Married Maronite Deacon to be Ordained a Priest in the U.S.

In an interesting move, Pope Francis is allowing a married Maronite deacon to be ordained a priest in the United States.

The implications of this decision are limited since the majority of the Eastern churches (in and out of communion with Rome) allow for married presbyters. The Maronite tradition itself knows of married priests. Only in North and South America has this practice been disallowed.

Chorbishop Seely Beggiani, retired rector of Our Lady of Lebanon Maronite Seminary, said it well: “This may be precedent setting…I won’t know the significance of it until I see the next 10 years.”

But with the rise in the number of married clergy in the Anglican Ordinariate and the non-Roman rites in communion with Rome, it will become harder to justify to the faithful the Roman Rite’s strict discipline of celibacy.

So taking a cue from Beggiani, only time will tell what this all means for the Church.

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45 comments

  1. A married clergy, in economic terms, would be a blessing for the Church. The majority of deacons are married and work at FT jobs which provides both income and retirement programs. I would guess that those married men who would consider priesthood would have similar backgrounds. therefore, all the diocese/parish would have to provide is a modest stipend for their time. knowing the men who would jump at the chance, their motive is far from financial but that of service.

    1. @joseph mangone – comment #3:
      Well, it won’t be that simple. There will be the need for priests to serve “full time” meaning 40-60 hrs per week, and another job is not possible.
      Then a “living” which will support a family will be harder. But that is not the major obstacle.

      Or maybe married presbyters will be like deacons now- purely a non-stipendiary ministry.
      It would help, I guess.

      Mark Miller

  2. I’m not opposed to married clergy. I truly think it could benefit the Church in this age, where we don’t have to worry about inheritance laws in the Church. However, I think the financial difficulties need to be worked out. Personally, I would not like to live in the same rectory with a married priest and his family; I want my privacy. If the parish has more than one priest, can it afford to have multiple houses? What happens, then, when the priest with the family moves and a non-married priest comes in? Do you keep both houses?

    If there is a need to increase the salary, I also want that increase. Once again, can smaller and poorer parish afford it?

    It’s these “little” headaches that need to be ironed out.

  3. Everytime I see articles like this I look to the UK experience. Within my sisters home diocese, where they have a substantial number of ex-Anglicans in the presbyterate, the married priests serve as school and hospital chaplains, or teach at educational institutions appropriate to the qualifications they hold; in the UK education and health-care systems chaplaincy work will bring in some income, but I don’t have any data to hand on that aspect of the situation. In her home parish at one time they had married deacon, who was a police driving instructor, and a married associate pastor, who was a chaplain at a large university hospital. They also have a substantial team of Eucharistic ministers who bring communion to the sick, and in the case of my brother-in-law, a retired family doctor, also do home visits, consult on health-care issues etc. Some of the work they do in these instances is voluntary, but on occasion it is carried out on a professional basis. Once one explores the possibilities they seem almost endless.

  4. Just to speak from my experience as a married Protestant/Reformed pastor (my wife is Roman Catholic by the way). I think it works beautifully.

    I hold a full time job in addition to the church vocation. It is a small congregation with only about 100 families and the stipend is modest (without the “secular” work we would meet eligibility for poverty line). My focus must necessarily be more pastoral and less administrative: worship preparation, pastoral care, shepherding the lay-leaders.

    There are certainly cultural differences between RC & Protestant parishes that make bivocational married pastors easier for us: We don’t hold daily mass and our communities are much smaller for example.

    I will be anxious to see what the next 10 years bring.

  5. I imagine that the the little head aches would be ironed out best case-by-case, usually adopting the good practices that have worked for Orthodox and Protestant churches. Moreover, because the immediate need for married, FT priests is in those parishes that lack a FT priest entirely, the married FT priests would very often be filling the roles of salaried lay men and women. The financial burden would likely not change dramatically only shift from lay workers to married priests.
    More interesting, will be to see the various injustices done to said lay professionals once married priests become available.

