Tuesday, January 18, 2011

sad days in one corner of the blogosphere

One of my favorite blog names is My Little Catholic Bubble- the writer seems to admit that her life is a bit insular, and she likes it that way. So, in a roundabout way, I admit that I am writing now from my experience and also from an Eastern perspective.

Do unmarried clergy really have more time to devote to the Church? This is the most common argument against married clergy- probably because people are trying to avoid the sex topic. Because of his bi-ritual faculties, my husband substitutes for Western-rite priests. As I have posted before, he is now a police chaplain volunteer for a department that has waited 18 years for help. He doesn't golf; if you see him fishing, his four kids will be with him. When he finishes his work and ministry obligations, he doesn't return to a rectory and peace and quiet; he has other family (the domestic church) to serve. Trying to be charitable here, fill in the blanks...but celibate or not- no priest can minister to 15,000 families.

Are unmarried clergymen bound to live vows of poverty, chastity and obedience like monks? My husband drives a 12-year old Chevy with 250,000 miles and dents galore. Our townhouse is 1200 square feet for 6 people. No cable (thank God!) and cell phones are month-to-month. No housekeeper, cook, babysitter- oh wait, is that me? Well, I homeschool and teach part-time at the college level, so the house is not rectory-level clean. We spend our own money to print bulletins. We changed to an HMO through his hospital job because the PPO went from $6000 to $12000 payroll deduction (!?thanks healthcare reform?!) But talking money is worse than talking sex! Trying to be charitable here, so fill in the blanks....

But I digress...the small little corner of the blogosphere I am referring to consists of What Does the Prayer Really Say, the Deacon's Bench and a canon lawyer named Ed Peters. Peters states that Canon 277 in the Western Code of Canon Law means that all clergymen in the Latin-rite must be continent (sexual relations with a lawful wife being forbidden). Fr Z seems to concur. Whether Peters believes that the canon should remain or it should be clarified for married clergy remains to be seen. The comments on all these blogs have been interesting however.
My first quibble is this:

WHY OH WHY do people think that by accepting the East's 2,000 year tradition of married men priests and their dignity and worthiness leads to....married men being ordained de facto in the West, altar girls, extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist, women 'priests,' clown masses, blessings with bubbles and sage, embracing divorce and remarriage, birth control, abortion, meat buffets on Fridays, abandoning Holy Days of Obligation, global warming, etc and etc...We just want our sui juris church to be respected. We love the Holy Father and the Catholic Church. Let me be a broken record for a bit; the Church is bigger than my microscopic rite and the Roman rite- no matter the majority the Roman rite has.

another thing to think about:

One question that has been posed a few times on various sites and which is not answered is- How does marital relations negatively effect an ordained married man's ministry? All married people are called to chastity and occasional continence. Ordained married men are no exception. Of course, discretion and dignity is key, but all married couples should be dignified in their public actions. I feel it is undignified to calculate conception dates and contemplate any person's sex life.

If the Church has allowed married men to be ordained as deacons in the Roman rite and are allowing a 'new wave' of married men to be ordained priests from the Anglican Church for the Roman rite, shouldn't there be new canons to address these issues?

one last thing...

a response to all this Eastern talk-defense of married deacons from about 25% of the responders at WDTPRS stated- "can't those Eastern rites just be influenced by us instead of always the other way around?" Reading that, I had to stifle a laugh/sob. "Subdeacon Joseph"-now an Orthodox priest- said it best:

"I would add to the priest’s wife comment that my diocese left the Byzantine Catholic Church officially in 1938 for Orthodoxy because the Vatican had betrayed the Union of Uzhorod which allowed for: 1) equal status with the Roman clergy socially and politically 2) retention of liturgical and ritual customs (including married clergy) 3) and the right to elect their own bishop. Sadly all three of these tenets were violated by certain American Catholic bishops and even the Vatican itself, and our people had enough. They would have been happy to remain Greek Catholic if they had only been respected by the Irish Catholic bishops in America. The most hostile of the Roman bishops was Archbishop John Ireland of Minneapolis, Minnesota. His outright hostility to the Greek Catholic married clergy is well documented historically."  

