A thorny issue: priestly celibacy

by Chris McDonnell

Reports from Rome in recent days suggest that there may be a movement in the current position over priestly celibacy. Archbishop Pietro Parolin is quoted as saying that “The issue of priestly celibacy is one of the thorniest issues facing Pope Francis.”

Now that is, at least, a recognition that there is a problem. For so long is has been a matter of “no discussion.” Things are as they are and are to remain so. Now we have this comment from the new Secretary of State and we should presume that he was speaking with the full knowledge of Pope Francis.

Not before time. The crisis in the priesthood that is facing the Western church cannot, must not be ignored. We have an aging clergy and not that many coming in to the seminaries to replace them. Yet all we seem to do is to patch and mend. Where a parish has no priest, let’s join it to another parish and so double the burden on the resident priest now responsible for two parishes. And so on.

Here in the U.K. the issue has been highlighted by the acceptance of the Ordinariate, and so in effect we already have a married clergy. What message does that send to those already ordained through the Roman Catholic seminary route? And what does it say to those who had to set aside their priesthood through the circumstance of falling in love with a woman? In one parish recently in England a priest had to leave as he wished to marry. He was replaced by a married man from the Ordinariate with nine children…

Of course it won’t be an easy matter to make such a change. It is a long time since the Council of the Lateran in 1139 standardized the varying practices from the first millennium and laid the groundwork for our present discipline within the Western Latin Church. But let us at least begin to examine the issue realistically and tease out the pros and cons.

Archbishop Parolin is further reported as saying “that celibacy could not be dismissed as irrelevant in the modern world, that celibacy was only a tradition and not a dogma, but added that a way must be found to unify the Church on the matter”.

And of course there will always be those individuals for whom a celibate life is a personal choice and is part of their vocation to the priesthood. But I think the emphasis ought to be on the word “choice.”

We must ask the honest question of what is the most sensible option for a pilgrim church in our present time. Maybe with the brief comments from the archbishop we are seeing the beginning of an honest discussion.

In U.K I am secretary of the Movement for Married Clergy. You may find our website of interest.

Chris McDonnell is a regular reader and commenter at Pray Tell Blog.


  1. The “unfairness” aspect of married Catholic clergy can easily be resolved by adhering to the discipline of continence for married clergy, which is still on the books, but universally ignored.

    1. @John Drake – comment #1:
      No, this is a misunderstanding. This came up a while ago with a discussion all over online of married deacons and whether they’re bound to continence – it was clarified that this is not the case.

      And if you think it’s “easily” solved by requiring continence of married people, this says something about the wisdom you bring to such issues…


    2. @John Drake – comment #1:
      This must be the most thoughtless and daft posting that has appeared on PT. It identifies sexual activity as the only difference between married and celibate clergy. It overlooks the other aspects of marriage such as intimacy, living together under one roof, exclusive commitment to one other person, pooling financial assets etc.

  2. Pope Francis has said synodality is the path forward for the Church. I’d like the issue of Celibacy to be taken up by the next synod. But I would want the synod to have more deliberative authority and be more representative of the whole Church and not just select Bishops.

    As a priest 22+ years, I believe it’s time to make celibacy optional. In my humble opinion, doing so will only strengthen it’s sign and value.

    I also think, opening up the priesthood to those who are married will only enhance the pastoral ministry of the Church making the Gospel message more fruitful. Married clergy will be able to reach people, I may not be able to; and vice versa.

    As one who served in vocation ministry for six years for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, I came to the conclusion that there is no vocation crisis. There are many who would serve the Church generously and well but are not called to celibacy.

    Therefore the Church limits the gifts of the Spirit by only admitting to Holy Orders those can embrace celibacy. I think the lack of vocations to the all male, celibate priesthood is the work of the Spirit inviting the Church to read the signs of the times leading her in new directions.

    I think it’s time for a change.

    Father Joseph Devlin,
    Pastor, St. Bridget’s Parish,

  3. I think having married priests will open up several cans of worms, but it seems like one is always opening up one can or worms or another, so that’s no reason not to do it. A few of the cans that get brought up in these discussions:

    1. Would Rome follow the Eastern discipline of allowing marriage before ordination but not after (as is currently the case with deacons)? If so, would this mean that those who left priestly ministry in order to marry would still be barred from ministry?

    2. Would Rome follow the Eastern discipline of requiring bishops to be celibate? Would this lead to a new form of careerism, in which those who had “miter-fever” would choose a life of celibacy? What would this mean for the episcopate?

    3. Would diocese pony up the money to support married seminarians? How would the residential seminary model that we have had since Trent need to change in order to accommodate married men, many of whom might have wives with their own careers that they would be unwilling to give up for four years while they moved to another state so their husband could attended seminary.

    4. Would parishes be willing to pony up enough money to pay priests a salary that could support a family? Would there be salary disparities between celibate priests and non-celibate priests? Would we end up with some sort of two-tiered priesthood?

    5. Would parishes be willing to modify their expectations of their priests with regard to needs for “family time,” etc.?

    6. Would bishops and personnel boards be willing to modify their expectations of priests with regard to deployment? Would a promise of obedience to the bishop mean that you could be moved from, say, Baltimore to Cumberland Maryland if there was a pressing need?

    And so forth and so on.

    These are some of the things that would need discussing, and about which we could probably learn much from out Eastern brethren (and sistren), not to mention the Anglicans etc.

    1. @Fritz Bauerschmidt – comment #4:
      To illustrate point 6: I gather that my aunt’s parish priest in England, an ex-Anglican, told the bishop that, with his children now in primary school, he could not move for several years.
      The other points on this list seem to merit serious consideration too.

  4. I am certain that Pope Francis knows well that a majority of the laity, and probably the clergy, are “all systems go!” when it comes to married priests. I have a strong suspicion Pope Francis is on board as well, but I can’t say that for sure of course. I hope he is. Like it or not, a constitution which permits the ordination of married men would probably be the defining legislation of Francis’s pontificate in the eyes of many others. Maybe Pope Francis has to weigh the historical impact of reversing mandatory celibacy in the parish clergy before sealing the bulla.

