i have heard it argued that the lack of deacons proves that celibacy is not a reason for our shortage in priests.
the argument goes something like this: we have a shortage of deacons, but deacons are allowed to be married, so therefore, our shortage in clergy is not due to celibacy, because if it were, then we would not have the shortage in deacons who are not bound to celibacy.
the problem with this argument is it fails to realize that being a priest and being a deacon are two VERY different things.
a priest is THE MAN. he gets all the glory. he is the servant of God, the one who gets to administer the Sacraments. he is the leader of the entire parish community.
a deacon on the other hand, not so much. he may get to read the gospel and preach a homily every now and then, but this is not necessary. the priest can do these things and usually does.
why does this matter? well, lets ask a few questions:
is the reason for our shortage in clergy because God is not calling men, or because men are not responding to God’s call?
surely, the reason is not because God is not calling men, but because men are not responding.
now, why arent men responding? i know several young men in their 20’s who have told me directly that they would love to be priests, but they just do not want to forfeit the pleasure of marriage. and i know another young man who just became a Catholic this past spring, immediately felt a call of God on his life to become a priest, but then when he considered celibacy, he not only rejected the calling to become a priest, but he decided he would just twist God’s calling on his life, return to protestantism, and become a pastor instead of a priest, so that way he could “follow God’s calling” to be a pastor, and yet still be able to get married.
so it is very, very clear, at least to me and anyone else who knows young men, that there are MANY, MANY, MANY young men who would jump at the opportunity to become priests if they were not required to forfeit the pleasures of marriage to do so.
now, the one who argues that the shortage in deacons is a refutation of this point, might say: well, if that is true, then why dont all these young men just become deacons then?
heres the thing: deacons get no glory. they dont administer the Sacraments. they arent THAT GUY who gets to serve God and represent for the people. and if a man is already married and has kids and is working a full-time job, why would he want to go to school for 4 years while working and raising a family in order to take a position in the church that is often times completely unnecessary ?
the attraction to the married diaconate absolutely pales in comparison, almost infinitely so, to the attraction of the married priesthood. and if we were to allow it, it is my opinion that this would definitely help solve the shortage in priests.
the problem is not the God isnt calling young men, the problem is that so many young men, due to their desire for marriage, are invincibly ignorant to the priestly calling. they would never even consider being a priest because of their desire to be married, and so when God calls, they dont listen. and those who do hear his call may consider it for a while, but considering their options, they would rather be married and have kids than be a priest. after all, theyll still get the Sacraments and the rosary in this life either way.