Join 3,513 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Fr. Flanagan and Mrs. Flanagan
September 12, 2013 8:56 AM   Subscribe

The Vatican’s new secretary of state has said that priestly celibacy is not church dogma and therefore open to discussion, marking a significant change in approach towards one of the thorniest issues facing the Roman Catholic Church.
posted by Chrysostom (67 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

 
Man, I knew having a Jesuit pope was gonna shake things up a little, but this is WILD.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:57 AM on September 12, 2013 [29 favorites]


I realize there are still many, many issues left for the Church to sort out before it can join the rest of us in the 21st century, but when you compare him to his predecessors, Pope Francis is friggin' awesome.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:58 AM on September 12, 2013 [15 favorites]


And while we're at it, how about a discussion about female priests?
posted by Strange Interlude at 9:03 AM on September 12, 2013 [6 favorites]


If he's not careful, he's gonna get himself bumped off, John Paul I-style.
posted by rikschell at 9:03 AM on September 12, 2013 [7 favorites]


This is cray.
posted by SkylitDrawl at 9:03 AM on September 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is awesome.

Hopefully Francis lasts longer than the last guy who tried to shake things up.
posted by Aizkolari at 9:04 AM on September 12, 2013


Pope Francis assures atheists: You don’t have to believe in God to go to heaven
In comments likely to enhance his progressive reputation, Pope Francis has written a long, open letter to the founder of La Repubblica newspaper, Eugenio Scalfari, stating that non-believers would be forgiven by God if they followed their consciences.

Responding to a list of questions published in the paper by Mr Scalfari, who is not a Roman Catholic, Francis wrote: “You ask me if the God of the Christians forgives those who don’t believe and who don’t seek the faith. I start by saying – and this is the fundamental thing – that God’s mercy has no limits if you go to him with a sincere and contrite heart. The issue for those who do not believe in God is to obey their conscience.
posted by Rhaomi at 9:06 AM on September 12, 2013 [18 favorites]


I guess that until today, I didn't fully grok the concept of "dogma." It's great to open this issue to discussion, but I'm really surprised by the idea that it was once not even open to discussion. I guess that's one way to keep an institution stable over long periods of time, but it seems startlingly oppressive.
posted by Western Infidels at 9:08 AM on September 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


I looking forward to the inevitable Vatican III and the resulting revitalization of the church. Hopefully they can go longer this time before trying to roll back the progress.
posted by vuron at 9:08 AM on September 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


The prohibition on married priests has always been a bit of an historical oddball in any case. Given that married Episcopalian clergy can convert to Catholicism and continue to act as priests despite being married and that non-Latin rite Catholic churches have always allowed married people to become priests (though not allowed single priests to marry) it has long been clear that there was no clear doctrinal bar to married priests. The church knows it has a serious problem recruiting people to the priesthood in Western countries and a serious problem with the reputation of the kinds of men who remain drawn to the priesthood. Although there would no doubt be a lot of traditionalist resistance to this change there are a lot of forces operating it its favor.
posted by yoink at 9:11 AM on September 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


This makes me want to go to church on Sunday just to hear the reactions.
posted by corb at 9:12 AM on September 12, 2013 [8 favorites]


It's worth pointing out that priestly celibacy has never been dogma, but obviously it is significant that such a senior official is saying that it's open for discussion.

Dogma has a particular technical definition in the church, it isn't just "something we believe".

And while we're at it, how about a discussion about female priests?

No, I think that one is dogma. Within the system of the Catholic church it is more likely that there will be married gay priests than female priests, as the neither the nature of marriage nor the sinfulness of homosexuality are dogma.
posted by atrazine at 9:13 AM on September 12, 2013 [8 favorites]


Rhaomi, that letter is all kinds of awesome.
posted by Rory Marinich at 9:13 AM on September 12, 2013


I... was not expecting this. At all. Good on you, Pope Francis.
posted by boo_radley at 9:13 AM on September 12, 2013


Pope Francis assures atheists: You don’t have to believe in God to go to heaven

This bit in The Guardian's reporting of this story stuck out:
In May, however, relaxed remarks during a homily, which appeared to imply that non-believers could be "saved" if they did good, prompted a swift clarification from the Vatican that he meant nothing of the kind.

