Tag Archive: church in Malta


The present battle regarding married priests is facing a normal challenge throughout the world. In what sense is it normal? Let’s dig deeper to see what it entails.

First and foremost it’s a battle of media. Who shouts louder? Who gets the most coverage? It is apparent that some newspapers are reporting it as though there is going to be a great change. Normally when such announcements are made there is an immediate response of resistance. Change? Why? In what sense? In fact many of the so called conservative media outlets are saying that the changes proposed by Pope Francis are going to damage the church. It’s going to disconnect from its roots!!

Unfortunately some of the media have short memory or loss of memory! Because married priest were present in the beginning of the church and they have been so for the first thousand years of the Catholic church! So is it truly a change? Or is it going back to the roots? It’s very important in ecclesial narrative that we are not actually inventing the wheel but it’s rather removing what’s clogging the wheel! All things and traditions which built up during the centuries which actually are harming the church! This is an important way to win back some of the so called conservatives members of the church.

Another move would be to cancel once and for all the idea that a married priest works less for the good of the church. How about mentioning the present married priests and how they can use time management wisely? There are so many examples to be picked up by the media! Can we help the media?

Another case is that of the many people who have left the Catholic Church but they truly believe that married priests are truly a magnificent asset for the church today. What are they saying about the advantages of having back married priests? Can we reach out to them to hear their honest thinking and opinions?

Consequently this would lead to the greatest change: our view of sexuality. Sexuality might make them feel human and vulnerable. Is our church ready to make a complete change over when it comes to sex? It’s been the joke of the century that most celibate priests dictate what happens between the sheets of the greater percentage of married people in the church!! Shall we continue this living lie? This is one of the areas that is helping people decide to leave and walk on its own. Sexuality is the common link which we might use in order to have people back in the church, if we are truly human and spiritual at the same time!

Deep deep down there is a hidden hatred against women! Although many centuries have passed since the incredible middle ages, yet the effects are still felt. The fact that the church has been dominated by male thoughts for this long, signals the writing on the wall. We allowed this to happen when practically in most families it’s the woman who is in charge for the spiritual well-being of the off-springs! Are the male ones afraid that if we’ll introduce married priests, indirectly, women will be governing the church? It has been proven that it’s more difficult for a celibate priest to say no to a higher authority then a married one…

Another hidden asset in the recent Amazon synod [meeting], was that the Pope gave the voice to the local people who without hesitation pointed out the many multinational companies who are offering some kind of service in exchange of their invaluable piece of land. Does this mean a new change in the Catholic church in how it deals with challenges and how to formulate new teachings? Did the media measure such effects on the world today? Or is some media using the conservatives’ ideas in order to try to break down Pope Francis from protecting the poor and the people without a voice? All in all, all media, what is their hidden agenda? In other words, when we are hearing the media, who pays the journalist who is in front of camera, or teh journalist who is inside a newspaper’s building? The same goes for the blogger or the commentator who floods the internet with his/her comments.

Why is Pope Francis hesitating?

Most commentators speak or write about the Catholic Church as outsiders or as people who don’t know what’s going on. It’s like when you hear that a couple has just separated! For all those who do not form part of their inner circle, it’s a big shock! Surprisingly, the couple itself may have been thinking of separation for many weeks or perhaps years!

Why is Pope Francis so hesitant? Well after so many centuries of biased teaching against women how can he reconcile the idea of priests living 24/7 with a woman? We have witnessed for many years that intelligent women were classified as if having a special connection with the devil! There couldn’t be an intelligent woman, if yes, then there was witchcraft somewhere, somehow!

Priests on their own will be more easy to control. Having a woman alongside might present problems as she might speak truthfully and directly contrary to many priests who still value obedience above justice or retribution! And what about divorce? What if the relationship gets sour? What will happen? Will the priest divorce? Will he live with another woman? That will be too much to accept!

Priests, although they speak about marriage, makes them the most vulnerable people in marriage because they have no experience of a true, deep relationship. Nowadays they used to being transferred after some years. From our point of view, married priests, if helped to meet the right partner and grow up in emotional maturity, might bring a new reflection to divorce and all that pertains to marriage!!

Priests

[like politicians]

occupy a central position in society. They are surrounded by people who practically adore them. They find most of the work done by others. They simply have to come in and finish it themselves whilst taking all the glory! Having a family will destroy his free time and his free roaming around at will. How can a priest submit himself to another human being [woman]? Or how can he take care of child 24/7? That will be too much!

