A self-serving argument for women and married priests

A self-serving argument for women and married priests

France’s priestly answer to Frs. Andrew Greeley and Richard McBrien in one package confesses to not having kept his vow of celibacy. And that’s supposed to convince me therefore that married priests and women priests are necessary? How is this anything other than a self-serving attempt to justify his own vow-breaking?

Breaking his vow was being untrue to himself, he added.

No, breaking the vow was being untrue to the one to whom you made the vow: God. Can you imagine a married guy committing adultery and trying to get away with saying that breaking his vow was being untrue to himself?

Written by
Domenico Bettinelli
  • Um, there have been married priests in the Catholic Church for over 400 years. Check out the Eastern (Byzantine) Rite. Very few RCs seem to know much about it. 

  • Um, Paulette?

    What on earth does your post have to do with the price of bananas in Ypsilanti?

    The story referenced is about a priest in the Roman rite. It’s also about a vow made.

    Your slur against Latin Rite Catholics is inappropriate at best, and insulting to Eastern Rite members at worst. It seems most obvious to me that you do not represent them. Not in the least.

    Bilge like your post does absolutely nothing to further the unification of both “lungs” and incidentally gets me a tad ticked off.

    God bless you, and have a good life.

  • Paulette,

    Every time I post something about married priests, someone writes to remind me about the Eastern rite. I am very well aware of Eastern rite priest. When I talk about married priests (and when Abbe Pere talks about them), we’re talking about the Latin rite. I am Latin rite. You can assume I’m talking about the Latin rite. There’s no controversy over married priests in the Eastern rite.

    However, I find it very interesting that when the topic of married priests came up at the Synod on the Eucharist, it was the Eastern-rite bishops who were most vocal against the idea of married priests in the Latin rite. Cardinal Nasrallah Sfeir, Patriarch of the Maronites, was among them.

    Please do not assume my ignorance about the Church without having read what else I have written. I don’t want to have to write long disclaimers on every post. I wouldn’t have time for anything else.

  • My apologies for causing offence. It wasn’t my intention.

    Dominic, being new to the blog, I am not aware of what you know. Kelly, if you read a slur into what I posted, then I would say you offend much too easily. Again, apologies to both of you.

    From the viewpoint of someone in the Eastern Rite, your posting comes across as hostile to the concept of married priests, period.

    I have just recently returned to the Catholic (Eastern) fold. Back then in my experience the Eastern Rite was a lot warmer towards the Latin than vice versa. After coming back, and judging from this exchange, apparently little has changed.

  • Paulette,

    I won’t speak for Kelly, but perhaps she’s having a bad day. smile

    As for me, you’re probably not aware but every time this topic comes up on this or other blogs, somebody pipes up that Eastern rites have married priests and so it’s a bit like someone entering a conversation on Catholic theology and announcing “the Pope is Catholic,” and everyone responding en masse, “We know!”

    Please don’t take it personally.

    From my point of view, even in my day job as editor of Catholic World Report magazine, I sometimes dread writing anything about Eastern rites, because I know I will get a dozen letters pointing out some minor error I made in describing.

    It’s a vast generalization, but I find many (not certainly not all) Eastern rite Catholics to be very defensive around Latin rite Catholics. I suppose with good reason since so many Latins don’t know the Eastern rite exist.

  • Thanks for clarifying, Dominic, and I’m sorry I hit a “sore spot.” It was definitely inadvertent!

    Your generalization actually isn’t all that vast, and your analysis is pretty much spot on. I don’t doubt for a minute you’d get clobbered over minor details. I probably personally know some of those letter writers. wink May I respectfully suggest you not take it personally…

    I hope you would publish more about Eastern Rite Catholics. As you know, under the Soviet regime the church was driven underground and now that it’s re-emerged faces a huge struggle with not only the Orthodox but also Protestant evangelizers from North America. (The Latin rite there has it even worse.) Then there’s the Eastern Rite’s struggles in Canada and the U.S. …

    I sometimes feel really beseiged and I know I’m not alone. We would be very grateful for support from within the Catholic family. With all the world against us, why not stick closer together?

  • I think Eastern Rite Catholics have problems today just like everyone else.  There is a famous Melkite Church near me in which the priest notoriously omits the name of the Pope from the prayers of the Mass. 