    From my one-foot-out, one-foot-in perspective of traditionalism, I am confident that there will be a de facto traditionalist schism should parish priestly celibacy become optional. The SSPX already hates permanent deacons; imagine the furore if married men receive Holy Orders? I think that the vast majority of EF adherents in union with Rome will cope with changes in the qualifications for Holy Orders. Some traditionalists might even warm to the ordination of married men after the passage of time (I have seen this happen personally). I do suspect, however, that a splinter minority will go back to the Lefebvrists or seek the pastoral care of the traditionalist religious institutes and orders simply because they do not want to be ministered to by a married priest. I haven’t the degree to make a critical psychological assessment.

    1. @Jordan Zarembo – comment #5:
      I had a discussion with some Latin Mass goers a couple months ago about priestly celibacy. While they prefer that celibacy be retained, it was recognized by all that it is something that can be changed and that change might be necessary. I actually think traditionalists would be more accepting of a married priest celebrating the EF than they would be of female altar servers.

  5. I am always frustrated by those who wish to make the issue of revisiting the discipline of obligatory priestly celibacy more complicated than it need be. There is no need to envision in the near term the notion of giving already ordained priests the option of marrying. That could come down the road, but I would wager it would not be a first step. The first step is likely to be a policy which allows bishops to consider as candidates for the priesthood men who are regarded to be in stable marriages of perhaps 25 years duration or greater. Formation for men of this age, especially for those who are still working to support their families, should be re-imagined. Why does a man need a four year professional degree in theology in order to serve as a priest. What he needs is an opportunity to study the various disciplines: philosophy, sacramental, Christology, Ecclesiology,
    Scripture, Liturgy, Moral, Pastoral. Whether or not they need to spend time in a residential setting would have to be worked out. If the perspective is that formation needs to be exactly the way we train younger men who discern a call to celibacy, then we will do one thing. If the perspective is that we live in extraordinary times in which the need for priests is of a critical nature, we can do another.
    I will wager that the option for a young man to marry first and then be ordained will not be on the table. The powers that be will probably insist that we continue to encourage young men who perceive both a call to celibacy and priesthood to enter formation. Probably bishops would be chosen from among them so as to provide some incentive. I am so relieved that this topic is now on the table. It will be interesting to see whether bishops will feel free now to invite discussions, or whether Catholics will feel free to have such discussions with or without “permission”.

  6. I doubt that celibacy is even near the top of Francis’ agenda; what is at the top is of his agenda is

    Synodality, collegiality: two keys to the coming Francis reform


    H/T to Rocco. The money quote which opened my eyes was the following.

    Francis is the first Pope to have been president of a national body of bishops — he was twice elected head of the Argentine bishops’ conference – and the first pope to be involved in a supra-national bishops’ body: he chaired the drafting of the concluding document at CELAM’s last gathering, at Aparecida, Brazil, in 2007. He is also the first pope to have experience in chairing a synod. In September 2001, the then Cardinal Bergoglio was named relator of the Synod of Bishops meeting in Rome, to replace Cardinal Egan of New York who had to hurry back to his city following the attack on the Twin Towers.

    As Rocco pointed out it was substituting for Egan that put Francis on the cardinals’ radar screen for the conclave that elected B16 and the road to the papacy. A 9/11 irony.

    So Francis is very comfortable with synodal, collegial environments and he has shown every evidence in the past as well as the present that he is not interested in monarchial and curial governance at all.

    Francis is also far more interested in revamping how we deal with divorced persons who remarry. He is even more interested in the place of women in the church although not as priests.

    I suspect he will allow the issue of celibacy to surface in a collegial manner. There is no doubt that it will. However I also expect like other issues that he will let it be resolved piecemeal by national and regional conferences rather than imposing a one size fits all world wide decision.

    I suspect we will get reform of the Synod of Bishops, empowerment of national and regional conferences, and how we treat the divorced who remarry before we get reform about celibacy. (We may even get something like women deacons first). In fact a lot more married priests may not even happen in this papacy, although Francis will probably set the stage for it happening.

    Things are not going to play out like the culture warriors on both sides think they will. The monarchy ended with B16’s resignation. This is not simply a new ball game, it is a new sport with different rules.

    With regard to synodality, divorce, and celibacy the big problem may become our current crop of bishops, especially in the USA. Until we get more pastoral bishops, we may be stuck with a crop of bishops who will spend all their time denying the reality of this pope and hoping that next pope will be more to their liking.

    1. @Jack Rakosky – comment #12:
      Things are not going to play out like the culture warriors on both sides think they will. The monarchy ended with B16′s resignation. This is not simply a new ball game, it is a new sport with different rules.
      With regard to synodality, divorce, and celibacy the big problem may become our current crop of bishops, especially in the USA. Until we get more pastoral bishops, we may be stuck with a crop of bishops who will spend all their time denying the reality of this pope and hoping that next pope will be more to their liking.

      I would have agreed with you about the bishops except that at least two, Cardinal Dolan and Archbishop Gregory (Atlanta), have made recent comments that make me think otherwise. They may realize this is a new sport with different rules.

  7. As far as ordaining married men, don’t lay (diocesan) priests make a “promise” to remain celibate and religious priests “vow” to remain celibate? As I understand it, a promise can be “broken/supressed” whereas a vow cannot. If that is the case then a diocesan priest who wishes to marry after ordination may be relieved of his promise by his bishop whereas a religious priest, having taken a vow may not. I do not believe that married men would be allowed to enter religious life because of this (and community life) but there should be no barrier for a diocesan priest.

    Why can’t we adopt the protocol as the ordinariate, it seems everything is in place already including married bishops (for now anyhow, blurred distinction between bishop and Msgr).
    No need to reinvent the wheel.
    They may be able to facilitate the discussion concerning the points raised by deacon Fritz?

    1. @Dale Rodrigue – comment #13:
      This is so nit-picking and don’t really think there is any real difference. Check the very logical, thought out, and prudent steps recommended by Fr. Feehily – #9.
      Also, support JR’s #12 – good analysis and think that this is what will play out.

      Both of these take into account issues such as Deacon raised and issues about gay priests…..it would be an incremental step by step decision by episcopal conferences based upon need, certain criteria, etc.

      KLS – one would hope that the likes of Ed Peters would be bypassed. His moral theology is based upon the old concept of legalities and applying one standard moral tome to all situations. The church and the priesthood is more than just a legal institution governed by legal norms.

      1. @Bill deHaas – comment #20:

        Bill, I don’t think I’m “nit-picking”. I just don’t think you will ever find married priests living in community with celibate priests.

        I think it would be rather easy to allow optional celibacy. Anglicans, Lutheran, Orthodox and other Catholic rites allow married priests.

