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#285533 04/07/08 11:34 AM
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I have long thought that though the universal celibacy of the Latin clergy is a great glory we are no longer in a time when we can continue with it. This is not so much for the west but more for South America were their are dioceses with hundreds of thousands of Catholics needing the sacraments and only a few hundred priests. I propose that (in order to avoid the appalling prospect of breaking with tradition by adopting any protestant system) the Latins adopt the eastern system allowing the ordination to the secular priesthood of already married men for some pastoral positions. Of course they should be excluded from episcopal office and Cathedral chapters.

The major problem I see with this, however, is what to do about people who are already priests but would have got married first if the west used the eastern system. My solution would e to give an amnesty to all secular priest where they can choose to either re-commit themselves to celibacy or allow the possibility of marriage. All priests ordained in the future would have to take the promise of celibacy or already be married.

There is, however, a problem.

As people here know something of clerical marriage: can a priest validly become married?

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As people here know something of clerical marriage: can a priest validly become married?


As far as I know, Holy Orders is an absolute impediment to marriage. However, in the Western Church clergy are sometimes "laicized" for pastoral reasons, and allowed to marry.

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For one, existing priests have to be laicized if they want to be married. But if the Eastern system comes into play, it wouldn't really be much of a problem. After all, there are celibate Orthodox and Eastern Catholic priests just as there are celibate Catholic priests. The Eastern system does not really allow, as far as I understand it, for clergy to remarry unless they are laicized or defrocked entirely (in the most unusual or extreme of cases). I am sure there are many, but the only case that comes to mind at this moment is Archbishop Aftimos Ofiesh, who married his wife in a civil ceremony. There are differing views on what happened to him after he married, but we'll leave it at that.

However, as we dwell upon the response of celibate priests to Rome releasing Holy Orders to married men, it will be, in understanding the mind of Rome as a pastoral provision. Like how the Anglican Use is a pastoral provision for ex-Anglicans in the US, this pastoral provision will allow for married men to be ordained priests in areas/regions where the shortage of priests is near crucial. This is as far as it goes as Rome will not suddenly release Holy Orders from the celibate discipline.

However, if this is too far-reaching and knowing that this move is highly unlikely, I suppose that wherever Eastern Catholic churches are available, the Latin-Rite hierarchy should encourage the faithful to recieve pastoral care in Eastern Rite churches, and at the same time, seek the assistance of the Eastern Rite churches in caring for them. I am of this view: What's the point of being in communion if we can't do simple things like this? If we're in communion, why should we worry about sharing the flock? The interest needs to be in God and the flock. If that can happen, I suppose that solves the problem already.


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Collin-

There is also the case of Fr Joseph J. Allen, Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese, who was allowed by Metropolitan Philip to remarry and remain a priest.

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I have to seriously question whether the lack of married clergy is the problem in this situation. To my knowledge brazil is not the stronghold of Catholic orthodoxy it would seem. A restoration to orthodox teaching and orthodopraxy should be the first attempt at fixing the problem, not married latin clergy. Perhaps in the future after orthodoxy is restored to the west then I concede that it wouldbe a good idea. Right now it is too associated with dissent and movements like "Future Church" and allowing it would be potentially dangerous.

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Originally Posted by Deacon John Montalvo
Collin-

There is also the case of Fr Joseph J. Allen, Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese, who was allowed by Metropolitan Philip to remarry and remain a priest.


Thanks for telling me, Fr. Deacon. This is something I really don't know. However, what were the reasons given because I know "remarriage" amongst clerics in Orthodoxy aren't really encouraged. That's an obvious fact and to hear this is really new.

GCMcNabb, the issue isn't really the lack of married clergy. Its the lack of clergy that we're facing. Married clergy seems to be the only available solution to this. Married clergy has its own set of problems, too, but that is a topic for a later discussion.

Married clergy is often on the agenda of dissenters, but funnily enough, that is one agenda which Church hierarchs do not classify as "liberal". It will however, be a compromise deal that will probably see the return of these dissenters to the Church.


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Frankly if we (BCC) consolidated the tiny parishes limpling along clustered in our former strongholds (something no one wants to do and few want to talk about) the reality we would face would be simple - we have more than enough clergy to go round. The pro-married clergy arguments in Greek Catholic circles has absolutely NOTHING to do with pragmatic need. What we really NEED are converts + all the grandkids back. We essentially have a laity shortage! Ditto for the OCA in my city that have subdivided the same orig parish for not great reasons several times over - there are 7 attached priests for four small chapels... and possibly more on the way... and that isn't counting the ex-OCA man ordained a priest for the Antiochians...

Conversely the Latin diocese that have the most trouble with vocations would likely be in the same shape 10 years on after ordaining married men - they chased out good celibate candidates, why would we think they would do right by married ones?

Married clergy is NOT "the only available solution to this. " We should have it because it is part of our tradition... but that isn't to say it would solve all the other problems.

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Originally Posted by GMmcnabb
I have to seriously question whether the lack of married clergy is the problem in this situation. To my knowledge brazil is not the stronghold of Catholic orthodoxy it would seem. A restoration to orthodox teaching and orthodopraxy should be the first attempt at fixing the problem, not married latin clergy. Perhaps in the future after orthodoxy is restored to the west then I concede that it wouldbe a good idea. Right now it is too associated with dissent and movements like "Future Church" and allowing it would be potentially dangerous.


