There has been some talk lately of allowing married men into the priesthood around the Catholic Blogosphere.
There is some mistaken notion that the Church should allow priests to marry, and only forbade it in the middle ages for purely pragmatic reasons. There is an assumption that there is absolutely not spiritual, scriptural or theological reasoning behind this. (See Matthew 19:10-12).
If it is a discussion, it is because, in very rare circumstances the Church permits married men to the priesthood. The Church cannot, however allow priests to marry. The rare circumstances include the Eastern Rites, and in cases of Anglican, Episcopalian, and Lutheran clergy who convert with their wives. The discussion should be on that. If it is not, then we might as well ask why it is that married men cannot get married again.
I am not appalled or remotely nervous about having Married Catholic Priests. What Roman Catholics fail to recognize is that before the Roman Catholic Church authorities made Celibacy mandatory, Lay Catholics were preferring flocking to Mass at the Monasteries. Lay Catholics preferred Celibate Clergy, and they voted with their feet, so to speak.
The discussions often remain in the Theoretical: It will solve the vocation crisis. It would make Priests more relatable and approachable to their parishioners. It would ensure that Lay People know that the Church really does value Marriage. It would be bringing the Church up to date. It goes on. I really have no interest in answering every single theoretical argument for Married Priests in the Roman Rite. I want to point out that the Theoretical conversations don’t address many of the real practical issues that will arise.
In one sense, If there were a bunch of perfect families with their fathers becoming priests, then it might say something and even witness to how much of a joke our institution of marriage is in this country with rampant divorce. However, in reality, This would rather unleash a greater variety of problems, then many of these people are who forward the case seem to acknowledge. Fr. Dwight Longenecker, who actually is a married priest discusses this in his blog.
However, with a bit of whimsy, combined with practical common sense of real human nature, Simcha Fisher lists a series of quotes you will hear should married men getting ordained be standard practice. I could imagine, the type of scrutiny that is common for celebrities, would be leveled on children and wives of priests. In fact, I would believe that, should married priests be more standard in the Roman Catholic Church you would have several priests kids who look like Paris Hilton and Lindsey Lohan.
Aside from Fr. Longenecker and Simcha, I can say that a few of my classmates, who came from Deacon families share some of these sentiments. Far from being like a celebrity breakdown, they are actually getting Master’s Degrees to work in the Church. However, they recognize that when you actually get to the nitty gritty, things get more complicated than any of the theoretical ideas for married clergy ever get near touching.
If any discussion of Married Clergy in the Roman Catholic Church ensue, a real discussion of the Gift of Celibacy needs to be included. Were we to actually open up the possibility for having Married Clergy, it will actually have the reverse effect of causing a profound renewal of Religious Life which will always practice Celibate Chastity.