My husband is writing a history of our church (an ethnic division of the Byzantine rite) in America. It's a sad tale. In 1925, we had 150,000 believers (yes- always very small compared to the Roman-rite). Now we have 5,000. Many of the people went back to the old country right before World War II, just to be caught up in the evils of communism there. But we also lost parishes due to the disdain for our traditions. Married priests weren't allowed to come to America; the bishop's conference insisted on lending us bi-ritual Roman-rite priests. Families were told they would have to change rites in order to have their children go to Roman-rite Catholic schools. This Catholic bishop Ireland is commemorated by the OCA (Orthodox Church in America) as the 'founder' of the American Orthodox because of his hostility to a married clergy and its leading to the formation of a break-off church. 

So this is why my post title is called sad days. If we truly pray for unity, we need to respect the traditions of sui juris churches. So, I respect the 1,300 year old tradition of celibacy and, therefore, continence for Roman-rite clergy. But if we are to welcome more Anglicans back to the Church and if we are to pray for the full unity between true churches, the canons must be clarified by Rome. How can I dare pray and work for unity with the Orthodox when 'good, practicing orthodox Catholics' believe this (more from WDTPRS): 

"pfft, ..do what you want and force the Magisterium to back down..in saecula saeculorum. A Married Priesthood is coming to the Catholic Church. I know it. You know it." "If you think I am afraid of the emergence of an unofficial order of bossy “clergymen’s wives,” you are right." "a Trojan Horse to undermine the Consecrated Priesthood and give way to a form of Presbyterianism, complete with married ministers" 

...sad days, indeed...and yes, the Roman rite has the right to demand celibacy and continency of their clergy and since I am not Roman-rite, I have 'no say' in the matter. It is just sad when it comes to this...my solution? Let us learn from our respective traditions and also build up those men who have answered the call to ministry. Let us pray for the Holy Father to clarify this canon quickly for the sake of the dignity of married deacons in the Roman rite.


  1. Those who have a hostile attitude toward the Eastern rite priesthood should be reminded that most priests in the early Church were married. There is nothing wrong with demanding clerical celibacy, nor is there anything wrong with allowing priests to marry.

  2. Patrick- I agree- the new (I guess not so new) wrinkle is the supposed demand for sexual continence by all clergy in the Roman rite according to Ed Peter's reading of canon 227.

  3. I just had to read through A-L-L T-H-O-S-E C-O-M-M-E-N-T-S on WDTPRS after your post. Good for you. I think you did a wonderful & charitable job (with occasional humor, which is needed at times) in your defense of the Eastern tradition. God bless!

  4. Thanks Johnson- that was a lot of reading you did :)

  5. "Whether Peters believes that the canon should remain or it should be clarified for married clergy remains to be seen"
    Well, it all seems to point out that Mr Peters does believe that the cannon law should remain. Check it out: http://canonlawblog.blogspot.com/2011/01/canon-277-and-clerical-continence-in.html

    I don't know what's going through his head but the sole idea that a MARRIED man - clergy or not - should abstain from having sexual relationships with his WIFE because of some anti-biblical, man-made, suffocating "rule" is just LUDICROUS. I don't know if he believes sex is dirty, sinful, bad, or that it makes a man less "available" or "capable" of fulfilling his ministry obligations, but he really has NO solid or acceptable argument whatsoever to maintain such preposterous claim.

  6. Preoteasa,

    not knowing Fr Z., or having read anything that he has read, his opinion would seem to be a little extraordinary. I have now had the misfortune to have read a bit of his writing.

    I recall that St Thomas Aquinas (whose opinion carries rather more weight that Fr Z's), believed that a wife had the right to demand "the marriage debt" anytime, as a matter of natural justice. The only time her husband could refuse was if she were in mensis, because it might damage the "homunculi". But since we now know that this reason is scientific nonsense, it would seem that Thomas believed that wives can demand the marriage debt from their husbands anytime, as a matter of natural justice.

    So according to Fr Z, the Latin Church would deprive innocent women of their natural rights. I could chase this rabbit down a hole, but I will refrain.

    But it is inline with much of what Fr Z writes - I would not accuse the prose of being elegant, which would be the only reason to read it.

