Priests and marrige?

The Church has always understand that St. Peter was married at at some point prior to being called by the Lord. The Scriptural references being (all DR quotes below)

Matthew 8:14
And when Jesus was come into Peter’s house, he saw his wife’s mother lying, and sick of a fever:

Mark 1:30
And Simon’s wife’s mother lay in a fit of a fever: and forthwith they tell him of her.


Luke 4:38
And Jesus rising up out of the synagogue, went into Simon’s house. And Simon’s wife’s mother was taken with a great fever, and they besought him for her.

This doesn’t contradict the Catholic understanding of the ordained not being married after ordination - or the current Western practice/discipline of selecting those for the priesthood only from among those called to celibacy - like St. Paul was, and as Scripture commends.

Peace in Christ,



i have always felt that a married pastor wouldn’t be a good pastor or husband. How can you be married to your faith and carry out all the duties to all the families of the parish while having to support a family and be a good husband and father. You would also be very concumed with worldly things such as clothing for your whole family, food, shelter and would need an outside job to provide these things. That added responcebility would take away from your ability to serve your parish.

In the current western world, these things are true. Mega-parishes require a massive amount of attention and the priest shortage means too much falls on the shoulders of too few.

The Eastern Churches have self-regulatory practices which keep this from happening. For instance, only a priest may distribute the Eucharist. When people are waiting in the Communion line for 20-30 minutes, they start bugging their sons, nephews, and grandsons to consider ordination. A new parish would then be established close-by after he spent time serving in the established parish. This would provide the social support and the priestly fraternity and direction the new priest and his family need.

Traditionally, the priest’s family’s needs are handled by the parish and eparchy (diocese). Many Orthodox are currently discussing the need for priests of small parishes or their wives to have outside income. Any parish that can’t afford a full-time priest will also have a much lower level of needs which would allow a set-up like that.

Also neglected here is the calling of being a priest’s wife. It is considered a vocation in its own right. A priest’s wife has serving her husband and family as her main priority so that her husband is able to serve the parish. Without a wife who was called to that vocation, the family would suffer. Also vital to the health of his family is the priest’s secretary who must treat his family time as practically inviolate.

In small parishes where the priest hears every person’s confession (there is no screen option) and communes every person by name, it is entirely possible to predict the parish needs for a given week and schedule them accordingly. The same could not be done in an average western parish.

Also not mentioned is that most of the services in the Eastern Church can and often are done without a priest. Only one liturgy may be held a day, and that one is usually only in the morning to early afternoon. In parishes, there is usually only one Liturgy per week. Part of the traditional preparation for receiving the Eucharist is fasting from all flesh and passions from Vespers the night before. Not too many married priests desire to fast from the marital bed 7 days a week, so the custom of one Liturgy per week is common. The rest of the week has prayer services which often are led by ordained readers.

The cultural circumstances that support married priests in the East make it a viable and beneficial tradition. The West has not developed under the same cultural or rubrical guidelines and would have a difficult if not nearly impossible time importing married priests into its current paradigm. That doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with married priests or that they are somehow weaker or of a lower calling. It means the way the western Church has developed, it would not be a feasible shift because the features which would make it a success are currently lacking.

I Timoty
1 A faithful saying: if a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. 2 It behoveth therefore a bishop to be blameless, the husband of one wife, sober, prudent, of good behaviour, chaste, given to hospitality, a teacher, 3 Not given to wine, no striker, but modest, not quarrelsome, not covetous, but 4 One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all chastity. 5 But if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?

Some experience with family life DOES benefit the flock.

Note: at the time this was written, bishop and priest were combined usually in the same person. The priest would be the one that mainly would benefit his flock with family life, the bishop less so.

Thank you, Woodstock for nice explanation about practical aspects of Easter priesthood.
To answer the OP, there is Biblical (and practical) support for married, as well as for celibate clergy, and I think that both the Catholic and Orthodox Church recognize that. Indeed, in the West the situation is different than in the East, and I don’t see any real benefit which would arise from allowing priests to marry.

Nice try, but that one quote doesn’t undo what was already said; it only proves that at a time when celibacy wasn’t a common practice, married and morally respected men became priests. It doesn’t mean he should marry after ordination. This still doesn’t change anything. St. Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, discourages marriage for those who devote their lives to serving the Lord.

