Monday, August 22, 2011

You Know You're a Priest's Wife When....

  • your husband leaves at 7 AM to do annointings at the hospital Sunday morning and comes home just in time to drive to church.
  • you are the chauffer so that your priest-husband can go over his homily and be available for phone calls. You pray your 'rosary for the bishop' between calls.
  • your kids ask why they are listening to monk-sung Russian Orthodox chant during breakfast....because it is very relaxing
  • you have to just grit your teeth when someone asks to take your baby/give a lollipop to your 4-year old who is behaving/talk fashion with your 12-year old while the distribution of the Holy Eucharist is happening.
  • you have to smile when others are so kind and loving to you and your children (some parishioners got me a Kindle for my birthday!)
  • your voice hurts a little after the Divine Liturgy because the cantor was stuck in traffic and you had to take over until the cantor got there.
  • you have to shout at yourself internally to stop making plans for church while the Divine Liturgy is happening.
  • you eat 'only' three cabbage rolls after the memorial service so you have time to greet everyone- and you try to get over your shyness so you don't appear rude to your generally sanguine parishioners.
  • you get home at 8:00 PM on Sunday after a full day of church and fellowship with some sort-of parishioners a little peeved that you didn't stay at their home for late-evening hamburgers. It doesn't matter that you begin your part-time college teaching job the next day or that the boy was throwing up yesterday; you should be at their service just in case they decide to be actual parishioners. You marvel at the one-year old walking and sort of talking. The last time you saw him was at his infant baptism.
  • you read blog posts critical of married priests (the latest I saw was at Creative Minority Report, a blog I like a lot) and take it personally. Never, ever do as I do and read the commments. Those are always worse than the actual blog post
Anonymous said... I once went to a talk given by a married priest who was refreshingly honest. He said that he doesn't work on weekends or after 8PM. If you call his house after that time you better be almost dead because his wife will be mad.

All I have to say to 'anonymous' is WHAT?! You MUST be a troll! Putting everything aside- vocation, small 't' tradition, practical matters, etc- WHAT priest doesn't work weekends or take phone calls after 8? Even as a job...this is like a person being educated for and asking to be a party planner. Then, this person refuses to work weekends and nights. So- all the parties need to be on weekdays during the day? What utter nonsense! In the Eastern churches with the priesthood and the Roman-rite with the diaconate, the wives are part of the equation and realize his schedule might be different than the past when he had a 'normal' job.
Of course, occassionally one might find a crazy wife that changes the 'rules' on her husband just as there are some celibate priests making vows of poverty who own small airplanes. A rotten apple doesn't have to ruin the entire barrel if it is thrown out quickly enough. With a 'bad' priest's or deacon's wife, (I have never met one- just wives with different ministries and talents and maybe a few shy ones) counseling is in order. And a priest who is married does have the dual challenges of being the head of his domestic church (as any husband) and of his parish. A lot of balance and juggling is needed.
Personally, I don't see where this life could be successful on both fronts (domestic church and parish church) if the husband and wife are not of the same rite. Mixed marriages (Orthodox/Catholic, Byzantine Catholic/Roman-rite Catholic) can be tricky enough, but if my husband were consumed with his parish and the kids and I were always at the local Roman-rite parish, I do see where there would be a problem of unity and also not having any family time together.
As it is, the big girls help with child care at Bible study and they are part of the choir. I hope that the little guy will be at the altar next year. We are always looking for ways to combine family and church time. Because we are at church with priest-husband, the only time we aren't participating in his ministry is during counseling and confession times and his hospital work because we have school to do! We also try to be a part of the hospital by going to Mass there and the girls singing in the hospital talent show and the like. I think we actually spend a lot of time together- much more than a surgeon's family...but then I think that the 'a priest can never be a married man because he won't balance his responsibilities- someone will lose out' argument is a straw argument. I don't think that many people would caution their daughter from marrying a surgeon. He might never be home (and the family cannot be in the surgery theater of course like a priest's family is in the church), but he will bring home a lot of money to soften the blow.

