Why do some people think that the discipline of celibacy is a major cause of the priest shortage?


#1

I once thought that priests ought to be allowed to marry. Then I learned more about the topic and came to agree with the Church.

I know there are many who still think that we have a shortage of priests because we don’t let them marry. I think this misses some very important factors, but will reserve my comments for later.

First, I’d like to know, if you think that the discipline of celibacy is a major cause of our current shortage of priests, why?

And even if you think it’s a contributing factor, do you think the celibate priesthood is still worth it, or that this discipline should be relaxed?


#2

I think our current shortage of priests in Western civilization is caused by factors apart from celibacy, such as the sexual revolution–which put “me” and what I want at the center of everything, the break down in respect for authority, and a general loss of the fear of God.

Catholics live in the middle of all this and are affected more by it than by an hour’s time at Mass once a week. As a result they don’t encourage their boys to seek the priesthood and they certainly aren’t praying that one of their sons heed God’s call to priesthood. Priesthood has been ignored or avoided by many families scared that their son might “ruin” his life by giving himself to the Church. Western Catholics have become secularized to the point that priesthood for their sons isn’t even on the table.

We need to evangelize our Western Catholics away from the mind-set of the culture they live in–a hard thing to do when Catholics are comfortable and have no compelling reasons to go against the flow. I lay all this at the feet of those who wanted to change Church teachings to suit the times after Vatican II–something VII is not responsible for, but which many used as an excuse to throw out solid teaching for “love, love, love” which translated into “do whatever you please because God doesn’t care.” And then we wonder why the vocations to the priesthood and religious life disappeared? I don’t wonder, I know why.


#3

Sorry, but I need a fifth option. :smiley:

I do not believe that celibacy is a significant factor in the shortage of priests. However, I would support a wider application of the dispensation from celibacy at some point in time. Married priests should be allow IF it is determined that this is what is good for the Church, not as a band-aid for the priest shortage problem.


#4

Pope Benedict has pointed out (in his interview book “Salt of the Earth” IIRC) that marriage and the priesthood are related: when one is doing well, so is the other, and when one is doing bad, so is the other. Marriage is moribund in the west, so that’s what you see with the preisthood too. Allowing latin rite priests to marry won’t change anything, and as long as 50% of all marriages end in divorce as they currently do, that would just be a financial burden to the church, since you’d have lots of wives taking half of the preist’s wealth.

In fact it really seems that while marriage is in such a perilous state, allowing priests to marry isn’t the right time. When it’s in a good state would probably be a better time for that decision.


#5

I agree with Della. A lack of respect for authority and being too centered on oneself removes a desire to understand why and from where good authority comes from. It comes from God, a love of neighbor and being open to serve. Fortunately, that trend is starting to move in a positive direction.

ncregister.com/daily-news/benedicts-men-u.s.-vocations-strengthen-during-his-eight-year-papacy/

Meanwhile, as time passes, too much sex on TV, in the movies and in real life. So, why not married priests? Celibacy is a precious thing, akin to marriage.

Peace,
Ed


#6

There is a human trait we possess which is good for us to recognize: that we are often more concerned/upset/indignant about someone else’s situation or condition than they are themselves. I noted this back in law enforcement, on a few of my traffic stops. On occasion, the passenger of a car would be arrested for interfering in police interaction with the driver. The driver often received a warning, but the passenger was so incensed that they violated the law and went to jail.

Indeed, in a training class in the 80s, I spoke with a woman who was the daughter of Japanese parents who were forcibly interned during WWII. She was upset and bitter over the situation some 45 years after it happened, and was not born until after the fact. I pointed that out to her and she agreed that her parents had long ago put the incident behind them.

This applies to the priesthood. We are not directly involved, as we are not priests. Yet, this “someone ought to do something” disease we suffer from leads a few of us to grumble about some inherent “unfairness” in something that the priests voluntarily agreed to and discerned over a period of several years!

As Della so succinctly noted, we are in the age of self. To follow Jesus, what is the first thing we are to do?

Luke 9:23 “Let him deny himself.”

Fewer and fewer of us desire to deny the self. This is overcome mostly via prayer for vocations - for years or even decades if need be.


#7

Telling like it is. Fun to read, too.

Not on topic, but related. I remember in the past hearing clerics lament the decline in church attendance and say we needed new ways, new words to evangelize. The problem, i think, is so much more profound than that: the basic message, the good news no longer resonates with the vast majority of people.