        Good Lord, we don’t live in a vacuum where there have never been married priests. Most of our other Catholic rites allow married priests. All we need to do is ask around and get the answers to our questions. We don’t need to reinvent the wheel. As Fr. Alan pointed out the Melkite rite has married priests, lets include them in the discussion and most of our questions and angst can be resolved in less than a day.

  8. If anyone thinks the American Bishops are ready for a married priesthood, they should read this article on how they failed to handle the opportunity the Pope handed them for discussing gay priests.

    The Pope’s Gay Priests


    Francis was not simply talking about gays in general, he was talking about gay priests in particular. It would have been the perfect opportunity for the bishops to open a discussion of gay priests in a very positive manner. But no, like the priest shortage they preferred to keep to their programmed agenda.

    Several years ago I began to pray for a New Pope and New Bishops. When Francis asked me on the balcony to pray for him, I knew the first prayer was answered. I am still praying for New Bishops.

  9. It also remains to be seen what effect Francis has on vocations to the priesthood, both diocesan and religious. In some ways he might provide a far more appealing role model than JP2 or B16.

    What happens if men like Francis begin to flood our seminaries, and upset all the liberal and conservative, old and younger generations of priests before them.

    Prior generation of priests have been shaped by the events of their youth, why would the coming one not be shaped by Francis.

  10. Just as a side note, there was a deanery in one of the larger diocese in England where, as of 2011, only one of the clergy (priests/deacons) fits into the “standard” model – a celibate RC priest who came up through the ordinary seminary system. My source indicated, in a private conversation, that none of the parishioners had offered strong objections to the situation – a married deacon, he was a “parish adminstrator”. My elder sister’s parish had a married assistant pastor for a few years; his wife was very active in the womens group. One ironic touch in the whole story was that the family residence of the married assistant pastor was an Anglican Rectory that had been empty for some years – clergy shortage. The local Anglican Bishop was happy to see it being used.

    1. @crystal watson – comment #19:
      The tradition of celibate bishops is much older than that of celibate priests. We see that in the Ordination of Bishops when the ring is placed on their finger. In other words, the Bishop is married to his Church. That is why the other tradition, observed by the Orthodox, of choosing monastic men as bishops is normative. The monastic vocation is quite different from that of the vocation to the priesthood.

  11. Oddly enough as I waited to board a plane in Augusta last Monday, I saw a priest who I did not recognize in the waiting area with me. I introduced myself and as if he was a Catholic priest. He said, I’m a Melkite bishop. He had been in Augusta to install at the tiny Melkite parish there its third married pastor. It’s first pastor was bi-ritual and also the parochial vicar of the parish that I was pastor of for 14 years. Augusta has a small but very strong Catholic community. I ask if the new pastor would be given bi-ritual faculties to help in the Latin Rite parishes in Augusta. He said he was looking into that.
    Since the early 1980’s we’ve had married priests in Augusta. These priests have been well known in the Catholic community there. Augusta has produced more vocations to the priesthood since the 1980’s than any other city in our diocese, and that is from four parishes there. But a small Melkite parish can’t afford a full time salary. So the priest’s wives must work and the priest himself needs other income, thus the bi-ritual faculties helps as well as teaching positions in our Catholic schools if they are inclined to teach.

  12. It may not be a bad idea to consider the military assignments process. Most regular assignments are for a 3-year duration, with shorter tours for remote assignments where families are not moved. Spouses and kids have survived just fine (for the most part) and it works well.

    Note, however, that there are some enormous benefits that go along with the process. Complete family healthcare costs, food allowances, housing allowances (or housing is provided), transportation to worksites, standardized pay, dependent education systems in some regions, etc.

    These might mean a drastic change to how dioceses function. But the system seems to work well, and accommodates single and married personnel without grievous difficulty. Provided, of course, that the spouse is willing to subjugate his/her life to the service member’s career.

  13. Data point re Fritz’s first can of worms: dispensations for deacons in the West to remarry after the death of a spouse are in fact routinely granted by Rome when requested by the bishop.

    I have not heard of a case where such a dispensation was requested for an ex-Anglican married clergyman or a married Ordinariate priest. I suspect that it would not be possible under the current regulations.

      1. @Fritz Bauerschmidt – comment #33:

        I am aware of a number in the past five years or so. In fact the incidence seems to be increasing, rather than diminishing. Perhaps it depends where you live, and how sympathetic your bishops are.

  14. Personally I do not think it would be wise to abolish such a long-standing tradition – one, incidentally, that recent popes have very strongly reinforced in their writings and teachings at a point in history when an alteration in discipline might have been expected.

    @Fr Ruff (#3): It’s going to take a bit more than an online discussion to sort out whether under the current code married clerics can be dispensed from continence or not. Eventually it’s going to require some official, binding interpretation or a change in the code. Or both.

    There’s an interesting PhD dissertation on the subject by Fr Anthony McLaughlin, entitled The Obligation of Perfect and Perpetual Continence and Married Deacons in the Latin Church, which can be found here (PDF). (For those who are pushed for time, chapter 5 is the one to read.)

    @Bill deHaas (#20): Dr Peters asks some interesting and important questions in his Studia Canonica article; it is regrettable you dismiss him (and by extension others who share his opinions in this regard) so readily.

    1. @Matthew Hazell – comment #26:
      “It’s going to take a bit more than an online discussion to sort out whether under the current code married clerics can be dispensed from continence or not. Eventually it’s going to require some official, binding interpretation or a change in the code. Or both.”

      Commonly called ‘the stroke of a pen.’

    2. @Matthew Hazell – comment #26:

      Matthew, I hold plenty of ideals in life. I have a very unrealistic view of the role of Latin in worship — probably because I’ve spent the majority of my life studying the language. The notion that clerical continence can be reified and upheld by married laity of all people is likewise an idealization. We weren’t born that way.

      At least one 18th century Italian choir dressed their young castrati in angel costumes, with the not-so-subtle subtext that the destruction of human sexuality implied purity.[1] In this way, a barbaric and immoral practice was resignified as a positive good in the eyes of beholders, even if this “positive good” absolutely contradicted the natural order. This immorality was cloaked in the excuse that soprano voices were necessary given that women were generally banned from church choirs. Yet, all well knew the desirability of the castrati ability to sing with a greater force of breath than many women. Still, did not God create us male and female, and within those bounds great diversity, so that we might praise Him? Any order in which the natural is perverted will not last.