The pope had had "no intention of provoking a theological debate on the nature of salvation", it said, adding: "They cannot be saved who, knowing the church as founded by Christ and necessary for salvation, would refuse to enter her or remain in her."
I've got the impression that having Pope Francis doing his thing is, in the eyes of the rest of the Vatican, like herding cats. This isn't the first time he's said something only to have a spokesman jump in and try to distract everyone from it.
posted by jason_steakums at 9:13 AM on September 12, 2013 [8 favorites]


Strange Interlude: "And while we're at it, how about a discussion about female priests?"

Female ordination is dogmatically prohibited, see Ordinatio Sacerdotalis.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:15 AM on September 12, 2013


"The issue for those who do not believe in God is to obey their conscience"

Okay, so my conscience says that I should do something like, oh, beat up people because I feel sincere about it. So we're all good with God now because I contritely broke his nose?
posted by Old'n'Busted at 9:16 AM on September 12, 2013


Ground rules for the uninitiated: married men can be and are regularly ordained to the Catholic priesthood, but a Catholic priest may never marry after the fact of ordination. A Catholic priest who is married may not become a Catholic bishop. Now, two things about the article.

Firstly: this is one rando's wondering aloud turned into a headline: never going to happen.

Second, assuming it did: I'm kind of torn on this, having been in parishes staffed by married priests and the normal, unmarried sort. The time and dedication an unmarried man can dedicate to a parish simply cannot be matched by a married man with a family. It's just not possible. Either his family or parishioners will suffer, and probably both.

Also, with the shortage of priests, a very large number of the priests ordained in the last decade or so have been awful--dull, ignorant, no social or entrepreneurial skills, etc.--and would have been drummed out of any seminary 50 years ago. Seriously, it's like the Army these days. Bishops will ordain practically anyone with a warm body who isn't mentally ill or openly living some sort of sexually deviant life. If we let married men be ordained to the priesthood, I hope bishops would really, really scrutinize who gets into seminary and who gets ordained. We might gain some fantastic priests if this happens. Then again, knowing who our bishops are (and that they come from the ranks of the unmarried), I really doubt it.

So it sort of cuts both ways: you're talking about having access to a better crop of men to ordain, but they'll have less time to focus on their parish owing to their family obligations.
posted by resurrexit at 9:17 AM on September 12, 2013 [7 favorites]


and a serious problem with the reputation of the kinds of men who remain drawn to the priesthood

I remember reading somewhere that some men with pedophilic urges were drawn to the priesthood, not because it would give them access to children but because they knew that the church required celibacy and maybe that would "save them from themselves." (Of course, we saw how well that worked out.) Now maybe the church will draw people who believe in God and want to pray and help the poor and all that other good stuff.
posted by Melismata at 9:19 AM on September 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


This story is complete B.S. There was no dogmatic prohibition against ordaining married men, just a disciplinary rule and that only in the Western (Latin) Church, not in the Eastern Catholic Churches and there wasn't a prohibition against discussing it.
posted by Jahaza at 9:20 AM on September 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


corb: "This makes me want to go to church on Sunday just to hear the reactions."

I don't imagine I'll hear much about this.

Not out of any sort of willful silence, but in large part because this Sunday's homily is probably already written and ready to go. Also, much (if not all) Catholic life day-to-day is at the parish- and diocese level...stuff makes the news like this, and I think the most common local reaction is that's interesting...we're still needing to fix the AC for the preschool and there are 3 groups claiming that they've booked the hall for their events. Also, the bill-of-materials for the Haiti mission needs final sign-off...and so on.
posted by jquinby at 9:20 AM on September 12, 2013


Second, assuming it did: I'm kind of torn on this, having been in parishes staffed by married priests and the normal, unmarried sort. The time and dedication an unmarried man can dedicate to a parish simply cannot be matched by a married man with a family. It's just not possible. Either his family or parishioners will suffer, and probably both.

