Married Latin Rite Priest?



I was talking to someone the other day and they mentioned that one of the churches in our diocese has a married priest. The story went something like this…The man was a UMC Minister who was married. He decided that God called him to become a Catholic but also wished to become a Catholic priest. He converted to the Catholic church and after getting special permission from church hierarchy, is now a resident priest at a church in our diocese.

Would this even be possible? Or is this just hearsay?


No, it’s not hearsay. There are many now.

Celibacy is a church discipline, not a dogma. In other words, celibacy isn’t an essential part of being a priest. The Church, having imposed the discipline, can relax it .


This is perfectly possible, there are a number of married priests who were formerly Anglicans to take another example.


Yup. Called the Pastoral Provision, instituted by JPII in the 1980’s.

The second way is through the Anglican Ordinariate.

Both methods currently in use.


Hmm. I wasn’t sure if the person telling me this was just making stuff up or what.

Thanks for the info! :slight_smile:


We have a former Anglican priest in our Archdiocese.
We also have a priest who was always single, but adopted 3 young boys from Puerto Rico. So when he goes to a new assignment, the local press is always scratching their heads about the new Priest at the Catholic church that has 3 grand-daughters. :slight_smile:


The pope could erase the requirement of priestly celibacy with a stroke of the pen today if he so chose.

Since it is purely a discipline encoded in Canon law it is something that can be dispensed by the Vatican for good cause. The celibate state is not a requirement for divine reasons, though it still stands as a powerful witness of love and sacrifice in service of God.


Yes, it is possible. I have heard masses said by two formerly Episcopalian priests who converted to Catholicism and desired to be Catholic priests. They both were married and are permitted to stay married, by the authentic authority of the Church.


An important thing to keep in mind when talking about priestly celibacy is that the question is not “could priests marry” but, rather, “whether married men could be ordained priests.”

For example, among the Eastern Orthodox (and the Eastern Catholic churches), the custom is to ordain non-monastic priests from among married men. It works in much the same way as the permanent diaconate works now in the Western Church: men who are already married may be ordained to the priesthood, but if the priest becomes a widower, he may not remarry (at least, not without first being laicized).

In the East, as in the West, bishops are chosen only from among celibate priests.

So, if the celibacy discipline were to be modified in the Western church, the only workable model would be that of the Eastern churches. There is no way that the Church would ever allow priests to marry after their ordination, while remaining in active ministry. There is simply no precedent in Church history, in any part of the Church, for that.

Since the 1980’s a relatively small number of married Anglican clergy have been ordained to the (Catholic) priesthood. (This was done in order to ease the transition into the Catholic Church for pastoral reasons, as other posters have mentioned.) There is, however, no serious talk of changing the general discipline of the Western church to match the Eastern churches—I think it is unlikely to happen, for a variety of reasons.

(For instance, the married clergy of the Eastern churches presupposes generally a neat division between “monastic clergy” and “married clergy”. In other words, in Eastern dioceses, nearly all of the “diocesan” clergy is married. It would be considered an anomaly to have a large number of celibate “secular” priests.)


Our parish priest is a married former Anglican clergyman with a wife and children…I’m very much in favour of allowing priests to marry if they wish to…


Like the previous poster elucidated, I doubt that priests will be allowed to marry. But,as is already the case, there are instances where married men may be ordained to the priesthood.


Your 3rd to last paragraph is untrue. Priests married in the early church, and even bishops married (notably in the Church of the East and Syriac churches). This was not too long ago. The only semi-recent example I can think of this occurring in the Roman Church would be among Icelandic priests, though.

Today, I don’t know of anywhere this still occurs.


OK, fair enough.

It looks as though the church in Persia, which is the precursor to most of the “Nestorian” churches, did begin to allow priests to marry after ordination. Apparently, late in the fifth century, they abrogated a discipline that they already considered ancient. That church was, however, already in schism after the Council of Ephesus in 431.

Some of the non-Chalcedonian Oriental Orthodox churches allow deacons to marry after ordination, but not priests or bishops.

Those are the only exceptions I could find, and never within the Catholic Church itself.


In actual fact, after the restoration of the permanent diaconate in the wake of Vatican II, with the early ordinations being around 1970, we had a growing phenomenon subsequently of Deacons losing their wives to death. The Deacons were, of course, obliged to celibacy…with the only recourse available being laicisation, if the Deacon wished to marry.

In the 1990s, by motu proprio, Pope Saint John Paul II made an extraordinary provision with profound theological ramification. He reserved to himself the possibility of granting a papal rescript that would allow a permanent deacon who petitioned to contract marriage rather than be laicised…in other words, an ordained cleric could be dispensed from the impediment to marry. The rescripts are not a standard procedure, of course, and extenuating circumstances must be presented and the rescript is reserved personally to the Pope.


It certainly happened within the “Catholic” Church. The Roman Church is not the only Catholic Church.


By “Catholic Church”*I mean the one that is in historical and doctrinal continuity with the entity we now call the Catholic Church.

Although sometimes you will find the term “Roman Catholic Church,” that terminology is never used in Church documents or in theology.

In the Catholic Church’s terminology, the “Roman” Church refers only the Diocese of Rome. All of the churches in communion with the Roman Church—whether they be Western or Eastern in their liturgical traditions—are part of the Catholic (i.e, the universal) Church.

(We would not consider, say, the Eastern Orthodox to be “Catholic,” in the strict sense, because they are not in communion with the universal church, although they do constitute a true church, since they maintain apostolic succession.)

What I mean is, the Persian church was plainly in schism—that is, it was no longer in communion with the Church of Rome—by the time it allowed priests to marry post-ordination. No church in communion with the Church of Rome ever did this, to my knowledge. And most churches that have since left communion with Rome (e.g., the Eastern Orthodox churches) have maintained the discipline as I have described it.


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