      It’s time for the “angelic” clergy to show its humanity. This humanity has always been, but for almost the past 500 years has been clamped shut from public view. So what if the married clergy might contracept, have marital difficulties, or negotiate life with troubled children? So what if a gay priest has a “particular friendship”, perhaps just because he is starved for human affection? Should the laity presume that the latter relationship is always sexual?

      When we geld the mind and hearts the clergy, only misery ensues. What would Byzantium, Canterbury, Geneva, Moscow, and Wittenberg say?

      [1]see Patrick Barbier. The world of the castrati : the history of an extraordinary operatic phenomenon. trans. Margaret Crosland. (London: Souvenir, 1996); trans. of Barbier, Histoire des castrats. (Paris: B. Grasset, 1989).

    1. @Ann Olivier – comment #27:
      We know that St Peter had a wife. We don’t know for how long. We also don’t know what she thought about his vocation, for that matter.

      It won’t help progressives to depend on scriptural silence; we’re not a Church that is sola scriptura where that silence might be dispositive or even highly relevant.

      1. @Karl Liam Saur – comment #28:

        KLS, Scriptural silence??

        ICorinthians 9:5: Do we not have the right to take along a wife, as does James the brother of Jesus, Cephas (Peter) and the rest of the apostles?”

        Obviously from that scriptural reference they had wives and took them along with them on missionary journeys. The common accepted date for the epistle is around 53-55AD so apparently they kept their wives.

  15. #27 & #28 Karl & Ann
    If you check our our website, you will see a beautiful icon of St Peter and his wife which the Movement for Married Clergy have been given permission to use as our logo, recently written by Eileen McCabe in NYC.

    The discussion so far in response to my posting shows the clear need (and value) of a detailed examination of the issue of married priests. It should be taking place in every diocese with the encouragement of Rome for open dialogue between all concerned.

  16. One very practical point comes to mind. It could be fixed, but would require a massive change in culture in many parishes in many dioceses: how many parishes are financially secure enough to provide a salary and benefits sufficient to support a married priest, his wife, and his children?

    In my own diocese, there are many parishes that can barely afford their pastor (and for some of these, the arrangement only works because he is shared with another parish or works in a diocesan role, in which case his salary/benefits are split between the places where he serves). In other parishes, they cannot afford a full-time parochial vicar, even though they have great need of one. Even if the priests were available, the parishes could not support them.

    This problem isn’t insurmountable, but it’s there, and the only solution is that laity give more to their parishes and diocese in the collection plate. If the bishop knows that his parishes cannot support married priests, he will not ordain them, even if eventually he is allowed to do so.

    And so I pose a challenge here to everyone who thinks that allowing married men to be ordained priests on a large scale is a good idea: are you personally willing to tithe (or even contribute beyond tithing) to provide the funds to educate these priests, and then to support them and their families in terms of decent salary and health benefits? And if you are willing, have you started doing it yet?

    1. @Matthew Morelli – comment #34:

      Matthew, most of the Anglican clergy I know, and the one married Roman Catholic priest I know, are non-stipendary (i.e. do not receive a salary for clerical service). This has worked well in every instance I have known. It’s a fine idea to let married men have another career and serve as priests on a volunteer basis. Perhaps non-stipendary married priests should not ordinarily serve as pastors given the great amount of work of running a parish. Still, the presence of married non-stipendary priests to help on Saturday and Sunday will be a godsend for many parishes. Certainly this is true for parishes without any priest at all.

      The “who’s going to pay for the married priests?” question is frequently not relevant given that married priests with a secular career often can support themselves and their families on this salary. Thus the question of financial support of married priests from the diocese or from the collection plate is often a stalling tactic by those who simply do not want married priests at all and for any reason. Our Protestant brothers and sisters have in large part answered this question a long time ago: the clergy must also live in the world of the laity; indeed, many must work alongside laypersons. The ontological change effected in a priest by Holy Orders cannot diminish or disappear simply because a married priest is a professional in a secular field or lives somewhere outside the parish precinct.

      1. @Jordan Zarembo – comment #39:

        Jordan, it is all fine and good to speak of non-stipendary “volunteer” priests… but when a bishop ordains a man as a deacon or priest, the bishop takes on the responsibility to ensure that he (and his wife and children, if he has them) are properly supported. Even if a married man has a secular job, the bishop is going to take on a much larger risk by ordaining him than he takes on with a single man who promises a life of celibacy.

        You are right that a bishop could do this, but it would only work on a small scale. It would break down on a larger scale — because we need full-time priests in parishes — we need full-time pastors. Celibate priests are expensive for a parish. Married priests are EXTREMELY EXPENSIVE for a parish. With all due respect to our Protestant brethren… they have not solved the issue — that only works if you need clergy for Sunday services.

        And this still does not address the significant cost (both in terms of time and money) that would be required for the proper formation of these married men. Are we going to expect them to pay for it themselves and to take classes amid their secular jobs? Are we going to expect bishops to outlay large amounts of money both for formation and to support the priest and his family while he is in formation, only to form priests who work only on a very limited basis, and can only be placed in small subset of assignments? Or are we going to expect that these men are formed inadequately?

        While you have correctly pinpointed me as someone who finds relaxing the Latin discipline of celibacy imprudent at best, I still think you have dismissed my argument too easily.

        As an aside, the most vociferous opponent of changing the Latin-Rite discipline for celibacy that I have met is a married former-Anglican priest now ordained for the Ordinariate and assisting in an OF parish. Given that his main arguments against a more widespread permission to ordain married men hinged on the inability of a married priest to be radically available for the people, I doubt he would support your “volunteer priest” suggestion — because it is the precise opposite of radical availability.

      2. @Matthew Morelli – comment #41:

        when a bishop ordains a man as a deacon or priest, the bishop takes on the responsibility to ensure that he (and his wife and children, if he has them) are properly supported.

        Unless I’ve missed something, my bishop has accepted no responsibility for supporting me. As far as I know, in the US all permanent deacons are non-stipendary, unless they happened to be employed as a pastoral associate or in the chancery or something like that.

        One solution would be to have married priest be essentially like permanent deacons: having secular employment and helping out in parishes on weekends and for occasional weekday events, providing sacramental ministry, preaching, etc. What they would not be doing would be serving as pastors of parishes. Pastors would have to be celibate, both because of financial concerns and because of time demands.

        Of course, even more than requiring that bishops be celibate, this poses the risk of creating a two-tiered presbyterate: the celibates who become pastors of parishes and the married priests who help out.