#8

I know that the Anglicans have a shortage, maybe this is one of the reasons why they appointed women Vicars, in the Jewish Religion the same shortage of Rabbi’s, ( I know this from my nephew who is a Rabbi). Celibacy has nothing or very little to do with a call to the Priesthood, but rather the Secular age we are living in, if parents do not lead a holy life and respect Church teachings by going to Mass etc, talking good about Priests, Religious and Authority, its very difficult to follow by example. If Catholics want Priests they have to act like good Catholics and encourage the boys to think about the Priesthood when they grow up. We are living in a horrible Society, bombarded, where its all about “me” and sex, even on English Television we are being bombarded with Advertising that show a man and woman and the words are “Johnny has you covered” disgusting and this is Television during the day, which means Television and children on the Internet have to supervised.
My nephew the Rabbi has no Television in his house at all. The children ( 3 of them) have to read, play games (not electronic) ask the parents questions, quizzes, puzzles etc.
Rope Skipping etc. They are just as happy with no Electronic games, and certainly do not have a mobile.


#9

I have to agree with Della’s comments above. Particularly the second paragraph. I think the reason there is a priest shortage is linked to the shortage of catholic families.

There is an old saying that applies to vocations to priesthood, I believe it goes something like “be one or breed one”. Unfortunately in today’s society most people (including catholics) are doing neither. So how can there be any priests or nuns, its just plain arithmetic. For example, if I were to look around my typical Sunday mass I would count no more than about two families that bring their children to mass and this is for a church in the centre of the city.

I personally think the argument of celibacy is one of misplaced convenience. Yes, it probably would attract more priests which would be convenient for us but it comes at the cost of eroding one of the foundation stones on which our beautiful Catholic religion is built. “If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother AND WIFE AND CHILDREN and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple”. - Luke 14:26.
I don’t think this is actually encouraging us to hate our families but rather to give up any future family we could have had for the love of consecrated life.

GOD Bless.


#10

Mathematically, it has to be a cause: Priests are drawn from a smaller pool of people.
i.e. males who will agree to remain celibate and single.

Even so, I don’t think it’s the primary cause.


#11

Priest shortage is a very complex issue.

If more married men were permitted there would be a much wider pool of eligible candidates. I say more because even now there are Episcopal priests who converted while married and retain both wife and Holy Orders.


#12

I do not believe it is a major cause of the priest shortage. However, I have seen and heard of men discerning the calling who were already in the priestly formation only to fall in love and get married. So with that said, if we had the same rules as the Orthodox Churches have on marriage and the priesthood, these men could have still become priests.

What I believe is the real cause of the priest shortage in the United States is the consumerism. We live our lives filled with stuff and letting go of that stuff can be hard.

First, celibacy would continue to remain among the religious priests. Religious priests take vows of celibacy and poverty. Have you ever tried taking care of a wife when you are poor? If the celibacy requirement were to be lifted a man would have to be married prior to becoming a diocesan priest. If his wife were to pass away first he would remain celibate for the rest of his life, like deacons. And bishops should still remain celibate.

Another option would be to allow deacons to become priests. If Anglican and Orthodox priests can be granted dispensations to become married Catholic priests, I believe dispensations could be granted to our own deacons. There would be requirements of course, like 1) he must be a deacon for a least 10 years. 2) he must reach the age of 50. 3) he must be nominated by the current priest and then approved by the bishop. Then he can start the program to become a priest. Once he becomes a priest he would be a parish priest (or parson) so he would be able to stay with his parish.

Of course this is all hearsay. I’ll probably be dead before any of this.:heaven:


#13

:thumbsup:


#14

There is a difference between *allowing priests to marry *and allowing married men to become priests (as they now can be deacons). I think it would be quite simple to allow married men to become priests, similar to what already happens in the Eastern Rite of the Catholic Church. In addition, the Church already has priests who are married with children because they have converted from a Protestant faith. It is already happening, so why not make the change in that discipline universal?


#15

I think the decline in vocations is nothing more than a symptom of the decline of the good, solid Catholic family. A family with a mother and a father, who go to weekly Mass, are involved in their church, who send their kids to Catholic school and who pray together. These families are heading towards extinction.


#16

Celibacy is not the reason for our APPARENT shortage of priests. I say apparent, as I really don’t think we are suffering from a shortage of priests. I think we are suffering from a shortage of the Faithful.

God will provide for what we need. So maybe there are fewer priests because we simply don’t need more. The pews might be full at Church, but how strong is the Faith? Instead of looking at numbers we might be better off looking at quality. And sad to say, but I have found that quality to be in rather short supply.

