Wednesday, January 13, 2016

The next Synod: Clergy with wives


I don't think I can live through another Synod, let alone one on celibacy. Synods are such a blunt instrument and not much prone to subtlety, they scare me. Like the last two they tend to tear the Church apart.

In my diocese about 12% of our priests are former Anglican clergy and a large proportion of those are married, I suspect this is similar to most English diocese. In effect we already have a married clergy, which was introduced and accepted without a great deal of fuss or rancour. A few of us old celibates might have an occassional half hearted grumble about the fact that married clergy get, or have to have, the wealthier parishes that can support a married man and his family but we welcome their contribution and realise that without them dioceses would have to contract and parishes merge. I welcome them because they have fought the battle against liberalism in the CofE and continue that battle now. Frankly, the Church has been enriched by their presence.

Most parts of the world do not have the CofE for the local Church to gather its exiles, so appointing viri probati in these parts of the world seems entirely reasonable.
Similarly, if we are to believe Michael Vorris celibacy seems to be an important contributory factor in the mess and scandals of the American Church and the rise in power of the gay lobby.

The thing is of course celibacy is of Dominical origin
For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother's womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it. Matt 19:12
Very early on the Church demanded celibacy for Bishops and expected sexual abstinence from celebrating clergy, in conformity with OT practice. In the West in the 11th Century, as a cure for the ills, both sexual and financial, of the clergy and their families.

Fr Hunwicke, and I agree with him, believes this is move towards the ordination of women priests, and the furtherance of the liberal or relativist agenda.

30 comments:

August said...

If bishops ordain married men according to the needs of the diocese, it will not be a furtherance of the liberal agenda. The liberal agenda is furthered by the ignorance of local conditions and the aggrandizement of the Vatican over and above bishops.

Bob Hayes said...

Fr Ray highlights many pertinent issues, and the contribution of former Anglican clergy is indeed most welcome.

In this Year of Mercy it is also wise to consider the evermore onerous demands that are being placed upon priests in a vehemently secularising and potentially hostile culture. Mission will be challenging enough for celibate men. Demands would fall all the more severely upon married priests, their wives and children. There is nothing charitable nor merciful in advocating an end to celibacy. It is - plain and simple - a stratagem to undermine Holy Mother Church.

August said...

It seems to me the chronic shortage of priests is a far more effective stratagem- and it is actually a stratagem, as we hear various anecdotes of conservative people getting derailed by bureaucrats in charge of the seminaries. There used to be a local path- men trained locally by their own bishops- and these were often married men, known to the bishop and thus not likely to be part of any progressive stratagem.

It is via centralization that progressives are able to make sweeping changes to, well, anything.

Girrard .OP said...

I am of the opinion that celibacy is a wonderful charism and not a matter of discipline. I would welcome a discussion on marriage, celibacy and continence.

thefivebeasts said...

So the Church just rips up the canons on clerical incontinence and marriage from the four Lateran Councils?

...rjt

Chloe said...

Put an end to celibacy and every half way decent looking priest ( and quite a lot of ugly ones) will be targeted by frustrated old maids and other assorted predatory females. It's bad enough WITH celibacy. And that is only one very minor consideration.

Misericordia said...

What does the wife do while her husband is at seminary training for the priesthood? If there are children, how are they financially supported during this time?. Priestly formation is long and taxing. Would it be shortened, and thus compromised, to adapt to the family obligations of a married man?

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Nicolas Bellord said...

I wonder if after the defeat of the liberal agenda at the recent Synods whether his Holiness is any more enthusiastic about having another Synod as you are? Would not the money it all cost have not better been spent on the poor? It is going to be interesting to see whether the Apostolic Exhortation is going to say anything more than what was said in Familiaris Consortio. If not it will show what a colossal waste of time it all was coupled with a great deal of divisiveness.

Fr Ray Blake said...

denden,
A 'prophecy' or superstition?

Jacobi said...