      3. @Fritz Bauerschmidt – comment #43:

        Yes, he did accept responsibility for you, simply by virtue of ordaining you. As a deacon incardinated in his diocese, he is responsible for ensuring your proper support of you and your wife. This has nothing to do with whether you are stipendary or non-stipendary.

        So long as you have a civil job, the bishop doesn’t need to give you anything extra; likewise, if you have a pension when you retire, the bishop probably won’t need to give you anything extra. But if you were to fall on hard times, either now or later, Canon Law presumes that the bishop would provide — including to provide if you were rendered unable to serve in ministry by accident or illness.

        Canon 281§1 addresses the right that clerics have for proper remuneration; §2 addresses the right to decent support for clergy who are elderly, or otherwise infirm; §3 addresses the situation of permanent deacons including those who have civil professions. The fact that a cleric happens to be a permanent deacon does not mean that §1, which ensures the right to have remuneration which provides for the needs of life, somehow does not apply.

      4. @Matthew Morelli – comment #61:
        Matt, maybe I’m missing something, but I presume that “cum ministerio ecclesiastico se dedicant” and “qui plene ministerio ecclesiastico sese devovent” restricts the applicability of canon 281 to those in full-time ecclesiastical ministry. This seems to be the point of 281.3. While I am a deacon all the time, I also have a “civil profession.” So while the bishop might be responsible for me in all sorts of way (including liability should I hurt someone in the context of carrying out my ministry), I don’t see how that responsibility extends to financial support. If it does, the Archdiocese of Baltimore is being quite negligent in its duties.

      5. @Fritz Bauerschmidt – comment #64:

        Again, the responsibility is to ensure that you have decent support — You have that by virtue of your civil profession. It would not mean that the diocese must provide extra remuneration if your civil profession provides enough for you to live (the whole point of 281.3, and the reason why the Archdiocese is not being negligent) — and I’m sure that was taken into consideration before you were approved for Orders and given an assignment.

        If you were to lose the income from you civil profession (thus changing your “condition” as a cleric in 281.1), the Archbishop would have a moral and canonical obligation to give remuneration that is sufficient to care for at least your basic needs. It would be likely that he would find some full-time ministry work for you to do — but his obligation doesn’t hinge on that.

        At the end of the day, the right that a cleric has to decent support and social assistance is not otherwise conditioned by his ability or inability to do ministerial work — he has the right by virtue of being an ordained cleric incardinated in a diocese. The bishop’s obligation stems from the necessity of meeting that right. For a deacon or priest who is married and/or has minor children (part of the cleric’s “condition”), it extends to ensuring their decent support as well.

      6. @Matthew Morelli – comment #65:
        Mr. Morelli,

        I agree with your original post (#34) that there would need to be a culture shift in many places with respect to the donations of parishioners to their parish. In short, more money would need to be given. However, the claim that ‘most Protestants tithe’ seems suspect to me. Even if it is true on the whole, I wonder how it applies on the particular – wouldn’t non-tithing Protestant churches who pay their married pastor(s) a livable wage be an indication that married priests are a possibility? I’m also not sure what you mean when you say Protestants (or the Orthodox for that matter) “haven’t solved the problem”.

        There’s also the issue that because religious vocations are at a trickle, dioceses and parishes already are financially supporting married people with families (sometimes on less than ideal salaries, but still) in the form of lay faith formation directors, etc – and reliance on these people increases in proportion to the decreases in the religious. Ordaining married men would likely fill some gaps that would otherwise be filled by salaried, lay employees anyway.

        Finally, even if married, secularly employed priests were available less than celibate ones, their availability would still be greater than no priest at all. That has to be a central point of the discussion. Whatever our vision of the priesthood is, it can’t take precedence over the very deep need for Catholics to be able to celebrate the sacraments.
        From my own background, I imagine that parishioners 15+ miles from town would love it if their old country parish could reopen for Eucharist on Sundays and holidays, even if their priest wasn’t ‘radically available’ because he also farmed, etc. Moreover, when the nearest priest (15+ miles away) is himself the pastor of a cluster of three other parishes (which could be up to 30 miles away), claims that celibate priests are more (even ‘radically’) available seem utterly absurd.

      7. @Matthew Morelli – comment #41:
        Matthew the married former Episcopal priest that I had for almost 14 years as parochial vicar was a great advocate of the celibate priesthood. He said the married clergy domesticated the clergy too much. Not sure what he meant by that, but I think it has something to do with the radical proclamation of the Gosepl and not fearing the reprecussions this would have on the wife and children of the priest in the parish.

      8. @Kelly Marie Santini – comment #46:
        Many priests fear proclaiming the Gospel truth in all areas, especially the orthodox truth, because it might not win them friends or influence enemies. So they are pleased to proclaim the status quo . When wife and families are involved and these have become very friendly with parishioners, it is hard to be prophetic when one’s wife and children might experience the push back. Thus you have a very domesticated clergy. And just like celibate priests, married priests won’t want to be transferred thinking about the effect it would have on their wife and children.

        But as far as what Deacon Fritz says, I think Catholic parishes must start thinking about paying living salaries to priests who are married. We do it in our school system and we should do it in the parish. If Protestants can do it, then Catholics can do. It is about stewardship! But I could see a married priest in a very small, poor parish seeking secular employment to subsidize his salary. This could be a great witness. When I was in the 9th grade in public school, my English teacher was a Baptist preacher at the nearby small Baptist Church. It worked for him and he witnessed to his Baptist faith as a public school teacher.

      9. @Kelly Marie Santini – comment #46:
        “Domesticated clergy”

        – guess it depends upon who is doing the defining
        – could have sworn that Francis is addressing the current clergy and bishops when he talks about careerism, ambition, that we need *pastoral* folks who smell like sheep; his use of the term *self-referential*; his calls for clergy to live more poorly, etc. (continuity from Francis)
        – and to suggest that a married priest would have pressure to not preach *orthodoxy* because he fears not being popular or winning friends and then the example of wives/children, etc. Really, and how is this different from celibate clergy who avoid certain topics because they have friends in the parish? who have *special groups or fans in the parish*? who are influenced by big donors or those who wield power in the parish or community? Prophetic – as if celibacy has the corner on that market (talk about logical fallacies); can one mention clerical sex abuse; financial shenanigans; etc.
        – actually, this example of wives/children reveals more about the commenter than anything else i.e. offensive in its implied put down; demeaning to both married men/women who may minister, generalization based upon typical celibate jokes and imaginings; reflects mostly negativism about marriage and gifts that a committed relationship and their family could bring to a community.
        – one always hopes that this type of mindset is going away; that the church is growing up; like you I cringe when I see this stuff. And, yes, family life is the perfect place to live out Gospel values – as if celibacy is the only *pure* place to live out Gospel values?