    In my experience, for many Latin Catholics are ignorant of the married clergy, and it seems that a bit of xenophobia or neophobia sometimes influences their immediate response. And as much as I don't want to say this, but many conservative Catholics have a good portion of neophobia.

  7. Bear- I also don't know Fr Z- just that he writes one of the most 'successful' Catholic blogs- so he has influence. In this matter, he simply posted the canon lawyer's links and then wanted to 'watch the sparks fly' or some such.

    many celibate priests are protective of their state in life and see us as a threat- but my husband is not a monk- you know that the Eastern churches hold the monastic life in high regard

  8. Belen--

    I have followed Ed Peters' writing for years, and read the post that you linked. He does not say that the canon should remain. His point is simply that practice does not comply with canon law, and needs to be clarified. He does not opine (in anything that I can find) what that clarification should be. Just that we should either follow the law or change it.

    That seems perfectly reasonable to me.

    I have no problem with Eastern rite married priests or celibate RC priests. As this blog points out, all traditions should be respected.--Diane

  9. Anonymous, I think if you read "between lines" and see the tone of his article, you'll see that his opinion is more inclined to defending continence for married clergy. Or at least that's what I interpret. Anyway, the Church can not and has no authority whatsoever to ask a clergy man - eastern or roman - to stop having sex with his wife. And if the Church hasn't said anything about continence for married clergy, then I assume that means that this law will in the near future be changed and the Church does not ask her married priests and deacons to abstain.

  10. "WHY OH WHY do people think that by accepting the East's 2,000 year tradition of married men priests and their dignity and worthiness leads to..."

    Sadly, I think it is because they are culture warriors first and Catholics second.

    I speak as a Latin Catholic who believes that as a general proposition, the celibate priesthood serves the Latin Church well. But I deeply regret the wrong that has been done to the Eastern Churches and the continued lack of respect they suffer from some Latin Catholics.

  11. Katherine- I'm sure you know that most of my list there was written tongue in cheek- but I am always amused/befuddled/frustrated when many people think that since my husband is a priest then we must be ultra-liberal...nope...one reason why some people don't prefer the Byzantine rite is that we haven't been reformed, we're just old-fashioned.
    As for the history of celibacy in the West- any changes should be done carefully and slowly because you are right in that Western celibacy is a long and good tradition

  12. From what you are saying, it would seem that Fr Z. has decided to be the "Catholic shock jock" - say and act provocatively to gain notoriety and attention. Fortunately, most people grow out of this in their early 20s, but something about the Latin clergy (particularly the secular clergy) seems to prolong adolescence in many of them (not all).

  13. Bear- I still have Fr Z's blog bookmarked even though his focus is Latin translations. usually he is very even-handed which is why I was surprised that he 'dropped the bomb' of a link to a canon lawyer who believes a canon means that deacons must give up being with their wives. Even though a blog host isn't necessarily culpable for what commenters say, if you say you are a pastor, then guide the commenters towards the truth and civility

  14. my take (as a lutheran): people are afraid of "change" and anything different as a rule.

    when jp2 died in 2005, all the protestant churches in our town in minnesota offered prayers for him and for the catholic church. in minnesota, the lutheran churches and the catholic church had a really good working relationship. we had to -- it was a small place and if we didn't get along, it was going to really make life difficult in town.

    in montana where we had some lutheran-catholic marriages, it was the complete opposite. it made me really sad (especially since the catholic spouses were the ones who did so much for our music ministries) because it was the whole suspicion of those who are "different".

  15. I don't think Father Zed is taking sides, he does like to fan the flames on occasion.
    As far as Ed Peters, Canon Lawyer, what is his point? They usually don't broach a subject unless asked. What is his motivation? hmmmm.
    Since the Pastoral Provision began in the 80's and many of those received and ordained are married with children (and children have been born to them after), I am sure Blessed Pope John Paul II of "Theology of the Body" fame, knew what he was doing. "This Catholic bishop Ireland is commemorated by the OCA (Orthodox Church in America) as the 'founder' of the American Orthodox because of his hostility to a married clergy and its leading to the formation of a break-off church." I think you mean The American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese.

    Excellent post. Taylor Marshall over at "CANTERBURY TALES" blog made what I deemed negative and insulting comment which I retorted briefly and firmly; not nearly so eloquently as yourself.