Father,

Married clergy is not the answer in the Catholic Church.

I understand there are such in the Church in England but that is a special and temporary arrangement. It will solve nothing. And female priests are not a possibility in the Catholic Church. Such a sect would no longer be within Catholicism but would presumably come within one of the many sects which will emerge from what is now seen to be the Relativist Reformation.

We will just have to carry on with you old celibates and some excellent young ones too now that the seminaries are being sorted out.

The Church of England and other Protestant sects have tried married clergy. It does not work. They are all evaporating away even faster than we declining. Voris is partly right. A sympathetic homosexual lobby does exist but I believe the priests coming form the seminaries now are different.

There may be fewer of them but then we don't need as many priests now do we with a Church which will be smaller for a while than anyone actually foresaw?

So cheer up. There will be a Synod, possibly 2/3 popes from now, but it will be all about a Counter Relativist Reformation. Enjoy it!

Sean W. said...

Here in the States, at least, the ordination of married men would be an absolute disaster -- we already have a large contingent of married clergy (permanent deacons; I believe our country contributes about half or so of the world's population of permanent deacons), many of whom would probably readily become priests if given the opportunity, and who are nearly uniformly awful.

Robert said...

Keep in mind Father. Byzantine Catholic priests are also allowed to be married. Even Eastern Orthodox priests can be married as well. So it already exists in the Catholic church as a whole, as well as the Orthodox.

Guardian said...

"Similarly, if we are to believe Michael Vorris celibacy seems to be an important contributory factor in the mess and scandals of the American Church and the rise in power of the gay lobby."

I may be simple, but could you explain this to me? I am fully aware of what Michael Voris has recently said and I am fully aware of the homosexual problem in the priesthood that has been there for decades. So please explain to me how celibacy has empowered homosexuals in the priesthood to create so many problems?

My blog: aguardian.blogspot.com

Gertrude said...

Synod scares me too, but so does the Holy Father.

M. Prodigal said...

Celibacy is a gift so that a man might give of himself totally to the Bride of Christ, the Church. I have dealt with many protestant pastors and their family comes first and the preaching is a job. They are not readily available.

I still read that faithful orthodox men are still being sifted out of some seminaries and homosexuals are still getting in. Marriage in the true sense for a sodomite is not possible and with gay 'marriage' legal, then would we not have what some of the protestant communities have which is gay 'married' lovers preaching their own brand of 'gospel'?

Steven Bergeron said...

I think we need a celibate priesthood now more than ever, because we need an example of purity when it comes to sex. Our culture is SO inundated and focused on sex that it's hard to find a TV channel, a movie, a magazine, a newspaper, etc., that doesn't have sex woven into it. Our society acts like there's nothing else. We need to see good examples of self-denial and purity, that prove that not having sex isn't fatal. LOL

Charlesdawson said...

I would love to know what the families of Ordinariate priests themselves think. Or those of married permanent deacons. We always get to hear what the men themselves think about their position, but their families also have a point of view, surely?

Fr Ray Blake said...

Guardian.
Perhaps I should have said 'under the guise of celibacy'. The problem is that celibacy that is not self denying can disguise many things.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Robert,
Orthodox marry before ordination, not after ordination - so deacons marry and then maybe ordained priest but priest do not marry.

One of the problems today is few women want to marry an Orthodox who wants to be priest, in Greece at least, so Orthodox clergy tend to be increasingly celibate.

Sixupman said...

At a 25th. Anniversary Mass for a priest friend, his bishop preached against the Ordained Priesthood in favour of a lay-led organisation. [I kid you not.] At last years feast of St, Philip Neri, the local bishop preached on the future of Mother Church in lay hands - it was also the first anniversary of an Oratory priest in that church. The same bishop's solution to the current priest shortage is the Diaconate and laity, consolidating parishes and selling-off presbyteries - currently no Permanent Deacons in the diocese. The Liverpool Archdiocesan Directory [2012] published a list of Permanent Deacons together with their wives, fifty plus in number. An experience in a South West parish, with three Permanent Deacons, one of which dressed as a pretend priest, I found dispiriting - the pastor preached against the Magisterium, some example for his deacons. Mass incorporated CofE affectations. Strangely, his supply priest from the adjacent parish, also preached against the Magisterium - he an ex CofE clergyman. We have someway to go before hitting bottom!