      10. @Matthew Morelli – comment #41:

        With all due respect to our Protestant brethren… they have not solved the issue — that only works if you need clergy for Sunday services.

        I forgot to mention that the specific example Anglican example I have in mind is an Anglo-Catholic parish. Mass is said on weekdays. The rector is celibate and therefore usually says the majority of the weekday services in total (i.e. hearing confession, offices etc.). However, non-stipendary priests do fill in, often one weekday each. Many of the non-stipendary priests of the parish go to the Sunday high Mass as congregants.

        The catch: there are about 500 people in the parish. Since mega-Catholic-parishes (>1000 families) in some parts of North America often have eight Masses a Sunday, I can see your point about the need for more celibates. This need, however, might not be the same in all geographical locations.

        Are we going to expect bishops to outlay large amounts of money both for formation and to support the priest and his family while he is in formation, only to form priests who work only on a very limited basis, and can only be placed in small subset of assignments?

        It’s not inconceivable, or unfair in my opinion, that prospective married seminarians contribute to their education. Seminarians could compete for fellowships and grants. Some might have to take out loans for part or all of the costs of education. I had to incur debt to cover costs for my MA and for the residency period of the PhD I am (God willing) soon to finish. I don’t see why any seminary candidate would (or could) simply expect a bishop to pay all tuition, room, and board outright.

        EDIT: I doubt that “radical availability” is a doctrine of the Church. A beautiful metaphor, perhaps. Practical and sustainable for most men? A man who is called to ordination and also called to celibacy has been granted a great gift by the Holy Spirit. Priests such as the Cure of Ars and St. Pio drew tremendous pastoral endurance from their celibate vocations. Their gift of saintly vocation, however, is an exception and has always been an exception in the secular clergy. I do not see why priests who are plainly men cannot also lead us in the life of Christ. finis

      11. @Matthew Morelli – comment #41:
        Mr Morelli,
        But do you have any idea what you are talking about?
        Married priests less available to their people?
        Really, Catholics should get out more.
        I could tell you I’ve been an Episcopal priest for 33 years, and what that is like.
        But I must say, regretfully, that I don’t get the impression you take the time to really know about things outside your experience.

    2. @Matthew Morelli – comment #34:
      This argument presumes that the change in discipline would automatically qualify a married with young children. The present discipline with regard to married deacons frowns on or disallows men with young children. But let me accept the premise of Matthew’s question to say that there are a great many parishes that could easily afford to support a married priest with children. My parish of less than a thousand households had a surplus of more than a hundred thousand dollars this past year. Money would not be the problem. Countless lay people would be tickled pink that people more like them was serving them as a priest. Surely the addition of some clearly heterosexual men to the ranks of the clergy would be a welcomed development. Just saying.

      1. @Jack Feehily – comment #56:
        Fr Jack, in the same vein, we have 3 priests, one who was a widower with three kids who was ordained about 10 years ago. Guess who was asked to preside at marriages and funerals 90% of the time? It was the married priest. He would mix his experiences with the gospel message in his homilies. Everybody just connected with him. I sometimes felt bad for the other two but we were fortunate, they seemed to accept it in grace. However, I can see where there are those priests and bishops who aren’t as gracious and would put up roadblocks to insulate their power and control.

  17. The important point, for me, in the comment by the new Secretary of State is not about celibacy, married clergy or other hot button issues,
    but that there seems to be a new openness and freedom to enter into DIALOGUE. That people may start to feel free to share their issues, opinions and insights and not fear institutional push back if they are not giving the “party line” of the current curia.

    Nobody knows what the outcome will be on any of these issues, but if the Church can finally accept challenge of real dialogue, it will be a miracle and will renew the church, not in external changes, but in its very core.

  18. I doubt paying married priests a living wage can be that impossible – how do you think Protestants have been accomplishing it all these years? Perhaps if the church diverted all that money it’s spending to derail same-sex marriage, there would be enough?

    1. @crystal watson – comment #52:

      I doubt paying married priests a living wage can be that impossible – how do you think Protestants have been accomplishing it all these years?

      Most Protestants tithe. Most Catholics don’t. That was the whole point of my first post — if most Catholics tithed, there would be plenty of money to pay salary/benefits for married clergy and their families.

  19. Kelly- it also smacks of what the council fathers tried to modify and change – the over-emphasis on ordained priesthood only and having the power *to confect*,etc.

    VII theology expressed deep catholic wisdom and tradition in terms of seeing marriage and clerical ordination on the same level; as responses to a call from God…not putting ordination on a higher plane or seeing the priesthood as better than other states in life.

    It also began to re-look at how we live and express the sacrament of orders – it comes out of the community; it reframed the Trentan concept of *ontological change*; it is seen as both servant and sacramental ministry.

  20. Face it, there is some fear because once the doors open allowing married priests there will be a flood. Just look at the permanent diaconate. They have “optional celibacy” but how many permanent deacons are there who were celibate when ordained? I know my fair share of deacons and in my neck of the woods I know of none who were celibate when ordained. I’m sure they’re out there but they are in the minority. Once the horses are out of the barn…..

  21. I was under the impression that the celibate priesthood is an imitation of Jesus. Of course, as merely a discipline of the Church, this is optional.

  22. 1Cor 9.5 has adelphen gunaika (mulierem sororem), not precisely “wife” but female sister (in the Lord); it could be argued that the marriages had become sexless.

  23. Mr. O’Leary, I suppose it could be argued that the marriages had become sexless, but I imagine that most of the apostles were healthy and most healthy men are not content with a mulier soror situation. Nor should the women be.

    1. @Brian Duffy – comment #60:

      Brian, agreed! The term sister can also be meant to presume that the wife was a believer (sister in Christ) vs a non believer. In my opinion the best explanation I’ve read is that the apostles took along their wives on missionary journeys if they were believers ie a sister in Christ and not because they lived as sister and brother because they didn’t engage in sex. Nothing to do with being sexless.

