergy and laity?"
Bingo. Right on. Of course. Bump.
It means exactly what I said. What qualifies someone who isn't married to give advice to soneone who is? Telling people how to be better parents when they themselves know nothing of the day to day struggles of rasing a kid? Why not just say that you stayed at a Holiday Inn Express the night before? And again, other christian religions allow the church leaders to marry. They live their lives, they raise families and still serve God.
I have met priests who have had women on the side. And, let's get out of denial about the amount of gays who enter the priesthood. Pedophiles are a whole different issue.
"What specific programs do you have for the young men and boys?"
We will have our third annual altar servers' camp (Sorry, NO GIRLS ALLOWED!) for the Latin Mass this summer at the beach. We'll have three days of Masses, rubrics/Latin training, help from two or three priests and two or three seminarians, fun at the beach, and will top it off with a High Mass and then a priestly ordination on Saturday.
What specific programs do you have for your parish's young men and boys?
"What qualifies someone who isn't married to give advice to soneone who is?"
Based upon this same "logic," why should children listen to their parents? They have never been parents before and are "practicing" on their first-born. Why should the first-born listen to them?
The reason they are qualified is that the Church is wiser than any individuals. Based upon the current societal demise, I would think it should be obvious that whatever it is that parents are attempting to to do, (Oh, those who stay married) is simply not working.
Read what the Church teaches and apply it. For most, cutting off God's grace (through use of contraception) is probably the primary reason why things aren't working.
"And again, other christian religions allow the church leaders to marry. They live their lives, they raise families and still serve God."
And their divorce rates are HIGHER than the general population. And how is it exactly that they are serving God? By teaching heresy to their congregations in a schismatic "faith community"? Come again?
Matters are "complicated" now. The need in the Church is the Eucharist. Without priests, there is no Eucharist.
It seems that the Vatican would rather compromise the availability of the Eucharist than compromise on the marital status of the minister of the Eucharist.
The "problems" with married priests are all real problems. To me, the issue is, do those outweigh the declining availability of the Eucharist to Latin Rite Catholics?
That's actually not the case. Applications for rural churches are down, true, but there are more than adequate numbers of Protestant ministers of all denominations who apply to serve in urban congregations.
The vocations crisis in the Roman Church is tied to a lack of fidelity; simple as that.
If that's the case, why are the numbers of men being ordained to the permanent diaconate running at TWICE the number of men who are ordained to the priesthood every year (800 versus 400)?
It is simply not true that Catholic men don't want to serve the Church. It is true that they don't want to serve the Church as celibates.
God always gives His people the results of their actions. He always allows them to suffer do to their stupidity (in the Catholic Church, it begain in the 1960s, and in some quarters, continues until this day.)
Why does God seem to approve of married priests in every other Rite of the Catholic Church except the Latin? Are we Latin Riters the only "stupid" Catholics?
You got some statistical evidence for that? I've never read that the incidence of divorce for Protestant ministers is higher than for the population in general.
KNOCK IT OFF!
They don't like the answers, of course, but I'm answering them nonetheless.
Nobody's getting personal here; nobody's calling anybody a bad Catholic or anything or questioning his/her faith or trashing the Pope. I consider this the kind of debate we ought to have and the manner in which we ought to have it.
Mandatory celibacy is a legitimate issue in the Catholic Church, and it has nothing to do with dogmatic teaching.
Everything's fine so far, as far as I am concerned.
**But they never suggest fidelity to the Church's teaching as a solution, do they?**
One of the best places to put our faith is in Adoration before the Blessed Sacrament. The places where vocations to the priesthood are occurring is in the parishes that have 24/7 Adoration. (Reagrdless of the leanings of the bishop/archbishop.)
So if people want more and holy priests then they should be taking part in the 24/7 Adorations that are happening all across the U. S.
**"This is something that really makes no sense. Priests who are not married are giving marital and other family oriented advice to those that are?"**
This is a sweeping generality voiced by many non-Catholics. Our priest served for many years in the airline industry before answering the call to become a priest. He has dealt with many married couples in finding lost luggage, etc.
Another thing on the marital point -- don't you think that priests have a good idea of how marriage works or doesn't work for the perspective of their parents? Duh.
That would be fine if you were the Religion Moderator, but you're not. My warning stands.
Oops -- don't you think that priests have a good idea of how marriage works or doesn't work from the perspective of their parents?
You have a point about the married priesthood in the Eastern rite. However, if a priest wants to be considered for a bishop, doesn't he have to remain celebate? Why have married priests then?
**As a side note, there were about 800 seminarians at the Mass at the MCI Center prior to the March for Life in Washington, DC. This must account, I'm guessing, for about 1 out of every 5 or 6 seminiarians in the United States. This, to me, is evidence of the growing orthodoxy of our newer priests.**
Oh, what good news!!!!!
Thank you, God, for the gift of these seminarians!
On the point of the Diaconate: Those in the Diaconate cannot say Mass or hear confessions. One could have 8 million members in the Diaconate, but it wouldnt change the fact that they cannot say Mass or hear confessions.
"To me, the issue is, do those outweigh the declining availability of the Eucharist to Latin Rite Catholics?"
This is a legitimate question to ask. Our approaches, of course, and therefore our answers, may vary; but in principle, if this is truly your motivating factor, then discussing it is not outside the bounds of orthodoxy, necessarily--not any more than discussing the orthodox applications of ecumenism or the Roman rite of the liturgy.
True. But deacons can do everything else. EVERYTHING ELSE!!
In terms of hours spent during the course of a week, celebrating nine Masses and two hours of confession amount to ten percent of a priest's waking hours. I thought we were also talking about workload.
Have you noticed how many activities formerly done by priests are now done by laymen? Counseling, business administration, liturgy planning, sacramental preparation, RCIA, marriage cases, hospital and nursing home visitation...all these are done by laymen and deacons in our parish.
We had a married Episcopalian priest convert here for three years, and he certainly wasn't breaking his back in terms of his workload.
"However, if a priest wants to be considered for a bishop, doesn't he have to remain celebate? Why have married priests then?"
For many centuries now all Orthodox bishops have come from the ranks of the celibate priest monks. If you want to be a bishop, you don't get married before you get ordained. It is that simple. I guess I don't quite get your point. But as usual, I'm willing to be enlightened.
Believe it or not, not every priest harbors dreams of the episcopacy. Some, in fact, don't even want to be pastors. We have a 32 year old associate in our parish who pastored a rural church for a year, and told the bishop he never wants to be a pastor, ever again.
Instead, he's working on a doctorate in Scripture studies, and wants to spend the bulk of his time teaching scripture.
Of course not. But there are problems with everything. It's just a matter of which set of problems the Church can live with.
In theory, and I suspect in practice, in Orthodoxy certain deacons could hear confessions. For us the office (offikion) of confessor is not automatically one held by reason of ordination. It is conferred by a bishop separate from Holy Orders. Thus it is quite common in Greece for non-ordained monks to hold that offikion and hear confessions.