This would be interesting? If a majority of Bishops said yes?
I’d be fine with it if it can be made to work, not that my opinion matters. My only reservation is how the families of married priests will function in parish life. Ask the Protestant ministers how hard it is to be a minister, a husband, and a father. Ask the wives how hard it is to have to take a backseat to the needs of the congregation, and the children, as well.
It’s not the equivalent of being a doctor or other profession that demands a lot of the person’s time because doctor’s wives and children are not set on pedestals from which they are expected to be perfect examples of family life. In practice, the priest’s family cannot/dare not make mistakes or be fallible like everyone else. It would be a great burden to bring a family into the priesthood, no doubt about that. The example of broken marriages and wild PKs is evidence of this.
I’m just saying the idea is full of difficulties. I can see retired couples doing it or ones with older children, perhaps, but it would still be hard. The whole family would have to be on board and the parish would have to be willing to let them all be people like they are instead of expecting perfection when they don’t demand it of themselves.
Personal i think all priests should be given the choice to marry if they want to, 39 popes have been married seems a shame that that stopped.
Let’s not get too excited. This is an “in principle” discussion during a private audience. I doubt it will lead to anything; besides, the “all bishops must agree” rider seems to be a Jesuitical way of saying “that’s not very likely.” The Pope has a sense of humour.
I think that this is an opening for perhaps some more dialoging on the issues.
As Della points out there are a lot of things to consider.
One of my thoughts was that ordination might be opened to some married men who are currently in the permanent deaconate - perhaps with grown children.
More factually, perhaps from philosophy-religion.blurtit.com/78806/how-many-catholic-popes-have-been-married:
Some estimates are that up to 39 Popes have been married, but evidence is sketchy on many. The following are the more certain ones.
Popes who were married while Pope:
St. Siricius, the 38th Pope, abandoned his wife and children to become Pope, says Church tradition.
Hadrian II (Pope 867-872 AD). Resided with wife and daughter while Pope.
Boniface IX (1389-1404)
Felix V (1439-1449)
The rest listed on the website were widowers, which even now does not exclude a man from entering the priesthood.
Just remember we already have married priests, in the Eastern Rite, as well as the ministerial exemptions in the Latin Rite. It might not be as difficult as you might think. In fact, I would think that allowing married men to be ordained would be normalizing across the board.
That being said, I think that there should be an even more intensive discernment period, because of the impact it would have on the family. Another practical consideration is the time in seminary. When I was looking at priesthood, the diocese was talking about sending me to the Josephinum, which is about a 10-hour drive away. It wouldn’t just be the man likely moving for their time in seminary; it would be the whole family uprooting and moving (with children likely changing schools). I know in some of the dioceses with their own seminary that wouldn’t necessarily be as big an issue, but in others it might be a great difficulty.
This person’s answers that you quote from and link to has many factual errors. For example, “Felix V” was not Pope, but a layman antipope. Boniface IX was also not married. I think she’s thinking of Benedict IX, who some claim resigned in order to marry (but he ended up regretting his decision, did not marry, and tried to get the papacy back). Likewise, she says Gregory IV was Pope in 1074 and he was the first to legislate celibacy, which is untrue–he was Pope in 795 and I am unaware of him legislating in this regard. This makes the rest of her assertions verysuspect, IMO, and I can find nothing to support them.
I think the subject of this thread might be misleading as to the content of the article. Obviously if all the world’s bishops, including the Pope, decided to change this discipline, then obviously it would be changed–the college of bishops, together with its head, the Pope, exercises supreme authority over the Church. If they all, including the Pope, agreed to change a discipline, there would be nothing stopping the discipline from being changed. Please correct me if I missed it, but I don’t see where this was discussed in the article.
In the article the Pope merely said bishops’s conferences should try to discern solutions to the shortage of priests in their areas and submit those suggestions to Rome for approval. I don’t see where he said Rome would approve married priests if they were suggested. Also, there’s no mention of a decision being made based on a “majority” of bishops, as the OP suggests. Again, I may have missed where this was stated by the Pope or bishop in the article.
I think you are confusing priests being allowed to marry with married men being allowed to become priests. Priests have never been allowed to marry. In the past in the West (and currently in the East) married men have, indeed, been allowed to become priests. The Pope’s comment was about married men becoming priests, not priests being allowed to marry.
I wonder how far this will get especially since they haven’t reached a definite agreement regarding Deacons and perpetual continence.
As it stands, I do believe some married couples could do that, but it doesn’t seem like it would add MORE, significant number, to the priesthood. Perpetual continence for a married couple is very hard.
But, if they were to agree to it, then it could be conceivable.
I could see why he said they would need to discuss it, Bishops, that is.
“Clerics in the Western Church, even those married, are bound by Canon 277 (and by the unbroken and unanimous tradition behind that canon) to observe perfect and perpetual continence. This thesis, though it surprises most and astounds some, is not offered lightly. The obligation is firmly grounded in Western law and tradition and has, in fact, withstood every attempt to repudiate it over the centuries, even during periods (such as obtain now) of widespread inadvertence to the requirement.” Dr Peters
I probably should have conjured up a different line of thought based on the article, right now, i am pretty sure that a majority of bishops don’t yet approve of having priests marry, to me i believe they should continue to live their lives of celibacy in the Lord’s work. Each one of those men does great things in the Parishes in which they serve, that should continue. Yes, in this article there was no mention of a decision made by his Holiness regarding the issue, it was said that he was open to Bishop’s suggestions on the issue, not an actual decision.
Thank you for the corrections to the article. It’s so hard to find truly factual material on such topics on the www. My aim was to simply point out that the whole “39 popes were married” meme is an exaggeration and misleading statement.