  16. but I am always amused/befuddled/frustrated when many people think that since my husband is a priest then we must be ultra-liberal...

    Yes, I understand. They have a rigid conservativism that fears anything they are unfamiliar with.

    When I was a young housewife, I voiced an opinion on just one issue and was branded a Catholic liberal (along with some other terms that were not very nice). Que, sera, sera...

  17. Yikes!! Emotions, and rash judgments, are running high in this comment section! I’m almost afraid to post in fear of my Latin traditions or “rules”, the Latin clergy, or myself being called ludicrous, adolescent, neophobic, or xenophobic! Not to mention all of the ad hominem attacks others might make because they put words in my mouth or they “read in between the lines”.

    We are not a sola scriptura Church, and there are arguments made for clerical continence based on tradition. Wikipedia has a good article on the tradition of clerical continence here:

    I say this not to attack Eastern Rite traditions, but only to defend ours. Nobody likes a tradition that has been around for centuries, and has its reasons for being in place within the Latin rite, to be called man-made, suffocating, and preposterous.

    From reading the actual blog post that Fr. Z wrote, he has said nothing about the Latin Church depriving innocent women of their natural rights. He is not an adolescent “Catholic shock jock” either, and I fail to see how such assertions and assumptions can be made about the man from what he himself actually wrote. Again, direct quotes to back these claims would be helpful.

    Priest’s Wife: You ask for the commentators of WDTPRS to comment with greater truth and civility. Could we not also do the same for your blog? However, I know that your post was not primarily about the Western Canon 277, Fr. Z, or Dr. Peters, but instead a response to nameless commentators on WDTPRS. I am sorry that some of these nameless commentators, for reasons I still don’t quite understand, decided to drag Eastern Rites into this discussion. I am sorry that some people made ignorant, blanketed statements that were hurtful and rightly compelled you to defend your unique and holy vocation. Thank you for such an excellent and thought-provoking post! Yours is a perspective that I am glad to read of!

    It doesn’t surprise me in the least though that Fr. Z would “drop the bomb” of posting this link to a respectable, academic, Latin-rite canon lawyer. Fr. Z is a “by the books” kind of guy (Say the Black, Do the Red). This canon indicates that we, as Latin Rite Catholics, are not doing something that we are supposed to be doing (whether or not we ought to do it is an entirely different question). This needs to be changed or rectified one way or another. Fr. Z has MANY blog posts about Latin Rite Catholics not doing something that they are supposed to do, so this post was only bringing to light a rule that either needs to be enforced for later ordinations or changed.


  18. A most excellent article, priest's wife! My wife and I were discussing this whole fiasco in the car yesterday evening as we went to pick up our 17 year old from a friend's house. She had a few thoughts to share as well! Perhaps some day our paths will cross.

    God grant you and your husband and family many happy, healthy and blessed years!

  19. Guy from the West and the Latin rite here. Oh yes I have a Law background which is now seems unpopular anywhere.

    First love this post. I also love Father and his blog. However let me suggest that Father Z has quite a a particular crowd and that COMMENT sections can and are very deceiving. So lets be careful of saying LOOK AT HOW THE WEST FEELS etc etc

    I am going to blog on this later but I think Ed Peters is sort of getting a bad shake here. He is pointing out a problem in law. It seems like in the Civil world there is a tad UGH Look at those Lawyers attitude. Ed Peters is not fanning the flames. He takes law seriously. Further as a person trained in a Civil Codal Law tradition from Louisiana the importance that Statutes be correct I am not sure is understood by people that live in a Common Law World.

    I will have more to say but people need to be giving Ed Peters a break at tad

  20. Excellent, excellent blog post. It irks me to no ever-loving end when I hear people lash out against perfectly licit married priests. I mean, I am a Protestant pastor's kid, so I know full well how great the sacrifices are that clergy families make - and I can see the merit of having celibate priests. But I also know how beautifully beneficial the family unit is to all parties involved. I am very pleased that both traditions are accepted by the ones who really matter - the Pope.

  21. James- YES- The problem wasn't with Fr Z or Peters- just the commenters...my only problem with Fr Z at this point is that he specifically posted the link and then decided to "sit back"- usually he is involved in the discussion a bit. I guess since his commenters weren't printing bad words or some such, he decided to stay away- but I say, not fair!