Another reason which tops it all is that of priests who are married. They are still seen as lepers! They have left because they were not capable of living the priestly life. How can he let them back again? If they are allowed to come back, other priests might protest that they have remained ‘faithful’ to their call whilst they have to work with others who have simply betrayed their calling!

We know that these priests who have left have not betrayed anyone because they have been faithful to their conscience because they couldn’t hide their spiritual and emotional growth. They didn’t want to live a double life. On the contrary, other priests might have stayed because they were too afraid to make the big decision or because they found the normal life too threatening!

In the meantime, if the Pope doesn’t make this bold step forward, he might be condemning the church to just a few followers as many have chosen to vote with their feet. We had already many issues in the church (most popular at the time of the council was the ‘no’ against contraceptives), which made most of the flock to leave! Shall we have the situation where priest celebrates mass on his own or with very few people?

The Catholic Church is in no position to dictate what other people have to do especially after the Pell trial in Australia! Married priesthood would be the first step in the right direction to start building people’s faith in the church once again. Married priests will surely bring about other significant changes. At the same time we have to realise that a change never comes from those who are leading a happy life! It’s the people who are suffering who push for a change. Those areas without a priest should seek married ones. No priest can deny spiritual help to baptised people (that’s a law of the church!). Let’s start the change by knowing where married priests are and ask for their services! Just have a look at these websites: USA; Europe.

Let’s make it crystal clear at the very beginning: we never force any adult to take any decision. It’s up to the person to walk in the direction he wishes to discover. On the other hand, we are never going to promote clandestine relationships between priests and women. We firmly believe that the amount of stress, risks and guilt feelings are too much for both the woman and the priest in order to lead a hidden life. It is not ethical that while the priest preaches to others what to do, he himself lives a lie.

On the hand, let’s discuss openly and give some common directions to priests who are walking in this unique and particular journey. Falling in love is not a sin. Can we put it into the priest’s soul? We know that the priest has been brainwashed for many years with the mentality that love and priesthood are not compatible. Talking with other priests seem to be worse as most of them will force the priest to abandon the golden relationship with this special friend. It seems that they don’t have any doubts or second thoughts. It’s another alarm which sounds quite aloud as some persons seem to have all the answers in the world…for others! Yet some simple questions will paint the situation rather accurate: did they ever experience love? Did they ever communicate with another person on a special level? Most of them find refuge behind a wall of denial and copied truths which were handed down without ever being questioned.

What is this sudden love urge for one single person? Why is this person so special? Why did it enter into his locked up heart? How was the priest living his relationship with God? Was he successful in building mature relationships with other adults? What is God trying to say to the priest? It’s a wake up call. Obviously these questions have to be answered individually and personally. We cannot photocopy answers as each priest has to give his own particular answer!

The crisis in the spiritual life is not a negative experience. It’s the call for growth. God does not leave us in the same situation for long. Life itself changes many times. We have to face some new challenges. Sometimes the challenges will help us get out of a stagnant life.

The priest can decide that the challenge is too much. He might feel at odds with such challenge. In that case, one should at least be open and sincere with the woman concerned and not leave her hanging on for ever! It’s cruelty if one leaves the other partner in a permanent limbo! On the other hand, the fire that started to burn in his heart, should be listened to in order to start a fire in all his pastoral work. His out of the blues love relationship was not superficial. He has to translate the same enthusiasm and sparkle in his work.

In the case that the priest is doubtful about his work in the church or is at odds with the teaching of the church, he has to resolve the case. Either he believes in his work within the church, or else steps aside in order to find power, energy and spiritual growth in his life.

Stepping aside might lead to new, convincing answers ie. a mature growth in his faith. He might continue as a priest with a new energy. If not, he has to decide that he can’t live a lie and to walk in a different path.

What’s new in all our opinions, is that going for a married life does not mean that one has lost his faith and neither that he has acted like Judas who kissed Jesus for hidden motives! It means that one has to live his faith with a new pair of eyes: that of a married priest. It will help one to revise all the teaching one has received since childhood! We know that this is actually a revolution in one’s life. But this is what is needed in the church of today. If the experience of a married priest becomes worldwide, all the theological writings will have to be edited! Like a snake who has shed his old skin, all things will come alive in the new church.

