Many people have different ideas about a relationship. They might read books, ask other people, attend seminars etc…but the real test starts when one enters a true and deep relationship with another person. At the beginning of a relationship everything is smooth sailing, until the first storm takes place. Then the true colours of some people come out, vigorously!

The same happened with our married priest argument. At the beginning many people were all united until different opinions have emerged. The situation, like in any other subject, has shown the need for people to become true dialogue practitioners!

Let me say clearly: this is not the end of it! It’s a common crisis where with the help of the Holy Spirit we will come out of it, more mature and more filled with faith! Obviously, everybody has to do his/her part.

First of all we have to admit that not all our readers like to express themselves in writing! So unfortunately, we are never going to read the opinion of all followers. Many others are still afraid to write, as if we’re going to tell their parish who is writing. To tell the truth I don’t know if one is writing from USA, South Africa, Chile, Canada, Europe or the Philippines! Let alone give away their secrets!! We’ll deal with them on a one-to-one basis. It takes a long time and it does not lead to success automatically!

A very small section are comfortable with writing. These are the ones who ‘make a lot of noise’ as we say in jargon. Yet this section does not reflect the opinion of all of our readers!

If we need to convince the rest of the population about married priesthood, we have to start practising dialogue skills between ourselves!

One enters a dialogue with the right mentality: ie I don’t have all the ideas or answers. I’m here to learn and maybe change my opinion. I do use a kind of prayer which helps me see the others not as an adversary but rather as the one who might make me see the hidden side of the argument. It’s not a question of who is right or wrong but rather seeing both sides of the same coin! It’s a question of seeing it from all sides, angles and possible consequences.

I do remember at the University where a lecturer used to listen to our opinion and used to put us in the opposite group (one which was totally opposite to our honest and personal choices!!). In this way we saw our ‘adversaries’ in a completely new light and she made sure that we would truly listen and understand their opinion!! In common English we would use the expression to walk in somebody’s shoes.

In the course of life’s experiences, one meets people who use the dialogue tactics simply to feel the power to manipulate people. Either by one’s nice way, or by other more brutal ones!! One common assumption used by the Catholic Church throughout the centuries was that of fear: either you accept or you’ll be condemned! We cannot use these tactics in the 21st century! Even if the others don’t accept our ideas, it doesn’t mean that they are going to be condemned! It doesn’t mean that we are better than others! In this light, we unfortunately admit that a church document published around 1965 is still largely unknown by many Christians (Gaudium et Spes – The Church in the world today).

In faith, we express differences in a slightly different way. It’s like starting a journey. One starts today, others have already started their journey and others are still at home, not thinking about starting a journey at all! The stage of the journey [beginning, halfway, end], puts us all in different positions but it doesn’t translate into who is better or worse!

Before deciding to embark on a dialogue on some hot potatoes, I would rather enquire about one’s journey of faith, because it makes all the difference before we start our dialogue! One is not expected to forgive one’s enemies if one has never experienced the love-without-conditions of God! This what we mean by a ‘journey in faith’!

We have to over emphasize once again: married priesthood is not going to solve all the problems in the church! It’s not suitable for all priests! It doesn’t mean that we throw away Celibacy.

We are simply indicating another way that it could be another important asset in the church today, taking into consideration what many people think and wish for!

One final condition: many church goers and other sections of society have only listened to one boring and repetitive answer to married priesthood: NO. They still need to hear our fresh and daring opinion: the married priest will find a practical and direct God in his relationship with his wife and children. As the document in the Church in the world today [mentioned earlier], it makes the church more near the people of today who live in the trenches of one’s life!