About the ordination priests

Someone on a thread on this forum asked if it isn’t wrong to only have celibate priests? Personally I think there are good reasons for why the clergy should be celibate and unmarried, but I think it is a valid question. Since it is God who calls you to the priesthood and not something you decide for yourself, isn’t it wrong to require a man who wants to become a priest to be unmarried? God doesn’t seem to think that they have to be unmarried, it is not dogma or anything after all, it is only a tradition here in the Western Church, and not capital T tradition, if it was then the eastern rites would have to require a priest to be unmarried as well.

By the way, if a priest is married do they still have to be celibate? I think I have heard someone claim that is the case but it is possible that I remember wrong, or perhaps I don’t but the one who said it was wrong, or perhaps they were right. :slight_smile:

Only in theory, but if someone would become a priest not because they think God calls them to the priesthood but just because they want to become a priest for some other reason. For example, earlier in history when the priesthood was the best way of getting a good education someone becomes a priest because of that reason, is a confession to a priest like that valid? Are they real priests at all? What if one of them becomes a bishop etc.

About the ordination of women, this is something (along with the view on homosexuality etc) I have some problems to understand. I don’t say that the Church is wrong when they say that we can’t accept women in the priesthood, I can see why they say that, what I don’t understand is why God is against it. But I am only a human and as all humans I am imperfect and can’t understand everything, the only thing I can do is to expect that God has a good reason for this and hope that I one day will be able to understand it. This should be an acceptable view according to the Church right?

You touch on a lot of different topics regarding the priesthood. I will probably only respond to a few. Sorry if the post gets disjointed. :o

First, I would just clarify that, simply because something is not dogma doesn’t mean that God doesn’t care or has no opinion. The Pope isn’t just doing his own thing with regards to the celibate priesthood. It is a tradition that goes way back.

Second, I would clarify that only religious order priests take a vow of celibacy. Diocesan priests make a promise of chastity. If they are unmarried, this translates into celibacy. However, if they are married it does not.

Next, the sacraments work ex opere operato (“out of the work having been worked”). In other words, they work objectively apart from the holiness (or lack thereof) of the minister. If a man is validly ordained by a bishop, his subjective “reasons” for wanting to be a priest do not really come into play. He still administers the sacraments validly, provided his bishop or superior has granted him the proper faculties, of course.

Does this help, or does it only raise more questions? :o

Yes, but it is still only a tradition even if it is an old one, there are married priests in the eastern rites so there is no reason when it comes to the teaching of the church to require unmarried priests in the west. I have nothing against this tradition though but if there is married men who feel that they are called to the priesthood then why not let them? What reason do we have? Like I said, dogma doesn’t require priests to be unmarried, only tradition, and if we can change the liturgy a bit then we can change this to. My question is really, do we have right to say to a man who God has called to become a priest that he can’t just because he is married? Again, I don’t have anything against this tradition and I can see more than one reason why it could be good if a priest is unmarried.

Second, I would clarify that only religious order priests take a vow of celibacy. Diocesan priests make a promise of chastity. If they are unmarried, this translates into celibacy. However, if they are married it does not.

Ok :slight_smile:

Next, the sacraments work ex opere operato (“out of the work having been worked”). In other words, they work objectively apart from the holiness (or lack thereof) of the minister. If a man is validly ordained by a bishop, his subjective “reasons” for wanting to be a priest do not really come into play. He still administers the sacraments validly, provided his bishop or superior has granted him the proper faculties, of course.

Yes, I know that it isn’t the individual holiness of the priest that makes the sacrament work, but my question was if a person becomes a priest but he isn’t called by God, is he a real priest then? Of course, you can perhaps never say with certainty that he is or is not called by God, even if he himself would think that he is not, but it was more of an theoretical question. Would that priests ordination be kind of like a false confession?

Does this help, or does it only raise more questions? :o

Thank you for your answers and at the moment it doesn’t raise more questions… so probably not later either :slight_smile:

Ultimately, it’s not up to the individual man to determine whether or not God is calling him to the priesthood. It is up to the Church – through the bishop – to determine if the man is so called. In that sense, the “burden of proof” for recognizing God’s call falls more on the bishop than it does on the prospective priest himself. Since the bishop has been entrusted with the power of “binding and loosing”, when he accepts the call and ordains the man, then he is validly ordained.

I suppose the possibility is there for some extreme scenario such as some secret atheist trying to infiltrate the Church who manages to fool everyone and get ordained. Would such a guy be validly ordained? I honestly couldn’t tell you. I would send the case over to Rome and ask them to sort it out. :stuck_out_tongue:

Married clergy in the West is certainly something that could be changed. I’m sure the Vatican is not unaware of this. They probably talk about it from time to time, too. :slight_smile: But if they do take up the question, they’re going to be extremely careful about it and they’re not going to do it just because the larger culture pressures them to do so.

