Wednesday, April 23, 2014

"Christ tolerated married priests, wanted the Church to move to a celibate priestly clergy"

This comment was left yesterday on my post entitled "Unbookmarking Fr Barron," a post which was a response to a guest post on Fr Barron's blog detailing why married priests are not a good idea in the Roman rite (if interested, please read my entire post- I have been accused of "condemning" Fr Barron when that was not my intention at all. In any case, here is the comment: 
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 [read comments at original post, many of which do not support married clergy]
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.
Well, this does hurt. I am accustomed to Catholics of both Roman and Byzantine rites being hesitant about or against married clergy for a variety of reasons. Believers worry that a married priest won't have time to minister to them because of family concerns. They are worried that married clergy would be impossible to financially support. They're concerned that a married man ordained to the priesthood would cause scandal if his family situation is less than ideal. And then there are theological reasons to give preference to celibate clergy.

The reasons go on and on. Perhaps I was naive, but this is the first time that someone has said that the Holy Spirit is guiding the Church to reject married clergy. If this is true, then how can my husband be validly ordained? My response may seem extreme, but I hope the commenter (and I suppose the 'many' Byzantines who do not support our tradition of married clergy) will think about where her beliefs logically end. It is fine to prefer celibate clergy for all the good they do, but to state that the Holy Spirit wills an exclusively celibate clergy- that is going too far.

51 comments:

  1. I think it really is going too far. It's quite presumptive of the commentor to presume they know the will of the Holy Ghost better than the Patriarchs. In the end, it is the long held Tradition of the East. St Brigitta may be sainted but she is neither Christ or The Holy Ghost nor is she a Patriarch. You have every right to be hurt.

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  3. "Our parishes struggle financially:...because Catholics give more money to starbucks than they do to their church.

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    1. hahaha! (you just might be 100% correct, sir!)....

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    2. I think Patrick is onto something!

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    3. A more accurate comment would be MANY Catholics give more money to Starbucks than the church. Broad brush statements are annoying to me.

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    4. A more accurate comment would be many broad brush anonymous statements are annoying to me.

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    5. It's seemingly an intraparish ethos issue. I'm noticing parishioners who speak of wanting to grow; and not really looking into the reality of the situation. If they have, they don't have the time, or availability to address those realities. Some, however, have voiced a displeasure over having to do some heavy lifting to get parishes growing. That, and some people in the community have their own plans... In a sad way, some parishes are more than satisfied w/ the status quo, as long as their squeaking buy. I hate to say this, but Latinizations take on many forms. Living the life of an Eastern Christian has to take on a particular ethos - an attitude driven by the exposure to theological, liturgical and spiritual traditions. In the words of an Orthodox priest, "having only Sunday Liturgy isn't Orthodox" In some communities that's all they have...

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  4. What nonsense. Thank you and your family for your ministry to Christ and his Church.

    "'Our parishes struggle financially':...because Catholics give more money to starbucks than they do to their church."

    This is funny but sadly is right on.

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    1. There are many Catholics who give a lot to their church. It's obvious but needed to be said.

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    2. Statistically, not many. And, practically, not enough.

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  5. Piffle and horse pucky!
    As a Latin I've experienced both celibate and married priests in several parochial situations.

    This person is speaking nonsense regarding the "movement" of the Holy Spirit as evidenced by the increased admission of married men to the priesthood in the Latin Rite first under JP2's Pastoral Provision, now within the Ordinariates, and the increasing freedom with which some of the hierarchs of the Eastern Catholic Churches are admitting married men to formation for the priesthood.

    Many Latins and, apparently, some Byzantines seem to make a fetish out of a celibate priesthood. It's unseemly and, in some cases, bizarre.

    It should be noted that since V2 and the restoration of the married diaconate in the Latin Rite it makes no sense to talk about a "celibate clergy" as normative.

    Strikes me as a lot of nonsense trying to dress itself up as smug theorizing in pseudo-theological drag.

    Pay no attention to the lunatic in the grass. :-)

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    1. Flambeaux- I love your first line ;) very elegant...matching your avatar!

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    2. Thank you.
      And please accept my apology for not leading with the Paschal Greeting.

      Christos voskrese!

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    3. Keep in mind that the admission of married men to the priesthood in the Anglican Ordinariate is limited to already married prests from the Anglican Communion, and in some cases, Lutheran ministers who swim the Tiber.

      However, this practice does not apply to new vocations to the Ordinariates from single men.

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    4. @Phil, that remains to be seen.