JARay said...

I don't see any point to married deacons. They cannot say Mass, they cannot hear confession. They can assist a priest at Mass but then, so can I. They can distribute Holy Communion, but then, so can I. They can take Holy Communion to the sick, but then, so can I. What is the point of having them? Oh! they can conduct Liturgies of the Word, but then so can I. And I do all of these things and I am not a deacon. I am an Instituted Acolyte and have been for the last 40 years. What is the point of married deacons?

john said...

What a bunch of crap, that married priests are any answer. The same theory applies to what's wrong with families. Many fathers in this world have failed to master discipline of their sexuality. Pornography and sex for pleasure at any cost, two diseases running rampant. If one cannot maintain any spiritual discipline, one is unfit to be a father. How can a priest or married father of a family be expected to lead his family toward Heaven if he is morally bankrupt, himself?

Guardian said...

Father,

Thank you for responding to my post.

I understand better what you meant by what you followed with. I agree that a celibacy that isn't self-denying isn't really celibacy. If you consider what some seminaries are teaching seminarians regarding homosexual activity not violating celibate vows, then certainly for many in the priesthood, it comes down to what the definition of "celibacy" is. How very Bill Clinton.

It's clear for decades, and perhaps centuries, that homosexuals saw the rule of celibacy was a convenient cover for their tendencies and many times actions.

How many of us have seen our priests, in lay clothes, engaging in public social behavior that they shouldn't be?

There is little doubt about the truly faithful that the hardest job in the world is Catholic Priest. But that doesn't mean we still can't hold all priests to the high standard set by Our Lord.

Jacobi said...

Getting back to your original point Father, cheer up. History has not come to an end. The Relativist Reformation. The penny is beginning to drop generally, I see.

No one has to be a Catholic after all. Matter of choice.

So enjoy it Father!

But the others had better have their your answers ready at the Last Judgement!

Valdemar said...

Father, I'm not sure you have Voris correctly understood. In fact, I do not think Voris is against celibacy as a requirement for ordination. He himself has, I believe, taken a personal vow to remain celibate.

amfortas said...

I'm struck by how much Michael Voris looks like Donald Trump.

John Vasc said...

I have no doubt in my mind that celibacy is a great priestly gift to God; and even a million abuse scandals would not convince me otherwise. It would be like saying we should not fast at all, merely because some are weak-willed and break their fast.
But regardless of how strongly or how little strongly some of us may feel, we would need to be united against the notion of married priests simply for the vital reason that the enemies of faith are using it with enormous determination as a battering ram to breach the walls of sacred discipline and inflict the next blows - suggesting that the priesthood doesn't matter, and nor does chastity.
There will always be a few honourable and/or unavoidable exceptions - e.g. convert clergy, the Ordinariate etc: but we should not regard these exceptions as a reason for instituting it as a permissive rule for all. It's interesting that Fr Hunwicke has himself stressed this in a recent post.

David O'Neill said...

In addition to the discussions on celibacy we have the thought of permitting divorced & remarried Catholics to receive Holy Communion. Surely this will lead to an inevitable split in the Church especially if the decision is left to individual bishops. The incumbent might happily allow it & yet his successor may be much more Catholic. Where will that leave the Faithful? Are we going to say 'come back SSPX all is forgiven' or will our 2 traditional Orders (FSSP & ICKSP) be expected to uphold or Catholicity & will unsettled priests join them?

Palincor IG said...

Slightly off topic perhaps - but I like your response to Denden 'prophecy or superstition?' - an engraced insight that ? Thank you.