Lots of other religions have married religious leaders, and their parishes (or parish equivalents) do just fine.
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:21 AM on September 12, 2013 [7 favorites]


Also, re the pope's remarks about salvation for atheists: conscience means something really specific to Catholics. It always refers to a properly formed conscience and, with that adjective always being left off, that's often confusing and good for some wiggle room. It never means a relativized, 'to each, his own,' sort of conscience.
posted by resurrexit at 9:21 AM on September 12, 2013 [6 favorites]


Lots of other religions have married religious leaders, and their parishes (or parish equivalents) do just fine.

Yeah... google stories about pastors kids.
posted by Jahaza at 9:22 AM on September 12, 2013


Second, assuming it did: I'm kind of torn on this, having been in parishes staffed by married priests and the normal, unmarried sort. The time and dedication an unmarried man can dedicate to a parish simply cannot be matched by a married man with a family. It's just not possible. Either his family or parishioners will suffer, and probably both.

Pshaw. You need to start thinking about this like most Protestants do (I'm thinking particularly of the Baptist days of my youth): married pastor is like a two-for-one deal because in addition to the pastor, you get his wife, who will probably end up running more stuff than her husband does, and you don't even have to pay her!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:23 AM on September 12, 2013 [21 favorites]


Let me be less flip. Their parishes (or equivalent) do indeed often do fine, but it's a widely acknowledged problem that this is often at great sacrifice on the part of the families of the clergy.
posted by Jahaza at 9:23 AM on September 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Lots of other religions have married religious leaders, and their parishes (or parish equivalents) do just fine.

Agreed. I'm referring to my anecdotal experience with Catholic parishes and priests. I've been in two different Catholic parishes (one Latin and one Eastern rite) with extremely hard-working, married pastors, and the result is either a neglected family or parish life. My two cents.
posted by resurrexit at 9:24 AM on September 12, 2013


Yeah... google stories about pastors kids.

I knew a bunch of kids who were awful and were the children of non-pastors. They were pretty bad!
posted by Greg Nog at 9:24 AM on September 12, 2013 [8 favorites]


Jahaza: "This story is complete B.S. There was no dogmatic prohibition against ordaining married men, just a disciplinary rule and that only in the Western (Latin) Church, not in the Eastern Catholic Churches and there wasn't a prohibition against discussing it."

The story explicitly states that it isn't dogma. Obviously, it is about the Roman Catholic (Western) church, since it is quoting the Vatican's secretary of state.. Yes, it is just a disciplinary rule, but it is one that has been around (if intermittently applied) since the 500s. It seems of note that a very high ranking person in the Vatican hierarchy is publicly discussing it.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:25 AM on September 12, 2013


Indeed - even for men called to the permanent diaconate, bishops are very likely to prefer men whose children are in their teens or nearly grown to someone with a toddler at home. There's a reason why deacons are mostly retired guys and it gets down to maturity and ability to commit time.
posted by jquinby at 9:25 AM on September 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


The story explicitly states that it isn't dogma.

Your Metafilter post states that it isn't dogma and that it is open to discussion "marking a significant change in approach", which is false.

Obviously, it is about the Roman Catholic (Western) church, since it is quoting the Vatican's secretary of state.

There are 23 self-governing Catholic Churches in communion with the Bishop of Rome (the Pope). 22 of those are Eastern Catholic Churches, most, if not all, of which have married clergy. The Vatican Secretary of State is also the Vatican Secretary of State for those Churches as well.

It seems of note that a very high ranking person in the Vatican hierarchy is publicly discussing it.

Not particularly. He's repeating what Popes and curial officials have been saying for years.
posted by Jahaza at 9:29 AM on September 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Actually, the PKs I know are very well-rounded and together, because they were taught good things early on, like help others and such.
posted by Melismata at 9:30 AM on September 12, 2013


Frankie has been interesting... better then I expected, we'll see
posted by edgeways at 9:33 AM on September 12, 2013


Okay, so my conscience says that I should do something like, oh, beat up people because I feel sincere about it. So we're all good with God now because I contritely broke his nose?

You are being willfully absurd.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 9:35 AM on September 12, 2013 [7 favorites]


Agreed. I'm referring to my anecdotal experience with Catholic parishes and priests. I've been in two different Catholic parishes (one Latin and one Eastern rite) with extremely hard-working, married pastors, and the result is either a neglected family or parish life. My two cents.