But in any case: another commenter posted this and is much more realistic and thoughtful: Now, MAYBE this turns out to be an argument in favor of the discipline of celibacy if this guy is having trouble meeting his PRE-EXISTING sacramental commitment to his family while also meeting his sacramental commitment to the priesthood. Or MAYBE it's just an argument against this doofus ever being admitted to the Catholic priesthood and the Church instead finding people in this situation who can do a better job of multi-tasking. In the end, as others have stated, celibacy is a matter of discipline, and is NOT the teaching of "the Church" for all priests.


  1. Your children are very blessed to have the firmness of discipline at Church. They are the future and what a great future it is.

  2. Oh, I'm so sorry that those commentators were so ignorant. Sounds like your having a tough day. (((hugs)))

  3. I was JUST having a similar conversation yesterday with our priest. So many people do NOT understand a priest is a 24/7 job. He was very happy that I knew this and made a point of acknowledging it. I can only imagine how difficult it can be then to balance THAT with another 24/7 job--husband & father.

    Oddly enough, that's what part of our conversation was about, since DH wanted to know if he could get a dispensation from the Bishop to start the deaconate before we've been married eight years. Father pointed out that DH will already be a husband and an employee, with their own stressors, which would only multiply when fatherhood and the deaconate (be they simultaneous or one after the other) are added into the mix, and how he'd have to balance everything.

  4. Rabbit- Don't let your priest talk you out of it! I feel a blog post coming on..... ;)

  5. Oh don't worry, he wouldn't be able to! When DH sets his mind to something, he does it. :) Father did mention my role in all of it, and how I have to be 100% on board with everything as it's NOT just a husbandly decision; it is a family decision. We're actually not sure if one cannot be ordained before eight years of marriage or if they cannot start the training/study before eight years of marriage. Since it's a long process, DH feels as if it would be easier to start now (especially while still unemployed), but our priest wasn't sure of the rules or how easily a dispensation would be (if necessary). He suggested that DH chat with our pastor. (Yes, this priest is not our pastor. There's one pastor for two parishes, and the priest we were talking with who is always at "our" church is just an administrator, but works like this was his parish. It's a long story.)

    But Father did remind DH that a deacon's job can be, and is often, harder than a priest's. Especially at liturgy itself.

    I just remembered--this priest, along with the pastor, actually approached DH about a year ago regarding altar serving/the deaconate. I think they saw something in him :)

  6. Not all the commentators over there were bad... :-)

  7. Also, would LOVE to see your take on this (feeling a blog post coming on...)!

    I'm worried about being able to handle it all--for both of us. Especially if I have to still work FT and he has to work another stressful job. DH actually chatted a bit once with the Roman Rite deacon who came to see my grandfather weekly, and he kind of warned him that it might be better to wait until children are older/we were heading towards retirement... Okay......?

  8. commented on it at

    there was another comment that rankled me. it was another anonymous one about how it was self-evident that you can't be a priest and have a family. uhh... self-evident in what way?

  9. Preoteasa,

    I noticed in the description of the clerical gentleman, he came to the Church NOT because he believed it, but because he was dissatisfied with the way the Anglican communion was going.

    I also note that there are some Byzantine Rite priests who have other careers which take precedence over their pastoral duties. But I have also come across many Latin Rite priests whose other interests have come before their pastoral duties.

    So one can always find examples of things that fit our preconceptions: however, this shows more the one finding the example than the general case.


  10. I have visited this blog from time to time for a while now, and although I have hitherto refrained from posting, I feel compelled to speak.

    Personally, I do not believe we can say that a married priesthood and a celibate priesthood is equally good but just different. This is illogical.

    I have been compiling notes over the years for an article on ordination/ministry and marriage/celibacy that would make a case that ministry and marriage are incompatible - both theologically and practically. Unfortunately, life and other writing projects will delay its completion and publication.