  6. #10
    I don’t see this happening at all. The married clergy would serve the FT pastor as sacramental ministers whereas the lay staff would continue their regular duties as part of the pastoral team.
    In response to Fr Pat’s concern re: living arrangments: I think the married priest and his family would like their privacy as well! they would have their own home financed by his family/his salary in his secular employment. Now, if there is no resident FT pastor, then it would make sense for the his family to live in the rectory.
    Again, unlike the Protestant & orthodox systems, ours would be different but just as effective.
    yes, there will be wrinkles at first, but once ironed out, it will be like a well tailored shirt! not perfect, but good enough.
    We need the Sacraments, therefore, we need priests…married or single!

    1. @joseph mangone – comment #11:
      In my experience, it is usually the married priest’s wife who is the major earner supporting the family (except where the couple is retired and rely on a pension).

    2. @joseph mangone – comment #11:
      “The married clergy would serve the FT pastor as sacramental ministers…”
      Ok. But there already are situations in which compensated married deacons fills the role of FT pastor, while father travels around his parish cluster celebrating sacraments. Why wouldn’t married priests fill that slot?

  7. It seems to me that what is desperately needed are more priests to administer the sacraments. If each parish had a married priest who just supplemented the pastor’s sacramental duties, that would be an enormous benefit for the people. I’m particularly thinking of the married priests saying Masses and hearing Confessions in parish churches that are now closed and in places like nursing homes. Of course, they might be useful in other ways if their secular work and families permitted them the time.

    The sacraments are the life-blood of the Church.

    1. @Ann Olivier – comment #14:
      It seems to me that what is desperately needed are more priests to administer the sacraments

      Reform of the Clergy must precede in priority and accompany in time a Married Clergy

      We not only have the problem of careerism in the clergy, we have problem of bishops, and pastors whose primarily concerns are secular (money and control of others) rather than spiritual (the liturgy, sacraments, preaching, teaching, and counseling).

      Many priests promote clericalism by attending many meetings in our larger parishes and spending much time supervising the lay employees when in fact they ought to spending their time preparing next Weekend’s homily. As Francis has noted laity promote this clericalism by wanting the priest to be at their meetings and seeking his approval rather than seeing their baptism, talents, and prayer life as the font of their service to others.

      A large amount of most bishops and pastor’s days are being taken over by CEO administrative activity that could easily be done by laity. The bishops and clergy are not spending their time visiting the sick, the poor, those in prison, etc. Now, of course the latter activities could and should also be done by laity. The clergy should be setting Christian priorities by being in the trenches with the lay people (to serve rather than to be served) rather than giving us the idea that being concerned with administration, money and control of others are more important than going “out to the peripheries”.

      Francis is doing a great job of what is required of him (the liturgy, preaching, and teaching) while at the same time modeling being in the trenches, meeting and serving people. (Look at how he has transformed the daily papal Mass, and example would could easily be followed in parishes). And he is doing all this while not neglecting the administrative decisions that are necessary for reform of the clergy.

      Personally, I think the future lies in a mostly voluntary priesthood and deaconate. When as a young person I wanted to be a Jesuit I really was not interested in being a religious with vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, , or even an employee of the church. I was interested in teaching a secular subject in a college, counseling students, and saying Mass on weekends in a parish. If someone had said you can do all that without being an employee of the church and also be married too, I would have jumped at the chance. I think a lot of people would today, and that will be our future tomorrow.

      1. @Jack Rakosky – comment #16:

        “I think a lot of people would today… “

        But then, what does that say about the priesthood? Does it not imply to some extent that these people will say yes to God’s call if only their particular conditions are met? And what does that say about those who did respond to God’s call unconditionally and with joy under the current “regulations” (for lack of a better term)?

        Obviously, I’m not convinced, as some people seem to be, that allowing married priests will solve all the problems of priest shortage and then some.

      2. @Elisabeth Ahn – comment #17:

        I also think that having a married clergy without clerical reform would not be helpful.

        However as a “reformer” I am far more skeptical of “regulations” than I am of the gifts that God has given people. Saying yes to “regulations” does not mean one is following God unconditionally.

      3. @Jack Rakosky – comment #18:

        Saying yes to “regulations” does not mean one is following God unconditionally.

