Sunday, May 11, 2014

Men and brethren, what shall we do?

I am presuming that nobody who reads this blog regularly is excited about the possibility of married priests in the Roman rite. I'm not either. 

That being said, let us suppose for a moment that in the near future the Supreme Pontiff were to dispense with the traditional discipline of priestly celibacy and allow the ordination of married men into the priesthood. I do not know of any discussion about this at the moment; it's a mere hypothetical. But let's suppose it happened - maybe in the aftermath of the Synod of the Family or something. The barriers are down and progressives get their dream of ordaining married men.

Speaking specifically to you married men out there, I ask you, what would we do? How would we respond to this monumental change?

My initial reaction would be to continue to protest against it, the way which we traditional minded Catholics continue to protest EMHCs, altar girls, communion in the hand, and every other departure from tradition we have witnessed in the past several decades. We protest the jettisoning of the discipline of mandatory celibacy and refuse to present ourselves for priesthood. After all, if we really believe this would be against the best interests of the priesthood, we cannot participate in it.

Or should we? Perhaps if the Church allows married priests, ought married traditionalist men begin discerning ordination and presenting themselves as candidates? The liberal establishment, drooling at the thought of ordaining the married, will rush to open the floodgates and get as many married men in as they could. Sure, we'd have to go in "under the radar", as many candidates for priesthood do today, keeping their opinions to themselves as they undergo the regimen. But they'd get through eventually, and when they do, what would the Church look like if a whole crop of married traditionalist men were ordained to the priesthood? Men who, because they are married, are better insulated against the homo-heresy present in many seminaries and much less likely to fall to the Lavender Mafia? Would it not be ironic if the progressive push for a married presbyterate led to an influx of traditional priests who preached tradition - including clerical celibacy - with a zeal hitherto lacking in the celibate clergy? Would it not be deliciously amusing if the liberal wet dream made possible a liberal nightmare?

This does not dispense with any of the arguments against a married clergy, of course. But suppose it happens. I ask you, men and brethren, suppose your diocese one days accepts married men to the priesthood. What do we do? How do we respond? 


Josephus said...

Hm... Would they follow the Eastern Rites and only allow celebate men to become bishops? If so, that could also work to our advantage.

Mick Jagger Gathers No Mosque said...

Dear Brother Boniface. Even if it were to destroy the plans of the liberals it would fulfill the plans of Satan and, thus, we can not participate.

A celibate, continent, Priesthood is an Apostolic Tradition that MUST be raised to an Infallible Doctrine so as to protect it until the end of time.

And I do not care one whit for the errors of the East that has become their ecclesiastical tradition and instead of pointing at them and saying - well, they do it - as a putative justification for us surrendering to Satan on this most crucial of contentions matters; let us point out that what the east has been doing is an error and a rebarbative violation of Apostolic Tradition.

Boniface said...

But I think we are talking about the Eastern Churches in union with Rome, not the schismatic ones.

Further more, how can it be an infallible doctrine when St. Peter was married and remained married throughout his ministry?

I'm not for it, but I don't see how we can say it is an infallible doctrine. St. Paul specifically says that apostles have the right to marry if they want - if he says that, how can it be revealed from heaven that it is otherwise?

Boniface said...

It is an apostolic tradition that priests are BETTER celibate and that celibacy is higher, but having extensively read the Fathers, I cannot say that mandatory celibacy is an apostolic tradition.

Ghost of Tyburn said...

54 minute conference on the topic and its excellent. Personally, I'm sick and tired already of Deacon's wives running around acting as priests in waiting so you can consider my vote a massive thumbs down and I assume it will merely hasten the anti christ and the middle chapters of St John's Apocalypse.

c matt said...

Well, going with your hypothetical, if it does come to pass, and tradionalist married men refuse to join on principle, then non-tradionalist married men will simply be added to the ranks. It would put us between the proverbial rock and hard place. Taking St. Thomas More as a role model, he seemed willing to take the oath offered to him if it was at all possible (at least in Bolt's play) without compromising his principles. So, seems the question is does it compromise a core principle to join a married priesthood if allowed? No question that a celibate priesthood is superior in my mind. But just like the "oath" may have been written in such a way as to be signable (although not having it at all was preferable), if it is passable, why not join?