It is not a Church teaching. It is a Church discipline.

Ah, sorry, that was what I was trying to say, I meant that when you look at the teachings of the Church there is nothing which says that the priest must be unmarried. It was a bad formulation :blush:

As Thistle correctly pointed out, the restriction concerning marriage placed on the Catholic priesthood is a matter of discipline. Just to expand upon this a little more, a discipline stems from Church regulation rather than doctrinal Church teachings. The Vow of Chastity is not required for a valid ordination.

To better understand why the Vow of Chasity is required, we should first consider that it is natural for the Church to place certain qualifications on those who aspire to the priesthood. For example, a candidate for the priesthood normally has to have a Bachelor’s Degree and a Master’s in Divinity (or better). Many dioceses and religious orders also impose an age restriction (i.e., there is a cut-off age for a man to be accepted as a candidate for seminary). There is a period of spiritual formation (including retreats) under the guidance of a spiritual director, which is usually incorporated into seminary training. Some dioceses also impose a year of pastoral service for their seminarians (during which time their seminary studies are temporarily suspended and they work in a parish).

In addition to such disciplines, the Church requires the Vow of Chastity. I found a good summary on the reason in this article on Clerical Celibacy:

Theologically, the Church desires to imitate the life of Jesus with regard to chastity and the sacrifice of married life for the “sake of the Kingdom” (Luke 18:28–30, Matthew 19:27–30; Mark 10:20–21), and to follow the example of Jesus Christ in being “married” to the Church, viewed by Catholicism and many Christian traditions as the “Bride of Christ”. Also of importance are the teachings of St. Paul that chastity is the superior state of life, and his desire expressed in I Corinthians 7:7–8, “I would that all men were even as myself [celibate]—but every one has his proper gift from God; one after this manner, and another after that. But I say to the unmarried and the widows. It is good for them if they so continue, even as I.”

To this, I would add 1Corinthians 7:32-38:

I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the affairs of the Lord, how to please the Lord;
but the married man is anxious about worldly affairs, how to please his wife,
and his interests are divided. And the unmarried woman or girl is anxious about the affairs of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit; but the married woman is anxious about worldly affairs, how to please her husband.
I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord.
If any one thinks that he is not behaving properly toward his betrothed, if his passions are strong, and it has to be, let him do as he wishes: let them marry – it is no sin.
But whoever is firmly established in his heart, being under no necessity but having his desire under control, and has determined this in his heart, to keep her as his betrothed, he will do well.
So that he who marries his betrothed does well; and he who refrains from marriage will do better. (RSV)

In light of this, in making the Vow of Chastity a requirement for the priesthood, the Church is basically requiring aspirants to the priesthood commit themselves to living such biblical models.

And finally let me add that if the Church ever rescinds the Vow of Chastity and priests are permitted to marry and have families, Catholics (generally speaking) will have to start practicing tithing in a better way. There is a big difference in paying a living wage for a single man than for a married man with a family to support. When the collection plate comes around, many people will have to start putting in a check rather than rooting around in their pockets at the last minute for spare change.

I have spoken to several Preist on the issue of marriage and though you will find those that would marry the vast majority feel that they are married to every person in the parish. that they are a parent to every person in the parish. That they do not have time for the normal family and the parish family that each should receive.

Now I can not say that this by anymeans is the universal feeling it is just what I have personally found to be the feeling of the priest I have known and spoken to.

Yes, I actually agree with you very much and I can also see why a priest making a Vow of Chastity is practical and that people do this also because of religious and spiritual reasons and not just because the have to, there is after all also people like monks who never becomes priests but still has chosen to make a Vow of Chastity. The question is, if God has a plan for a latin-rite Catholic man who is married and wants him to become a priest, do we have the right to say ‘‘no’’? The question is quite theoretical and I was actually not the one who came up with the question originally, but I decided to ask ask it here in this thread because I wanted to know what people thought about it.

What most fail to understand is there is a licit and legitimate way for women with a calling to be ordained as priests in the Catholic tradition…the Anglican Church ordains women and they are considered fully licit with Rome. Women are allowed to be Catholic and Priests.

What do you mean? The Anglican Church is NOT licit to Rome, in any degree. In fact, NO ordination of Anglican priests are considered valid - whether male or female. For all intents and purposes, there is no Anglican church.

NO that is not true. Even in among the Anglicans that are coming into the Catholic Church if the Anglican Minister was a woman, she would not be ordain a priest in the Catholic Church. As has been said it is not that we don’t it is that we can not.

How would you know that it is God’s plan?
I would say if the man was married, and would not leave the Latin rite (for one of the Eastern rites under the Pope that allow priests to be married), then it is not God’s plan, but the man’s desire. God does not establish plans for our life that cannot be fulfilled without being disobedient to the regulations established by His Church. He calls us to obedience, even when we prefer what is forbidden.

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