Former Priests


#1

We all know that many validly ordained catholic priests have returned to living in the lay state at their own request, many of whom did so in order to marry. However we are now also in the position where many convert anglican clergy have been ordained as catholic priests and they have been allowed to continue to live as married men. So it seems that the church does not see marriage as an impediment to the office of priesthood. Why then are the priests that the church has already ordained not asked back to serve on the same basis as their former Anglican colleagues. We know that celibacy is a church law from the circa 10th century, probably designed to protect church property from being inherited by the families of priests, so why not waive it for diocesan clergy and encourage religious orders to continue with it


#2

I am sure there is some official reason.

But as a parishioner in the pew, I would have a problem with a priest that broke his vows. What else would he be willing to break? The seal of Confession??

So if they accepted him back, they would have to send him somewhere else.


#3

My understanding is that one can’t marry AFTER ordination. In the Western rite, celibacy is the practice, but in the Eastern rite married men are ordained priests. Similarly in the Western rite married men can be ordained Deacons. However neither rite permits ordained men, priests or deacons, who are widowers to remarry.

In the instance you present you’re basically saying, “If Fr. X makes a lifelong vow to God, decides to break that vow, why don’t we ask him back to serve God while continuing to break his vow to Him.”


#4

[quote="Jimmygill88, post:1, topic:289898"]
We all know that many validly ordained catholic priests have returned to living in the lay state at their own request, many of whom did so in order to marry. However we are now also in the position where many convert anglican clergy have been ordained as catholic priests and they have been allowed to continue to live as married men. So it seems that the church does not see marriage as an impediment to the office of priesthood. Why then are the priests that the church has already ordained not asked back to serve on the same basis as their former Anglican colleagues. We know that celibacy is a church law from the circa 10th century, probably designed to protect church property from being inherited by the families of priests, so why not waive it for diocesan clergy and encourage religious orders to continue with it

[/quote]

The simple reason is that the Church says so. Period.
It could be otherwise. Yes.
But it is the Church policy. Period.
But, let's see. The Eastern church does not allow priests to marry, it allows married man to be ordained. But here, Bishops do not marry.
Anyhow, if priests married here in the West, why not, Bishops' And the Pope?
Who would follow entirely Jesus Christ Who was not married for a reason ?
The Church, with Her Authority, permitted exceptions, as the Anglican converted to Catholics. But that is what an exception is: an exception. Otherwise it would not be an exception. And there is one reason for it: Ecumenism. If a whole Anglican Congregation moves into Catholicism, they can move together with their priest to allow a smoother transition.


#5

I realise the church says so. However my question is what is the fundamental rationale. Not marriage per se clearly. If not then maybe the church should seriously reconsider in exactly the same way it reconsidered (and changed it) before.


#6

:wink:

Diocesan clergy do not take vows. And the the scenario I posited is one where priests have asked for and recieved a dispensation. You should note that these men can legitimately marry in a catholic church making them de facto if not de jure ‘married priests’


#7

catholic.com/tracts/celibacy-and-the-priesthood
The tradition in the Western or Latin-Rite Church has been for priests as well as bishops to take vows of celibacy, a rule that has been firmly in place since the early Middle Ages.


#8

[quote="mdkirkbride, post:3, topic:289898"]
My understanding is that one can't marry AFTER ordination. In the Western rite, celibacy is the practice, but in the Eastern rite married men are ordained priests. Similarly in the Western rite married men can be ordained Deacons. However neither rite permits ordained men, priests or deacons, who are widowers to remarry.

In the instance you present you're basically saying, "If Fr. X makes a lifelong vow to God, decides to break that vow, why don't we ask him back to serve God while continuing to break his vow to Him."

[/quote]

Celibacy is actually confused with the vow of chastity. Priests who do not belong to a religious order promise not to marry (not actually chastity but one could hope). They have been released from the promise by the Pope who deems it appropriate or not in individual cases which are not for us to speculate on.


#9

True, but they do make promises. Promises that they should intend to keep.

And the the scenario I posited is one where priests have asked for and recieved a dispensation. You should note that these men can legitimately marry in a catholic church making them de facto if not de jure ‘married priests’

In the scenario you mentioned the priest should have been taking care of his duties, not finding a wife.