        Of course not.

        But that is an entirely different issue than someone saying, “sure, I’ll be a priest in a heartbeat if I can do this, this, this, and this,” and others supporting such an idea, because the current Church “regulations” (or policy? tradition?) regarding priesthood warrant skepticism.

        Which is how I read your earlier post, and which is why I responded to it with the questions I did.

        Regardless, I do agree with you completely that the wider and broader and more substantive clerical reform should be the first and foremost priority.

      4. @Elisabeth Ahn – comment #17:
        But then, what does that say about the priesthood?

        Elisabeth, I think it says that what we have in place now is is all bound up w/ discipline. We have a lack of priests but the call from God is still there. It’s obvious to me that the reason most do not respond to the call is because the Church has made it difficult to respond with the “addition” of celibacy to the mix. The fault doesn’t lie with the “call” or the person who doesn’t respond to the call but the church’s present definition of the priesthood.
        A few years back while our priest was out because of alcoholism his position was filled with a married Maronite priest. After several weeks he introduced his wife and son to the assembly. We loved him and were grateful that we had him (and his family too!). We would have made certain that he was compensated enough to support his lovely family.

        I am convinced that married clergy will solve the shortage. Just look at married deacons. Even without financial compensation but with many deacons devoting almost as much time to their ministry as to their “secular” jobs they have grown into a formidable group. There are about 18,000 married deacons in the U.S. whereas 35 yrs ago they numbered only in the 100’s. Today there are about 25,000 diocesan priests ( and 14,000 religious priests) whereas 35 yrs ago they numbered around 55,000.
        The numbers speak for themselves. The question is whether God has turned to calling men to the diaconate now because the church has bound His hands when calling men to the priesthood.
        Jack Rakosky in #16 is spot on.

      5. @Dale Rodrigue – comment #27:

        So, if, as you say, “the church’s present definition of the priesthood” is faulty, then just what is the right definition of priesthood?

        Surely you are not suggesting, when you say comment #16 is spot on, the Church should jettison such silly ideas as “being a religious with vows of poverty, chastity and obedience” and just let these men, whoever they are, choose what they will in living out their priestly or religious vocations, are you?

      6. @Elisabeth Ahn – comment #28:
        Not at all, you’re putting words in my mouth.
        What I’m saying is that the development of the priesthood is such that it is no longer an acceptable alternative to most men. First on the agenda is optional celibacy, not mandatory celibacy. Then a complete overhaul, many of the younger priests, not all, think in terms of the sarcedotal priesthood and little else. I’ve spent years working in rectories, I can tell you that the level of clericalism is rampant in some places. “Father knows best” and “Father No” is a badge proudly worn by many priests and don’t dare you offer an alternative suggestion. Perhaps some lack the maturity, some are just arrogant.

        You can bury your head in the sand and think it will all somehow go away. What we have is a tragedy and if not corrected soon the Church will eventually fall apart. Church closings do not portend well for the future.

      7. @Dale R. Rodrigue – comment #30:

        “You can bury your head in the sand and think it will all somehow go away.”

        well, now you are putting words in my mouth!

        I am well aware of all the problems you speak of. But, what does that have to do with celibacy? Are you saying that celibacy is at the heart of all those problems of clericalism, and therefore, must be at the top of the clerical reform agenda?

        Or did I put even more words in your mouth? Cause if i did, please feel free to spit ’em out!

        To be clear, I would fully support a complete overhaul of the priesthood. What wouldn’t I, or anyone else for that matter, give to rid of clericalism?

        What I do have a problem with is the implication that such reform be predicated on the idea that priesthood should somehow be made easier for men to accept, or that accommodations should be made to address their particular needs and concerns, because God knows we need more men — and only men! — to become priests.

        I know, you’re probably thinking, Holy conflated issues, Batman, aren’t you.

        I am too. 😀

      8. @Elisabeth Ahn – comment #31:
        Only if I can be Batman, you can be Robin or Batwoman:)

        Elisabeth, YES it should me made easier to accept because at the present time the disciplines that are in place, yes celibacy, are disciplines that the church has put in place not Christ. It’s difficult because the Church has made it difficult.
        Drop the man made rules and you will see the priesthood flourish.
        And… we should consider female deacons (Phoebe Acts 16:1) and I am open to studying the possibility of female priesthood too.