  • I find this all very strange. We have three Eastern Rite diocese here in Australia (maronite, Melkite and Ukrainian) as well as some independant Eastern Rite churches (Armenian and Syrian) and they all maintain close relations with the Latin Rite catholics. True many Latin Rite catholics don’t know them because they are concentrated in the cities, but certainly when we do meet we don’t compare rites etc but just accept each other as catholics albeit with our own cultures. I have found this defensiveness by Eastern Rite catholics especially in the US on Catholic Answers also. As i said I find it strange and a little unsettling that every time one speaks of a Latin Rite issue without qualifying it as so and despite the fact that the vast majority of Catholics are Latin Rite and will probably never experience the Eastern Rites and therefore will respond to it as Latin Catholics that so many Eastern Rite Catholics feel impelled to see it as an attack on their rites.

  • A priest who violates his vow of celibacy has no excuse, period.  But I don’t think that means that there is no place in the Latin rite for a married priesthood.  My experience has been that priests (in general) are not very good at pre-marital or marriage counselling, because they simply have no experience of marriage and family life.  They do not relate to women, children, or teens well (in general).  Personally, I wish that all the gay priests would vanish and that celibacy for heterosexual priests were optional.  In these modern times, we could benefit from a priesthood that pays more than lip service to “family life” and “pro-life” issues, and is actually personally involved with marriage and family life themselves.


  • I wonder who has the culpability, a priest who violates the vow of celibacy, or a Bishop that establishes the unworkable, and counterproductive vow. 


  • I do think some priests should be able to be married.  As a former Protestant, and someone who has worked with Catholic priests for a number of years, I don’t see that celibacy helps them ‘be present’ to God or to their flock any more than the married Protestant priests I knew.  In fact, Catholic priests seem to work less and seem enervated.  Married clergy is biblical, and yes, I know about the fact that the Latin rite does not have much of a tradition of married priests.

  • “Can you imagine a married guy committing adultery and trying to get away with saying that breaking his vow was being untrue to himself?”

    They do it all the time.

  • Last Sunday’s Gospel reading was Our Lord putting across the point that there are two Commandments: Love the Lord your God, and Love your neighbour.

    This can be seen as a triangle: thus

            Love God (at the apex)

      Love Neighbour –      Love Self

    In last forty years we have seen in our Church a lot of emphasis on the so called ‘Option for the Poor’(Make Poverty History and so forth), while in contemporay culture we get the most emphasis on love of self.

    God has almost wholly dropped out of the picture.
    Abbe Pere was, is famous for his work with the homeless, he founded the Emmaus communities where the homeless can help themselves through work and training. He was also a ‘celebrity’and a professional ‘pontificator’ on French Media.
    Where is God in what the Abbe has to say in his, no doubt now destined to be a best selling book? I rest my case.

  • Wasn’t Abbe Pierre the guy who got into hot water a few years back by being associated with some sort of Holocaust deniers? If the fellow is such a popular priest why don’t we hear about anything other than this sort of garbage?

  • Sorry, Abbe Pierre actually is a Franciscan Capuchin and a priest: so he **freely** took the full vow of chastity before God.
    What troubles me is not that he broke his vow – if, as I hope, he repented and confessed it – but that he tells this story publicly, with a sort of leftist pride.
    There is no doubt Abbe Pierre made remarkable things for the poors and may God reward him for that; but, after these words – unworthy of san Francesco,  not inspired and deeply noxius for the Church -, he now appears to me of a totally different fabric from mother Teresa of Calcutta.


  • While I 27 Oct 2005 12:30:19 -0500


    Just when I think Our Lady’s (i.e. Fr. Walter Cuenin’s) Friends have gone as far as they will, they manage to go even further. Following the news story I blogged about earlier, now they have released a statement of demands. It’s awfully amusing. Read these demands (and that’s what they call them!) with my comments interspersed in red:

    In response to these injustices, Our Ladyket the Cathedral.

    Oh, wait…I forgot. It’s in The Inner City (shudder).

    mail>carrie1104@sbcglobal.net http://www.carrietomko.blogspot.com 2005-10-27 17:27:25 2005-10-27 21:27:25 I was wondering how long you were going to let the ads remain.  Thanks for having the integrity to do something about them.  If enough people who felt as you do would act as you have done, maybe some of those ads wouldn’t be out there in the first place.

  • I just checked and can still get to Amazon via your link.  Does this mean you will continue to get that small income, even if you no longer carry the ads?

  • Good, I’ll keep my bookmark.  I very much appreciate your censorship. I like this definition of censor:  one of two magistrates of early Rome acting as census takers, assessors and inspectors of morals and conduct.  (Webster’s 7th New Collegiate Dictionary c. 1963)

  • Point taken, even in Rome it was the government doing it (ie magistrates).
    Are you saying that only governments have the authority to censor?

    Your blog has a government, and you’re it, so you can censor away, imo.