    In my opinion, the frequency with which "priest's wife" brings up this issue makes me think that perhaps she has a sense this may be true. When people are unsure or insecure about an issue, they often seek reassurance, and disagree when they encounter someone who might threaten their tenuous position. This time around, I ended up on this blog after "priest's wife" responded to Fr. Dwight Longenecker's post against women ministers with the following comment: "Father - are you angry and bitter that you didn't bear children?" But Fr. Dwight Longenecker HAS borne children - he was a former Anglican priest who entered the priesthood through the pastoral provision. Why would "priest's wife" mind go to the issue of children when the post had nothing really to do with generation?

  11. Wade-

    My 'tongue in cheek' comment to Fr L's post on women 'priests' was misunderstood- when I said "Are you bitter that you didn't give birth" I meant that those women are angry that they can never be true priests- so should men be angry that they can never bear children?--so my words were a joke that didn't go over so well

    and why do I write so much about marriage and priesthood and stuff? Because this is my life and my family's life. Yes, we are a smaller than miniscule part of the Church- but I wish we were respected- that's all...simple words from a housewife

  12. Priest's Wife, I can certainly respect you. The Church ordained your husband with Her blessing. Then again, the Church has approved of many things that She later repented of, and also reluctantly allowed other things that She knew were not ideal because we live in a fallen world.

    What I do not respect is the phenomenon of the married priesthood. And that is separate from the people who embraced it unwittingly believing it to be a good thing and even equal to a celibate priesthood because of the lack of clear teaching from the Vatican on this issue.

  13. Wade- I guess we will have to agree to diagree on this issue. It is heart-breaking to me because this issue will probably be the biggest stumbling block for unity- not huge theological issues like the filioque.

    As you probably know (I see you have a Master's from Franciscan- most of my siblings graduated from there)- in the Eastern world there IS a diiference in celibate/married priests because most celibate priests are monks- this leads to a difference in purpose and spirituality

    It is still heart-breaking to me that you (and many other people) believe that allowing married men to be ordained priest (a 2,000 year tradition) is an action that the Church needs to repent from.

  14. Wade,

    you make the assertion that "I do not believe we can say that a married priesthood and a celibate priesthood is equally good but just different. This is illogical."

    Yes, that may be your belief. But your claim that it is illogical needs more explanation, even a reference to the underlying assumptions.

    Married clergy have been with us from the beginning.

    1. St Peter (you know, the first pope) was married - he had a mother-in-law.
    2. St Paul instructs us that bishops are to have one wife (or to be a "one women man").
    3. Until the reforms of St Peter Damian and St Gregory, married clergy in the Latin Church was normal.

    So there is no evidence from Scripture or Tradition of "that ministry and marriage are incompatible - both theologically and practically." Also the Church has indicated that there is no Theological impediment for ordained ministry and marriage.

    On the question of practicality - it has been occurring successfully for many years now, so it would seem practical.

    As for things the Church needs to repent of, the driving away of Ruthenian Catholics from the Church in the United States because they had married clergy is on the list.


  15. wade, this is the preoteasa's site and the way you are chastising her is unkind. she is blogging about her experiences as the wife of a byzantine rite priest and if she argues that a married priesthood is possible, she does it on the grounds that she is married to a priest and they are making it work. she is not advocating it as a lifestyle for everyone, nor is she saying that the latin rite should embrace the change despite concerns from others.

    it is rude of you to tell her that her direct life experiences are invalid based on what you may or may not have observed. it is further bad manners to hijack her comments to do so.