      9. @Elisabeth Ahn – comment #28:

        the Church should jettison such silly ideas as “being a religious with vows of poverty, chastity and obedience” and just let these men, whoever they are, choose what they will in living out their priestly or religious vocations

        Let me attempt to untie the knots in this thinking!

        There is no intrinsic connection between religious life and the priesthood. The charisms of religious life are fundamentally lay charisms founded on baptism not holy orders.

        Sociologists understand that historically reform of church has largely occurred through the founding of religious orders ( the Desert Solitaries, Benedictine Monasticism, Franciscans, Jesuits). John O’Malley the Jesuit historian maintains that each responded to the needs of its age by founding new forms of ministry However these new forms of ministry, e.g. the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises, came from baptism rather than from Holy Orders.

        How Catholicism deals with lay charisms is central to implementing the universal call to holiness of all the baptized, to discerning the role of religious and ordained ministry in the church, and to the dynamics of reform in the church.

        Religious life became so important in the reform of the church because celibacy, i.e. withdrawal from the family and household life was the only way to get sufficient resources to found a movement that also had some independence from the clerical establishment. In Catholicism (unlike Protestant sects which break apart) the clerical establishment has always eventually co-opted the religious orders, often in the case of men in recent centuries by ordaining them.

        However with modern economic conditions and affluence, voluntarism like religious orders offers an additional opportunity to dedicate not all of one’s life but a sufficient part of one life to the Kingdom to enable individuals (like solitary monks) and groups (like religious orders) to have sufficient independence from both the clerical establishment and the secular culture to reform both (and the historical experience is that we always do need to reform BOTH).

      10. @Jack Rakosky – comment #33:
        After the grand theory of the past and future history and sociology of ecclesial life outlined above, let me get practical.

        In my first year of college many of the Jesuit priests taught very secular subjects, e.g. chemistry and physics, and it was only their counseling of students after class and in the dorms and their celebration of the liturgy that made their lives priestly.

        At the same time I was far more profoundly influenced by two married lay professors (one of English and the other of Math) who really integrated theological thinking and spirituality and introduced me to Dorothy Day and Thomas Merton. They, not the Jesuit priests were the real ministers, and their ministry came from their baptism as most ministry does. Their ministry was essentially a voluntary ministry above and beyond what they were paid to do. However there is no reason why these men should not have been ordained to celebrate Mass since they were far more effective ministers.

        In my own life I have continued the ministry pattern handed on to me by my lay professors not only by integrating theology and spirituality with psychology and sociology but also practicing that integration in the empowerment of mentally ill persons in the public mental health system. Most of the people around me not only in the parishes but in my work life think that I know Catholicism better than most priests. None of them however sees me as an “official representative” of Catholicism. Quite rightly they see the locus of my “authority” as residing in my own particular charisms and my relationship to God rather than in my relationship to the clergy. However if I had been ordained as a deacon or priest even if it was just to preach at one Mass on the Weekend, it is likely that everyone would see my charisms as residing in the Church rather than in me. (They actually reside in both places regardless, ordination just creates a visible sign).

        Modern affluent life and Vatican II unleased a vast potential for voluntary ministry in both church and society by the baptized. That is a very plausible reason why the Holy Spirit has ceased to call as many people in affluent countries to full time employment as priests and religious. I do not buy the idea that people are just not responding!!!

        Our priority in the reform of the church needs to be to foster voluntary ministry by lay people both in church and society rather than being concerned about the number of priests and religious or even recruiting lay people as church employees. More priests, religious and church employees are just going to let the laity continue to support clericalism rather than being the church.

        The fundamental issue in the reform of the church is economic, whether or not a person gets paid for their ministry rather than whether they are married or not. Yes a big paradigm shift but as in all other cases in the history of the church linked to fundamental changes in society.

