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I have always known that there are married clergy in the Byzantine church out there in the world. But the issue has struck me recently. Our church was honored to have Fr. Roman from Brampton Ont. in town for a wedding. He prayed the weekend divine liturgies for us while Fr. Andrew was away this weekend, too. (Ss. Cyril & Methodius in Girard PA and Ss. Peter & Paul in Erie). Fr Roman mentioned that he is married. Which got me thinking about the separation of church and state in a odd way. So exactly what happens to a priest when he crosses the 49th parallel? North of that imaginary line he is permitted to marry while south of it he is not. Can someone explain the theological argument that allows marriage to be fine north of the border while it is barred south of it? And why this decision of many decades ago has stuck? Either the marriage of clergy is right or wrong and that decision should be world wide.
I can't believe that church policy would ever be based on a geopolitical line that was arbitrarily drawn in a nonreligious forum.
Just looking to see what the opinion of everybody out there in cyberland is on this issue. Or am i making too big of a deal about it?

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Dear Icanthony:

There are many, many married Byzantinbe Catholic priests in the USA. Most of them are in the Ukrainian metropolia, the Romanian eparchy (over half the clergy) the Melkite eparchy, and in your Pittsburgh metropolia, especially in the Parma eparchy, which has several newly ordained married priests. I am sure these numbers will increase. God bless you.

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Originally Posted by lcanthony
Either the marriage of clergy is right or wrong and that decision should be world wide.


I understand how this might be one's initial reaction. But, I think its a little more complicated. Marriage and celebacy are both "right" and neither is "wrong." From ancient times, the Roman Church has required priestly celebacy. This has been for a number or reasons, but the main focus was issue of trying to insure good priests.

However, in the East, married priests were allowed. This was not wrong, it was just different.

Over time, as jurisdictions interacted, imaginary lines have been set up and rules have been elaborated on.

I am not saying our current situation is perfect. But, its not that bad. And its not really based on concepts of wrong and right. Its more based on custom and tradition. I do also think the call to priestly holiness make many want to keep priestly celebacy as is.

Those are my thoughts.

Felix

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North of that imaginary line he is permitted to marry while south of it he is not.


Actually our discipline does not permit a priest to marry (although he may, of course, celebrate the marriages of other people); he must have married prior to his ordination to the Diaconate if he is to be married at all.

Imaginary lines, or lines determined for non-religious reasons: believe it or not, the jurisdiction of the Eastern Catholic Patriarchs is limited to the Ottoman Empire as it was at the time of Orientalium Dignitas. I've never been able to grasp how the Sultan can have been a Catholic canonical authority!

Likewise, one wonders why married men may be ordained to the priesthood and function normally in Ukraine, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, and so on - but not in Poland!

It's all quite bizarre, and makes no sense.

Fr. Serge

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Once when in a pizza restaurant with a Greek Orthodox friend and his wife, they pointed to a nearby table with a family of 4 or 5 children, happily engaged in conversation. My friend told me the father of the family had been a beloved and effective Greek Orthodox pastor in that city. His wife died, and the young priest felt he should remarry so his small children would have a mother. When he remarried he was constrained to leave the active ministry. This echoes what Fr. Serge said that once ordained the priest can never remarry in some churches, even if a married man may be ordained. Truthfully, that seems like over-reading the scripture to "remain as you are" per St. Paul. I doubt that the Lord would send an effective apostle home because he remarried - but I may be wrong....

Pustinik
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"Acquire a peaceful spirit, and thousands around you will be saved." –St. Serafim of Sarov

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I hope that his new wife is a worthy mother to his children.

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I doubt that the Lord would send an effective apostle home because he remarried - but I may be wrong....


I don't think so either, but scandal could erupt all too easily in such situations.

It is sad...there aremore than a few relatively young Greek Orthodox priests who are single and still serving the Church because their wives left them. I feel very sorry for them because just like the widowers, they didn't chose to be single...but atleast they have their children to visit with.
We are having a mini crisis of sorts in clergy marriages. The married life is difficult for anyone, and it is even more difficult for the marriage of a priest and his wife. The wife has to move around, meet new people, be everything to everyone, be gossiped about, sometimes work, be involved in some ministries of the parish, keep a home, raise children, and at the same time, she has to share her husband with all, and rarely gets to see him. It is not an ideal situation to keep a anyone's marriage together, especially when one's family is not around to lean on, to support, to help, etc.

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An additional headache - very often the Presvytera must make a home for her husband and their family in a house which does not belong to them. This is not a recipe for a peaceable life!

Fr. Serge

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Though truthfully, many holy families have, and still do, live wonderfully happy lives in rented or borrowed quarters. My parents and children (including myself) did for many years. Priests I know, married and unmarried, are generally living in homes owned by the community (without the worry of paying a mortgage). "The worker is worth his [her] pay."

But I wonder, in the case of married priests, what happens regarding a home when the priest (and wife) retire, to Fr. Serge's point?

Pustinik
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Well, I have a friend who is a married priest in the US (ordained in 1969); although they have about seven children Father V is very much a full-time Pastor and Presvytera managed to hold down gainful employment for most of her adult life. Between the two of them, they bought a house - not all that far from the present rectory - and moved into it recently (for some time they had rented it out to help pay for it), so that when Father retires he and Presvytera will not be suddenly homeless.

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The question of clergy housing for married clergy is something that often comes up in Protestant communities. Many have changed fromt he pattern of maintaining a parish house and given the clergy a housing allowance with which they can enter the housing market and build their own equity. Then when they either move on or retire, they have their own place.

Interestingly the question moves to what happens to a clergy family if the priest dies before retirement. One family I know of had to move out of the only home they had known within a month of the priest's burial. That fact also is something to consider when one talks about the lot of the married clergy.

In Christ,

BOB

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In some secular jurisdictions, under certain conditions the widow does have rights, which can be enforced.

Fr. Serge

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Likewise, one wonders why married men may be ordained to the priesthood and function normally in Ukraine, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, and so on - but not in Poland!


Because some Latins still feel threatened.

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Originally Posted by Felix
From ancient times, the Roman Church has required priestly celebacy.


Not all that ancient smile

It was the norm for centuries before it became mandatory, but it took a millennium or so to become mandatory.

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However, the claim that priestly celibacy is apostolic does not have any basis in fact, because almost all the apostles were married, including St. Peter.

We know that St. John remained celibate. Was he the only celibate besides St. Paul?

In fact, tradition tells us that the wedding feast at Cana was the celebration of the marriage of the Apostle Thomas, who was a cousin of Christ.


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