Priesthood Celibacy Poll (Reworded for Clarity)


#1

We have many wonderful and faithful celibate priests and bishops. We love them and are grateful to them for their gracious sacrifice. This poll in no way refers to them and in fact hopes to serve them.

Do you think that if married priests were allowed less restrictively, this would help the Church to be able to choose priests more based on faithfulness to the magisterium and less on celibacy? The idea is that faithful married and unmarried men in the priesthood would do more to end dissent. This in turn would help Catholics work to end abortion, contraception, divorce, (abuse), and liberal movements in the Church. This could also advance the mission of Jesus and transform society.

I have heard that perhaps dissent is tolerated because the Church doesn’t have enough priests. If married priests were allowed, then perhaps we could easily remove dissenters and replace them with the best of the faithful of either married or unmarried priests.

This is a valid hypothetical because the magisterium can allow married priests if they decide it is in the best interest of the mission of Christ.

Also, when I say “more” married priests, I mean the magisterium would allow no more than approximately one third of priests to be married.


#2

Yikes, I didn’t realize I was the first to vote. What power to control 100%.

Greg, I really appreciate the logical way that you presented this. At this point in time, I think that ordaining more married priest would do more harm, than good for the following reasons:

  1. The faithful mostly do not understand the difference between matters of discipline and matters of faith. For your average Catholic in the pews, the question will be “If the Church can change its mind about married priests, why can’t it change its mind about women priests, abortion, birth control, divorce etc.?”

  2. The possibility of a priest going through a messy divorce so soon after the other recent scandals is unthinkable.

  3. Seminary reform is only just beginning and would need to be much further along, especially in terms of moral ethics.

This being said, in 40-50 years, we may be ready.

Also, I think that a procedure for ordaining some (way below your 1/3 number) permanent deacons to the priesthood after many years of faithful service and stable marriage might possibly be helpful in some cases.


#3

Kristine gave some good reasons, and I also think it might be possible for the rule to be changed at some later time, but should not be now.

First, I agree with the Pope about the example of celibacy, especially in a society like that in the US, where people think it is impossible or unnatural to abstain from sex. Also, it would support those who claimed that the sex scandals were the result of the “unnaturalness” and perversity of celibacy. (And I heard a talk by a priest who came here from another country and talked about how celibacy was harder here, since it’s seen as such a weird thing not to be coupled in American culture.)

Second, it brings up a lot of potential new messy problems–priests using contraceptives, being divorced, cheating on their wives, etc. (And there are child abuse problems among the clergy in Protestantism too—any career where there’s access may attract abusers.)

Third, I don’t think it’s likely to make a big difference in the number of priests, except right at first. You could even make an argument that one reason for the decline in vocations is the increasing idea that it’s just a job (so why not be a teacher or social worker or whatever), and that allowing married priests would support that understanding of it and be counterproductive.
Fourth, I don’t think it’s the shortage that causes the dissenting priests. It’s tough to remove priests, as we’ve seen, because of the nature of ordination. Not to mention that my experience, at least, is that most of the newer priests are really faithful, and the ones that are more likely to dissent are older by a generation or so.

Fifith (and last for now), I understand that some people might not perceive the call 'til later (though I have enough trust in God that I don’t think that’s the big problem), but I’m really unimpressed with someone unmarried who would become a priest except for the celibacy requirement. I don’t think that person would make a good priest, not realizing what an amazing gift and privilege it would be.


#4

Yes, all these theories would be fine except:
[list]
*]many priests dissent - read Veritatis Splendor
*]many Catholics vote pro-abortion
*]Catholic presidential candidates model for the nation that they are pro-abortion when the non-Catholic isn’t. Isn’t this a seriously wrong that Catholic for president isn’t pro-life. Do you expect people to take Catholicism seriously?
*]apparently many Catholics use and support contaception
*]Scripture encourages celibacy but does not seem to rule married clergy out restrictively as we do now.
[/list]Also, consider that the opposition to married priests by the laity may not be based on true faithfulness to the mission of Jesus but rather to preconceived notions that do not even seem to conform with Scripture.