Agreed that allowing priests to marry is a different topic from allowing married men to become priests. Look at the current state of deacons. Married men are allowed to become deacons and the discernment process includes their wives because the wives of deacons will have some participation in the deacon’s ministry. At the very minimum, the wife must totally accept her husband’s vocation as part of their married life.
Allowing priests to marry is a bit different. In this case, the man is already a priest and there is really no process of discernment that includes a prospective wife. Not that there couldn’t be one, only that there isn’t one now and something would need to be done about that to assure that the priest who might want to be married doesn’t sacrifice his vocation in favor of his marriage.
That said, married priests were allowed for at least the first several hundred years of Church history. There are various reasons advanced why this went away and celibacy became the rule. But I see no reason why married priests couldn’t be allowed with some caveats. First, celibacy should still be a requirement for bishops and above because they are the ones charged with tending the shepherds at the parish level, that is very much part of their mission. Second, start with already married men becoming priests; not that hard, that is how it is with deacons. Third, I wouldn’t extend this to already existing priests and deacons wanting to marry without a strong discernment process to look at the suitability of the prospective fiance to support the priest/deacon in his vocation. Fourth, orders and communities would not be required to relax their own restrictions.
It’s an interesting topic, one worthy of debate…
As someone once said “if married priests were the answer to the shortage, we’d be trying to convert Protestant ministers for that purpose”.
Having married priest may solve some problems, but it would also open up a whole new can of worms for Churches that cannot afford to pay a man a decent wage to support a wife in kids.
That can and does happen in Protestant circles.
There’s no harm in having a good discussion, but let not excitement rue the day.
I think allowing married men to be ordained would be a great thing. This is different from allowing priests to marry. In the eastern churches a man must marry before ordination. You cannot get married afterwards. Married men serve in parishes, celibates go to monasteries. We could start by looking at ordaining married deacons.
Eastern church parishes seem to operate just fine with a married clergy. Being a priests wife is a special calling for a women. We can learn a lot from the priests and wives of the eastern churches.
The difference is that Eastern churches haven’t been heavily influenced by Western Protestantism. People in the West view married priests very differently from those in the East. In the East it’s part of the culture, but not here. Also, life in the West tends to be a lot more hectic because we are so driven by the Protestant work ethic and money structures. Western culture isn’t as welcoming a place for a married priesthood as the East. And the Latin Church is generally much larger with proportionally larger parishes, as well. I don’t believe a one-on-one comparison can be made or is all that useful in discussing a married priesthood in the West.
Catholic parishes out in the US can be very large, I think there are over 2000 parishioners per priest in my city.
How can parishes afford to pay the priest enough so that his family could live off of it?
Thanks for these reminders.
The article is quite good on the whole, though its take off point - emphasizing a controversial solution to the overall “priest shortage” problem that is unlikely to be coming any time soon - seems to be emphasized for its headline power more than its substance.
**A priest shortage works to the ends of Satan - **that is to say, Satan would love it if the mass was not celebrated anywhere at all and that true priests would not be able to be found. It appears that in some places (as in the article Mexico and parts of Brazil) where there are Deacons but no priests, masses begin to get scarce. Two or three times per year.
**Bishops can “make priests”. AND “make priests faster” than they do. **And the jump to making already married men into priests (a popular secular solution to the problem) has happened a little in the cases of some “converts” who held that rank in other Communions.
But I see some anomalies elsewhere; solutions that could be done now to feed the sheep.
Consider ordaining new priests closer to the probation period used by the ***early Church ***… which was quite quick. Notwithstanding that mistakes could still be made and that the apostles (like Peter, Paul and John) sometimes had to correct Church leaders in some communities – the Evangelization got done.
A true **emphasis on the sacramental aspects of “already priests” **over the pressures of running the “business aspects” of the parish could mean a greater availability of the sacraments to the faithful. Beginning with “retired priests” - let this be “retired from the secular and business aspects” concentrating more fully upon the things that only a priest can do. Sacraments, more authoritative teaching than laypersons can do themselves.
Between taking forever to ordain priests in the first place, and retiring veteran priests in the second place … the result is often “less priests” … hence less masses, less confessions, church closures, etc. Which - is not “good business” either come to think of it.
Before jumping to “let’s ordain married men!” - consider ordaining as many Deacons, “Brothers”, and other “viri probati”** proven UNmarried men **who are already committed to doing the Lord’s work for the rest of their lives. They don’t have to accept this “further call” of course, but if a Bishop asked an unmarried Deacon to “become a priest” for the good of the Diocese - how many would say yes?
And how LONG would the promotion process take? Or better - how quickly can a Bishop ordain a man he is sure of to the priesthood? Should a cornucopia of educational and other prerequisites (taking years to accomplish) be so ardently adhered to while the sheep go hungry? The Bishops themselves can ordain. And quite quickly if need be - especially where older, more “proven” per orthodoxy unmarried Catholic men are concerned.
Older (single) men … sometimes quite YOUNG … are excluded from being accepted as Diocesan priests or to the Seminaries sometimes. I’m talking 30s. There is a preference for the just out of High School or College men (teens to early 20s) to be accepted to seminaries in some Diocese’s “system”. Rationale: By then a person should know if he has the call. Why wasn’t becoming a priest the man’s “first priority”? But this eliminates some very fine candidates who have perhaps experienced life a bit more than the “ideal” but somewhat sheltered Seminary candidate.
1 After this the Lord appointed seventy (-two) others whom he sent ahead of him in pairs to every town and place he intended to visit.
2 He said to them, "The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest.
On earth the Bishops are the “master of the harvest”. They should ordain more priests if they can. The overall master of course is Jesus. And we can pray that he blesses the Church with all that it needs.