    -jen (who is also married to clergy and making it work)

  16. Jen- fancy being defended by a Lutheran! ;)

    It's okay- he was polite and he is writing what a lot of people feel...a lot of hearts will have to change before they can accept this practice in the Eastern's funny, usually it is really 'conservative' types that love my husband's work with subbing at various Roman-rite activities (Mass, confession, annointing)and are so appreciative, wanting him to come back

    In any case- it is what it is

  17. Priest's Wife, I do not know if you are aware, but there is a growing opposition to a married clergy in the Latin Churches. Two excellent dissertations, one by Fr. Christian Cochini and one by Fr. Roman Cholij, have demonstrated that from the beginning, celibacy or at least perpetual continence was required of clergy, and that the decision in the East in the seventh century to allow a married, sexually active clergy was a deviation from the apostolic practice.

    Anonymous, I say it is illogical because of Paul VI's encyclical, "Sacerdotalis Coelibatus". He begins by saying that many want the Church to make celibacy optional (as they do in the East), but then goes on to give 12 reasons why it is better to have a celibate priesthood than a priesthood which is generally married (as in the East). Now, if he were to have said, "both Eastern and Western traditions are good, we have each done them this way for centuries, and each works for their respective rites", then I would not say it is illogical. But as it is, Paul VI went on to state why it is better, for 12 different reasons, to have a celibate clergy than a married clergy. Realizing how this reflects on the Eastern practice, Paul VI makes the attempt to synthesize in paragraphs 38-40, but does so unsuccessfully. It remains a contradiction. If I were to press the Holy Pontiff or those who defend his position further, this would become clear.

    Anonymous, there were indeed married clergy in the Western church for a thousand years. However, they were "perpetually continent", as Fr. Cochini and Fr. Cholij pointed out. Because many priests failed to hold fast to their promises of continence and ended up having relations with their wives, the West decided it was best to require celibacy and not allow married priests at all.

    Jen, I would like to ask you: Why should the West not embrace the change? I look forward to hearing your answer.

    Jen, I also disagree with your assertion that it was out of place for me to make the comments I did. If Priest's Wife is going to defend and advocate for a married priesthood, which she did on this post, then I have the right to disagree.

    Priest's Wife, I don't think the problem is that "people like me" do not accept the Eastern practice of a married clergy. I think the problem is the Eastern practice of a married, sexually active clergy, which I think I am right to disagree with, and which I believe I am correct to disagree with, as does Fr. Cochini. Perhaps my heart needs to be touched and converted; but then again, perhaps the hearts of the Eastern Catholics/Orthodox need to be instead. Are you willing to acknowledge that as a possibility?

  18. wade, i have no opposition to the west embracing the change to a married priesthood just as i have no opposition to them staying with a celibate one. i am not catholic (i'm lutheran) and as thus, i do not feel like i have a right to dictate policy for the latin rite. in any case, changes made would need to be done so with deliberate dialogue, prayer, and discernment.

    what i *can* say with certainty is that it is entirely possible for a priest to be both married and faithful to their parish. the lutheran sect of which i am part has similar responsibilities to those of a priest in a catholic parish (of either rite) with the exception of a private rite for reconciliation. my husband spends 60-70 hours minimum a week on church duties and it is definitely a balancing act. however, it is one that neither he nor i entered into unaware of the time commitment or the responsibilities. the registrar of our seminary tells the incoming students every fall to "take [their] families with [them]" because it causes problems when students fail to remember that their families are in it with them. on the parish end, i am very specific with my church ladies on how i envision my role and what my boundaries are. (example: i will not accept any position in the church that someone else is more qualified to fill just because i happen to be the pastor's wife.) i also make it *abundantly* clear that my husband tells me *nothing* of any meeting with a parishioner or a visit and that i don't *want* to know the details anyway.

    my issue with your disagreement was that you were voicing it in a fashion that seemed a bit rude to me. however, the preoteasa has argued that she is not offended so i withdraw my issue.

  19. Jen, I will ask you a follow-up question since you did not really answer my original one (Deacon Bill Ditewig did the same thing when I pressed him on his blog) ... Are there advantages / disadvantages to an all-celibate priesthood? Are there advantages / disadvantages to allowing a married clergy? If so, what are they?"