I am Catholic, however, I do consider Scripture as well as Tradition and I rejoice that Tradition certainly has the authority to interpret Scripture. Tradition does not rule out married priests in general, however, and the current state is a discipline.

What also really bothers me is this. Dissenting (and other) priests can consecrate and hear confession and advise Catholics that contraception is OK. Yet, faithful and orthodox married men cannot be priests. I find this wrong. Say what you want, but I think this state of affairs is wrong. I think it would be better to replace a dissenting priest with an orthodox married man who (assuming training and other qualifications of course).

So the theories of why we shouldn’t have married priests don’t stand up to the reality of the state of affairs today. The Church needs to do much more to transform the world to the kingdom of God and we need to be much more effective. The Church must transform society. We must work for the end of evil and the establishment of God’s kingdom on earth. Some priests seem to be the enemy of rather than the promoter of this. There are too few discussions of the depths of God’s love and too many discussions of how the Church needs to liberalize. That’s not the right direction.

It’s not that we don’t have many holy men - we do - men that are models for all of us. However, I look at how much more we need to do that could much more easily happen without the opposition of dissent especially within the clergy.

Greg


#5

I think it is too much to ask to be father of a family and father of a parish as well. One will suffer.

Priests married in non pastorial roles would not be a big an issue.

-D


#6

I don’t believe that allowing married priests would “help” the church.

Let’s think about why the discipline of celibacy evolved in the first place. There is the Scriptural aspect, there is the Traditional aspect, there is the cultural aspect, there is the “representation of Jesus” aspect (despite “The DaVinci Code”, there is no proof that Jesus was ever married, and although the “evidence” for His celibate state is more on the order of it NOT being mentioned that He was married (whereas the marital status of the LEADERS of the early church, Peter and Paul, WAS known, and it is actually not clear, from Scripture, that Peter wasn’t actually a WIDOWER. The mention of Peter’s “mother-in-law” WITHOUT concurrent mention of his WIFE (wouldn’t you think that if the MIL was gravely ill that the wife wouldn’t be nursing her at her side, and waiting on Jesus and the apostles after the healing as well?), is suggestive). Even if SOME of the apostles may have been married, the early church fathers (tradition is invoked here) were of a concensus that after the Resurrection the married apostles, if any, with the consent of their wives, left to “preach the gospel” ALONE, and the wives/ family were cared for (and honored) by the other church members. (I’ve read a lot about this topic on both the ETWN sites, the Ask an Expert, and the New Advent sites).

Now, just WHY would making celibacy either “optional” or phasing it out entirely be considered “helpful” for the church?

“Opening up the applicant pool?” Hello, the priesthood isn’t just any old job. It’s a VOCATION.

ADDING problems. It isn’t just Father now at the church, it’s Father (and what’l we call his wife, MOTHER? Ma?), and maybe even kiddies. Do you think that somehow having a family will make Father X “more sensitive” or “more knowledgable” about OTHER FAMILIES? Does it work that way with any OTHER person? Heck, no. Do we expect doctors to experience every disease or medical condition before they can prescribe for it or treat it? Of course not. Now, we expect Father not only to be “Father” for every OTHER parish family, but for his own as well. As a father Father, he’ll be responsible for his OWN family, too. Expected to provide a perfect model, he’ll be castigated for every “failing” both in his own family and in every one else who will somehow find him to blame when something goes wrong.

God save us from social “experiments” which purport to treat NON EXISTENT PROBLEMS.

