There’s an item down in the news section on a rumor that Pope Francis is going to allow married men who had to leave their position as Priests to return, in Brazil, in order to address a Priest shortage. That item is here: forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=1036405
That got me thinking, and I posted the item below, but as this expands out from the conversation on Brazil, I thought I’d cross post as a thread up here to see what people think.
I’m sure that this has been discussed ad nausem up here, but none the less, here goes:
In an effort to contribute, and after pondering this, I’ll add the following.
Before I do, let me know that I’m a very traditional Catholic. Not a Rad Trad, but I’m definitely on the traditional end. If I could put the alter rail back in my church, I would. And if they offered a Latin Mass here, I’d definitely go from time to time. And I’m glad that a selection of Cardinals has written their Dubia.
And I also feel that, in this day and age in which the history of the early Church is so easily obtainable, the truth of our Faith is beyond reasonable question.
With that background then, I’ll add this.
I think we ought to rethink the prohibition on married Priests in the Latin Rite.
We’ve been discussing St. Peter, of course, and I’ll be frank that while I think Karl Keating has done a huge favor to the Faith by starting Catholic Answers, I don’t find his argument regarding Peter’s spouse convincing. I really don’t see why we’d expect the writers of the Gospels to write about Peter’s wife and child(ren). Writing was a difficult and expensive burden and we know from the writers of the Gospels themselves that they omitted even many miracles from their writings, as they say they omitted them. If they were omitting miracles, why would they expend the resources necessary to detail family members unless necessary?
And I’m not prepared to discount Clement of Alexandria when he says he saw Peter’s wife martyred. Maybe he was mistaken, but it’d be assuming a lot for me to assume so. Admittedly that’s not much to go on, but it’s not so little that we can just discount it.
Carrying on, we also know that at least some early Bishops of the Church were married. Paul, in writing to Timothy, noted:
“A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; One that rules well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity”
If Paul was of the opinion that Bishops should be good husbands and not drink too much, and govern his children well, this tells us that a married man could be a bishop and could drink (but not to excess) and could have children, and still be qualified to be Bishops.
And of course the prohibition on married priests exists only in the Latin Rite, although I believe that the Eastern Rite and the Orthodox do not allow married men to be Bishops.
Okay, here’s my question then.
I can think of some good current reasons why Priests should not be married. The life being a Priest requires, the pressure of the modern world, the need to move every few years, and the economic burden to the Parish, but I can think of some reasons why the opposite is true.
Principal amongst those is that it seems to me that times have changed so that its less likely, at least in the West, that manly young men heed their call in the sex saturated world in which we live today. In a culture in which virginity of any kind is abhorred its tough not to be distracted when young by this. Allowing married Priests would operate against this, I think, and allow a more manly class to be attracted to their vocation.
I also think that many hear that call later on, after they have been married. After a few years enduring the delusion of the satisfactory natures of careers, and the like, as they age, that old call comes back. But what then? Even if they have a good and faithful Catholic wife, and even, let’s say, if the children are grown and gone, they may not then answer the old call.
And on that, in an era in which we discourage the very young from entering the seminary, as we once did, and we allow for the ordination of priests who are middle aged or even a little older than that, what would be the harm in allow married Priests to some degree? That is, why shouldn’t the Latin Rite allow men to be ordained, let’s say, whose wives are past their childbearing years when their children are grown and gone? Indeed, wouldn’t that be an inspiration to those younger people as they considered their careers?
For that matter, why not encourage biritual Priests from the Eastern Rite to serve in Latin Rite churches if there’s enough of them? The Eastern Rite is pretty small in North American and Western Europe and t hey only need so many Priests. If they had a surplus of interested men (and I don’t know that they do) I’d be for the Latin Rite taking them in service, even though of course they’d remain Easter Rite Priests.