It’s an old/new way to present priesthood. It’s old, because most of the apostles were married and so were some of the popes! New, because around 1000 years ago, Roman Catholic Priests stopped getting married!

Without being hurtful to the church, we do notice that most of the young people will never step inside a church unless they see the face of the humanity in it! Seeing the priests getting married and facing most common everyday challenges will help them realise that they are not far away from the kingdom of God! Let’s face it, in most European countries [with some exceptions), churches have become empty spaces! Are we happy to see the church die?

One final note. Christmas reminds us that a woman (Virgin Mary) brought the human and frail child to this world. Do we need women to revive our religion today? Married priests is another step which brings recognition to the hidden work done by many women who are the backbone of our religion, but who are not at the centre of publicity! Like Mary, they bring forth a new child to the world!

Guidelines for women!

We’ve been gaining experience for these last 21 years in our marrried priests’ movement! We have come to a point where we can be in a better position to help both the priest and the woman who are in love.

One of the aspects which has been built on, is the number of tips given to women in order to understand better their position. We are not abandoning the priest neither, but this time we’re giving out some practical guidelines to the women out there!

We insist that a relationship starts very early when most probably both persons are not aware of some dynamics going on! It happens in all the world and in all countries, but we’re trying to help the woman notice that the red bulb is lit! The fact that people meet, relationships are formed, with or without our knowledge! Now as the saying goes, it takes two to tango! The starting up might be totally innocent or innocuous, but the continuing needs both sides of the relationship! At one moment they will realise that things have gone too far and a decision is needed. We’re of the opinion that until that moment comes, one could avoid all heart breaking and other damages by being alert to many ‘hidden’ signals.

As usual we’re asking for some help from our readers to add, delete or comment about the coming lines.

Women are guided in order NOT to:

• invite the priest to her house nor go to the priest’s house alone;
• give her personal number unless requested for professional services in the church
• [in that case one has to keep all conversations on a professional basis];
• allow the priest to make a conversation based on his personal life;
• allow any provocative kisses, touching or patting;
• to dream about the priest as the perfect future husband;
• talk about her personal life in a secluded and closed room;
• let any conversation take on the form of a lovers’ chat room;
• let the priest communicate [through social media] on a daily basis and/or too frequently;
• let the priest say or write romantic words;
• let the priest promise that he is on the verge of leaving priesthood [or similar words];
• let the priest openly show that he is at odds with the church;
• accept presents from the priest;
• become his saviour especially when things fail in his parish;

Second Class Priests!

In the absence of love stories between priests and women, we are sharing our reflections regarding the latest news in the Catholic church.

In a March 2017 interview with German newspaper Die Zeit, Pope Francis used the term viri probati – in this context, religious married men of proven character – in saying he was open to the idea of a married priesthood, as is allowed for deacons, in remote areas where the priest shortage is particularly serious.

We are still not 100% sure of the outcome of married priests as we are still receiving conflicting news! Read this article

In any case it seems that all newspapers are agreeing that married priesthood is again in the news. Mulling all kind of news to look for positive news, we see some troubling ones. In the quoted statement made above, we have one single question: So are married priests just fillers? That is: are they being allowed as if they are necessary evil? Are they being allowed simply to fill in the blanks? Are we sort of second class priests who are allowed to work as priests simply because there is lack of?

Many people point to married priests because they think that will stop sexual abuse of children. People focus on sex because for news agencies it sells a lot of money! We do notice many priests who are living a solitary life. They are practically moving bodies but dead in their minds. Others who travel most of the time. Some who embrace luxuries. Others who are simply walking study books which amply shows the negative effects of forced celibacy. The list goes on and on.

Our main point of view has remained the same. Most of the apostles were married. Are we going to follow the bible or are we going against it? They do quote the bible profusely in other moral matters, yet about this one they are so silent! Why? If the apostles did it, why not the priests of today? Or are we like a supermarket: we pick up what we like in the church?!

Having married priests we hope it will bring the focus of the church on new challenges. One might be the complete overhaul of the relationship teaching (and not sex!). Strong and stable relationship calls for consequences which will help the priest to mature as he faces different challenges in life. One glaring example would be children. Taking care of your own children will bring a new insight in the life of the priest. Married priesthood will help the priest to reconnect with normal life with all its challenges. Consequently, the whole church will change. This is the revolution which we are looking forward to experience. In the end there will be winners all the way. All would feel much nearer to God. Everybody will experience the Emmanuel – God is with us! It would be interesting to visit a priest who has kids crying, eating and dirtying all the house whilst he is trying to communicate with God! It would be a good example of how to keep God in the centre of all activity!