It isn’t the celibacy that’s the problem–it’s the individual who chooses not to keep his promise. People who break promises don’t do so because there is ONE area that they just CAN’T HANDLE. That’s hogwash. You aren’t going to find that a “married priest” is better than an unmarried one, individually. If this “married priest” is a promise breaker, he may not break his marital vow, but he’ll break some OTHER promise. Because we addressing things backwards. . .we’re attempting to deal with the SYMPTOMS of the problem, not the problem itself. The problem is, most people fail in OBEDIENCE TO GOD, because they’d rather DO WHAT THEY WANT. Making celibacy optional is catering to that “I want what I want view”, and fostering and bolstering the belief that we don’t HAVE to be obedient to God, He needs to cater to US instead. IMO.


#7

[quote=Tantum ergo]I don’t believe that allowing married priests would “help” the church.
[/quote]

Fair opinion. The Pope has made it very clear in Veritatis Splendor that we are in a crisis. My point is that the world needs to “taste and see the goodness of the Lord” and we need to begin advancing and conquering not playing games with issues within.

The Church needs to conquer:
[list]
*]dissent
*]abortion
*]artificial contraception
*]materialism
*]sexual immorality
*]war
*]cloning
*]Catholic pro-choice politicians
*]gay marriage
*]money being more important than human life
[/list]Have you noticed the TV lately? It seems to be getting worse. My proposal is to stop playing games with dissenters and let’s get moving forward and subject the world to Jesus Christ.

If the Church authorized married priests I would quickly replace Father Greeley or Fr. McBrien with someone like Scott Hahn. Do that enough times and you have a whole new Church ready to transform the world in my opinion.

Best,
Greg


#8

Dear Greg,
Just trust the Church. God is in Control and knows what He is doing. We don’t have to help HIM. :heart:


#9

[quote=Greg_McPherran]The Church needs to conquer:
[list]
*]dissent
*]abortion
*]artificial contraception
*]materialism
*]sexual immorality
*]war
*]cloning
*]Catholic pro-choice politicians
*]gay marriage
*]money being more important than human life
[/list]Have you noticed the TV lately? It seems to be getting worse. My proposal is to stop playing games with dissenters and let’s get moving forward and subject the world to Jesus Christ.

[/quote]

And just how would having married priests help any of that?

-D


#10

Another thing for pollsters to consider. Paul says in Scripture that a bishop should “be the husband of one wife”. Paul also promotes celibacy.

The point is that perhaps the magisterium would consider that the limiting nature of the current requirement may be too narrow. Celibacy can still be generally promoted, however. I also have no thought that once the door to married priests is open, a move could be made to have a majority of married priests. I do not advocate that at all, and I only consider the possibility of a maximum of one third married as stated.

Another key point is there could be some very faithful inspired married men who might make a wonderful priest to advance the kingdom. These exceptional married men could advance the mission of Jesus and help transform the world.

I also think perhaps celibate priests may prefer to accept some married priests that are faithful to the magisterium if it meant reducing the number who dissent - but only they can answer that. This poll also expects the pollster to speculate on whether allowing priests will indeed reduce dissent as part of their voting decision.

(By the way, I personally am married, I have a career, and I have no current goal of being a priest. Just so people know this poll has no personal bias.)


#11

[left]If a man is not dedicated enough to be a priest with celibacy he will not be dedicated enough to juggle the demands of TWO sacramental vocations.[/left]

-D


#12

[quote=darcee]And just how would having married priests help any of that?
-D
[/quote]

Hi darcee. I think the Church could remove dissenters and replace them with a faithful loyal priest who is either celibate or married. This would result in a greater majority of strongly orthodox and inspired priests and bishops. This majority would begin to teach Catholics better that they cannot reject Church teachings and use contraception and vote pro-abortion. This in turn will produce a more faithful and obedient laity, This laity will attract more people to Jesus. As the Church grows, those in error will become a minority and the social acceptance of sexual immorality, abortion, contraception, divorce, dishonesty in business, love of money, ignorance of God, etc. will be reduced. The pathology of Pro-choice Catholic political candidates will also be eliminated. Society will be transformed. Movies can become more inspiring and wholesome. Family life will be fun and wholesome. The things that are commonplace today will be unheard of and shocking.