  20. Wade- I doubt that jen will come back to comment because she doesn't like to 'take over' someone's blo- maybe if you click over to her blog and question her, she will answer. In any case:

    I think around this blog I have written various posts that speak about the positive aspects of either celibate or married clergy and I also write about the challenges of a married clergy if you click on the tag 'disappointed'

    I was looking around and about the only negative thing written about a celibate clergy was this post:

  21. Priest's Wife, I appreciate you directing me to your other blog article.

    For what it is worth, I agree with the argument made by Dr. Peters. He and I debated Deacon Bill Ditewig and some other deacons and lay people on Deacon Bill Ditewig's blog some months back, and in the end, I was confirmed in my initial position.

    If you have written about the challenges (i.e. "disadvantages" - vis-a-vis celibacy) of a married priesthood in various posts but only mentioned one disadvantage to a celibate priesthood (which was more of a disadvantage not to celibacy but to the way the secular priesthood is currently structured), then that would line up with Paul VI's encyclical, which defends the Western practice by giving 12 reasons as to why the celibate priesthood is more advantageous than a married priesthood (the latter of which was being called for by many in the Church at the time) and responded to the common objections against a celibate priesthood by those who wanted a married priesthood.

    Thus, if we are both in agreement with Paul VI in this regard, then we are, as it turns out, on the same page.

    Thank you for your patience and for allowing me to post. Once I write that article, I will direct you to it.

  22. Wade- I had only one blog post on a negative aspect of a celibate priesthood because I am trying to have a positive blog.

  23. Priest's Wife, the problem is this:

    You say you want both Traditions respected and that both should continue as they are, but then you take all the substance out of that by arguing for a married clergy.

    You speak, for instance, about the "2000 year old tradition" of a married clergy, but then refer to the "1300 year old tradition" of a celibate clergy. Implication? Your practice is more "apostolic".

    You take pretty much every argument Paul VI made in favour of a celibate clergy and argue the opposite. For instance, Paul VI said in paragraph 32 of his encyclical upholding celibacy that pastorally, celibacy is more effective. You say, on the contrary, that this is not so (see, under the question, "Do unmarried clergy really have more time to devote to the Church?")

    What is happening here is a sort of theological schizophrenia. On the one hand, we argue in favour of our traditions in such a way that we contradict the position that both traditions are equally good and should both be retained.

    I don't mind you arguing for a married priesthood (how can you not? You are married to one!) But we should all be honest about the fact that we ARE arguing in favour of one or the other. And the Vatican should be honest about it too (and one day will when the theological debate forces its hand).

  24. Those who are following these comments might find this article educational:

  25. Wade,

    What do you make of the fact that one of your heroes has since left the priesthood and married? I suppose you might consider it proof positive of the conviction he espoused that the two were not compatible. Rather, I wonder that he apparently recognized, too late, that he might ought to have considered the compatibility of the two states beforehand. Just a thought.

    Many years,


  26. I have read Dr. Dragani's argument before, and I disagree with him. In this particular article, he basically does what you have done, as I previously stated: namely, he takes pretty much every argument Paul VI made in favour of a celibate clergy and argues the opposite.

    In general, Dr. Dragani basically takes the position, which I already outlined, that both Traditions have developed different practices, and we have both grown accustomed to them in such a way that both should retain their respective practices.

    Earlier in this combox, I showed how this was not the position that Paul VI takes in his encyclical. I will reprint what I said earlier (and which has not been replied to - either here or by Dr. Dragani):

    ""I say it is illogical because of Paul VI's encyclical, "Sacerdotalis Coelibatus". He begins by saying that many want the Church to make celibacy optional (as they do in the East), but then goes on to give 12 reasons why it is better to have a celibate priesthood than a priesthood which is generally married (as in the East). Now, if he were to have said, "both Eastern and Western traditions are good, we have each done them this way for centuries, and each works for their respective rites", then I would not say it is illogical. But as it is, Paul VI went on to state why it is better, for 12 different reasons, to have a celibate clergy than a married clergy. Realizing how this reflects on the Eastern practice, Paul VI makes the attempt to synthesize in paragraphs 38-40, but does so unsuccessfully. It remains a contradiction. If I were to press the Holy Pontiff or those who defend his position further, this would become clear.""