  22. The lord in the Bible shows us how he hates religion.This is ALL religion.Let the Lord speak to you, He calls your name,He wants you to answer. Get to know Him personally on a one to one basis.Love Him,His word and others as yourself.ABIDE with Him.All is well with my soul.Amen

  23. Denise- I know you have a pure heart, so I'm publishing your comment- there are plenty of places in the Bible that show that Jesus founded a new religion- a fulfillment of the Jewish faith (to begin with- how about the institution of the Eucharist/Holy Communion)- God bless- I will try to explain more in further posts-

    One thing to pray about- there is no place in the Bible that says it is the only source of truth. Of course, the Bible is the Word of God and our sacred text- but in the Bible, it says that Jesus and the apostles did much more than could be contained in the Bible

  24. Thanks for stopping by my blog! I actually have a BA in religion and your writings/opinions are fascinating. It takes me back to an area of "thinking" I haven't done in a long, long time!

  25. K. Synder- your post was bounced to 'spam' because of length- just got to it

    I pray that I have been civil- and most of the posters have been great- I know that Fr Z has a lot on his plate, but usually he is a teacher- it seems unusual that he didn't weigh in on Ed Peter's conclusions

  26. I say this not to attack Eastern [Church]traditions, but only to defend ours... a tradition that has been around for centuries...

    Except we of the Latin Church do not have a centuries old tradition of only celibate permanent deacons. The Latin Church consciously and deliberately revived the dormant practice of a permanent diaconate and calls both married and single men to that new ministry. Traditionally, there simply was not a permanent diaconate.

    I know in the past an overly rigid and obsessive understanding Catholic clerical celibacy caused grave problems for Eastern Catholics, particular in the New World. My fear now is that we are seeing an attempt to suppress the permanent diaconate by those opposed to it.

    I think that would be pastorally unwise.

  27. I am very pleased that both traditions are accepted by the ones who really matter - the Pope.

    Now, my son told me that I pressured him to take the confirmation name Peter because of my ultramonte leanings. However, I think it is best said the ones whose acceptance counts the most are the People of God, not the Pope.

    As a first principle it is important that the People of God truly receive and internalize these traditions, not just outwardly assent but take the meaning and purpose into their hearts.

    Like what was said of the Sabbath, these and other traditions do not exist for the Pope, but are maintained and explained BY the Pope FOR the People of God. What counts most is the salvation and pastoral care of souls. The Pope has a universal ministry towards this end, but he is the servant of the servants of God. He is the means to an end, not the end itself.

  28. If the Latin rite is to ordain married men as their priests (such as in the case of many Anglican priests), it certainly seems reasonable to allow them to continue marital relations with their wives. It does, however, seem unreasonable to ordain a married man and refuse him the fruits of marriage, unless (as in the case of one Anglican Catholic priest I know) he and his wife make the choice to give up marital relations. The current law says that that choice for celibacy is necessary to be ordained in the Latin rite, but of course it doesn't take the already married Anglican priest into account. Marriage is sacred, and the choice for celibacy/abstinence within marriage is a very grave decision, and has always been viewed as such, even when in regards to the common NFP.

    The law, as it stands now, is that it doesn't address the current times and issues. So, Mr. Peters is right that the Church needs to clarify her stance on these matters. I'm sure these debates will go on for some time. Meanwhile, I thank the Lord that I don't have to make those very difficult decisions.

  29. I truly appreciate this post! What you say is wise and good, and I hope it gets a wide reading.

  30. -Katrina
    nobody here is commenting with untruth or uncivility, I don't know where you got that from. I've simply stated what I belive, as it is CLEARLY stated in my comment - it's not my fault if some people read what they want to read or interpret something else, you know?? -

    and no, we're not a sola scriptura church. But we're commanded to put every tradition or better yet, discipline, under the Lordship of Jesus Christ and His will. Look at the Church's argument for banning married priesthood in the XII century. There were no theological or doctrinal or dogmatic reasons. Instead, there were economical reasons. I feel like the Church tends to treat celibacy as a doctrine, i feel like some of the clergy or even theologians LIE to people when they tell them that "oh, mandatory celibacy can change anytime..". If you know that that's NEVER going to happen or that the Vatican doesn't want it to change any time soon, or even discuss about it - talk about uncilivity -, WHY do you keep insisting that it can change. Why do you keep telling people something that is not true??
    and as far as this "continence" issue goes, NOBODY, not even "Wikipedia" (btw, what an awful source you posted, my friend) can really and truthfully state that EVERY married priest,bishop, pope and deacon practiced continence.where YOU there to watch if every clergyman had sex with his wife or not??? I don't think so. There is NO way to determine that. It may have been the case for some people, but not for all.