As it is now, we are not moving forward very well. Many Catholics don’t attend mass or even take the Church seriously. Many use contraception with no opposition and even support of priests. A theology professor from the top Catholic University in the United States is telling the nation on TV that Jesus’ wife might have been at the last supper. Some of the things priests have told me in confessions and at mass here in Massachusetts have been a bit shocking. The Pope has also seen that we are in a genuine crisis - read Veritatis Splendor. Understand just what is at stake in terms of the need to bring the world to focus on Jesus and the depth of love that He offers us and how only He can lead the world where no one else can. The joy of the Holy Spirit is meant for the whole world. The whole world is meant to be one in Jesus Christ. The kingdom of God is to conquer the world. Is this not the will of the Father?

That is how I think allowing some married priest could help.

We must seek the wisdom of the Father and His love. My Catholic Church taught me that and I am most grateful.

Greg


#13

The problem is there is no army of married and/or celibate men who are ready in the wings trained to be priests just waiting to swoop in and make all the bad priest go away.

Yes, everyone agrees that the church is seeing some horrible thing right now, but your solution is at best a pipe dream at worst it fuels the very dissent you despise.

If you aren’t a priest what confessions are you hearing up there in MA?


#14

[quote=darcee]If you aren’t a priest what confessions are you hearing up there in MA?
[/quote]

I meant what priests have said to me - sorry for the confusion.

[quote=darcee]The problem is there is no army of married and/or celibate men who are ready in the wings trained to be priests just waiting to swoop in and make all the bad priest go away.
[/quote]

Faithful deacons could be made priests. We can begin training faithful married men also.

[quote=darcee]…at worst it fuels the very dissent you despise.

[/quote]

I do understand that concern. Here on CA someone wrote about how a priest might have baptized someone incorrectly. Father Serpa wrote that the laity has an obligation to correct problems like that. By this same model, I see no problem if the laity and clergy respectfully and lovingly suggest to the magisterium that we allow more married priests. The magisterium consists of very bright people who are very reasonable. Leaders can sometimes focus on one issue and overlook important issues. This does not relate to infallibility, it relates to the effectiveness of the operation of the Church to accomplish what I think we all would agree is Jesus’ mission. The Bible says that God desires all to be saved. I am proposing a possibly more effective way that will bring the joy of Jesus to the world.

I also realize I could be wrong, however I think it is worth serious consideration.

Greg


#15

Excerpts from the Bishops review board for the protection of children:

It would be presumptuous of the Review Board, and beyond its mandate, to opine on the relative merits of a celibate or non-celibate priesthood. But it is clear that bishops must remain watchful to ensure that priests embrace chaste celibacy as part of their priestly identity and not as a burden imposed upon them or as a means of escape or denial. In addition, because celibacy is widely misunderstood by the American public, the Church must take care to address issues relating to celibacy in an open and forthright manner.

According to some witnesses, certain sexually immature or conflicted individuals and certain homosexual men appear to have been attracted to the priesthood because they mistakenly viewed the requirement of celibacy as a means of avoiding struggles with their sexual identities. Others may have felt it provided them with “cover” – a ready explanation as to why they were not married. One psychiatrist opined that some troubled priests felt “You could hide your sexual problem in the priesthood.” One cleric echoed this view: "My fears about celibacy in the present world is that it can become a place for people with sexual disorders to hide.

The discipline of celibacy is not mandated by Church dogma, although it has been a constant discipline in the Latin Rite Church since the twelfth century. There have been and are married priests in the Church, including priests of the Eastern Rite and priests who have converted from other churches and ecclesial communities.

In his 1967 encyclical letter, Sacerdotalis Caelibatus, Pope Paul VI empha¬sized this very point: "Those who are discovered to be unfit for physical, psychological or moral reasons should be quickly removed from the path to the priesthood.