It is kind of like your boyfriend/girlfriend telling you that they might want to see “other people.” Chances are, they already have that other person in mind.

I would have no problem with a married priest. I would have a problem with a priest that decided to break his promise, and wanted to get married. I see that as a big difference.


#10

[quote="mdkirkbride, post:7, topic:289898"]
catholic.com/tracts/celibacy-and-the-priesthood
The tradition in the Western or Latin-Rite Church has been for priests as well as bishops to take vows of celibacy, a rule that has been firmly in place since the early Middle Ages.

[/quote]

Quite we have had a thousand years or married clergy and a thousand years of unmarried clergy so 'tradition' seems balanced to me. Although I would suggest the tradition of the early church may have something more to be said for it than the 'tradition' imposed by a medieval Pope (being generous many of their actions were questionable and made as temporal rather than spiritual leaders)


#11

OK. But maybe you should include the fact that these young 25 26 year old sheltered men are actually human. You accept married priests but are unwilling to forgive that is really sad, and possibly unchristian


#12

I find it sad when men leave the priesthood to marry. But I totally understand. Some men probably became priest with every intention to live out those promises and serve God. But maybe loneliness, sadness at not having children, and other things got to them and they felt it was better to leave the priesthood than to shame it with immoral behavior. I see them as men, human beings, and some who genuinely thought they could live under the promises they made found out they couldn’t. I have no ill feelings toward a priest who leaves under those conditions. Better to do that than to engage in immoral conduct and scandalize the Church.

Lorrie


#13

:thumbsup:


#14

They are not just released from their promises. They are returned to the clerical state. That’s a much bigger deal.

There is a danger in looking at this in terms of the numbers. Many, if not most, of the priests who left to marry did not go through the process of being released formally from their promises. They just left to find their own way. The priest that did that would not be suitable to return. They obviously have had serious problems not just with celibacy but with obedience as well.

From a more psychological perspective, you are looking at a group of men who have demonstrated that they were not able to make a life-long committment to a vocation - TWICE. That alone should be enough not to consider it.


#15

Oh, I forgive them. And I wouldn’t have a problem with them being married.

But sorry, I don’t agree that they should come back to the parish as a priest. I would have a hard time trusting them.


#16

Good points. However my understanding of the priestly vocation is that we must believe that they were really called by God. Surely a return would indicate an acceptance of that original call. You are if couse right about the suitability of individual returnee (indeed we may not desire them back if they did ask). Many left without dispensation because Pope JP II wouldn’t give dispensations. But all that aside we should remember that there are thousands of validly ordained men in the world and we are asking lay people to conduct prayer meetings and distribute viaticum in the absence of a priest. Even if not celebrating mass or hearing confession surely distributing communion, marriage and baptism could be a useful and fulfilling role for us and them


#17

[quote="maryjk, post:15, topic:289898"]
Oh, I forgive them. And I wouldn't have a problem with them being married.

But sorry, I don't agree that they should come back to the parish as a priest. I would have a hard time trusting them.

[/quote]

Well I imagine many of them wouldn't dream of asking to come back knowing how unforgiving and lacking in trust good catholic congregations can be


#18

I think maybe Priests are put on a figurative pedestal by some elements within the church, and when they fall (as human beings they will) the level of opprobrium heaped upon them is disproportionate. Rather like the Paliamentary Conservative Party behaved towards Margaret Thatcher


#19

I would have a hard time trusting my husband if he cheated, too.

Forgiving doesn’t mean forgetting. Otherwise we wouldn’t need prisons. All criminals would have to do was to say they were sorry and we should forgive and forget.

No more a pedestal than anyone else that makes a promise. And if that person breaks their promise, I would forgive them. But I wouldn’t rush to accept more promises from them.


#20

[quote="maryjk, post:19, topic:289898"]
I would have a hard time trusting my husband if he cheated, too.

Forgiving doesn't mean forgetting. Otherwise we wouldn't need prisons. All criminals would have to do was to say they were sorry and we should forgive and forget.

No more a pedestal than anyone else that makes a promise. And if that person breaks their promise, I would forgive them. But I wouldn't rush to accept more promises from them.

[/quote]

There speaks a true humanitarian sigh


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.