  27. Another article that might be of interest to those following these comments:

  28. What I don't get is the requirement that married priests *and deacons* in the Roman Church are obligated to continence--and the question of how often that canonical requirement is observed. I'm sure a lot of people don't realize this.
    Ordination is a theological impediment to marriage, but marriage is not a theological impediment to ordination, and to imply that it is is borderline heretical.

  29. Godsgadfly- that canon for the Western Church needs to be clarified- one very important thing to remember- the reason why we have canon lawyers is because not everything is cut and dry- some things are open to interpretation. Thanks for your comment

  30. Priest's Wife, the article you posted does not resolve the problem I outlined concerning Paul VI's encyclical. I have not yet seen anyone, Dr. Kania, Dr. Dragani, or any of my fellow "lowly bloggers" resolve this dilemma.

    With regards to the article and the quote from the Vatican's Code of Canon Law that the tradition of a married priesthood in the ancient church and in the Eastern Rites is to be held "in honor", three things:

    1. Compare this to what Canon 377 says in the first part of the sentence: "celibacy for the sake of the kingdom, 'suited to the priesthood', is to be 'greatly esteemed everywhere'". Compare this to a married priesthood being (merely) "honoured". The language the Vatican uses gives a preeminence to a celibate clergy.

    2. Just because we are to "honour" something, that does not mean it is ideal. Look at what the Council Fathers say about Buddhism and Hinduism in Chapter 2 of "Nostra Aetate": "The Catholic Church ... regards with 'sincere reverence' those ways of conduct and of life, those precepts and teachings which, though 'differing in many aspects from the ones she holds and sets forth', nonetheless often reflect a ray of that Truth which enlightens all men." I believe a fitting synonym for "sincere reverence" would be "honour".

    3. It says "married clergy" is to be held in honour. I do hold the practice of a continent, married clergy in high honour, as was often practiced in the "ancient church". And that gets to Dr. Peters' argument and to what Godsgadfly says - yes, there is a discrepancy between the Church's law and the Church's practice. When you say, Priest's Wife, that the Western Church needs to clarify it, what you are saying is that the Church needs to say that permanent deacons and married priests can continue relations with their wives. I don't think that will happen, and this is why: because as Dr. Peters points out, the West has required, almost from the beginning, that married clerics be perpetually continent. Thus, we are in a quandary: if we come out and say that of course deacons and priests can continue relations with their wives, then we open up a theological can of worms because it contradicts the theology which has led to our Western practice, and the only way to resolve it is to trash the Western theology entirely and adopt an entirely Eastern one, and how would that be "breathing with both lungs"? I think that is Dr. Peters' main concern, and it's mine too.

    That is why I think the Vatican will choose to remain silent on this issue until its hand is forced. The arguments raised in my paper, and those raised by Dr. Peters, if they gain enough steam, will eventually force the Vatican to act. I imagine that the result will not please the East, but if we keep in mind that we must seek the truth above all, it should not harm but help ecumenism.

  31. Also, I see in some of these articles you are posting a certain "appeal to emotion". There is much mention of how Eastern rites in this continent were forced to embrace celibacy, and how they responded by returning to Orthodoxy. I think this says two things:

    1. Our respective theologies on this issue are really incompatible. If you say they are compatible, but then you really start to think about "how", you run into the contradiction - the Paul VI thing again.

    2. This is not a simple case of "two different but equal practices" that each tradition needs to respect. Behind these practices are "theologies", and if the theologies are in opposition (which I assert they are), then the practices will be as well. The Western "tradition" of a celibate clergy (as presented by Paul VI in his encyclical) cannot be reconciled with the Eastern theology of a married clergy. Ultimately, that is what Dr. Peters was getting at, or at least where his logic leads.