Even a bishop with responsibilities for the administration of hundreds of parishes and big-picture issues such as social and economic justice or respect for life cannot allow those responsibilities to eclipse his fundamental duty to ensure that each of the people of his diocese is in the care of a good pastor. “The best thing you ever do as a bishop is to give a parish a good priest,” one bishop told us. Unfortunately, as we have seen, not all bishops appear to have shared or acted on that view.

usccb.org/nrb/nrbstudy/nrbstudyhtml.htm

I’m not saying the child protection issue is the main thrust to consider allowing married priests - but the report provides good insight to relevant aspects of celibacy in the Church.


#16

I know of a convert, who became a Priest, and while tending a Parish in up state NY was allowed to adopt a couple children. His family has affected how much attention he can provide to the Parishioners…

I can agree with ‘KMKTEXAS’ “Also, I think that a procedure for ordaining some (way below your 1/3 number) permanent deacons to the priesthood after many years of faithful service and stable marriage might possibly be helpful in some cases.”


#17

Hello and thank you for your thoughts,

[quote=pforrester]Dear Greg,
Just trust the Church. God is in Control and knows what He is doing. We don’t have to help HIM. :heart:
[/quote]

If you read the following excerpts from the Vatican Document Lumen Gentium, I think you will find that the Church expects and encourages the laity to respectfully propose ideas for the propogation of the faith:

The laity are gathered together in the People of God and make up the Body of Christ under one head. Whoever they are they are called upon, as living members, to expend all their energy for the growth of the Church and its continuous sanctification, since this very energy is a gift of the Creator and a blessing of the Redeemer.

Upon all the laity, therefore, rests the noble duty of working to extend the divine plan of salvation to all men of each epoch and in every land. Consequently, may every opportunity be given them so that, according to their abilities and the needs of the times, they may zealously participate in the saving work of the Church.

But the Lord wishes to spread His kingdom also by means of the laity…

The laity have the right, as do all Christians, to receive in abundance from their spiritual shepherds the spiritual goods of the Church, especially the assistance of the word of God and of the sacraments (6*). They should openly reveal to them their needs and desires with that freedom and confidence which is fitting for children of God and brothers in Christ. They are, by un of tho knowledge, competence or outstanding ability which they may enjoy, permitted and sometimes even obliged to express their opinion on those things which concern the good of the Church (7).* When occasions arise, let this be done through the organs erected by the Church for this purpose. Let it always be done in truth, in courage and in prudence, with reverence and charity toward those who by reason of their sacred office represent the person of Christ.

vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_const_19641121_lumen-gentium_en.html


#18

Here are some possible ideas. The pastors could generally be celibate priests and the additional priests could be married or celebate. This would allow a married priest to help by saying a weekend mass and help in other ways, e.g. CCD without taking too much from his family life. Married priests could also work with their wives and other families to help coordinate Church social and other events and what pastor would not appreciate this?

Again, I still support a larger percentage of celibate priests. However, there are some very exceptional married Catholic men who are completely obedient to the magisterium. Some of the men on EWTN and here on Catholic Answers are examples. I would much prefer a sermon from them, than a priest involved in VOTF or who doesn’t support voting pro-life or other Church teachings.

This is from Veritatis Splendor:

It is no longer a matter of limited and occasional dissent, but of an overall and systematic calling into question of traditional moral doctrine, on the basis of certain anthropological and ethical presuppositions.

I address myself to you, Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate, who share with me the responsibility of safeguarding “sound teaching” (2 Tim 4:3), with the intention of *clearly setting forth certain aspects of doctrine which are of crucial importance in facing what is certainly a genuine crisis, *since the difficulties which it engenders have most serious implications for the moral life of the faithful and for communion in the Church, as well as for a just and fraternal social life.

vatican.va/edocs/ENG0222/_INDEX.HTM

From Vatican Document on Priesthood:

(Perfect and perpetual continence for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven, commended by Christ the Lord(33) and through the course of time as well as in our own days freely accepted and observed in a praiseworthy manner by many of the faithful, is held by the Church to be of great value in a special manner for the priestly life. It is at the same time a sign and a stimulus for pastoral charity and a special source of spiritual fecundity in the world.(34) Indeed, it is not demanded by the very nature of the priesthood, as is apparent from the practice of the early Church(35) and from the traditions of the Eastern Churches. where, besides those who with all the bishops, by a gift of grace, choose to observe celibacy, there are also married priests of highest merit.

vatican.va/archive/hist_…ordinis_en.html

Note that in the above the Church still stands with the practice of celibate priests. However, the highlighted area does show that (in the Church’s own words) there are married priests of highest merit. It does show that, if the Church decided to allow some additional married priests, they can certainly well serve the Church.

My view is this: better to have all clergy completely faithful to the magisterium that consists of some married priests, than many celibate dissenters. Allowing some married priests does not automatically solve this, but it may give the Church a better selection to work with.


#19

Hello Tantum,

Thank you for your very insighful thougths.

[quote=Tantum ergo]It isn’t the celibacy that’s the problem–it’s the individual who chooses not to keep his promise. People who break promises don’t do so because there is ONE area that they just CAN’T HANDLE. That’s hogwash. You aren’t going to find that a “married priest” is better than an unmarried one, individually. If this “married priest” is a promise breaker, he may not break his marital vow, but he’ll break some OTHER promise.
[/quote]

Yes, that is why only the best of the celibate and married should be chosen and kept.

[quote=Tantum ergo]The problem is, most people fail in OBEDIENCE TO GOD, because they’d rather DO WHAT THEY WANT. Making celibacy optional is catering to that “I want what I want view”, and fostering and bolstering the belief that we don’t HAVE to be obedient to God, He needs to cater to US instead. IMO.
[/quote]

I see your point however, the Church is currently giving dissenters what they want perhaps because there are not enough priests to replace them if removed.

You think Fr. McBrien, a theology professor at the top Catholic University in the country isn’t getting what he wants? He talks about Jesus’ wife at the Last Supper on national TV. Apparently he is pro-contraception and pro-choice. He seems to thumb his nose at the Church and dare them to fire him.

Fr. Greeley encourages Catholics that they can vote pro-abortion.

The Catholic presidential candidate is the one the Catholic Church tells everyone not to vote for.

These men are major representatives of the Holy Catholic Church?

The other sad part is that half the Catholics will vote for the Catholic presidential candidate against the Church’s will.

St. Paul told the Church not to tolerate any nonsense from within - yet we do today.

These priests are certainly getting what they want. I think it would be wise to replace them with obedient celibate or married men (assuming priestly training of course) like those on EWTN or here on Catholic Answers.

Greg


#20

Your most faithful married me are in general NOT the ones who like the idea of a married priesthood. It will not be these faithful men filling your married priest roles. Those who are called to the deaconate are already in that process. There is no reason to think if married priests were allowed that there would be a big jump in the number of Deacons as well.

When married priests were allowed there were several LARGE cultural differences. One communities were small and more closely knit, families were not dispersed sometimes thousands of miles part. A priest had MORE support from his family and his wife’s family. The communities revolved around church. There was more support for the families of priests.

Many parishes can barely afford to run the lights at the moment. Where are they going to find the money to pay a family wage to a priest? Families live much more expensively then a single person. Are we going to have priests wives working full time while trying to raise small children because a parish priest stipend won’t be enough to put food on the table? You might think that with this return to orthodoxy that must follow from married priest being ordained that we will have full coffers… but this change will take years at best what will that family live off in the meantime?

The problems we are seeing in the church are the work of decades… going back to the 1940s. To change again may well take as much time. We are seeing the start of this change. We need to encourage our sons to be good Holy priests. We need to be proud of our good priests and hold them up as examples and tell them they are valued. We need to complain about bad priests consistantly, we need to let our Bishops know that the priests are failing and go higher if need be.

We need to encourage each other to be faithful Catholics to step away from our evil and materialistic culture. This will change the world. We do not need married priest to do this.

-D


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