Beefy Levinson said...

That's not even touching on the practical problems of an influx of married men into the priesthood. Would the laity pony up in the collection plate so Father can send his kids to Notre Dame? Or when Father needs to pay the stipend to the tribunal for his annulment?

Unknown said...

Dear Brother Boniface. Denzigers:
ST. SIRICIUS 384-398

The Primacy of the Roman Pontiff *

The Celibacy of the Clergy*

[From the same epistle to Himerius]

89 (7, 8 ff.) Let us come now to the most sacred orders of the clergy, which we find so abused and so disorderly throughout your provinces to the injury of venerable religion, that we ought to say in the words of Jeremias:Who will water to my head, or a fountain of tears to my eyes? and I will weep for this people day and night( Jer. 9:1). . . . For we have learned that very many priests and levites of Christ, after long periods of their consecration, have begotten offspring from their wives as well as by shameful intercourse, and that they defend their crime by this excuse, that in the Old Testament it is read that the faculty of procreating was given to the priests and the ministers.

Whoever that follower of sensual desires is let him tell me now: . . . Why does [the Lord] forewarn those to whom the holies of holies were to be entrusted saying: Be ye holy, because I your Lord God am holy [ Lev. 20:7;1 Pet. 1:16]? Why also were the priests ordered to dwell in the temple at a distance from their homes in the year of their turn? Evidently for this reason that they might not be able to practise carnal intercourse with their wives, so that shining with purity of conscience they might offer an acceptable gift to God. . . .

Therefore also the Lord Jesus, when He had enlightened us by His coming, testifies in the Gospel, that he came to fulfill the Law, not to destroy it[ Matt. 5:17]. And so He has wished the beauty of the Church, whose spouse He is, to radiate with the splendor of chastity, so that on the day of judgment, when He will have come again, He may be able to find her without spot or wrinkle [Eph. 5:27] as He instituted her through His Apostle. All priests and levites are bound by the indissoluble law of these sanctions, so that from the day of our ordination, we give up both our hearts and our bodies to continence and chastity, provided only that through all things we may please our God in these sacrifices which we daily offer."But those who are in the flesh,"as the vessel of election says, "cannot please God"[ Rom. 8:8 ].

But those, who contend with an excuse for the forbidden privilege, so as to assert that this has been granted to them by the Old Law, should know that by the authority of the Apostolic See they have been cast out of every ecclesiastical office, which they have used unworthily, nor can they ever touch the sacred mysteries, of which they themselves have deprived themselves so long as they give heed to impure desires. And because existing examples warn us to be on our guard for the future should any bishop, priest, or deacon be found such, which henceforth we do not want) let him now understand that every approach to indulgence is barred through us, because it is necessary that the wounds which are not susceptible to the healing of warm lotions be cut out with a knife.

++++++++ en dof quote++++++++++

Dear Brother Boniface. Yes, this is a discipline and not a doctrine but it is not a mere discipline seeing as it is a discipline form Jesus Himself and, as such, ought be considered not changeable.

The key to understanding the continuing campaign to change this Apostolic Originated Discipline is that it is part of the attempt to disestablish the distinction twixt the Ordained and The Royal Priesthood and if it be changed, one will hear "They are no different than you; they too are married so you n do what they are doing."

This is part of Satan's plan and must be resisted. Can this discipline be elevated into a doctrine?

I sure as hell hope so

Boniface said...

I am not suggesting it is a dispensable discipline. I WANT a celibate priesthood. Don't misunderstand the point of the argument.

I don't think disciplines can be elevated to doctrines; the two are fundamentally different kinds of realities, one a truth, the other a practice. Sometimes truth and practice are tightly interwoven, but the distinction is real.

I think the introduction of married priests is a plan of the devil for the weakening of the Church, but I cannot say that the fact of a particular married priest is necessarily sinful, offensive to God, etc. Again, if St. Peter was married and a priest and bishop - and there is every indication he was - married priests cannot be an intrinsic evil or intrinsically displeasing to God in every circumstance.

Arturo Ortiz said...

