I ran across a really good article on married clergy in the Latin Rite. I thought it was worth sharing.
**March 1, 2013 AD **
**Sean Connolly **
It was recently my distinct displeasure to be roped into a debate about whether, under Canon Law, married deacons in the Latin Rite have an obligation to observe “perfect and perpetual continence.” Those arguing in favour of the obligation were remarkably passionate. One young lady even went so far as to say that she and her husband avoided liturgies officiated (she might have said “polluted”) by married clergy. They were also tenacious. No curial statement or pontifically sanctioned norms of formation could make them shut up, nor did brotherly love seem to urge them to adopt prudent cease-fire (or even to lighten their tone) in the interest of preserving the emotional health of the deacons and their wives that were involved in the discussion, the most intimate aspect of whose lives was being made the subject of a prolonged and often vicious public scrutiny.
The persistence with which many of these people pressed the issue leads me to think that their interest in the matter is hardly academic. This particular point of Canon Law instead seems to have presented them with an opportunity to attack and, in the right academic circles, attempt to destroy an institution which they view with disdain, a sexually active married clergy in the West.
Why such aversion?
Most people enjoy sex, but most people do not respect it. They view it as a guilty pleasure, even when it is legitimate. The primary end of marriage becomes for them a kind of constant reminder of their own imperfection. That they desire sex for something more than the propagation of the human race, and that they enjoy more about it than the pleasant hopes it conjures of little voices round about the hearth, bothers them. As a cure for concupiscence it is tolerable: as an expression of love it is unthinkable.
When they consider the possibility of a married clergy, then, they have to view it as a kind of concession to human weakness. Clergy should, as leaders of the community, be of exceeding holiness. As such, they reason, they should be able to refrain from such base things as sexual relations.
In the considerations that follow, I will deny neither the objective superiority of celibacy to marriage, nor the benefits of the discipline of mandatory celibacy. Nevertheless, I hope to explode all of those poisonous attitudes that colour the whole discussion of married clergy.
It helps me to retain a balanced outlook on life if I remember that every state in life is subject to abuse. Each state has its own peculiar pleasures and benefits that can be sought inordinately and enjoyed to sinful excess. Carthusians make a particular point of ensuring that the candidate is not embracing a life of austerity in the Charterhouse simply to avoid the cares and responsibilities of the world. St. Gregory the Great’s Life of St. Benedict provides countless illustrations of the extent to which monastic life in common can be perverted into a horrible caricature: at one point the monks attempt to murder the Saint for trying to shape them up.