      11. @Dale R. Rodrigue – comment #32:

        1. “YES it should me made easier to accept because at the present time the disciplines that are in place, yes celibacy, are disciplines that the church has put in place not Christ.”

        well, Jesus did say to leave everything and everyone other than Him behind and follow Him, no?

        What does or should that mean in the present time then?

        2. Drop the man made rules and you will see the priesthood flourish.

        When you say “man made rules,” do you mean celibacy only? If not, what other rules are you thinking of?

        3. Sure, you can be Batman, but first, what are your thoughts on nipples on the Batsuit?

        @Jack Rakosky – comment #34:

        Thank you, as always, for your thoughtful response, and for sharing a piece of your life story. The only thing I will say is that I have no doubt when God put you on a different life path than priesthood, He knew what He was doing.

        There was a time in my life when I wanted to be a nun, pondered and pursued that path, but in the end, God had a different plan for me.

        Anyway, this:

        “The fundamental issue in the reform of the church is economic, whether or not a person gets paid for their ministry rather than celibacy.”

        is an interesting proposition, although I’m not quite sure what to make of it, except that I agree the fundamental issue isn’t about celibacy.

      12. @Elisabeth Ahn – comment #35:
        The only thing I will say is that I have no doubt when God put you on a different life path than priesthood, He knew what He was doing.

        Yes, the discernment has always been that being a priest would be becoming a part of the problem rather than the solution, which is why I am confident that God is not calling more people to be priests and religious.

      13. @Elisabeth Ahn – comment #35:
        well, Jesus did say to leave everything and everyone other than Him behind and follow Him, no?

        Well, yes and no. Does that mean we all need to be celibate to follow Him? Does that apply to lay people too? I think not. Who decides who (whom) needs to remain celibate or not? We know that the apostles were married men. And we know that Acts tells not to impose new restrictions ie circumcision etc, and we know what Paul states in I Cor 9:5 (Don’t we have the right to take a believing wife along with us, as do the other apostles and the Lord’s brothers and Cephas) and we know that celibacy was not a requirement in the early Christian church and we know that celibacy was mandated for “financial” reasons in the 12th century, and on and on. AND we know we don’t have enough priests. Ask young men why? Have you? It’s mandatory celibacy. Let’s face it straight on, it’s not that men aren’t receiving the call it’s the “stiff necked” in the Vatican that are putting up barriers making a mess.

      14. @Dale R. Rodrigue – comment #37:

        Maybe my views are skewed, for I know not one man who has said mandatory celibacy is the only thing standing between him and God’s call to priesthood.

        And frankly, if sex is that important to someone, then maybe his vocation does lie elsewhere.

        [ducking and covering]

        Seriously though, I don’t feel that strongly about priestly celibacy one way or another, but for the umpteenth time — and I guess this is where you and I part ways — if and when the Church decides to review and revisit the issue, I believe it has to be within the broader context of clerical reform, of redefining the meaning of priesthood, of discernment process, and of priestly formation, among others, and not simply to increase the number of priests.

      15. @Elisabeth Ahn – comment #39:

        Maybe my views are skewed, for I know not one man who has said mandatory celibacy is the only thing standing between him and God’s call to priesthood.

        In my experience, the two main reasons above all that men decide not to opt for priesthood, or not to continue with seminary training already begun, are:

        (a) clerical celibacy, and
        (b) papal infallibility (perhaps not such an issue under the present pontiff)

        We are haemorrhaging many good candidates through those two factors alone, let alone others. How long can we continue to throw away men (and women, come to that) who would be brilliant pastors for the sake of notions that are disciplinarian rather than de fide ?

        And, looking at the percentages of those already in the priesthood who don’t adhere to one or other of those precepts, and maybe both, it seems that there is a real problem which no amount of sweeping under brocaded carpets (e.g. by Paul VI) is going to make go away. I am hoping that under Francis the Church will tackle these (and many other) issues head-on instead of pretending that they aren’t there.

      16. @Elisabeth Ahn – comment #39:
        Echo Paul’s comments – know more than a hundred male priesthood candidates who did proceed to ordination because of celibacy (and that is just a very localized experience base)

        Suggest that you might want to peruse any book written by Donald Cozzens:
        – The Changing Face of the Priesthood
        – Freeing Celibacy
        To name just two resources.

