Married Priests?

For Better or for Worse...
by Brother Thomas Flynn | Source:
“So when is the Church going to let you guys get married?” That’s what I heard as I filled my cup with ice at a fast-food outlet while waiting for my flight’s departure. I looked up to see an irritated middle-aged man waiting for my answer. Smiling, I asked politely, “When will the government allow every man to have two wives?”

Basically that’s how I feel about the issue. As a seminarian studying for the priesthood, I see myself already married to the Church and responsible for thousands of souls. Why would I want more on my plate? It’s full enough already!

Christ said in the Gospel that there are those who give themselves in marriage while there are others who abstain from marriage for the sake of the Kingdom
(Matthew 19:12). Sure, it is a sacrifice not to have a family but, the way I see it, priests have given up a family of their own to attend to Christ’s family. I can’t imagine a greater responsibility than that. Yet people continue to ask why priests cannot get married, thinking that it will solve so many problems. To answer their question, let’s imagine a world with married priests.

Scenario 1: Father Ralph and his wife have decided they want as many children as the good Lord chooses to give them. But, when number 12 arrives and the kids start heading off to college, who will pay for their education? Will an extra basket be passed around during mass? Will Father have to find a part-time job on the side, thus limiting his presence at the parish?

Scenario 2: Father Joe is finally retiring from your parish, and Bishop Edmund wants to replace him with Father Ralph. He writes him a kind letter laying out the reasons and asking him to move within a month. Father Ralph responds saying that he cannot move or change parishes because he and his wife have finally found a home, the kids are in the parish school, and his wife just found a good job. Bishop Edmund has his hands tied, while you are left without a priest.

Scenario 3: You are pressed for time but make it a point to go to 7:30 am Mass before heading off to work. As you wait in the pew, a kind woman approaches the pulpit and says, “I am very sorry, but today’s Mass will begin at 7:55 instead of 7:30 because Father Frank got stuck in traffic taking his kids to school.”

Scenario 4: Your mother has been battling cancer for two months and it seems that at any moment Our Lord will call her to his heavenly banquet. You get a call from the doctor at 1:00 am saying that your mom’s condition is rapidly deteriorating and that she has only a few hours to live. You rush to the hospital, praying to arrive before she goes. On the way you call Father Bill to come and give her last rites. His answer is kind but firm. “Sorry, but my kids are sick and I am the only one home right now because my wife went on a weekend retreat. I really apologize, but I won’t be able to make it. I hope you understand.”

To get back to our friend, John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI have repeatedly supported priestly celibacy. Even in midst of the priestly scandals in the US, it is hard to see married priests as a solution to the problem.
Data shows that the number of sex misconduct among general population, or married protestant pastors is much more alarming.

Some may argue for married priests to combat priest shortage and help the Church to expand, citing the Orthodox Catholic tradition as example. However they fail to recognize that allowing priests to have their own families has not contributed to the growth of the Orthodox tradition in neither aspect.

We should help priests come closer to Christ and fall in love with the same God who called them to share in his priesthood. A priest who loves Christ with his whole heart, and gives himself completely for the Church, will have no time and no need for a wife and family of his own
(Luke 18:29-30).

Brother Thomas Flynn, LC, studies for the priesthood in Rome.

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Post a Comment
Published by: RCK
Date: 2011-01-08 03:15:24
Sex misconduct among general population, or married protestant pastors is much more alarming. The above might be true. But 1. Its include sex with adults, not the abuse of children. And they do not have the record of hiding the cases from the Police, and making it hard for them They also did not move them around subjecting even more children to the abuse. and 2. There are more positives than negatives with have married priest. In all honesty, much of that you gave as reasons really seems like cop outs, and looking for excuse to tow the Vatian line. If there were married priest there would be a few changes I am sure. But, as far as shifting them around, if you will look in the NT, Pastors were not moved around, they were Shepards of a congregation. And Bishops (as we have them today) did not move them all over the place just to move them. If you will look in the NT, you will find that there were rules given by Paul about the qualifications of Elders, and so on. One of the requirements was that he be married, among others. Like it or not its there I think its in 2 Timothy. And in a place in Titus as well. The benefits out weight the draw backs. I have had background in the Catholic and Anglican churches. And I can say that married priest have an edge as far as being in the Pastoral ministry over most unmarried ones. Will the pay be great? No, most likely not. But its not profession, its a calling. You are not going to get rich just being an Parish priest, as well as being married. By the way, I know if an unmarried priest that raised 5 or 6 adopted/foster boy. And some had big problems. A few of them medical, that he paid for. One is dead, but the others have done well. But he was a special guy. This guy could make big organs by hand. And tune them by ear. Take care.

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