    and btw, say whatever you want... BUT, you haven't really responded to my claim that continence is anti-biblical, preposterous and suffocating.

    I'M A ROMAN CATHOLIC, BTW. And next time you refer to me, please adress my name and talk to me directly.

  31. Well I've finally found you!! Sorry I've not actively done so before this!! I saw that you took quite a shot on the Byzantine Catholic Forum for your blog name. But it is never a bad thing to be held to a standard that is higher than your critics are generally wont hold themselves.

    I hope that Ed Peters is given more of a hearing than is in evidence in some of the comments there and here. He's quite a sensitive and intelligent Catholic and professionally capable canonist.

    One thing is certain. The Roman Rite is fast outgrowing her own canons, and the laws need to be re-examined and perhaps rewritten to reflect more closely the spirit and letter of the living Church, as it is to be practiced by real people in real life, depending upon their state, and particularly their multiple states in orders and in their life in the Church.

    But the canons always tend to lag a little behind praxis and that is the way I personally think it ought to be. The canons are essentially a recapitulation and codification of our Tradition and our traditions. In may respects it is axiomatic then that praxis leads the way. I don't see there's much to fear in facing the letter of the law with an eye to either adjusting the law, or adjusting our praxis so that we may form in the spirit of the law.

    Blessing to you and your family,

    Mary (Elijahmaria)

  32. priest's wife: Good post. As you know, I show up at Fr. Z's blog every now and again, and I know what you mean. Because of his emphasis on the TLM, he tends to attract "rad trads" and even the occasional partisan of the SSPX, and quite a few tend to be "more Catholic than thou" in their posts. Part of the reason, I think, that Fr. Z doesn't exercise more control over the dialogue than he does—outside of his many commitments—is that he enjoys a good donnybrook, and only intervenes when it gets really nasty. But even he gets troubled and frustrated now and again by the rad trads.

    I don't really know that a celibate priest's life is any easier for not having the tension of division between the "things of the Lord" and the family (cf. 1 Cor 7:32-35). As for continence, I side w/ St. Thomas Aquinas on the matter, as St. Paul hooks periods of abstention on "mutual consent" and implies impermanence (v. 5). Since it's a matter of discipline, though, and not of dogma, it doesn't reach the issue of infallibility. (However, Belen, once you say "unscriptural" or "unbibilical", you're playing the Bible as a trump card, which is the core and purpose of sola scriptura ... especially if you hook it to your own interpretation. Just sayin'.)

    We of the Latin rite should respect the differences of the Eastern rites. Having said that, though, I believe there is a point and purpose to Latin-rite celibacy, and that this is precisely the wrong time to de-value or abandon it. Like it or not, we're inextricably involved in the "culture war", not a world and universe unto ourselves. The cultural context in which we exist is saturated with a lot of dangerous, even demonic, nonsense about sex, sexuality and sexual relationships (much of which has already filtered into our internal dialogue). In the midst of this, the celibate priest, deacon, religious or layperson functions as a sign of contradiction, challenging and pointing away from that which many people uncritically accept as true, while indirectly testifying through his/her sacrifice that marriage and parenthood are good. In this respect, both East and West can listen to each other and learn from each other.

  33. Tony- I really like Fr Z's blog- and the comments weren't that bad...we just need to remember that if Russia and Greece became catholic, their mass would not be Roman-rite. Because of this and for God's desire for unity, we have to be educated and tolerant (if a non-liberal way) of our differences.
    I agree that making celibacy optional for secular Roman-rite priests would be pretty sticky right now. I think of Vatican II and the craziness that came after it. It really wasn't the fault of Church documents- but the crazy times.

