Friday, February 21, 2014

unbookmarking a great blog and other random, serious quick takes

1. Ukraine today
2.A Byzantine Catholic priest recently told us that being Byzantine is like being the child of divorced parents. In between mother and father, the child is a constant reminder of the cast-off spouse. The child is shuffled here and there, perhaps almost forgotten by the parent who has less custody. The Eastern Catholic Churches in communion with Rome are a reminder of the unity that once was there in the Church, but also a reminder of the hurt feelings and betrayal on both sides. 
3. I was excited to sign up for Fr Robert Barron's Lenten reflections. I also signed up my husband. I know that he writes from a very Latin Catholic standpoint; he did not cover the Eastern Churches in his sweeping video series and book Catholicism (which I pre-ordered and enjoyed even with this gaping hole). 
But now I am done. His blog, Word On Fire, published a scathing editorial on "Why I Don't Want Priests to Marry," using an image of a married Byzantine Catholic priest in the Ukraine trying to stop the bloodshed there. It took quite a few hours, but Word On Fire finally changed the image to one of the Cristeros before dying by firing squad. 
But it is not enough because Fr Robert Barron, through his publishing of the editorial with no explanation or disclaimer, agrees with the guest author that:
"I want a priest who acts In Persona Christi. Christ Himself was celibate and so I would expect those who are acting in His place and dispensing the sacraments to His flock to live accordingly.....Were a priest to give his body to another, in a way, he is dissolving that reality for those who see him as he is, a man branded in the name of Christ, dying daily for his Bride, and giving his body to the mission She reflects."
Is the writer stating that a married priest is not acting In Persona Christi
The writer says that a priest must "allow every waking moment to be devoted to the needs and wishes of the parish."
hmmmm...really?
He closes by writing, "I want a priest who lives according to the traditional vow he has taken. Were that vow to change I believe he would be doing an injustice to both himself and the mission of the Church as well as those he intends to lead. I don’t want a priest whose flock is secondary. Maybe this is indeed selfish, but I’m ok with that."
So Jared Zimmerer and- through his publication and now refusal to clarify if he believes differently,-Fr Robert Barron are comfortable with disparaging the sacraments celebrated by married priests. Zimmerer is "okay with that." How flippant it is to reject the ministries of married priests- either in the Roman-rite or the Eastern rites where the married priesthood is the norm. It is as if Zimmerer and Barron are quite comfortable with throwing the tradition, and the priests and their families, in the rubbish heap. 
I don't know what Fr Robert Barron was thinking when he spoke face-to-face to my husband at a recent event. My husband said that Fr Barron (knowing that he was a married priest) was welcoming, pleasant, everything we would expect him to be. he acted just like he does in the videos on films and theology that we have enjoyed and learned from. But with his removal of the Eastern Churches from his video and book on Catholicism and now the publication of this anti-married clergy rant on his blog, I can only assume that Fr Barron's calm demeanor with my priest-husband was an act, concealing his true contempt for the married priesthood in the East.
This Byzantine Catholic will not be reading Fr Barron again. He won't see much of a difference in his blog stats even if every Byzantine Catholic stopped clicking; we are so small. He clearly does not feel the need to minister to the small percentage of Catholics who will not say "Yay! That's right! I need my parish priest all to myself!" 
I have no problem with a 'pro'-celibacy article. I have never called for the Roman-rite to change its tradition for priests. I believe that all of my writing on this blog will reflect that view. It is just so disappointing that we are no more advanced in our understanding of the UNIVERSAL (meaning- the Church is not only your parish's celebration of the Roman-rite at 9 AM Sundays) Church than Bishop John Ireland was over a hundred years ago. This led to the destruction of the Byzantine rite in the United States. But even before destruction, we have always been the minority in the United States.
One of the parables of Jesus I find the most beautiful- the parable of the lost sheep. Jesus did not hesitate to help 1% of his flock, even though it would have been easy to ignore 1 out of the 100. But then, Jesus was a radical, the true 'word on fire.'
EDIT: On February 22nd, the post in question was taken down from the site Word on Fire (or at least I cannot find it). I hope that the writer had a change of heart and decided to learn more about the possibility of married men being ordained deacon and priest (primarily in the Eastern rites). My husband is much wiser and holier than I. He suggested to me that the writer is coming from a defensive point of view because celibacy, the priesthood and the Catholic Church are under such attack. I can understand this well. I am leaving my words because I stand by them, but I want to remind readers that I greatly respect and admire the holy, celibate clergy that have had a positive influence on my life personally and on the entire world. I do feel as if we should 'pretend' that unity with all of the Churches has happened (at this point, the Eastern Churches that are in communion with Rome are very small in number and easy to ignore) and learn and respect the respective differences in discipline between churches. 
4. It's 'Black History Month." Did you know that abortions of black babies outweigh black births in New York and account for 46% of all abortions there? Margaret Sanger would be so proud.
5. Much has been swirling in the Catholic blogoshere about being a 'good priest.' Pope Francis stated that uneducated, clericalist priests can become "little monsters." St John Chrysostom said centuries ago that the "road to hell is paved with the skulls of bishops." Wow- it seems that it is humanly impossible to be a holy priest. And that's true- it is humanly impossible. With humility, prayer, fasting, and 'fear and trembling,' a man might be able to be a holy priest. And there's the rub. A "little monster" won't bother to pray or fast. A bishop whose skull is perhaps destined for hell's highway thinks all is well. He gave his life to Christ, so it doesn't really matter if his priests and believers are withering away. Heaven help these clergy!
6. “The priest essentially exists to do what Jesus did. He helped the sick and all those who sought his assistance by showing the merciful side of God, healing souls, forgiving sins, proclaiming the Kingdom of Heaven, without kicking anyone out but understanding their needs and helping them to grow. So I would say that a priest is someone who wants to obey Jesus every day, even if this involves sacrifice, someone who makes the Father’s wish his daily sustenance. As priests we must never forget to be “one with Jesus” in order to continue the mission among people. As such, our priority is to “be priests” not to “work as priests"- Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, Beniamino Stella via The Deacon's Bench.
7. I found this on my facebook newsfeed, and it is perfect. It is written by an Orthodox abbot, but pertains exactly to all clergy:
 PETTY CLERGY- Pettiness is the Enemy of Clergy
"Pettiness is that sickness of the heart that can lead some clergy to constantly be on the lookout for anyone who might offend them. Ready at a moments notice, they are poised to confront the offender. Such clergy build up their low self esteem by finding someone they can look down upon, needing, as they do, to find others who are lower in status than them. Such a priest inevitably suffers from low self esteem, and his need to berate others makes him lash out at anyone he considers beneath him. Whether they be a waitress, gardener, store clerk, or a parishioner, they are fair game for these petty clergy, for they are unwilling to see anyone as their equal.

We priests need to be on guard, lest we become petty, and give fodder to those who would dismiss the Church as a medieval institution not worthy of the twenty-first century. The secular world will always ignore the good and exaggerate the bad in Christianity. When pettiness enters the life of the Church, and unimportant, non-essential things become the focus of we clergy, the damage done can be enormous. As Orthodox clergy, we must put aside all pettiness, and concentrate on the love of God, and the things of faith that are truly important. We must be open and accessible to all with whom we come in contact, that we may be vehicles for God's grace.

Within the life of the Church there is no room for pomposity or snobbery. Orthodox clergy must be open, warm, and engaging, so the love of Christ is not concealed. If we are to be true ambassadors of Christ, we must not be like the pharisees, and think of ourselves as above others, and worthy of special treatment. Rather, we must imitate our Lord Jesus Christ Who came as a humble servant and be willing to modestly serve others.

The priesthood is not a job, but a vocation, and it is one that the demons despise. Whatever insecurity a priest has is known by the demons, and they will do everything they can to exploit a vulnerable clergyman, attacking him at his weakest point. An attack upon a deacon, priest or bishop, is a direct attack on the Body of Christ, the Church. It is therefore essential that we clergy be on guard for the enemy's assault, that in knowing our weak points, we not be found vulnerable. The mission of the Church is far too important, and we must not be found standing in the way, blocking the narrow path that leads to Christ."  Love in Christ, Abbot Tryphon

47 comments:

  1. I (a Roman Catholic layperson) agree with everything in your posted article. I am blessed to have a son in law who is a Byzantine Catholic priest so my perspective on these issues has been a bit educated. I believe most Roman Catholics don't have a clue about the byzantine tradition of married clergy. Forgive them for they know not what they do. As for Fr. Barron I am surprised at his apparent ignorance. After all, our Holy Father accepts the Byzantine tradition. Does Fr. Barron think that he is wiser than the Holy Father and his predecessors? You might want to send your post to Fr. Barron for his enlightenment. Thanks for the heads up.

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    1. I did contact both Fr Barron and the actual writer of the post- just think it is polite to let them know that I mentioned them here. Who knows if they will notice the email from me?

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  2. The thing about Christ being celibate and therefore...is not the Latin rite's reasoning for celibacy of priests as I have heard it expressed. The Church has always embraced celibacy as a sign of the kingdom. The celibacy of Christ has more to do with His divinity and mission as God made flesh than with a desire to be an example of state for future priests. Even Paul who with John and Barnabas was unmarried describes the mission of Christ in terms of a marriage with the Church. The married priest is a sacramental sign par excellence of this reality, He is "alter cristi" in his mandate and mission. The celibate priest is a sacramental sign of the Kingdom of Heaven. There is also a misconception that the priesthood is somehow a solitary venture. No priest can be without the support of others and many will admit that the lack of support makes the fulfillment of their roles arduous. In the West this lack has spawned many forms of priestly communities. If a western theologian wishes to criticize the East for what he sees as a deficiency in the "ideal" I as a latin rite faithful could criticize the deficiency in the "real" of the West. I choose to do neither because it is ignorant. The mission of the Church is not a celibate one. Celibacy has practical advantages in a priest being freed from worldly concerns according to the ideal of St. Paul but in the modern parish this ideal is just not there. Name a pastor you know who is not weighed down with administrative, legal, financial concerns. The sentiments of this argument for celibacy are out of touch and divisive. If men are called to be Alter Cristi, the New Adam, than in his marriage a priest's wife is simply called to be "alter Maria" a visible sign of the New Eve. We are all sacramental signs of Christ, celibate or married. Enough with false dichotomies, already.

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    1. Thank you for thoughtful reply....boy- to be an 'alter Maria'! I have a lot of work to do!

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  3. I saw a few episodes of the "Catholicism" series at a mission parish in my hometown and have read (a library copy of) the companion book. (This was a regional event for Catholic young adults ages 21-35) I also wished Eastern-rite Catholicism had been mentioned--in fact, I bought it up during the discussion afterwards! I don't know if others "got" what I was talking about.

    I've been following the news about Ukraine through "National Review" since it broke in Nov. God bless the Catholic and Orthodox priests out and about together ministering!

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    1. It is too bad- the east has some very very beautiful art and music (the series going into the cultural contributions of the Catholic Church)

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  4. It was a terrible gaffe. They apologized and changed the wording. Do we always have to be so sensitive and ready to be offended? There is no denying he is a good man, a great priest. He has some holes in his awareness. Are you absolutely certain that you have no holes in your awareness on some subject you havent given much thought. Let us sinners not be so eager to cast stones. Peace

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    1. Fr J- you are wise- but 'Word on Fire' does have clout in the on-line world. I'm praying about this...

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    2. Well said, Fr. J.
      I'm sorry you were offended, PW.

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    3. another amen Father....wow are we all quick to condemn those holier then us.....

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    4. Please read my post carefully- I did NOT "condemn" Fr barron who, yes, is much holier than I- that is true

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  5. I have to say that I think it was appropriate for Priest's Wife to be offended. It is an unfortunate truth that most people let alone most Catholics are not aware of the breath of the Church, and naiveté can be excused in most cases. This was not most cases. When one uses a photo of a Ukrainian priest in the Ukrainian to wax polemical on Ukrainian politics and faith, one should most certainly consider Ukrainian Christians and all Greek Catholics and their practices. It made no sense to fall to take this into account. Furthermore, Father is a priest himself and is expected to have a greater awareness than most others. I'm glad that the article was removed but I'd be more glad if it had not been written.

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    1. ...once again- I think most people who were upset by the blog article wasn't that a random lay person wrote it but that Fr Barron hosted it on his blog. I bet that his blog is even more popular than Fr Z's

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  6. I read the original article and it bothered me in a fashion I couldn't quite put my finger until now. It wasn't just that it was dismissive of the authenticity of married priests. It feels rather Donatist-ish... demanding a specific type of holiness from priests, like that's something they can just flip an interior switch and provide.

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  7. Posted on thursday on the Word on fire facebook page:

    Thank you for all of your feedback regarding the ignorance and error in our post titled "Why I Don't Want Priests to Marry". We regret the content, which contained some theological errors, and we also regret using a photo of a Ukrainian Catholic priest, for obvious reasons.

    We've removed the post and the photo. The mistake was an oversight and a regrettable lack of attention to detail, and was not meant to insult any priest or any rite, most especially those who are standing in harm's way to protect their flocks. Our most sincere apologies for any offense this photo caused. We certainly continue to pray for that priest and for all priests.

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  8. Hi all-- I work for Father Barron at Word On Fire, and I just want to take the opportunity to apologize. The article was not written by Fr. Barron, and its content was posted as an opinion piece, albeit from a perspective that was (to your point) ignorant of how it would affect the Eastern Rite audience. It was meant, I believe, to speak about the attack on celibacy from the Roman tradition, but the way we did not take into account the Eastern Rite like we should have is something for which we meant no offense and we accept full responsibility. God bless all of you and God be with all priests. Thank you so much for following Fr. Barron and Word On Fire, and be assured of our thankful prayers.

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    1. And, I am very sorry.

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    2. Rozann- it is kind of you to write that- thank you! My blog is very, very small, so I appreciate you taking the time to consider my opinion. You know better than I how busy Fr Barron is, so I suspected that he wasn't able to 'vet' the specific blog article. Who knows what Pope Francis will be able to do with the help of the Holy Spirit? We might be on our way to more unity...so it is a good idea for Catholics of all rites to learn about each other. Thanks again, Rozann

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    3. Rozann, I can not except your apparent ignorance of how it would affect the Eastern rite. You had a photo of an Eastern priest on the blog. If your staff over there is ready to get serious about an apology then it can be accepted. Have some integrity and admit the bigotry that was on display for the whole world to see. If it wasn't meant for us there would be no Eastern priest in the photo!!!

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    4. Hi Ric-

      If there was bigotry, it was unintentional. I don't know what else to do except admit an extreme lack of prudence and regrettable ignorance on my part. I chose the image without knowing where it came from. I am very very sorry. I have "googled" all references to this article to try to let people know that I take responsibility and I apologize. I am as serious about the apology as I can be. Please forward this along to whomever you wish. Thank you for your patience. I hope you can accept my apology, as it will give you the freedom to let go of an unintended offense. It seems like that is a beautiful part of your tradition, as well.

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    5. Thank you for your words. I do accept it. If you used a Google search engine than it would obviously give you the photo that was most poplar on the subject. Guess it gave you that photo that was being used because of the events. That makes sense to me now.

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  9. Thank YOU so much for your humility. You are exactly right-- this has really opened all of our eyes, especially mine. I didn't know what I didn't know. Now I do! Hopefully we will feature a wonderful response from a married Eastern Orthodox priest soon. Stay tuned! God bless you for your kindness and God bless your and your husband's beautiful vocations.

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    1. Rozann,
      Thank you for the apology! I accept it. I also apologize for any hurt or frustration you encountered in the response and ask you to forgive us. You are right that it is sad how little we Catholics know of each other. We'd love to help you change that!

      As a first order of business, I hope instead of an Orthodox priest outside our communion, you will feature Eastern Catholic and Latin Catholic married priests who are within the Catholic communion. I'm sure the blog's readers could quickly get you in touch with some! What else would be helpful for you to continue growing in knowledge about the East, especially the 22 Catholic Churches that use one of the Eastern or Oriental rites? You name it and we could probably arrange it!

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    2. Thank you so much, Isolde! I am doing some research on the different rites and traditions now, but I would love any links to resources that you would recommend! And thank you so much for the suggestion. I will certainly pass it along. And I will be sure to do more research on choosing images prior to publishing them in the future.

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    3. Is there an email address where I may contact you?

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    4. Isolde- you might have luck communication with her with the 'contact' page on the Word on Fire website (it is on the top to our right)- also, it seems like Facebook with Word on Fire is a good way to comment/communicate

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  10. Rozann: I was glad to see that Word on Fire pulled that article, and I'm glad to see your comments on this wonderful blog. However, I am one of about 150 married priests in the Latin Rite here in the US. If you do run a flow up article, please mention we married priests and deacons exists in many rites. Hank you again for you kind words here. Fr. Matthew Venuti

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    1. Thank you Fr Matthew- I love it when other people chime in....sometimes I feel like a broken record ;)

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  11. Thank you Rozann for your graciousness and humility in correcting this problem. Since Jared Zimmerer was the author of the article is he too using this as an opportunity to learn about the various particular churches? It would be nice to have heard something from him or Fr. Barron regarding this matter. God's blessings to you!

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  12. You're a married priest, you get a call at 2am to minister to someone in some way...and your wife is too sick to handle the kids alone, or one of you children is very sick....what do you do? Should a priest feel torn between his real family and his parish family? How many birthdays and sporting events can a married priest miss for the sake of his ministry before it starts taking a toll on his children which are his first duty as a husband and father?

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    1. Nick, ask your local doctor the same question or firman, police officer or solider. However, unlike secular people a priest has the power from his ordination to deal effectively in his ministry choice. Also, don't forget tat many celibate priests have obligations. My priest durning his mothers sickness was late to liturgy. Think more about the power of the mystery of holy orders rather than human obligations.

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    2. Sorry for errors! Spell check on iPhones is strange

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    3. I do see your point and those are good examples that I hadn't thought of but when I think about those examples a little longer I think that those people also have others to share the load and burden. A fire chief can send a firefighter home to be with his family if he's already at the firehouse on watch. Same for a police officer. A doctor who is on call can refer to another doc if need be or just recommend the ER if they can't diagnose over the phone (which has happened to us twice). As a vet, I can say your example of a soldier is probably your best example, BUT, soldiers DO miss a lot, and families suffer, and marriages suffer as a result. Divorce rates are high in the military. But my main point to all these examples is that a priest is a walking role model for his flock and representative for God and can't afford to worry about scandal and such that might arise from his family life which I'm you'll agree, is probably under the busy-body gossiping microscope of people within his parish. If the wife looks unhappy, they'll notice. If the kids start rebelling, they'll notice. If the kids do ANYTHING wrong, that will instantly be a judgement and reflection on the priest. I mean look, God Bless the Orthodox priesthood and the dual/triple-vocation those men carry out. I think the smaller Orthodox communities make it easier for married priests, but in the larger Latin/Roman Church, that burden wouldn't be sustainable.

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    4. Hi Nick- I am responding to your first comment- my husband does get calls at 2 am- we have a system in place if I am sick or if the kids are sick (hasn't really happened)- in fact, we have reliable family friends along the route to the hospital that he or I could drop the kids off. - now the whole point of this is NOT to denigrate other traditions- but I tell you- it is usually impossible for celibate priests to be found at 2 am (because their secretaries don't work then)- so when my husband is driving in to the hospital at 2 am, he is passing the homes of at least 10 celibate sleeping priests. Now- one reason for this is that the parishes are so huge so the parish priests have to have boundaries- I understand this

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    5. This argument of family life being too much trouble, wife and children have to come first thing, would apply to any large family. A priest is a father of many and God provides for his needs. To argue against it is to argue against any parenthood.

      Here's how I see the question: You're a married man with 500 children. You get a call at 2am that one of your sons is in the hospital and might not be able to make it to the morning... but your wife is too sick to handle the kids alone or to go to the hospital with you. What do you do? Your first obligation is to your wife! The argument being put forward is that obviously loyalties are divided between wife and children so a married man should never have children in order to avoid this scenario.

      This isn't what the church teaches about marriage or about ordination, so we know this argument can't work. When we look at the life of married men and married priests we know this isn't a situation that prevents their ordination or their ministry, further confirming that it is a pointless hypothetical.

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  13. Nick- about your comment about the larger Roman communities- I agree- we are able to do what we do because of the small size of our community- my husband can fight for a raise at his hospital to support himself and us- he would NEVER fight for money from church. The solution to the priest-number crisis in the Roman-rite is not married priests- it is ordaining holy, married deacons that have the flexibility to also work outside the church- the 'mega' parish close by -100,000 families- has 2 priests and 10 married deacons

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    1. oops! that is 10,000 families! NOT 100,000 ;)

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  14. about families suffering- people never say this about surgeons' families....the soldier idea isn't really right because the family has NOTHING to do with his work. We are at almost every Liturgy he celebrates, we are involved with so much- probably much more than the average family with a dad's 'normal' job. This is why it is IMPERATIVE that the wife be Byzantine Catholic as well...not with her heart in the Roman rite. They need to work together

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  15. also Nick- if the family wants it to work- it will (by God's grace)- from the very beginning of our marriage- holidays are celebrated perhaps not on the exact day but within the 'octave.'

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  16. I am Byzantine Catholic and I appreciate your love of your husband and your calling as a part of his ministry. I have know a couple of very, very wonderful married priests. However, I am a byzantine that does not support the tradition of married clergy. I have several reasons why, many listed above. But the most simple answer is that I believe God wills it. I believe this because of the above reasons and also because of revelations of St Brigitta, that Jesus wanted the Church to move to a celibate priestly clergy. Deacons are not subject to this, as they are not priests. There is organic growth in the Church as the Holy Spirit guides us and the Church to fulfillment. I am one person, but I do believe as Catholics we are called to follow this. I think holding onto a tradition and not being willing to do God's will is selfish. We are still in union with the Catholic church, but it is because of the charity shown us in this respect. As things were different in the early church, Christ tolerated married priests. Though tradition holds that St Peter and his wife lived as brother and sister after his calling. Eastern Europe has been a bit like the early Latin church....small villages, simplicity, agrarian. Today, our churches struggle terrible financial woes, and could not possibly take on supporting families. God bless you for your service. I do not intend for this to hurt you. I just think you should know that MANY Byzantines do not support married priesthood and many byzantine priests and bishops also do not support it.

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    1. Mr. Anonymous: Everyone has a right to their opinion. However, no one should have the right to remain in ignorance. You claim to be Byzantine and Catholic but you seem to have very little knowledge of Catholicism. To say that deacons can be married because they are not priests is not Catholic. In Catholicism there is the hierarchy of (Orders) the priestly ministry of Christ. They are deacon, presbyter (priest), and Bishop. They all share in the “Priesthood” of Christ in Degrees. Deacons are priests but not in the same way a presbyter or a bishop is. So if you are really a Byzantine you would know why we call our deacons “Father”. I think you are the one being selfish for promoting your personal views that you claimed on some saint's private revelations. Private revelations are not Holy Tradition and Holy Tradition supports nothing about your personal views on this matter. Also, there is no evidence to supports your views about St. Peter,, here again are personal views and not a substantial tradition. In fact, for several centuries there were married bishops and many of them are recognized as saints. If you are really a Byzantine than you should support your Tradition and not the “many” that might work against it.

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  17. We are all called to the universal priesthood. I know that a deacon is an icon of the icon of the icon and ordained into Holy Orders. Forgive me if I stated something wrong. But, I still do not support married priests (priests, bishops). People have given many reasons. In any case we all have the right to our opinion of the direction of our Church. I pray for the clergy a great deal, married and not married. I thank God for the clergy. I still pray that we do not adopt a married priesthood (priests, bishops). My opinion is not about hurting you. I love and respect your calling as a wife of a priest. I simply do not think it is the best direction. And that is my person opinion. Surely, the Lord will lead the Church....as my opinion means nothing.

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  18. Priest's wife--did you resubscribe to Father/Bishop-elect Barron's blog again (in light of the beautiful apology)?

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    1. I always make a point to watch his movie reviews- I appreciate the Catholic connections he makes

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  19. Please "Ukraine' not "the Ukraine"!!!!!!! Why is it so difficult to understand???????

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