I never said, nor implied, that priests should marry.

Following the Apostles, I do object to what I often hear among Latins, that God doesn’t call married men to the priesthood.

God doesn’t call married men to the priesthood. They’re married and their duty is to provide for their wife and children.

Rome says otherwise. It has hundreds of married priests in the Latin Church and is in communion with thousands of married priests in the Eastern Catholic Churches.

If it were against the will of God, how could Rome give such direct support and approval?

How could Rome have entered into a formal treaty of communion which preserved the ancient and venerable tradition of married men being ordained?

Why is it that Rome says God does call married men to the priesthood and you do not?

Well I would suppose Catholics explain it much the same way the Orthodox do when the Orthodox explain why their bishops are all celibate. Keeping in mind that Peter was a bishop.

As far as it goes, even the Latin Rite of the Church does not mandate celibacy - it is the common discipline, but not mandatory as witnessed by the number of Latin Rite priests who are in fact married and in good standing with faculties to act as priest (typically converts who were already married). As regards the whole Church, as noted above, the Eastern Rites have a largely married priesthood.

So there is Biblical support for celibacy, but such support does not appear to demand celibacy.

The Church also approves of altar girls. Need I say more? If your answer is yes, keep in mind that the Church approved of the Crusades which most Catholics today consider wrong (which it wasn’t…just trying to make a point.) Just because it’s approved doesn’t make it right. The Church needs to spend Her time fixing the seminaries and getting the liberals out so Catholicism can be taught again. Once that is done, there won’t be the “need” of ordaining married men who’s immediate responsibility is to their family, not the entire parish.

The Eastern Churches don’t have altar girls and have always had married parish priests. There is no connection between them.

If you consider yourself Catholic, if the Church approves, it pretty much DOES make it right. Discipline (no meat on Friday, women’s headcoverings, married clergy, etc.) can be changed, dogma (central truths of the faith) cannot.

It sounds as if you need to acquaint yourself with some Church documents re: married Latin Rite clergy (in fairly rare instances, e.g., former Protestant clergy who have converted) and with the longstanding tradition of married clergy in the Eastern Rites.

While to each his/her own opinion, holding an opinion does not necessarily make it right; there can be “cafeteria Catholics” in the conservative camp, as well.

Whenever the married priesthood discussion comes up (which it does far too often in my opinion), we always forget the most important part of it: the blessings God bestows on the celibate, and how it helps one more easily achieve holiness.

Let’s image just for just one minute that the Latin Church allows, and has always allowed, married clergy from the papacy down, citing St. Peter as the model for this lifestyle. What would be some of the consequences?

Would St. Jean Vianney have been able to hear confession 16 hours a day and set so many along the path to heaven?
Would St. John Bosco have been able to help children in the community as much as he did?
Would a young John Paul II have been able to maintain a country parish and teach philsophy at the same time?
Would St. Alphonsus of Ligouri have been able to write so many inspiring tracts and books?

I could easily rhyme off a hundred more such examples, never mind what may be produced after a consultation with the Catholic Encyclopedia.

That said, it’s not surprising to see the the graces of celibacy be omitted when the matter is discussed by a group of people comprised primarily of non-celibates. What do we know of what it’s like to devote every aspect of one’s life to God–every waking minute of every day?

As someone discerning a vocation, all I can say is celibacy is an attractive aspect of the priesthood to me, and even if married men were allowed to be ordained, I would still like to lead a celibate life.

Thank you Pious for providing some of the beautiful reasons the Church upholds celibate clergy in east and west. It isn’t a higher calling; it is an awesome calling of its own. Prayers for your discernment!

And so you should.

The Church has always taught that remaining celibate for God is the higher calling, the Scriptures say it, the Saints say it…why do you disagree? and please back up the opinion.

You are the one asserting that celibacy is a higher calling and therefore have the burden of proof. However, I will provide some refutation of your claim while waiting for it. I’ve also asked the apologists to answer this specific question, so we’ll see if they do.

Can you go to hell for refusing to become a priest?

There is a current thread in Vocations on this topic, so it might be better to transfer this side-venture there.

I agree

Laudater Jesus Christus
Instaurare omnia in Christo

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