A group of Australian Catholic priests have fired the imagination of the media by calling for an end to mandatory celibacy and we are once again presented with the red herring that a married priesthood is a panacea for the ills of the Church.
The requirement of priestly celibacy is perhaps the sole reason for this unprecedented decline. The Anglican and Protestant churches, which permit their clergy to marry, have not suffered any significant shortage of trainees over the same period.
What planet is this guy living on? The mainline Protestant churches (is the Anglican church not Protestant?) are suffering from the same decline in numbers of ministers and an even greater decline in practicing members than the Catholic Church.
The call betrays a worldy mindset. It looks at vocations from the viewpoint of career recruiting. This isn’t a matter of selling the priesthood to Catholic men; it’s about Catholic men responding to the Lord’s call for their lives. As usual, it’s all about sex: If only men were assured of having sex on a regular basis they would jump at the chance to be priests. In reality, it’s about God’s call. We will have as many priests as God wills through our cooperation. How many young men have you encouraged to consider the priesthood? Does your parish pray for an increase in vocations? Does it sponsor vocation retreats? Hey, those questions are just as valid for me and if I’m honest, I haven’t done a good enough job of encouraging vocations myself.
But gimmicks like optional celibacy are not the answer. Check out Diogenes’ comments on a similar news story:
ALL professions are celibate professions. Forget the movies you’ve seen and the profile pieces in the Sunday papers, and look around you. Every lawyer, every doctor, every professor (&c.) must make a choice between advancing in his field and attending to his family. Time paid to one is robbed from the other. True, some rare individuals are so talented that they can go on for years—or so it seems—out-distancing their professional colleagues on one hand and out-parenting the parents of their acquaintance on the other. But sooner or later they hit a ceiling—or the family implodes.