In all honesty I think we could close half the parishes in the country, and the faithful would make it to the remaining parishes. The others would drift away because they are not truly there anyway. Just an observation after 30 years of being a Catholic.


#17

Why are Catholics so afraid of married clergy? You extoll the virtues of celibacy but you aren’t signing up for it yourselves. Marriage is a normal part of life yet you deny this to your priests. It has been stated in other posts that married priests won’t be able to drop everything and come to your aid, like hear your urgent confession late at night. Other religions have married clergy who mange their time between family and their congregants.They are able to handle true emergencies.
Think how lonely a priest must be. If he has male friends then people’s tongues wag about SSA. If he has female friends then they wag about an affair. The poor guy does not have to spend his whole life attending to church business. He has a right to a life which may include a family. It is something whose time has come. I predict it will happen within the next ten years. Those who say celibacy is worth it don’t know anything about the sacrifice the priest is making to take care of your soul. It’s worth it for him to deny himself but what about you? Be more charitable about his feelings. When was the last time you invited your priest to join your family for dinner or a family outing. The man became a priest; he is not without feelings.


#18

Look everyone, they do allow married Priests. Men who were married preachers in Protestant churches who convert have been allowed to attend seminary and become Priests. It’s not common but does happen. I think being an traditional un-married Priest does have it’s advantages especially in the area of sacrifice.

I was married before the thought of becoming Catholic (I was agnostic) but if it did become common for Priests to be married (which it won’t) and perhaps shouldn’t I could see myself possibly making a career change. If you would allow me a daydream now that I’m Catholic and have fallen in love with God and his Church and believe all she teaches. It would be my pleasure. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.


#19

Fair point.


#20

In what ways are we “afraid” of a married clergy?

You extoll the virtues of celibacy but you aren’t signing up for it yourselves.

We were not called to it. No priest “signs up” for celibacy. Rather, he discerns a calling to the priesthood, goes through many years of education and further discernment in prayer and with his superiors and then, if he is ready and willing he is ordained a deacon and then a priest. No one puts a gun to any man’s back and makes him take on the responsiblities and sacrifices of the priesthood. He knows going in what he will face, as well as embracing the joys of being free to serve God without the burden of having others to care for besides his oftentimes large parish.

Marriage is a normal part of life yet you deny this to your priests. It has been stated in other posts that married priests won’t be able to drop everything and come to your aid, like hear your urgent confession late at night. Other religions have married clergy who mange their time between family and their congregants.They are able to handle true emergencies.

“We” do not deny our priests anything–they take on the priesthood with all that entails of their own free will. A priest is not a Protestant minister. He is a priest whose first duty is sacramental, and that does mean having to be ready at all times to administer the sacraments. Most priest have much larger congregations to tend to, as well. Whereas a Protestant minister may have 500 families a priest will have 1000 to 2000 families besides hospital duties and everything else that goes with being a minister of God. If he has a family to care for he is not free to go whenever he is needed or to rest whenever he needs to, either.

Think how lonely a priest must be. If he has male friends then people’s tongues wag about SSA. If he has female friends then they wag about an affair.

Lonliness can be a problem, but more and more it is being addressed. Priests are freer to do outside activities and make friends than they used to be. And actually, priests are on the upside of the trend towards being unmarried. More and more young people are remaining single or postponing marriage, and even then they’ll get a dog rather than have children. I haven’t noticed any tongues wagging about the private lives of our priests. I rather doubt it’s as serious a problem as you might think.

The poor guy does not have to spend his whole life attending to church business. He has a right to a life which may include a family. It is something whose time has come. I predict it will happen within the next ten years. Those who say celibacy is worth it don’t know anything about the sacrifice the priest is making to take care of your soul. It’s worth it for him to deny himself but what about you? Be more charitable about his feelings. When was the last time you invited your priest to join your family for dinner or a family outing. The man became a priest; he is not without feelings.

The poor guy having to attend to church business? LOL! As if we chain them to the altar and only let them out to serve people in distress. Really, this is simply not how it is. Besides, a priest is not a hired hand–he is a shepherd whose place is with his flock. That’s the calling he trained for and which he knew he’d be doing. We are well aware of the sacrifices our priests make, as we are of the sacrifices many people make who serve others. The priest knows his own feelings better than you or I. If he no longer wishes to be a priest he can be lacized. It’s not a trap into which he was lured and then sentenced like time in jail. Being married is not the pinnacle of life nor is it the only way in which people can be happy. Many are miserable in marriage–it’s no guarantee of bliss in this life.


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