Sunday, March 19, 2017


Now that Pope Francis has begun to open the door again to increased possibilities for married men to also be priests [see 3-10-17 NYT article], lets examine the history of the married and celibate priesthood, within our Catholic church.   I offer my term paper that I wrote in 1965, as a first year college seminarian at Sacred Heart Seminary in Detroit for some points of information.  This issue has been much discussed, for 2000 plus year.  Celibacy did not become the church law requirement for priesthood until 1123 at the First Latern Council.

After that one year my vocation eventually led me to medicine, and the wonderful challenges of married life.  It has been sad to have known many others who continued to feel the call to both marriage and priesthood but were unable fully answer.

As I wrote to a local priest for whom I've great respectIn giving you that paper I wrote at Sacred Heart, you should know that I am edified and encouraged by the vocation of celibacy for our priests, and that I used the Seminary library for all the research.  My hope is still that more married deacons, and sometime soon, married priests, will be able to join them in the harvest where laborers are too few.

Harvest - section of painting by Bruegel

Our mounting problem in the USA is that we are becoming ourselves a mission church, inundated and diminishing in a culture which adores financial wealth, material possession, and political power--more than anything else.  The existence of a loving God is an afterthought, extraneous and unimportant as we pursue these other rewards.  Our country thirsts for more living examples of that courage, humble service, and holiness, that our priests are meant to be--leadership disciples, followers of Christ who was open to all.  We should be welcoming these priest candidates from all walks of life.  Training them well, proving their character, supporting them in their quest for service and justice, but welcoming the married and unmarried, trusting in the Holy Spirit as a guide to a more complete and evangelical church.

There follows photo copies of the term paper.  You might print & enlarge [esp. the references at end if desired].  Please read, just as an initial stepping stone to what, on the level of our church leadership, might be accomplished in a renewal, an "opening of doors & windows," [as begun by St. Pope John XXIII] in our U.S. Catholic church.   Let me know what you think; please pass on and discuss with others.


 From 4th Century Roman sarcophagus--Christ, the Good Shepherd.

Man with a Hoe - by Edwin Markham

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