Fair enough. Maybe there's something to the self-selecting pool of Catholic priests, where the married priests are more likely to be underqualified or distracted.

...

As for preacher's kids, the three or so that I've known all turned out just fine. I'm sure that many PKs have a harder time of things, but that's also true for the children of lots of other people with demanding jobs.
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:35 AM on September 12, 2013


Yeah... google stories about pastors kids.

....I found an instance of one pastor's kid turning into a Time Lord, so that sounds like a ringing endorsement.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:36 AM on September 12, 2013 [8 favorites]


I eagerly await news that Pope the F comes down on the pedo priests like Thor's warhammer. Those kiddyfuckers need to be defrocked and kicked out of the church, and handed over to civil authorities along with all their church files. Until this is done, the church will remain a complicit enabler of the worst criminal acts.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:42 AM on September 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


Finally, a Pope who's read the New Testament! You know, the New Testament? The 27 books with the beatitudes and "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" and "And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love" and "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'"

Man, I love Jesuits, and am proud to have been educated by them (and by the Christian Brothers/F.S.C. and the Sisters of the Visitation and the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet and a whole herd of dedicated lay people).
posted by wenestvedt at 9:43 AM on September 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Also, there will be married male clergy a looong time before you see the first Roman Catholic woman priest.

They have already accepted married male priests who converted (and we had a priest in my childhood parish with kids: he was ordained after his wife died), but I can't see the Vatican approving women priests without first experiencing a huge upheaval in canon law & centuries-old dogma.
posted by wenestvedt at 9:46 AM on September 12, 2013 [1 favorite]




“Are my cheeks red!” confessed St. Augustine.
 
posted by Herodios at 9:46 AM on September 12, 2013


Yeah... google stories about pastors kids.

Better yet, youtube songs about preachers' sons. (And don't forget Tina Turner's version!)
posted by Luminiferous Ether at 9:48 AM on September 12, 2013 [5 favorites]


I'm kind of torn on this, having been in parishes staffed by married priests and the normal, unmarried sort. The time and dedication an unmarried man can dedicate to a parish simply cannot be matched by a married man with a family. It's just not possible. Either his family or parishioners will suffer, and probably both.

For a few years, we had a priest with several adult kids, and they were never a source of distraction to him, AFAIK. On the other hand, he was the local "priest" character at the Renaissance Fest (out in Shakopee, MN), and he was gone for all of August. And back in the 1980s, that was still a bit of a shock to the parishioners: could playing some kind of Bishop to the traveling Friar Tuck actor really be more important than his real job?
posted by wenestvedt at 9:50 AM on September 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


Also, with the shortage of priests, a very large number of the priests ordained in the last decade or so have been awful--dull, ignorant, no social or entrepreneurial skills, etc.--and would have been drummed out of any seminary 50 years ago.

I was in Roman Catholic seminary in the 80s. One completely disappointing aspect of the experience was the great concentration of inflexible, incurious, unsympathetic candidates whose vocations seemed driven by a weird fetish to be garmented, adored, moralizing proxies for a rigidly authoritarian institution they viewed as the Church. I jumped ship, fingers crossed that they system would weed out most of those whack jobs before ordination. Turns out the system wasn't nearly as active at weeding out as I hoped.

Not that those priests ordained 50 years ago were such gems, either. An awful lot of those men were seriously damaged people. They administered sacraments. Which means that they at least served some purpose. But not much to those outside the Church.
posted by 2N2222 at 9:52 AM on September 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


"The issue for those who do not believe in God is to obey their conscience"

Okay, so my conscience says that I should do something like, oh, beat up people because I feel sincere about it. So we're all good with God now because I contritely broke his nose?


Yes, it's lucky for us that believing in God prevents people from thinking that they have the right to commit violence against other human beings.
posted by yoink at 9:58 AM on September 12, 2013 [6 favorites]


jason_steakums:
I've got the impression that having Pope Francis doing his thing is, in the eyes of the rest of the Vatican, like herding cats. This isn't the first time he's said something only to have a spokesman jump in and try to distract everyone from it.
Pope Biden.

"What? No, I don't think there's anything wrong with gay sex. As long as it's within the confines of sanctified marriage, that is."

Headline: POPE BIDEN SUPPORTS GAY MARRIAGE!