      For the most part, the native priests of the Ordinariates will be expected to be celibate. However, Rome has left the door open "on a case-by-case basis" and, of course their deacons will be a mix of so-called "transitional" and "permanent". Nevermind that distinction doesn't exist in Canon Law.

      I'm not trying to suggest that Rome is moving to abolish the normative discipline of celibacy for Latin Rite priests. I am suggesting that the original comment that sparked the post is proceeding from a misunderstanding what "what the Holy Spirit is doing" that is easily corrected by facts.

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    5. and Flambeaux- there is a HUGE difference between "the Roman rite's discipline of celibacy is a good one that I agree with even though I have had decent/great experiences with married clergy for these three reasons _, _, _ and I hope the Eastern Churches will also go in that direction" and "Jesus tolerated married priests but doesn't want them now."

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    6. I completely agree with you. But the latter statement, so critical to the original comment's offensiveness, is so patently false and stupid it's not really rebuttable.

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  6. Christ is Risen!
    I trust that the Holy Spirit has guided the Church to embrace both the tradition of a celibate priesthood AND the tradition of ordaining married men to the priesthood. That's good enough for me...versus lay people (or theologians, for that matter) speculating what they think the Holy Spirit is (or ought to be) guiding the Church to do. Sorry that you've had to deal with this...yet again. God bless you & your family!

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  7. Bless you for your service Pani.

    A Byzantine Catholic should know better; Mr. Anonymous should familiarize himself with Orientalium Ecclesiarum (esp. 5. & 6.), Orientale Lumen (esp. 1. & 21.), and the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches (esp. canons 39., 40., and 373.)...

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  8. "We are still in union with the Catholic church, but it is because of the charity shown us in this respect."

    I know it is just an error of omitting the word "Roman", but I always thought that Byzantine Catholicism was also Catholicism.

    The economical reasons should not be influencing the Holy Spirit. I think if all the Protestants can support their married pastors, Catholics should be able to do that. And, as evidenced by practice elsewhere, they are quite able to do it.

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    1. about $ (yuck)...the local mega parish with 5,000- 10,000 families (I never get a clear number)...collects about $15,000 on a normal Sunday. WOW- that's a lot of $$$...but it also means that each family gives $3 a Sunday on average....so it is actually pretty lousy (they have a school, high school, lots of organizations and charities...so even if they have only a pastor, retired priest...they can 'use' this money with no clergy getting rich)

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  9. I realize there are much deeper and theological reasons for there being a married clergy in Byzantine Catholics, Anglican Ordinariate Catholics, etc; but for my simple mind, this works - the Holy Fathers have said married clergy in non-Roman rites are just fine and NOT inferior. The Holy Fathers are wiser than I and have a "clearer" connection with the Holy Spirit than I. Apparently your Byzantine dissident commenter feels he/she knows more than the cumulative wisdom of the Holy Fathers.

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    1. I think your word "cumulative" is a good choice- and this can be a problem with private revelation- one person deciding how it is going to be. I think the only 'one' person would be Jesus- even the apostles were a group, depending on each other for knowledge and togetherness. There don't seem to be a lot of rogue saints, working totally alone developing doctrine and dogma- but I have a simple mind, too!

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  10. It really bugs me when people cite private revelation as a source of authority that supersedes the authority of popes and bishops. It's private revelation. Not the teaching of the Church. Not every opinion expressed by a saint is doctrine. Gah.

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  11. Melanie is correct. Private revelations are not binding....probably in part because the saint's psychological history can add to a revelation without their knowing it.

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  12. private revelation is NOT binding. However, the poster has a right to his expression, it did not sound like a proclamation from a point of authority....and it seems ok for this expression. perhaps the blog would be better and more supportive if it were about discussing life of married clergy....rather than suggesting interest in a conversation about married clergy in the context of the Church, both married and unmarried. This way your blog would be focused on what you are looking for, those of like mind. And no one would mistakenly think you were interested in dialogue about the topic.

