Would someone with a physical disability be allowed to become a priest?

If someone had a disability (for example, blindness or deafness), would he be allowed to become a priest?

Similar to your previous question about mental illness and the priesthood, it depends upon the disability. For the specific examples you cite, I don’t know. I have seen priests who are physically disabled (need crutches to get around, confined to a wheelchair, etc.) actively exercising their vocation. But it’s my understanding that if a man lacks hands, for example, then he cannot become a priest because he can neither consecrate nor bless.

I’m no expert on these matters, but I hope this basic response proves useful for you anyway. God bless!

I know a parish priest who is legally blind (he can only see from his peripheral vision, and needs some kind of flashlight/magnifier device to read).

It would depend upon the disability as well as the congregation or diocese.

Obviously, a man with no hands, as stated, could not be a priest because he could not perform the duties of a priest. But other conditions might be acceptable.

Also, some communities might not accept bearers of certain bodily conditions for ordination, while other communities or dioceses might.

And someone who is a priest and becomes disabled might “stay in” while someone with the same condition would be rejected from seminary. It all depends.


If a person has a disability, then it is up to the diocese or religious order to determine whether or not a person helps or hinders their mission. There are no set rules for things like this. Being blind and working with a mission is different from working as an associate priest perpetually in an urban diocese.

If a person has an issue with heat, then a hot diocese is not right for them. If a person has severe allergies, then a desert diocese might be right for them. A person that has problems with long days for one season and short days for the next is not right for a diocese that operates in the artice circle.

A person afraid of crowds is not right for NY, and a person that hates the country is not right for a diocese that has mostly country parishes.

As a note: For a long time, deafness was an impediment to orders. Ed Peters, a canonist at the Catholic University of America wrote an article on this.

I recommend reading it if you want some insight on the matter. The citation is as follows:
Peters, Edward N. “Canonical and Cultural Developments Culminating in the Ordination of Deaf Men During the Twentieth Century,” Josephinium Journal of Theology 15, no. 2 (2008): 427-43.

Then what happens if a priest loses his hands in an accident? Would he not be able to preform his duties with prosthetic hands?

Unfortunately I would think not. A priest’s hands are precious.

It all depends on the disability, the diocese or order for which he is studying, and the sincerity of his vocation. Being married to someone who is Deaf, I can attest to the presence of Deaf priests. I encourage people to look past the disability / limitation and see what this man has to offer. In other words, look at the whole man. He may gifts, intellect, and strengths of character that would be an asset in a pastoral situation or religious community.

There is a guy I know who is blind who is in seminary. Really good guy. I’m pretty sure he will be in Third Theology this fall. If you want to pray for him his name is Jamie.

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