Vatican: "Goddamit, Pope Joe!"
posted by charred husk at 10:06 AM on September 12, 2013 [15 favorites]


So we're all good with God now because I contritely broke his nose?

Well, if you can break God's nose, I am certainly not going to mess with you....
posted by GenjiandProust at 10:27 AM on September 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


Lots of other religions have married religious leaders, and their parishes (or parish equivalents) do just fine.

I think Catholic priests have a lot more things that they are expected to do for the parish. Like for example jumping out of bed in the middle of the night for Last Rites. (And yes I know they call them something else now but that is only because of a priest shortage and I deny it anyway)
posted by corb at 10:39 AM on September 12, 2013


I think what you would probably see is men in their 50s and 60s, with 30 years of stable marriage behind them and kids mostly grown (and wives past menopause), pursuing a vocation then, as a second "service career" or instead of retiring.

The Catholic Church in the U.S., for a variety of reasons, doesn't really have the infrastructure to support married priests on a widespread scale. When I was in seminary in the early 2000s, the big official survey of ministers showed that the average Catholic priest worked an 85-hour week. A mainline Protestant minister worked 60. Catholic priests serve much larger congregations (for a variety of historical reasons) and are paid about 1/3 of what their Protestant counterparts are paid (it was around $20,000 vs. around $60,000). A young, married Catholic priest wouldn't be making a family wage, and he and his wife could not use birth control, so we'd be talking a family of 4 or 5 children (assuming they're pretty good at NFP) on a $19,000 salary. Also, (male) mainline Protestant ministers divorce at a rate slightly higher than other members of their socioeconomic cohort, largely because it is a VERY stressful and demanding vocation. So those things present a lot of problems and would require a pretty big shift in how American Catholics direct their finances (a lot more into salaries and benefits and housing, a lot less into hospitals and schools), and/or a change in teaching on birth control, and/or a serious shift in how ministers are used at the parish level.

But something like half of seminarians in many Protestant denominations are second-career students now, coming to a ministry vocation later in life. And if you had one stably-married 55-to-65-year-old guy in each parish who got ordained, who had a 401(k) or a pension, no kids at home, no kids on the way, a retired or semi-retired wife ... I mean, that basically solves the American priest shortage RIGHT THERE, and you actually would be getting a "bonus wife" to do parish work. These guys would have 20 or even 30 years of ministry ahead of them, they could work on a much smaller salary, might own their houses and not need housing (or if they needed housing, just for a couple, not for a family), and a lot more years of wisdom and experience. And it would give them something useful and necessary to do in "retirement," and keep them an active part of a community, and allow them to give back -- all good things for older men in particular who tend to have fewer social connections than older women. (You see a lot of men about that age get involved in local politics for a lot of the same reasons -- their lives are slowing down now that the kids are out of the house, they're financially stable, and they start to think about giving back and serving the community.)

Anyway, way back in 1998 my theology professors were predicting the Catholic Church would be open a conversation on ordaining more married men sometime in the next 30 years; the shortage of priests is just too acute to avoid it (and it is, for a large variety of reasons, a much easier solutions for Catholics than a conversation on the ordination of women). But if it happens in the U.S. Church, I predict you will see a lot of second-career married priests, and not very many young married priests.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:41 AM on September 12, 2013 [13 favorites]


I think Catholic priests have a lot more things that they are expected to do for the parish. Like for example jumping out of bed in the middle of the night for Last Rites.

There are lots of demanding jobs in the world; should all of them impose rules of celibacy on practitioners? Doctors are often called out of bed in the middle of the night too; does that mean doctors shouldn't be allowed to marry?

The real objection here seems to be not so much to marriage as to children (the priest, supposedly, won't be able to be a good father to his children). So why not make it a prohibition against children rather than a prohibition against marriage?
posted by yoink at 10:44 AM on September 12, 2013


The real objection here seems to be not so much to marriage as to children (the priest, supposedly, won't be able to be a good father to his children). So why not make it a prohibition against children rather than a prohibition against marriage?

Just reminding you that this is The Roman Catholic Church we're talking about.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:47 AM on September 12, 2013 [9 favorites]


The Catholic Church in the U.S., for a variety of reasons, doesn't really have the infrastructure to support married priests on a widespread scale.

