More arguments against a married priesthood

More arguments against a married priesthood

Fr. Martin Fox, whose excellent blog Bonfire of the Vanities I’ve just discovered, last month gave an excellent exposition of the difficulties inherent in a married priesthood for the Latin rite.

Some of his arguments are familiar because I’ve made the same ones here several times. Others offer a new perspective, perhaps only one that a priest could offer.

Many Protestant bodies presently ordaining not only married men, but also women—and not expecting a lifetime commitment, and paying far better—also have a shortage of clergy. ...

Per ancient and universal tradition, for an ordained man to be married, he must be married prior to ordination—and if widowed, may not marry again. This would, it seems to me, cause men thinking about a priestly vocation to postpone such a decision—perhaps for many years indeed. I.e., first he’d want to court and marry the right woman; then start a family; then have to build his career and savings. You’re not likely to see such married men enter the seminary in their 20s—more likely in their 40s or 50s. ...

Married priests would hardly live in existing rectories with their families, on existing priests’ salaries. Many parishes would be in for sticker-shock; and what if a parish said, “no thanks—we want a cheaper (i.e., celibate) priest”? ...

Divorce is sadly very common among married clergy. It would be only a matter of time before we’d have divorced priests.

He has many more good points and rather than just duplicate them here, I’ll direct you to his blog. Make sure to also read the comments where he offers some further thoughts, including links to studies of the clergy shortage among non-Catholics, including denominations that ordain married men, women, and even gays. Anyone who thinks a married priesthood would be a panacea for the priest shortage hasn’t thought it through.

Written by
Domenico Bettinelli