Portugal: Catholic priests quitting church 'to marry'

More than 400 men have recently left the priesthood to get married or simply to live as ordinary citizens, one former priest tells Portuguese TVI 24. Of particular concern is the rise in the number of priests who ignore the complex legal process of leaving the church and simply walk off the job, says Fernando Felix Pereira. He heads Fraternitas, a group advocating for the Church to let priests marry.


The source article (in Portuguese) : tvi24.iol.pt/503/sociedade/padre-padres-casar-sacerdocio-igreja-tvi24/1558452-4071.html

I’m curious to hear people’s thoughts. That’s a much larger number than I would have thought.

So they didn’t know the rules before they got themselves ordained?

They do, but they’ve just lost hope. The curia is a horribly slow monolithic bureaucracy, and there was no guarantee such a dispensation would even be granted.

It’s easier just to walk away if they’ve lost hope, or if they still care to preach the Orthodox or Anglican churches would snap them up. I’m sure Clerical celibacy was once an excellent money saving discipline, but it’s getting increasingly self destructive as time goes on.

However foul sexuality might be viewed by traditionalists, lifelong celibacy is not natural. There are some that do not ever marry, but everyone should have the right to take one if they so choose or feel the need to. That’s been recognized as a human right since the 1950’s. Time to get with the program or…well, you can read the “or else” being played out right here.

Even if the rules were changed I doubt anyone already a priest could marry anyways. In the Eastern rites, married priests had to have been married before being ordained.

No one forced these men into the priesthood. Moreover, the Church is filled with saints and religious who were celibate their whole lives, and no it isn’t a natural state, i.e., it takes the supernatural to live like they do. :thumbsup:

One former priest who just happens to head a group that wants the Church to allow married priests. Yeah… the Church will get right on it. :slight_smile:

It takes some . . . . . . .gull to do that.



On the contrary, lifelong celibacy is quite natural… for those whose vocation it is to be celibate, whether they are male or female.

If a man discerns honestly that it is God’s will that he be married, then he will do that. If a man discerns honestly that it is God’s will that he not be married, then he will be celibate. What’s so difficult to understand about that? Or are you contesting the very fact that celibacy can be intended by God for certain people at all?

The Latin Church determined at one point that the vast majority of its priests be celibate, for both practical and spiritual reasons. The Church can legitimately do that. If a priest has a problem being celibate, then he shouldn’t make that promise. It doesn’t mean that he won’t get sexual urges. But if a man is truly intended by God to be celibate, then regardless of whether he is ordained or not, then, well, he is supposed to be celibate.

Maybe it isn’t so much that X number of priests should be allowed to get married. Maybe it’s that they were never intended by God to be celibate in the first place. And that is perfectly fine. But the vast majority of Latin priests are required to be celibate. If a man has determined that he is not intended by God to be celibate, then 99.9% of the time, he probably shouldn’t try to become a Latin priest.


Glad you started this thread. I read this story last night and was surprised at the number of priests that had quit and those that had just walked away. How can a small country like Portugal afford to lose so many priests?!

Are they all making a statement?

As others have said they were aware of the vow of celibacy before they became priests.

Misery loves company :D.


Good point.

When it comes to believing those numbers, a bit of caution may be in order. The former priest who was interviewed admitted he doesn’t have any exact figures. He did say that his organization had 125 members who had/have requested to leave the priesthood. How he arrived at a number 3x as high, I am not sure.

The time frame for these departures would also be important to know. He left the priesthood more than a decade ago. How many other members of his organization left the priesthood a long time ago? I ask because I am wondering if departures from the priesthood have suddenly accelerated, as opposed to a slow leakage over the years. He personally knew of six priests who recently left. Granted, that was from one diocese, but was that situation representative of the nation?

The former priest is not a neutral source: he is promoting the agenda of his organization. I am cautious about accepting his numbers without further information.

There are plenty of lay Catholics who grew up in the Church, have gotten married, and have left the Church long ago. They exercised their option to marry, and are not continuing their journey in the Church either.
Being married and raising a family has it’s own crosses too as they will discover.

Getting rid of celibacy won’t be the magical solution some think it is.

Protestant denominations have their own issues with married clergy.

Wha…? Celibacy has been esteemed in most religious traditions since the dawn of time. Tibetan Buddhists, Indian Shamans, animists in Africa, Australia, celtic cultures etc. etc.

The concepts of general abstinence and fasting as part of the human relationship with our God or gods is recorded in the earliest of human records. It is far from a fouling of sexuality… it is the ultimate commitment of the human person to a spousal union with God!!

Id argue that the ultimate commitment of the human person to a spousal union with God is martyrdom, not celibacy.

Also, it is against the natural law to remain celibate. Human beings are ordered to procreate.

You must take your anthropological wisdom to the universities of the world where they obviously have their findings all wrong.

Just because it has always been practiced doesnt mean its natural. If that were true then homosexuality would be just as tolerated for the same reasons.

I really don’t think that natural versus unnatural is the right way to frame celibacy. All living organisms are oriented towards procreation. If they weren’t, they wouldn’t be able to perpetuate their species.

What is extraordinary and powerful about celibacy and continence is that it forces us to rise above our biology. It is the ultimate demonstration of being in the world, but not of the world. Celibacy and continence bring many, many challenges. There’s no denying that those individuals who are continent and celibate have an extraordinary cross to bear.

The fact that they are willing to make that sacrifice, however, is important. Jesus demands nothing less than 100% of our person; He requires us to love God with all of our hearts, all of our minds, and all of ours souls. Even if celibacy is unnatural, and even if it is hard, God is will within His right to demand that part of our person. Now I’ve known seminarians, and they have always been holy, incredible people. What disturbs me about this article isn’t that people don’t like the Church discipline on celibacy, it’s that people aren’t willing to make that sacrifice for God. If they can’t do it, then how many of us can?

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.