Nope, not when they're selling their land up the wazoo, here in the Boston area anyway.

(a lot more into salaries and benefits and housing, a lot less into hospitals and schools)

They're closing a lot of schools around here, too. (For the same reason.) As for hospitals, the one Catholic hospital around here (Carney) has taken a lot of crap around here re abortion and birth control; I think the church is currently trying to sell it or just sold it, and there was a lot of politics involved.
posted by Melismata at 10:47 AM on September 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


corb: "This makes me want to go to church on Sunday just to hear the reactions."

You're unlikely to hear any. I was a Catholic who grew up in a pretty standard Midwestern church, then ended up at the Catholic University of America for college. Needless to say, the day to day activities of the Pope are followed much more closely at a place like Catholic U than at your average parish church. Parish churchgoers are for the most part getting their news about the goings on of the broader church from their priests and from newspapers written by their dioceses, neither of which is likely to say much about something like this (in part because a cohort of bishops mostly appointed by JP II, and a cohort of priests hired by those bishops are likely much more conservative than this Pope is).
posted by Apropos of Something at 10:48 AM on September 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


My Episcopal parish is led by a married female priest. Her tasks as a pastor are pretty much identical to a Roman Catholic priest's, down to getting up in the middle of the night to deliver last rites. She was ordained when her 4 kids were young, and for a few years was parenting some of her grandchildren. The parish functions as any other catholic parish - with the help of church ladies. There's an altar guild and a flower committee and someone to iron the vestments and somebody to get the coffee ready. The fact that she has a husband around who can do yard work and who makes a mean spaghetti sauce is a bonus. If there's a time when she's not around because of her family, the parish attitude is one of recognition and approval, because we've all been there. I have had 3 priests who were married parents, and I have appreciated their perspective and experience. I hope the RC church gets behind this and moves with the times.
posted by Biblio at 11:01 AM on September 12, 2013 [5 favorites]


The parish functions as any other catholic parish

For good or ill, this is not the case when it comes to polity. Episcopal parishes are governed and administrated very differently from Roman Catholic parishes.

If there's a time when she's not around because of her family, the parish attitude is one of recognition and approval, because we've all been there.

Something that's established in your culture because you've had mostly married clergy for hundreds of years.
posted by Jahaza at 11:09 AM on September 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


My Episcopal parish is led by a pissed-off guy in his 50s. He works 40 hours, gripes about how everyone expects him to do everything, and refused to meet me after standard workings hours (I work, after all) for an issue that I had. Except for the vestry who are in his pocket, no one likes him all that much for a number of different reasons. Although, to be fair, we have a lot of crazies in our major-city large parish, and this could be God's way of saying, hey, folks, back off, it's not about you all the time.

And I wonder if this is becoming a trend; I know of two others priests (one Episcopal, one Methodist) who are the same way. Maybe people are getting tired of their entitled constituents? Do 20-year-olds really want to get up in the middle of the night for last rites when they've spent the day telling 20 homeless people that no, they can't have any money?

Not sure what my point is here, other than in this day and age, we should look at what the priesthood means, for all denominations.
posted by sockerpup at 11:14 AM on September 12, 2013


Sounds like you need to go to one of the other parishes in your town that you will enjoy, sockerpup. You aren't locked in like a RC parish or a school district.

Do 20-year-olds really want to get up in the middle of the night for last rites when they've spent the day telling 20 homeless people that no, they can't have any money?

Not really, but if you are in a church that has 20+ homelss people asking for money each day then chances are you are in one that has more than one priest on staff to take turns with the late night calls. Also,not to pick on your comment in particular but Episcopal priests don't tend to go into it at 20 years old.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 11:22 AM on September 12, 2013


Eyebrows says: Anyway, way back in 1998 my theology professors were predicting the Catholic Church would be open a conversation on ordaining more married men sometime in the next 30 years; the shortage of priests is just too acute to avoid it (and it is, for a large variety of reasons, a much easier solutions for Catholics than a conversation on the ordination of women). But if it happens in the U.S. Church, I predict you will see a lot of second-career married priests, and not very many young married priests.