I myself am not looking forward to a married priesthood. It is no doubt that there is a lot more practical reasons for why a priest should remain celibate. I have heard from people that know married priests and most of them say that they would rather not have been married, it makes their ministry much more harder and for their families as well.

Face it causes the family more harm, as the husband is not along a lot, for he has his duty to God first. It is stressful both to the priest and his family.

I think that if married men are allowed to become priest it will make those who choose priestly celibacy have more merit and value on their decision. Venerable Fulton Sheen stated in one of his talk that the more free that we are, and the more good that we choose (such as God before all else) our values are a lot more meritorious. That is why God gave us free will. Thus in other words if married men are allowed to become priests then in my opinion it will be much easier for a person who chooses to become a priest as a celibate man to become a saint over someone that is married.

Karen said...

Priest's celibacy is only a church rule (not mandatory doctrine). Even the first pope Peter had a wife as Matthew 8:14 "And when Jesus was come into Peter' s house, he saw his wife' s mother lying, and sick of a fever" (Douay-Rheims). I think this was the apostle Peter and not another Peter. Plus eastern Catholic rites in communion with Rome are allowed to have married priests.

Stephen said...

Is there not a linkage between an all celibate clergy and the Novus Ordo? After all, the Novus Ordo was created and promulgated by a hierarchy steeped in the Latin rite tradition of celibacy

Boniface said...

There's a linkage between a celibate clergy and the Latin rite itself, going way back before the NO.

Karen, nobody debates the the early church had married clergy, and that celibacy is a discipline. But that does not mean that there was always clergy having sex (ie, exercising their marital rights). We know Peter was married; we know nothing about the context of their marriage or how thee married clergy exercised - or chose not to exercise - their marital rights. In fact, there is very strong evidence that even thought he Early Church allowed married clergy, it required the observation of perfect continence within that marriage.

Stephen said...

If true, that would both undermine the sacrament of marriage and promote a weird clericalism

Boniface said...


Well, it is undoubtedly true. I don't see how that undermines marriage. Just because one is married does not mean there are unlimited sexual rights under all circumstances. The Tradition in the Church has been that ordination mandates continence, even if it did not always mandate celibacy.

Stephen said...

If by continence you mean abstinence, as in fasting from lawful relations during Lent (which is still proscribed in the East for both married clergy and laity), then I fully concur; if however you mean no relations anymore forever and the couple has not withdrawn to separate monastic communities, then I would say you fly more in the face of Tradition than with it

Boniface said...


The tradition was that a married man might be ordained, but that once ordained he had to observe perpetual continence forever and at all times. That was the tradition.

It did present problems, and that's why it was eventually abolished. As far as we know, the Church never sanctioned the ordained having sex and I challenge you to produce one document that specifically mentions that (a) a cleric was engaging in marital relations and that (b) this is either praised or treated as normative.

Anonymous said...

I write this as a married priest in the Anglican Ordinariate. I would recommend that the current discipline remain, along with the "exception to the rule" for requesting a married man be ordained to the priesthood. I am traditionally-minded, have gone to training with the FSSP to learn the EF Mass, which is very similar to our Elizabethan-English Ordinariate Use "Divine Worship" liturgy of the Mass. There are traditionalist married men out there, and some agree with the discipline, while others do not.

As to clerical continence, refer to the current Code of Canon Law, Canon 277, which still requires continence and celibacy of all clergy. What we married men normally receive is derogation from Canon 277. What this actually means (allowance or non-allowance of sexual relations within our allowed marriages) is a point of debate among canonists. I've posed this to canonists, and have read the legal opinions of others. The current guidance seems to be that we are to maintain our marital commitment, including the sharing of conjugal rights with our spouses. This appears to apply to both the Ordinariate and those who came in under the Pastoral Provision.

Yes, St. Peter was married, and we know some early Popes allowed married men to be ordained, while still requiring continence but dispensing them from celibacy. This is something far above my "pay grade." If a change takes place in the discipline, I, too, dearly hope that many traditionally-minded men decide to commit. I did not ever foresee the path that God has led me along, but I am thankful that He has done so, and am extraordinarily humbled daily.

For hate mail or if you want to discuss something about this, you can reach me at I have a thick skin.