When one sees discussion about moving to ordain women as deacons or priests because there is a priest shortage, one needs to answer the underlying question of why more men aren’t stepping up to take the position of priest. From what I have read, in the Amazon there is some sort of cultural disrespect or loss of status associated with a man being unmarried and/or not having children, so men prefer to marry rather than become single, celibate priests. I do not know enough about the situation to say whether the better approach would be to ordain some married men as priests, or to try to increase the respect for the role of celibate priest. I am also pretty sure that this isn’t the first culture in world history where the Church had to deal with this issue, so they should look to history and try to draw on whatever worked in the past.
In the USA the situation is different because we do not have some great cultural respect attached to a man having a wife or a bunch of kids, nor do we have cultural disrespect for unmarried priests. Any disrespect for priests in this current society is because a small percentage of priests in recent decades have committed some horrible crimes, not because they weren’t married or didn’t have children. Rather, the situation in USA seems to be that men don’t wish to live celibate lives and are not motivated to sacrifice having sex/ having a wife and possibly children for the perceived joy or benefit of serving God as a priest. If women then step in to fill the gap left by these unmotivated men, a lot of the men would be only too happy to let women just handle it, the same way a lot of men let women handle going to church, praying, and doing other religious things which they tend to avoid unless they get a big push or a wake-up call. It’s telling that Fr. Heilman runs a site called “Roman Catholic MAN” and is always trying to post things that appeal to and motivate men, and his audience still seems to be about 80 percent women.
I really think at this point making a heartfelt appeal to St. Joseph is about all we can do…that and maybe fostering the Catholic communities, whether traditional or charismatic or what, that actually move some men to step up and take a leadership role. It’s obvious in the FSSP parishes there are men being priests and doing other stuff all over the place. I mention the charismatic groups because I’m in a couple of those prayer groups and both of them have a lot of women but are led by really enthusiastic lay men. It’s refreshing to see adult men getting all excited about coming down to church to pray for an hour a week and not treating it like just some chore they have to do because their wife wants to go.