  24. This is a silly question, but do priests get to live in the rectory for free? Or is there some kind of rent deducted from their pay? I ask because married clergy wouldn’t typically need to find someplace to live since most older churches have enormous old houses as rectories, and could easily hold a rather large family. I used to know a family that rented an old rectory from a church that had been clustered with three other churches, so I imagine most of them can be converted to family use.

  25. The last survey that I saw (a few years back) said that US Protestants gave between 1.5 and 2% — a long way from tithing. US RCs give on average 1-1.5%, if I remember rightly.

  26. In the many parishes where stewardship and sacrificial giving have been encouraged for decades now, parishioners who attend Mass regularly give in excess of 2%. Rates for envelope users is higher. There’s plenty of money to support clergy and a competent staff that are perceived by the people as servant leaders.
    Matthew, permanent deacons in the US who are actually employed by the church agree before ordination to receive no material compensation for their diagonal service. Period.

    1. @Jack Feehily – comment #70:

      The permanent deacons can agree to whatever the diocese puts before them. Canon Law still gives them the right (to which the bishop has a corresponding obligation) for support from the Church should they need it. The right to decent support for clergy is not directly connected to ministerial service.

      Clergy have the right to decent support. Permanent Deacons are clergy. It’s really very simple.

  27. Deacons who are NOT actually employed by the church agree before ordination that they will not receive compensation for their weekly diaconal ministry. Got that wrong in #70.

  28. Chris McDonnell – to bring us back to your original post and its ideas. You highlight that we recognize we have a problem and you cite aging priests and few clerical candidates.

    It does seem like we have turned things upside down and allow me to expand on that:
    – in many parts of the world, catholic communities rarely have eucharist or see a priest except quarterly or semi-annually. Communities are deprived of the eucharist and these areas may be served/organized around hundreds of small community leaders (who are not ordained clerics)
    – in most of the Western catholic world, we have seen for 30+ years an alarming increase in catholics who no longer attend liturgy; areas where bishops are forced to consolidate or close parishes; growing use of circuit rider priests who are there merely to do sacraments.
    – finally, episcopal conferences and bishops since 1980 have raised these issues and the impact of celibacy

    Borrowing from one commenter, it would appear that the mission of Jesus and the Church (the gospel) is at its core about a community’s ability to share the eucharist; to grow its community; and do outreach to the *edges*. And yet, for 30+ years, church leadership has put *celibacy* at the core rather than the life of the church – it has made celibacy the core ideal (btw – celibacy is not a gospel value; it is not one of the key Jesus commandments. It is a charism; a discipline, man made).

    Given this, don’t others feel like something is out of kilter? So, church leadership refuses to discuss these most important issues for the church and replaces it by canonizing a discipline. (and one commenter thinks this is *prophetic*? sounds more like a leadership driven *domesticated* church? Where is the *gospel* in this approach?

    And in thinking about O’Malley’s book on Trent – the issue in 1100 was benefices – bishops/pastors who lived like feudal lords – they owned the churches, collected *rent* from the peasants and rarely did their ministry. The solution – celibacy. One wonders if the issue was correct but the solution was wrong. And then 400+ years later and after reformers, Trent addresses the same *issue* – and, in fact, celibacy doesn’t fix the issue and now becomes another issue (celibacy, even by the time of Trent was not universal and created much scandal by those who failed to live it).

    So, Chris, here is an excellent and thought provoking presentation by Gary Macy at a Jesuit University – go to the link, open it, and click on the presentation: http://scu.edu/ic/publications/lecture-archive.cfm?b=474&c=16164

  29. I did not notice many (or any?) married Protestant clergy comment here on this issue, so I thought I would share from my experience. To summarize: I very much value the norm of married clergy in my tradition, and I believe it works well. I love that in my tradition there is no unchangeable characteristic about a person that can prevent them from answering a call to ordained ministry.

    In my religious upbringing, being a good pastor was synonymous with family life.

    I pastor two small rural parishes, I have two small children, and my wife is Roman Catholic (as an aside, the openness of the RC Church to married clergy would be a compelling reason for me to consider crossing the Tiber for the harmony of everyone in our domestic church belonging to the same faith tradition).

    To address the financial challenges, I work a full time job as well – for our local social services district in the foster care unit. I believe there is a great balance between the two callings; I am quite flexible to run off to the hospital over lunch or see other parishioners when they are in town. The full time job provides benefits such as life, health, dental, and retirement which the church would have a difficult time providing as a an entity with one employee.

    I think the church accepts the realities of my availability. Although with only about 75 families I am able to make 100% of the requested hospital, surgery, and death-bed calls; I can make a home visit to every shut-in every month; I am available to every parishioner who asks to see me. The sacrifice of “part-time” ministry means I just don’t run a lot of program-type activities, and we have significant dependance on lay leadership.

    I believe it was Fitz who did accurately capture some of the concerns I would have as a married priest in the RC tradition: moves beyond my control that may harm my wife’s career or my children’s stability; not to mention the culture shock from folks in the pews.

    I hope that was helpful for a broad overview of what has worked in my…

    1. @Joel Walkley – comment #73:

      You said: “In my religious upbringing, being a good pastor was synonymous with family life.”

      In principle, I agree with this. However, I would add, “family life” does not equal married life.

      Pope Francis I think said this beautifully in his address to seminarians, novices and those who have started their vocational discernment. Talking about celibacy and chastity, and what that means in the Catholic Church, he said:

      You, seminarians, sisters, consecrate your love to Jesus, a great love. Your heart is for Jesus and this leads us to make the vow of chastity, the vow of celibacy. However the vow of chastity and the vow of celibacy do not end at the moment the vow is taken, they endure…. A journey that matures, that develops towards pastoral fatherhood, towards pastoral motherhood, and when a priest is not a father to his community, when a sister is not a mother to all those with whom she works, he or she becomes sad. This is the problem. For this reason I say to you: the root of sadness in pastoral life is precisely in the absence of fatherhood or motherhood that comes from living this consecration unsatisfactorily which on the contrary must lead us to fertility. It is impossible to imagine a priest or a sister who are not fertile: this is not Catholic! This is not Catholic! This is the beauty of consecration: it is joy, joy.

      Amen. A good pastor is a good pastor, a father, a brother, a family man indeed, regardless of his marital status.

      Admittedly, I rather like the ideal of priest celibacy/religious chastity and the accompanying idea that priests already lead a family life — with the faithful.

      I am also equally doubtful whether ordaining married priests would solve the priest-shortage problem the church is currently facing.