GM,

There is nothing to say that the two cannot happen simultaneously, and I fundamentally disagree with you that it is in any way, shape or form a "dangerous" idea. Why should we let theological dissenters determine what the praxis of the Church should be? Just because they cluster married priests with contraception, abortion, women priests and gay rights into their PR "sound bites" does not mean that they should "own" the issue of married men being ordained to the priesthood. The Churches of East and West both have solid historical, pastoral and theological grounds to consider the practice.

Having a married pastor now, I can tell you it is a tremendous blessing on a number of levels. And my own opinion is that married priesthood should be the norm, not the exception. I say this as an orthodox Catholic Christian.

Finally, to your initial question, "Is the lack of married clergy the problem?" Clearly the slow growth of vocations is a multi-faceted issue. Married clergy is not the "silver bullet". But that does not mean it might not somehow help.

It all boils down to this: As praiseworthy as the discipline of celibacy is, it is secondary to the pastoral needs of the faithful. And the faithful need priests, they need the sacramental mysteries. If ordaining married men to the priesthood helps to meet that need, so be it.

God bless,

Gordo

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No. Married men can be ordained to the priesthood, but priests can never marry.

The fact that an Antiochian priest/widower was permitted by his pal to marry a woman he was giving marriage counseling does not change the wisdom, or good sense, of that rule.

Priests may never marry. That is why Anniversary day is "Contract Renegotiation Day" for us. What Matushka wants, she gets, 'cause she can remarry!

I agree that 'married clergy' is not a silver bullet to the Latin Catholic vocations crisis - the answer to that is faith. After all, mandatory celibacy is a matter of discipline for diocesan clergy. I think that monastics (those who are in monasteries) have a more balanced life than those who simply have no marriage, and it is not good for man to be alone.

Any guy who's been alone for any length of time knows the truth of that!

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I find it particularly annoying that the Modernist element in the West confuses disciplinary issues, like priestly marriage, with ontological ones, i.e. the issue of ordination of women to priesthood. The former is possible. The latter is impossible. What is even more annoying is when the orthodox element in the West takes the bait, and opposes marriage for priests, along with opposing ordination to priesthood of women, also failing to discern that one issue is disciplinary, while the other is ontological. I've seen this latter reaction in several "conservative", and otherwise praiseworthy, journals.

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Yes...I agree that married clergy in the Latin Church is not the solution to the problem.

I have learned that priesthood...whether it's celibate or married...is EXTREMELY DIFFICULT. To say that married priests would solve the vocation crisis is very much mistaken.

It's just all a wishful thinking.

I also agree that it's the FAITH of the Latin Church that needs to be restored...which will actually solve the vocation crisis.

Now, I do believe that there should be an option for men to remain celibate or be married before he becomes a priest. While at the same time, celibate clergy is HIGHLY HONORED tradition and it should be deeply embraced.

And it has to be handled very very carefully, especially so that hte dissenters don't EVER EVER think that the Church is beginning to change into their views....that it was ALREADY a time honored tradition in the Early Church. It's extremely sticky situation.

I think the most practical solution is the high exposure of Eastern Catholic Churches to the public...that they have married clergy...in union with Rome. With all the exposure...the public may easily have mental connection that both Roman Church and Greek Church are in communion with each other and therefore can pave the way for a very careful allowance of married Latin men to become priests.

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Originally Posted by Jessup B.C. Deacon
I find it particularly annoying that the Modernist element in the West confuses disciplinary issues, like priestly marriage, with ontological ones, i.e. the issue of ordination of women to priesthood. The former is possible. The latter is impossible. What is even more annoying is when the orthodox element in the West takes the bait, and opposes marriage for priests, along with opposing ordination to priesthood of women, also failing to discern that one issue is disciplinary, while the other is ontological. I've seen this latter reaction in several "conservative", and otherwise praiseworthy, journals.

Dn. Robert


Father Deacon and Prester John,

Well said! Additionally, anti-married priest orthodox-minded Latins (the ones who think the West does it all better) need to be careful about advocating for the later conciliar tradition of a celibate presbyterate. Often those same councils also called for a celibate diaconate as well.

In ICXC,

Gordo

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Quite true. This would only really be possible if these new married priests were given simple, rigidly orthodox training and supervision.

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You will find that most who are avidly opposed to married priests are also at least suspicious of the recent introduction of married deacons.

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Originally Posted by Happy_Latin
You will find that most who are avidly opposed to married priests are also at least suspicious of the recent introduction of married deacons.


Happy Latin,

(I love your name! Glad to know that you are happy in your ecclesiatical "space"!)

I have encountered that attitude especially among those who frequent Masses at the Society of St. Pius X. Many also seem to be struggling with unresolved Jansenistic tendencies. A connection? Perhaps...

As to "rigid" orthodox training, I find orthodoxy not the least bit rigid, but rather liberating! And I would also expect the same level of orthodox training for celibates.

Cheers!

Gordo

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