An interesting comment. There is some discussion in the Catholic Church about reviving the notion of a "simplex priest," one who is ordained only to say Mass, but not to preach or hear confessions; typically their training would be such that they are well catechized and knowledgeable about scripture, the church's teachings, etc., but they would not have formal seminary training; typically this would be an older, financially stable man, probably a widower.

Not likely to catch on since we wealthy, first-world dioceses can simply poach the fruits of vocation-rich regions of the world (Asian subcontinent, Africa, Latin America) and shift any vocations shortage to the poors. I suppose it's only right, though, since it was those wealthy nations who once brought the Gospel to them, reaping what they sow, etc.?
posted by resurrexit at 11:28 AM on September 12, 2013


There is some discussion in the Catholic Church about reviving the notion of a "simplex priest,"

Maybe they need to revive the notion of the SUPLEX priest?
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 11:38 AM on September 12, 2013 [8 favorites]


The 10th Regiment of Foot:
Maybe they need to revive the notion of the SUPLEX priest?
That is the most awesome. Thing. Ever. Oh my God.
posted by charred husk at 11:50 AM on September 12, 2013


Holy cow, "Nacho Libre" was (loosely) based on real events? *boggle*
posted by wenestvedt at 11:54 AM on September 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


That, and the original had a much, much, much cooler Wrasslin' Name... and he was never unmasked in a 35 year career? Ossum.
posted by Slap*Happy at 11:59 AM on September 12, 2013


The time and dedication an unmarried man can dedicate to a parish simply cannot be matched by a married man with a family. It's just not possible.

The same is true for firemen, electrical engineers, bookies, ophthalmologists and circus clowns. Yet it is somehow not categorically immoral for any of those others to marry.
posted by newdaddy at 1:35 PM on September 12, 2013 [6 favorites]


Neither is it a question (or category) of morality for a priest to be married or celibate. If it were, Anglican priests could not be ordained in the Catholic Church.

It is simply a long-standing discipline of the Western Church, rooted in the idea that the priest acts in the person of Christ while administering the sacraments, and this (to a Catholic, anyway) imbues the priesthood with something beyond an occupation like the other ones listed above.
posted by jquinby at 2:08 PM on September 12, 2013


And if you had one stably-married 55-to-65-year-old guy in each parish who got ordained, who had a 401(k) or a pension, no kids at home, no kids on the way, a retired or semi-retired wife ... I mean, that basically solves the American priest shortage RIGHT THERE, and you actually would be getting a "bonus wife" to do parish work.

Yeah, if the RCC were more up front with discussing, "These are the reasons it's wise to have unmarried clergy" rather than act like it's a rule handed down from Mt. Sinai that they don't understand but dare not disobey, there might be more room to discuss other options like this that provide the same advantages as having celibate clergy.
posted by straight at 4:08 PM on September 12, 2013


This is good, but of course the main thing the RC church needs to do is not coddle and hide its pedophilic priests, give up to the authorities the ones who have sexually assaulted children, aid in those prosecutions, and pay compensation to victims.
posted by anothermug at 4:25 PM on September 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Shouldn't that be more accurately addressed to Fr. and Mrs. Flanagan?
posted by Alles at 6:21 PM on September 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


In May, however, relaxed remarks during a homily, which appeared to imply that non-believers could be "saved" if they did good, prompted a swift clarification from the Vatican that he meant nothing of the kind.

The pope had had "no intention of provoking a theological debate on the nature of salvation", it said, adding: "They cannot be saved who, knowing the church as founded by Christ and necessary for salvation, would refuse to enter her or remain in her."

I've got the impression that having Pope Francis doing his thing is, in the eyes of the rest of the Vatican, like herding cats. This isn't the first time he's said something only to have a spokesman jump in and try to distract everyone from it.


Herding cats, absolutely.

As for the doctrine, I interpret this to mean something more like that a person dies and is met by St. Peter at the pearly gates, and is informed that yes, all that shit really is true. At that point, the newly deceased has the option to accept the church/jesus/god and enter salvation. If they do, great. If the don't, they can go fuck themselves.
posted by gjc at 2:49 AM on September 13, 2013


« Older What if a typical family spent like the federal go...  |  What do you get when you put a... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments