The God Squad/ Celibacy

I love this column, so many great answers, even though Fr. Tom is sick now and can’t help on a weekly basis.

This week was a celibacy question and I thought Rabbi Gelman gave a good answer.

Priestly celibacy has been an enduring question among all people including “catholics.”

It is tempting to think we could have an abundance of vocations if we would just let priests get married. The real question is, where is this temptation coming from?

Another important question is why do those who allow married clergy in the Catholic Church (Eastern Churches), the Orthodox Churches (who also ordain married men to the priesthood), and all the protestant denominations that have married clergy have not had an increase in vocations? They are having just as bad of a vocations “crisis” as the Roman Catholic Church is having.

It is a crisis but get ready. The new young priests are amazing. I hope we all get one of these gifts from God in our parishes - and soon.

I pray to Jesus, Mary and Joseph!

I don’t think so. Small churches may be having a hard time, but the average church is not. The UU church near me, with 400 families or members, has two full-time ministers, both women. This church is growing rapidly. The Episcopal church near me, which is probably not large, as Episcopal churches usually aren’t large, has 5 priests, two functioning as deacons, but all of them ordained. Two are women. A lot of ministers are older when they are ordained, but there is not nearly the shortage that there is for Catholic clergy.

Quality not quantity! Better to have few and quality than many with quality lacking.

To my mind, if The Church states that our priesthood is and will be celibate and it will not change, then that determine’s my point of view. As with religious life, it is now obvious that our priesthood needed a close examination and that is underway and to a large degree possibly, already established with reforms. After the dreadful scandals that did come to light related to the priesthood (which I believe had origins probably largely in deficiencies in the process for accepting candidates for the priesthood and discernment for ordination), it is undestandable that there would be a certain amount possibly of reluctance to consider a lifetime vocation to the priesthood; however, in my diocese and dramatically short of priests, our numbers in the seminary are on the increase. Not a large number, but sufficient to state that the numbers are slowly increasing rather than indications of further declining numbers.

We may be under stress and strain, but we are not abandoned and never will be. That is our Faith. What we expected and anticipated may be shocked into unexpected and unacticipated reality and realities. We can either react in frustration and anger of our disappointed and unmet anticipations and expections and strive to ‘resurrect’ those frustrated expectations and anticipations in rebellious ‘innovative’ ways, or we can accept the challenge these new realities now present and strive to meet them with trust and confidence in The Lord present and active in His Church. It may present difficulties in some ways, it may present difficult and uncomfortable changes that challenge a sense of security - but difficult is not impossible.


I see growth in my area of the North East in orders like the Domincan’s and community orders which is great but doesn’t help the many parish’s that are short or shared now. 5 miles from a Domincan church that has 3 priests, more in residence at their priory, are Catholic church’s that are merging or in jeapordy of closing. I see a handful of men in our diocese that are becoming parish priests, which we are grateful for, but many more going into communites that have their own church or serve the poor or have other charisms.
When I talked to community brothers and priests, most couldn’t fathom not being in a communty for support, friendship and prayer…but I’ve heard others say, autonomy, being alone to set a schedule, is more for them, and they wouldn’t like community. Different calls, for different people, but I wonder if our society the way it is now, makes one more called too than another.

That said, a call from God is a call, and I pray more will hear his voice.

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