        You might also want to look into resources at Collegeville – any studies done by Dean Hoge or Donald Goergen’s book – The Theology of the Priesthood.

        Finally from Richard Sipe: http://www.awrsipe.com/Click_and_Learn/2005-10-05-Celibate_Myth.html

      17. @Elisabeth Ahn – comment #17:
        Ms. Ahn – you say…..”Does it not imply to some extent that these people will say yes to God’s call if only their particular conditions are met?”

        Sorry, this comment is dismissive and appears to start from an old and tired ideal that the clerical status is *higher* than others because, of course, they are completely dedicated. This is a naive assumption or very simplistic – celibate and non-celibate men or women choose to be ordained for many complex reasons.

        Some (if not many) men who are currently ordained also have *conditions* – they just aren’t public, visible, or fit your concept in terms of the *total dedication* meme.

        What we don’t need (IMO) is a 21st century advocacy that John Vianney is the be all model for clerics.

      18. @Bill deHaas – comment #43:

        Good grief.

        I do not believe ordained ministers somehow occupy higher status than others. Where the hel, er I mean, heck did I ever say such a thing?

        I do believe that many, if not most, of them, in their own uniquely imperfect ways, aspire and strive to live lives fully dedicated to God, to God’s people.

        Does that mean I also believe they always succeed without ever falling once along the way? No, of course not. There are problems, there are challenges. Some we hear about, but most others we don’t, because their struggles are, not unlike like our relationship with God, deeply personal. Living a faithful life, ordained or not, is hardly easy. How is this even a question?

        So please, spare me your lectures and condescending tone. Just because I don’t share your particular view of All Things Catholic, doesn’t mean I’m living in some LaLa land where everything and everyone is perfectly holy, and therefore, that I’m in dire need of some Real World education.

  8. I have to say that I get a bit uneasy when the administration of the sacraments is disconnected from being a pastor. I can’t quite put my finger on why I feel that way. Is it something to do with isolating the sacraments from the wider care that a pastor should provide and that should be the backdrop to the sacramental life of the parish?

  9. What I’ve seen in the last few posts is a good conversation around how the sacraments are to be administered. I would ask all to remember that we were baptized “priest, prophet, and king.” For myself, clerical reform will never be truly here until we realize that we are the sacrament. We are all able to break the bread in the name of Jesus. We are all able to baptize. It is our own fear of embodying the Lord that leads us to these limits. Only after study; only a pastor; only a male; only a celebate; only a starving, celebate, studied, bonded to the proper bishop male could possibly lead like Jesus, or call upon the name of the Lord? My experience is quite assuredly different.

    I know, I know, anarchy will prevail. I don’t think so. Communities will always need to worship together, and large unwieldy groups require agreed regulations. But what Jack Rakosky beautifully puts forth in #16 is simply a lack of fear.

    God bless this family in their ministry.

  10. I’m not sure why it should be assumed that God puts any restriction on people being priests. Jesus never ordained any priests, and most of his closest disciples were married.

  11. I should think we all know what stands in the way of modifying the qualifications for priestly ministry to permit the ordination of men who are in mature, stable marriages. Fear of its impact on celibate priests and single men who might be hesitant to embrace celibacy. The idea that we couldn’t afford to support married priests is nonsense. Faced with the prospect of no priest or a married one, the people will give whatever may be required. We already have thousands of non compensated married deacons. Why couldn’t some of them be ordained to the priesthood like this Maronite? One wonders if the hierarchy is not expecting much success from the new evangelization. How many will want to return to a church whose bishops are closing and consolidating parishes as if we were going out of business. Pope Francis has not forbidden discussion of this subject, so where are the bishops ready to call for conversation?

    1. @Jack Feehily – comment #22:

      “Faced with the prospect of no priest or a married one, the people will give whatever may be required.”

      Will they really? I’m not so sure.