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    1. ouch- I am interested in dialogue on this topic- that is why I didn't delete it at its original source and why I posted it here...the original poster stated something I disagree with, I explained a bit why I disagreed, and others can chime in- either agreeing with me or disagreeing. Of course, I would be happy if all married clergy were supported (and worthy of that support- being holy, educated, reverent), but I understand that that is not going to happen because there are so many different opinions, teachings, and clergy experiences from lay people.
      Because this is a micro-blog, the original poster probably will not come back to respond to my response to his/her comment- but if he/she did, then it would be a conversation. I am not censoring any comments that disagree with my opinion

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  13. This is why most clergy spouses keep quiet. They don't want to 'rock the boat.' Maybe if our family stays under the radar, it will be ok. I responded to the Fr Barron's blog Word on Fire piece, and I was accused of "condemning Fr Barron." No- just giving my opinion in an open forum and accepting comments that disagreed with my disagreement. I wrote here that the original commenter is quite strong in his/her condemnation of married clergy (if the Holy Spirit is moving away from married clergy and if Jesus simply "tolerated" married clergy- could that be considered condemning the practice?). But I suppose I should just let these comments go by without wondering at them- the original commenter, a practicing Byzantine Catholic, asserts that he/she has had positive experiences with married clergy but that Jesus does not want that to occur (in Eastern rites- I am not going to comment on the practices of the Roman rite).... I understand that he/she is one person, but he/she did state that "many" Byzantine Catholics are also against married clergy. These people, if they find this little blog, are welcome to come here and write why they disagree with married clergy. Then, it is a dialogue. I am not looking for people to simply agree with me, but I can write on my own blog that it hurts when a person writes that our life is a fraud- and if Jesus is against married clergy- our life is a fraud.

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  14. Dear priest's wife. I could be wrong, but I do not think anyone has called you a fraud, or invalidated ordination or a very well lived life of sacrifice. I would hope you would feel some comfort that every practicing Catholic (which I mean practicing the virtue of love and charity included in that) respects all priests and family married or not. You did post the response as a separate page.....inviting support of your perspective from your blog followers....so though you did not delete it....you did treat it as though it was to be different, as not pleasing to you. I think there is a big problem with the byzantine Church vocal bloggers sometimes misrepresenting the byzantine church. They are often raftered to as "bitter byzantines." That is not a joyful way to present the Church and is unfortunate. Understandable that people are human and their are raw nerves, as you have indicated. Often BCs present themselves as wanting respect but not giving it to the Latin Church. They often (and this is not about you) claim to do everything better. Our way is better. Oh we do not have Eucharistic adoration, we believe in living the Eucharist, but btw...Eucharistic Adoration and preservation of the Eucharist originated in the East. It is what comes from those who are vocal. There is a sense that we are more charismatic, more everything. Again, I would say your blog might be better suited to support for married priests. I think the reaction against Fr. Barron, when priests who are brave and hard working enough to try to spread the gospel is so hard on all the priests who do this work. They are human, will miss step, and even say something unpopular to some. But do not throw the baby out with the bath water and shed negativity on this profound ministry. It was apologized for, and probably seen as another reason not to include the eastern churches in the evangelization ministry. To do so, so often results in attack. That is not our way, it developed in the East. I get that the East is a minority trying to survive with traditions, but often comes across as bitter and defensive. This does not invite people in. I would guess you would like to invite people in. Also, among BCs there is sometimes more connectedness with the Orthodox, who are in schism, and are theologically not Catholic. The Catholic must come first, the rite second, with the BC and the LC. I apologize in advance because I feel sure I said something offensive that will result in insult me. I truly am sorry for everything, if I say sorry for existing and breathing maybe that will not be enough. But sometimes that is how if feels to talk with a BC.


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    1. I'm on my phone...so 8 just want to respond to one of your points and when I'm in front of a real keyboard, I will write more. You wrote "Catholic first, then rite." Personally, I agree with you. But the part that might irritate you is this is true for Roman rite Catholics as well!

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  15. Rereading the anonymous comments I see they come from one person ...I. was a bit dull. If anonymous you are still there, let me get to a real computer

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  16. the poster did say rite second for BC and LC. I do not want any more insults or to cause any....that was not my intention. God bless you.

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  17. anonymous- I did not say that you said married priesthood is a fraud...but I said that that could be a logical conclusion if we took your idea of the Holy Christ/church "moving away from the married priesthood." I was cautioning you that I believe that is where that idea would end up

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  18. anonymous- I see that I really upset you by posting your original comment- and you are correct that I drew more attention to your comment than others by posting it- but I posted it BECAUSE your thought are worthy of further examination- even I disagree with you. We both did not name-call, I think we both are trying to understand the other even if we still end up disagreeing with each other! You wrote that this blog would be more successful if I focused just on the life of married clergy without getting into the controversy of married/celibate. Well- I try to, but then posts like the anti-married clergy post on Fr Barron blog comes and whacks me upside the head while I am just simply living my life, albeit and unusual one.
    and please don't apologize for anything- you were not rude (even if the thoughts hurt me- they are your opinion)

    about the presencse of BCs on the internet, someone said somewhere (?) that we are "self-selecting"- the people who write and comment actually care more than the average believer. Most practicing Catholics have never heard of Fr Z or Fr Barron or Mark Shea or Michael Voris let alone me from this blog!