  32. Wade- I keep publishing your commments because you are being polite and not using coarse language, but I believe that it is time for you to publish your thoughts on your blog.

    I wish you well- but I do not agree with your conclusions.

  33. Priest's Wife, as I said earlier, thank you for your patience and openness in allowing me to post my thoughts and reflections.

    As per your wish, this will be my last post here.

  34. more food for thought:

  35. When I came into the Catholic Church (western rite) I didn't (actually, still don't) understand the difference between east and west. Anyway, I was so in love with the priesthood that my goal changed from wanting to marry a Baptist missionary to wanting to marry a Catholic Priest! Boy did my friends get a chuckle when I told them that! :) I'm still holding out that my husband will become Catholic and then a Deacon, since in the Western rite he wouldn't be a priest.

  36. Love your blog, & this was a great post :-)

  37. I know this is an old post, but I have to say something after I read the combox. I do not mean to reply to Wade, nor to anyone else, but rather to simply speak my piece.

    My first thought when I read through Wade's comments was in the almost inhuman level of cold logic he showed and a profound insensitivity to both you, PW, and the plight of Eastern Catholics who throughout the last few centuries have been scorned, ridiculed, and essentially bullied out of communion with the Holy See of Rome and out of the Catholic Church by Western Bishops who not only disagreed with, but disrespected and held in contempt the Eastern Catholic Churches and their venerable Traditions, including their Liturgical Tradition. To put the souls of Eastern Catholic Clergy and laity at risk and in a dire and uncanonical state by essentially forcing them out of the Catholic Church and into de facto schism is a crime far and away more reprehensible that the clerical celibacy issue, were it even a crime. Think of the pastoral delinquency it is to force *cough* FORCE fellow Catholics from the Barque of Peter. God have mercy on them. Likewise, the contempt Eastern Liturgical Tradition has historically been shown by the majority of the Western Hierarchy (though, fascinatingly, many of the last number of Popes - I can think of Leo XIII, Pius XII, Paul VI, John Paul II, and Benedict XVI off the top of my head - have praised and venerated the Eastern Liturgies) is also disgraceful.

    Any Western Catholic, be he Bishop, Priest, Deacon, religiously-trained theologian, or layman, needs to have an attitude of humanity, humility, and good humor about the Eastern-Western differences at all times; furthermore, if a dialogue about doctrine and practice is going to be held, even if tempers are tested and patience is tried, even if the differences reach down to the very core of our convictions, we ought to pray to the God of Peace, who is Triune and United, and whose presence, should we yield to it, manifests unity in His Church, for the grace to discern His Truth.

    Having said all that, about the essential issue of clerical celibacy, I can say this much. I am new to Catholicism, having been studying it a year and month now, and only just now entering the Catholic Church in the Latin Rite, so the nuances of theological study might escape me. Also I am a stoutly traditional Roman Catholic-in-the-making, being convinced that many of the Catholic practices and attitudes in the West since the Second Vatican Council are far from ideal. I am zealous about promoting the historic Latin heritage and patrimony of the Roman Catholic Church, the mother and mistress of the all the Churches which make up the Catholic Church. However, I also have learned very much through even simply studying the theological patrimony of the West that the description of St. Paul regarding the Catholic Faith; to wit, "the Mystery of the Faith" (1 Timothy 3:9) becomes more true with every passing century as we penetrate the Mystery ever more deeply. Hence the development of doctrine, hence the furthering of our understanding of the Blessed and Immaculate Virgin Mary, the Theotokos and the Mother of our God. There are aspects of even our Latin tradition which are paradoxical, as there are passages of Scripture that are paradoxical. The second thing I learned through my journey to Catholicism is that respect and loyalty to Tradition is essential to the Catholic Faith.

