Thursday 13: Married Priests?


In the vein of a blogging trend that I just noticed, I will now post my first "Thursday Thirteen" list, called:
 
"13 reasons the Catholic Church should not have married priests"
  1. The best evidence I have comes from some priests who are married (they were Episcopalian/Anglican priests who were married and eventually converted to Catholicism, but kept their priestly office).  They all said the stress of the dual vocation is so much, that if given the chance to do it all over again, they would never have gotten married.
  2. When given the choice between taking care of your sick child or spouse in the middle of the night or hearing the confession of someone on their deathbed, how can one reconcile the vows taken on each side?
  3. Here is some more evidence to the case, but from the perspective of those women who are married to pastors/preachers in other Christian denominations.  The wives of married pastors are expected to be exceptional (as their husbands are expected to be) while also taking care of a household, essentially, by themselves.
  4. Letting priests be married will not alleviate the pedophilia problem, it would only transfer it.  For those who are tempted to pedophilia, instead of molesting someone else’s child, they would molest their own – this is NOT a solution by any stretch of the imagination.
  5. The priesthood is a profession as well as a religious vocation.  As such, benefits (like medical and retirement) are provided by the diocese.  A married priest is at least a double financial strain (more so if they have kids), because his wife (and any children) would also need to be provided for.
  6. Allowing married persons to become priests will not necessarily increase vocations.  There are multiple reasons for decreased vocations to the priesthood (e.g., lack of mention in homilies, less people telling their children that the priesthood is a valid vocation to follow, the culture of seminaries, etc.), but celibacy is not one of them.
  7. Along with the lack of vocations to the priesthood, there is a decreasing number of bishops in the world.  Bishops are not allowed to be married – period.  Allowing married priests does nothing to help the bishop "shortage".  (For more on whether this shortage is real or not, see this article.)
  8. Celibacy is a "priceless gift" to the Roman Catholic priesthood, allowing these men to channel their energies from what might go toward sexual concerns toward ecclesiastical concerns.  Not having to worry about personal sexual relations frees up a lot of time for a man to do and think and pray more.
  9. Having married priests with limited time (see #8) means that even more priests would be needed at parishes than currently are needed.  A celibate priest can be "on call" 24/7", but a married priest needs "family time".  We have a shortage of priests already, without further needing 2-3 times as many at each parish.  (Thak you, Patricia Dixon, for this one.)
  10. In this climate of disposable marriages, how does one handle a married priest whose wife files for divorce?
  11. St. Paul recommends celibacy when he wrote, "To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is well for them to remain single as I am. But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to be aflame with passion" (1 Cor 7:8-9)
  12. This reason goes with why the Church made celibacy mandatory in the 12th century – there were problems and abuses related to married clergy that, after much debate and struggle, mandatory celibacy became a discipline of the Roman Catholic Church (although it is not a mandatory discipline in the Orthodox Churches, it is still recommended).  Parish priests, unlike those in religious community, are allowed to own property (there is no vow of poverty taken by a diocesan priest).  If they are married, they can pass that property on to their children.  Since clergy pay no taxes, it is much easier for married clergy to accumulate much property over several generations, yielding "false" vocations to the priesthood, in order to keep the property "in the family".
  13. Last, but not least – the best reason for priests to be celibate and not married – the example of Jesus Christ, our High Priest.

Of course, the only reason this list is limited to 13 entries is because of the theme "Thursday Thirteen".  If you can think of more reasons, please post them below in the comment box.

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