  34. I'm so sorry I'm just now reading this! I'm afraid I'm a bit behind on reading your blog.

    I love the Byzantine traditions and rites. If my husband were more amenable, I would happily attend a Byzantine church instead of a Roman rite. But I also love the Roman rite and traditions. And it seems to me that the two complement each other and enrich the great and beautiful wealth of traditions that we as Catholics have to draw from. I can't understand this fighting-it's like a family argument with much bitterness and little sense. And I'm terribly sad for the hostility that does indeed seem to spring from many traditional Roman rite Catholics toward the Byzantine Catholics.

    What struck me the most about this post and your comments is your profound courage, faith and clear-headed thinking. I'm full of admiration for you. Well done.

    (Oh, and this is Calah from Barefoot and Pregnant. I can't sign in to blogger because my computer is being wonky right now.)

  35. Finally got around to reading this blog. Good job!

    I need to respond to a couple of things that were said here in the comments section:

    1) The reason many people on the Catholic right decry the idea of the Roman Rite accepting married priests is because of the people who are promoting it: progressives who support everything mentioned in the OP. This especially gets the traddy-ire going...if they don't know their history. This brings me to...

    2) With the Latin-Rite, the idea of a completely celibate clergy is centuries-old. The promulgation of clerical celibacy in the Middle Ages lasted until the restoration of permanent diaconate, which included married deacons.

    3) Canon 277 has its origins in the tradition of BOTH Rites. In the Early Church, as the theology of the Holy Sacrifice was being developed, it became clear that clerics needed to prepare themselves for service at the altar. For this reason, it became a near universal rule that all servants at the altar would abstain from intercourse on days they serve (either celebrate, assist, or serve). The canon is more about preparing a cleric for offering the Holy Sacrifice in a worthy manner than it is about celibacy.

  36. Aaron- about your first point- yes, in the Roman rite it seems that it is the 'liberals' who are pushing marriage- which is EXTREMELY frustrating because on the little Eastern side, we are actually very 'conservative.' (yucky labels)

  37. Belen:

    Clerical celibacy goes much farther back than the XII Century. St. Cyril of Jerusalem, St. Jerome and Eusebius all say that all clerics would refrain from sex in light of their service to the Altar.

    In the Western Church, by the time Pope St. Leo the Great, clerical celibacy was the norm in the Western Church. It was expected that priests, when ordained would either a) separate from their wives, or b) live with them as brother and sister. Prior to that, it was expected of all clerics, from subdeacons to bishops, that they would take the advice of Cyril of Alexandria and St. Jerome and refrain from intercourse on the days of their service at the altar...like the Jewish priests of the Old Covenant were obliged to do.

    There were deep theoligical reasons for celibacy. For one, the Early Church called itself the Virgin Body of Christ. It was expected of priests and bishops to emulate that Virgin Body. In addition, under the Old Covenant, priestly auhtority came from father to son. Under the New Covenant, such offices were bestowed by God. In addition, Christ was celibate, yet was Bridegroom only to His Virgin Church. The priest, being the alter Christus, should mirror Christ.

    This is not to refute the tradition of our Sister Churches in the East.

  38. priest's wife:

    I have always greatly appreciated our Sister Churches in the East. As Bl. John Paul II said, we need to breathe deeply with both lungs of the Church.

  39. Belen,

    The Church does have the right to regulate the sexual life of its clergy, to an extent. Such is the case that Aaron mentioned above in which Eastern Orthodox and (I think) Eastern Catholic priests are obliged to abstain from marital relations before celebrating the Divine Liturgy.

    As a side note I wonder whether the fact that the Eastern tradition does not celebrate the Divine Liturgy every day whereas the Latin Church does celebrate Mass everyday is in any way connected to this.

  40. Bear,

    You're right that the wife does have a natural right to the marital act, but she could voluntarily renounce this right. Peters suggests this is precisely why the consent of diaconal candidate's wife is required for ordination.

  41. Now what about those Latin rite Anglican use priests and their wives, hmmmmm?

    Frankly, my married Anligan-use Catholic priest's wife is the best part of the deal....

    1. It is certainly an adjustment period- with married deacons being almost normal....there are 10 in the local 'mega-parish'


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