      But no matter, if and when the issue of priestly celibacy gets officially put on the table, the discussion had better be framed around more substantive issues than “we need more priests, and therefore, will make whatever accommodations are needed to get more men to join the priesthood.”

      Especially given the Church’s stance on women’s role in the ordained ministry, or the exclusion thereof, anything less, to be honest, would be quite insulting.

  12. And nobody has mentioned the priests who have been laicized and married who would love to help out in parishes or return to ministering in their retirement. I suspect very strongly that I know two myself.

  13. Cardinal Kaspar who has been given a lead role by Francis in framing the discussion of remarriage is also framing the discussion of leadership roles for women, starting with the Curia!

    Cardinal Walter Kasper suggests putting women at the helm of the pontifical councils. According to the cardinal who is against careerism in the Curia and believes in time limits for mandates, “there are too many bishops in the Curia”

    http://vaticaninsider.lastampa.it/en/inquiries-and-interviews/detail/articolo/curia-curia-curia-donne-women-mujeres-32413/

    ”: women should be offered leadership roles within the pontifical councils and in the future Congregation for the Laity given how many bishops the Curia has… I ask myself how it is possible to prepare two synods on the family without giving a role of primary importance to women? A family cannot exist without women. It makes no sense to speak about the family without listening to what they have to say… A Church without women is a mutilated Church. There are so many of them actively involved in Church bodies. Can we imagine community, charity and cultural centres today with no women? Without them, parishes would close down tomorrow.

    Kaspar goes on to propose major leadership roles in all the pontifical councils (which have advisory making authority but not decision making authority). He then goes on propose that women also be given major roles, though not the top roles in the Congregation for Education, Congregation for Religious, and Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (which do make decisions).

    Francis is a very politically savvy Pope. I think he is going to use the Synods on the Family not only to advance synods ant tackle the important issues in regard to the family but also to begin to “untie the knots” around the married priesthood and the leadership roles of women.

  14. It’s interesting that Kasper would advocate for larger roles for women when he is so against women’s ordination … he spoke against the Anglicans having women bishops in 2006. I hope Francis does use the synods to allow married priests and have women’s roles in the church expanded, but none of this will really divert people from the women’s ordination issue.

  15. Yet another timely coincidence, today the Pope spoke about vocations and the challenges of following the call of God in his homily:

    There are many young people today – Pope Francis said – who have a vocation, but sometimes there is something that stops them: “We must pray so that the hearts of these young people may be emptied, emptied of other interests and other sentiments, so that they may become free. This is the prayer for vocations…

    ‘Lord, help these young people so that they may be free, not slaves, so that their hearts be for You only; so that the call of the Lord can be heard and can bear fruit.’

    Regardless of where one stands on any number of issues about priesthood, religious life, or about a life of faith that each and every one of us is called to live, I think, I hope, that we can at least all agree on this and pray together that our hearts be for God only and nothing else.

  16. Jack Rakosky : Yes, the discernment has always been that being a priest would be becoming a part of the problem rather than the solution, which is why I am confident that God is not calling more people to be priests and religious.

    Well, what an odd and oddly arrogant thing to say.

  17. Sorry if I mis read you – but would suggest that you re-read what you wrote – note also your reaction to what Jack posted (which is closer to what I think also).

    Sorry, your comments above reveal that you are out of touch and my tone is not condescending; yours is. And talk about lecturing – isn’t that what you did above?
    Let’s see – what is your experience; have you ever tried to be celibate for years? Have you lived in a celibate community; dealt with the loneliness; internal personal difficulties of men trying to follow that calling?
    Here is an excellent summary by O’Malley, SJ that doesn’t cover the discussion in *sweetness* – http://www.uscatholic.org/articles/201402/passion-priesthood-why-priests-need-demonstrate-joy-28536

    1. @Bill deHaas – comment #45:

      You know what, I don’t really care how you read my post(s). Besides, I have neither the time nor the inclination to indulge in an “I’m Right; You’re Wrong” back-and-forth conversation on the Internet.

      Really, who does?

      So, Happy Lent, Good Day and Good Bye.

      Maybe we’ll meet again in another thread, and God willing, on a happier note.

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