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  19. Dear Priest's wife, I appreciate that you see some genuine good in me though my comments hurt you. That takes great love and courage, not just to love your brother, but to hear and find something good, even if it hurts. I do not mean to be hurtful, not at all. There have been married priests from the first, and there are married priests now. We all have a right (duty) to discern the Holy Spirit. I speak from my heart not from a pulpit or papal encyclical. There is a profound shortage of priests in some areas. I do not think this is God's fault for not calling men, or not allowing married priests. Surely God is bigger than that. I believe it is a result of sin and brokenness. People have turned away from life and also created a culture which makes it difficult for men to hear the call of God and to answer it. They are reaping what they have sown. Will the Holy Father try to answer the problem with older men who are married a few years and allow entry to seminary, perhaps. The Church does flex to accommodate our sinfulness and our lacking. No I am not comparing the eastern tradition of married priests to sinful culture. In fact I think the culture in which the married priesthood thrived was a more faithful culture, but I do not personally believe that within the culture of America this would so work. And as I previously said, it is my feeling that God wills a celibate priesthood, for the priest to be totally His, in that he has one vocation not two. God wills that people do not divorce. Yet the church flexes, and sees a way to help those called to marriage "properly" dissolve a marriage, so as not to be married to two people. Personally, I think the idea of the annulment process (which nearly always results in the affirmative) could perhaps be taken care of by counseling, and a dispensation. As a priest relayed to me a story from a woman married many decades, she never thought of divorce, murder yes, divorce no...as the church does not forgive that.
    Ok, off topic.

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  20. continued...

    I find the BCs and LCs on websites to be less concerned for the "average" and more concerned for themselves. This is what prompted my post.
    Fr. Barron reaches hundreds of thousands. And he reaches out to atheists, and lukewarm Catholics, and all religions. His ministry is less about perfecting the "perfect," but reaching for the lost.
    Do we not want him in our corner? I do. Many BCs have criticized him for not including Eastern Catholic theology in his series. To quote Fr. Barron, "here's the thing," the East is like the third rail of the subway to a lot of Western theologians. If they come near it they get clobbered. Your response is a good example. It sounds like his ministry did some damage control by reaching out to your blog, as I am sure that ministry does not what to hurt anyone, nor hurt the faith of anyone (take away their vigor, or be the cause of anger.) But from his perspective, we are not small. You read that right. Because most knowledgeable Western theologians know if you insult the BCs the divorced brother (Orthodox) come to the rescue. Maybe not to rescue, maybe to gloat. At both sides of Catholic schism (SSPX, and Orthodox) there is rapid judgment. This time, we have the upper hand in numbers.
    Confession - when Fr. Barron revealed his 10 most beautiful depictions of the incarnation....I was ready for some amazing icons. Did not happen. NOT ONE. I was burning mad...what a slap in the face to the East. I mean after all one of the oldest icons from first century in a catacomb depicts the Virgin (veil-less, as was custom for a single young woman). I fired off an email expressing my disappointment, and unsubscribed.
    I repented, apologized, resubscribed, searched in vain for some posts I was now not to find as my due punishment.
    But, here's the thing. That post reflected Fr's favorites. Nothing wrong with that. But the raw nerve of my BC was wounded. And the result was (IF MY email was ever read which I doubt...among thousands, but let's assume yes)....driving the ministry further away from the East.

    Your response, I believe was the same. Can Fr not express his theological arguments? Must we agree with every perspective he has? He explains the trinity with confidence, and I laugh to myself as I consider it completely unexplainable. WE CAN NEVER UNDERSTAND GOD'S MAJESTY AND INFINTE NATURE. But Fr. tries so so hard to reach people.

    So here is your assignment (and mine), we write a note of
    1. apology
    2. request that he include the east in his teachings (he does sometimes, but does not know it :) ), perhaps with a rational, not so sensitive guide or two or three or four
    3. promise of prayers for him in this endeavor.

    Yours in Christ

    with apologies for the length, and for anything which may be hurtful, and with prayers for your ministry as a mother, wife, and wife of a priest

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  21. Here is a radical idea............................you start a petition to ASK Fr. to consider incorporating us, as we in turn will pray, and try to control our raw nerves.

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    1. is this a different 'anonymous' than the longer comments? A nickname would be good so we can keep each other straight

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  22. about Fr Barron- I feel like I am repeating myself...my main problem was not the opinion of the lay guest poster but that there were actual factual errors. The lay guest writer had a huge opportunity being featured by (I think) the most well-known Catholic blog. We all have the right to our opinions but I think we should also focus on getting the facts correct and also contemplating where our opinions leads- that's all- we can all improve on this...me the first as the BC Divine Liturgy reminds

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  23. I apologize for my grammatical errors through out all of this- I am commenting on a not-very-smart phone while cooking dinner and doing laundry

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  24. Surveying some of the comments; and, what this post is covering has caused me to think about the Unions signed by Orthodox who came into communion w/ Rome. Promises were made, but not kept, on either side. It's not a totality of the picture, but a good percentage, however. Some have kept true to their side of the bargain, w/ the other side not doing the same. Some have forsaken their side of the bargain, for the sake of the other side. In the case of the Union of Brest, since it often provides the clearer picture of what was promised at the time, the promise was made the churches coming into union would keep their patrimony; and lately popes of blessed memory have often told the churches to do just that. Now, until that time, many of those who came into union have morphed the agreements in their own way, even forsaking their faithfulness to their Orthodox heritage, for the sake of being in communion w/ Rome, either due to force, or by choice.

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  25. I think Mr. A’s understanding of priesthood is totally flawed. For instance, he believes its Gods’ will for celibacy for priests in order for the priest to be “totally His”. This statement is based in utter nonsense. All Christians are called to be “totally His”. I have yet to find a celibate priest who does not struggle with this calling just as much as a married person does. Celibacy does provide greater personal devotion as the scripture teaches but there is nothing in scripture that says it gives someone a 1up in terms of ministry. The Sacrament of Orders does not discriminate in its distribution of God’s TOTAL giving. From a sociological perspective “only” there might be more opportunities of ministry for a celibate priest. But, if you go the sociological route married priests have an advantage in terms of ministering to families. On the other hand, were not talking about our personal feelings here or sociological perspectives, this is a sacrament and because it is sacrament there is no limitations in the quality that the ordained man could give in his ministry, married or not married. As I said before to Mr. A, we have a right to our opinion, but it should be formed by our spiritual traditions. So far the tradition that he is promoting is foreign to the Byzantine tradition that he claims. In my opinion it has the cotemporary Latin convert piety all over it, which of itself is no tradition at all, rather is a tradition built on what a mr. famous so and so said.

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  26. I don't agree with the guest comment. There are two traditions in the Church. West and East..both should be respected and fostered.

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  27. Oh yes, forgot, Christos voskrese!

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  28. James Ignatius McAuleyApril 29, 2014 at 6:57 PM

    Priest's Wife,

    Christ is risen! I very much appreciate our married priest. He understand children and my issues as a man much better than many celibate priests I have known. I know he struggles with finances, as do I. However, I makes little sacrifices to help him out, a few bucks here and there for gas, a gift for the wife, a book on exorcism, etc. His wife is great - I call her "mother" as she exemplifies the Church, the bride of Christ.

    Thank you for your ministry through this blog, Priest's wife - do not become discouraged by well meaning spiritual dorks!

    Ric - please update your blog, I love reading it!

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    1. Thank you, James- and even though it is a sacrifice for you, I bet your priest is really really happy with your gifts. I bet God makes sure they come at the perfect time.

      I agree that Ric should blog- the problem is....he really does a lot of solid theology - so I bet it takes him a while to write a post with his busy life!

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  29. I don't understand the financial concerns - many many religions/sects have married ministers and that doesn't seem to be a concern. I think that married priests would provide insight into married life for a couple that is struggling and they can share in Sacraments in a different way as a parent.

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  30. There was a reference to "bitter byzantines." In my experience, those and the poster are more likely transritualists. The are evangelized in the Latin Church and then develop an unhappiness there so bring their unhappiness and stridency to the Greek Church.

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  31. In so many parishes in the Catholic church today, the clergy are not as busy as 50 years ago. Let us look at what we now have. A, The sweet little old ladies take communion to the sick and shut ins. B, A married deacon takes most of the Baptisms. C, Laymen take most of the Marriage instructions as well as provide the Catholic education for the children and prospective converts. D, Laymen take care of the property. E, Many parishes now have a full time Business Manager to pay the bills and track other needs.
    Perhaps if the Clergy were married we would not have so many dioceses going bankrupted when the clergy has to much idle time on their hands which has caused us too many problems already. We could have supported many married clergy for the cost of supporting the law suits, that some have caused. May God Guide us in Truth.

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