      Then again, what do I know. In the end, God’s will be done.

  30. Back in the eighties when I was a voluntary pastoral staff member, a neighboring pastor claimed we would have no difficulty supporting married priests because priests are actually compensated well given all their build- In perks like housing.

    Since I had access to the parish budget, I computed out what the pastor’s real compensation was and was surprised to find that he made as much as I did. I was a senior staff member of the largest mental health center in Toledo. My salary was similar to that of the CEO of a moderate size mental health center. The size and scope of this priest’s responsibilities (the parish had a school) was roughly comparable to that of a moderate sized mental health center.

    Of course I did not figure into his compensation the many gifts he got, e.g. a vacation in Los Vegas.

    Being given housing as compensation means that priests do not accumulate the savings of owning their own home. It likely makes them far more dependent upon the bishop than would be the case if they were given the cash value of their compensation.

    I suspect Bishops may be very reluctant to have married priests under any compensation system that would give them much independence and make it easy for them to say “no” to the bishop. Power rather than money will be the issue when it comes to a married clergy.

  31. In regard to the differences between Catholics and Protestants, the large variable controlling the amount that people give is the size of their congregation. The larger the congregation the lower the percentage of income that is given. Since most Catholic parishes are larger than most Protestant congregations that accounts for most of the differences between Catholics and Protestants.

    Also across all denominations the size of congregations is increasing, and the size of the largest congregations within denominations is increasing. This is all because of economies of scale.

    Since Catholic parishes are larger and we have the diocesan system of taxation we are in the best position to be able to afford married priests because of economies of scale. Money will not be the problem, although you can be sure that if we get married priests, bishops will use this as another reason to cry the financial blues.

  32. “A survey conducted by the National Association of Church Business Administration found that Catholic priests earned some of the lowest wages for clergy in the United States. As of 2008, a Catholic priest can expect a median wage of $33,100 a year, while a Catholic music minister made $42,700 a year. By comparison, a Protestant minister earned an annual salary of $48,100, while a Protestant music minister earned an annual salary of $53,700 for that same year.

    As with any vocation, location affects salaries, and priests are no exception. In Los Angeles, for example, a Catholic priest averages $57,593 a year, reports the Economic Research Institute. Those in New York City also make more than most, averaging $45,125 a year, while an Atlanta-based priest can expect a salary of $40,149 a year. The same, however, can’t be said for Catholic priests in Dallas, Texas, where salaries average out at $33,279 a year.”

  33. Fritz B. raises serious practical issues including: might we end with a “two-tiered priesthood” with one tier of married priest and the other tier of celibate ones?
    ISTM that is a clergyman’s view of the possibility of married priests — the married ones would be a “lower tier” and the celibate ones a “higher” one. But as a lay person I would view married priests — whose duties would consist primarily of administering the sacraments — as an adjunct or auxiliary segment of the priesthood, not as a “lower tier”, It would be a group whose essential powers are the same but whose practice would be limited to the essential ones, that is, the sacramental ones. Perhaps the new priests could be drawn from the older, stably established men whom Fr. Fehily speaks of, though they wouldn’t have to be limited to such elders. At any rate, adjunct priests are are desperately needed, and they are available.
    I don’t think that the current clergy — including even Pope Francis — realizes that when our parishes are being shut donate the laity doesn’t care about clerical ambitions and politics. and we’re not nearly so interested in the Church’s non-sacramental ministries such as schools and hospitals.. Our most severe problem is the non-availablity of the life-blood of the Church, the non-availability the sacraments of the Holy Eucharist and Confession.
    And at the moment the only solution is married priests.

  34. Karl S. —

    No, we don’t know any more about St. Peter’s marital status than that he was married at some time. But we also don’t know that he was a widower when he was martyred in Rome. It seems to me, however, that his life shows that having been married is not an intrinsic impediment to sainthood. On the contrary, it might even be an asset.

    Score — a plus for married clergy.

  35. #72 Thanks Bill for your comments and for re-focusing the discussion. There will always be diversity in responses and that is good. The lecture link you included is printing off as I write this.
    My central point is focused round the word “choice” , the freedom to choose whether or not to marry without that being an impediment to ministry as a priest. Once that is accepted then the many practical problems can be addressed.
    What is refreshing in the recent remarks from Archbishop Parolin is now that the door has been opened for that discussion, there is a real chance that we can examine the question honestly and openly.
    The option of a married priesthood alone will not solve all of the issues facing us as Christian communities but it will be a realistic option for many. Being married won’t get in the way of priesthood, it will enhance it and reinvigorate mission.
    My thanks to those who have taken the time to respond to my posting. I would urge you to take the discussion beyond this blog and into your parishes.

  36. Ann

    I don’t disagree. I just think relying too much on arguments from silence (something that is often done to justify existing disciplines, too, less anyone misunderstand me) tends to be a great way for us to project our own preferences.

    Again, the deeper silence to me seems to be: what did Peter’s wife think?

  37. Gazing into my sociological crystal ball, I suspect that in the coming more decentralized synodal churches, that only a minority of national bishop’s conferences will opt for a married clergy along the Orthodox model, i.e. that the majority of clergy will be both married and ordained at a rather young age while raising children.

    I predict the majority of bishops conferences will opt for the viri probati model allowing the ordination of married men in their fifties and sixties.

    In the USA and other wealthy countries, the viri probati model will probably be implemented as a voluntary presbyterate much as we have a mostly voluntary deaconate, i.e. that priests will not be paid for their services and will continue to hold day jobs.

    The great thorn in the side of the Church has not been the compromise caused by having a wife but the compromise caused by wealth, i.e. celibacy evolved as a imposed discipline rather than a freely chosen charism because the churches wealth was being used to promote family wealth, and the church was seen as another family business. Celibacy did not really succeed in solving the problem of corruption by the churches wealth.

    My prediction is that the future church (at least in wealthy countries) will be a “poor” church, and the valued norm will become “voluntary” unpaid ministry, and that most of our ministers, deacons, and priests will not be paid but will support themselves. Most of the voluntary deacons and priests will be ordained in later life That is voluntarism will come to be seen as a charism as valuable as celibacy.

    Eventually “celibate” and “voluntary” ministry will be seen as equal in value with most celibate ministers being ordained relatively young and receiving support from the church while most voluntary ministers will be ordained at an older age.

    Our bishops will continue to be chosen from the “celibate” clergy.

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