  38. When you take these two very essential Catholic truths into account, it makes sense to reverence and venerate the Eastern practices and traditions as much as you can, and to be familiar with them. They simply add two or three or ten more layers of meaning and further paradoxical aspects to our Faith, and we ought not to lightly dismiss traditions in the East that go back for literally over 1400 years. If there are traditions, such as clerical celibacy, over which the East and West agreed to differ and practice differently pre-schism, why ought we not to pursue the same attitude? Why is that we must be so obsessed with hard-nosed logic that we have to insist that Latin patrimony, practice, and tradition has to trample, subdue, and ultimately extinguish every other ancient cultural Catholic patrimony and impose an imperial rule where all ancient Catholic diversity is destroyed? What kind of fatherhood and motherhood, what kind of stewardship of Christ's Kingdom is that? That is a poor parenting and a slipshod stewardship.

    There are theological and practical differences between East and West that I cannot reconcile, even amid the many that I see as healthy diversity and different aspects of the Mystery of the Faith; I highly doubt that a few more theological degrees would make much difference on either of those. Original sin is an example of one such difference of teaching. Does that mean that I ought to reject Eastern Catholicism wholesale, or show contempt for it? Not a chance. Ultimately, if the Holy See or a General Council has ever or does ever issue an infallible declaration contrary to Eastern Catholic teachings, I have to, in conscience, side with the Holy See, and I think that's the duty of any Catholic, even Eastern Catholics. But in shadowy or vague areas of teaching, I defer to the ancient traditions of the East in their own domain and in their own Churches. On apparent contradictions between East and West, I defer to Our Lord, Jesus Christ, who is the Truth and who ultimately we will all render account to.

  39. As an appendix and an explanation, I think that many Roman Catholics who tend toward the traditional side and who are zealous for historical Latin Patrimony make the mistake of not realizing that there is a difference between heretics and apostates in the Roman Catholic Church who have dishonorably sold out to either butchering and defacing the sacred and preeminent Latin theological tradition, patrimony, and liturgy, or who have surrendered to modernism, or both, and the Eastern Catholics in the Eastern Catholic Churches. There is a monumental difference. Heretics in the West are profoundly novel and dishonorable, claiming to be Roman Catholic while disrespecting and degrading her in many ways. Eastern Catholics are faithful Catholics who adhere to the Sacred Tradition they have inherited from their fathers, and who have innovated in almost nothing in about 1400 years. Honestly, when I look at even the Eastern Orthodox, apart from their rejection of the Primacy of Peter and his successors and the indefectibility of the Office and Ministry of Peter, I see a Church that is essentially in stasis since the Great Schism; they innovate in nothing, they keep the traditions, they are certainly orthodox when view in light of ninth-century Catholicism and the doctrinal development that had occurred up to that point. They are in schism from the Holy See and thus in an objective state of abnormality wherein they are in stasis and not part of the organic, breathing, living, moving Body of the Church, and that is where being in stasis harms them. But their orthodoxy, as judged by ninth century orthodoxy, is impeccable. So, now you have the Eastern Catholics, who are Eastern but also fully Catholic and in communion with the Holy See. We, as Roman Catholics, owe them deserved respect, reverence, and utmost charity; I daresay we owe them more than that, as we historically abused our primacy and power in subjugating them unduly and in such a way as to force them out of union with Rome. We ought never to treat them as heretics, but as brothers. If there is any issue that one ought to treat with kid gloves, it's the East-West Catholic issue.

    My apologies for the long post, this was eating at me! It needed to be said. Roman Catholics better get a grip and learn to be more cautious and respectful when encountering ancient Catholicism, all the more since we have now the infant beginnings of an Anglican Church that is in full union with the Holy See, now beginning to grow. The Church that is being formed in the three Ordinariates will, I am convinced, blossom eventually into a full-fledged Church of its own Rite and Patrimony; we shall see if we force them out of communion as well over differences that we cannot respect. I certainly pray not.


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