It’s up to our readers to continue our reflection.

The signs of the times are calling for married priests in the Roman Catholic church. It’s not far fetched but we do feel that the wind is blowing in that direction. On the other hand, we are standing on the ground and not flying too high. It’s not going to be an easy change. This is because for various reasons. One of them is, that many people want progress but nobody wants to change.

If the church really wants married priests, how are they going to call for vocations with the present circumstances? The church calls itself the expert in humanity. Yet, do workers in the church have the best conditions of work? Is the church ready to preach by example? How many married men are going to join the church with the present conditions? What type of hindrance keeps married men from joining priesthood? Can we alter something in order to attract the best possible candidates? The financial package is not to be forgotten, plus spiritual, humanistic and intellectual formation.

On the part of the laity, are they prepared to study theology and other studies to give a professional service to their parish? Studying means many years of studies. On the other hand one can’t have a course similar to the one provided for non-married priests where they can afford 6 to 7 years without gaining money. How can they receive married ones while maintaining the responsibility of the family?

What about the general reflection about the family? Are the married ones expected just to obey? Are we prepared to re-write the whole ‘relationship’ chapter in the theological studies from the point of view of married priests? Are these married priests to be given their right to give a unique feedback to the general church?

One of interesting debates is when married priests have teens themselves. Even when they preach to the congregation their own teens will be there! That means somebody who is trying to live the gospel. This week I met some families who are complaining that there teens are abandoning the Sunday Mass!! That would already be a tough challenge for married ones. Yet, the challenge itself could prove to be a witness to many other families!

Speaking about the teens, what about the women. Is the wife of the pastor going to be a silent spectator? Or is she going to get a significant role in the running of the parish? After all, like many other women she is the silent supporter of her husband’s work! She is the one to help him going on. She could be the voice of many other women who are still living in the periphery of the parish!

With all this in mind, it makes sense to call back all those priests who have left. Why? Because they have something which new candidates don’t have: experience! Once they were at the centre of activity in the parish. In these last years, they have lived their most difficult time of their lives. They know how one feels when one is discarded in society. That makes them better candidates to look at those in society who feel not welcomed anymore. Those discarded have always been an important part of the church. It’s the new generation which will form up the new church. It’s not a surprise that most married priests welcome all kinds of people who are in different phases of faith!

Priests today have a dark cloud above their heads owing to the sexual abuse crisis. Yet married priests could prove vital to thwart that conception of priesthood. This is another hidden asset of married priesthood which could link the church with the outside world once again.

The word argument might have a negative connotation for some people in some particular cultures. Well, many years ago it was the basic form of education in the old times (referring to Greek and Roman times). People used to bring the hearsay to ‘old’ people in order to hear their views about it.

The so called ‘old’ teachers had the knack of building up an argument in order to expose their teaching. So the argument was an excuse to spread their way of thinking. There weren’t classes as such but the so called arguments took place in the square where all the people used to mingle (whether for business, curiosity, to hang out or simply to gossip!)

We too can start from what the people say and think and take it up to the next level. We should show our way of presenting the argument.

One of the most famous (or infamous!) hearsay is that of sexual abuse which might happen if priests are not allowed to get married. We have to be extra careful how we present it as our adversaries might tell us that married people too abuse young children. But it doesn’t mean we have to drop this side of the argument. Let’s get deep down.

Both single and married people abuse children. That’s a fact. Nobody can deny it. But is it for the same reason? Now this is the side of the argument that most of them forget. Let’s give an example: stealing. A poor person might steal because it needs to. Does it mean that rich people don’t steal? No sir. They steal TOO. But they do it for a different reason.

The same with sexual abuse coming from unmarried priests. Yes the lack of sexual expression might lead to different forms of sicknesses. One of them is to reach out for young, inexperienced and virgin young boys and girls. This has been proved in many scientific studies. Just to mention a comparison it’s like somebody who is dying of hunger and sees the trash bin of somebody. Without thinking twice he would open it and eat the first food item found, forgetting about getting sick from such food! Yes some unmarried priests sometimes are craving for just a handshake! Most of them would like to have a sexual encounter in their deepest and hidden wishes. They are practically being crucified everyday! They simply go nuts when the perfume of a woman enters their office. This is the environment when sexual abuse of children takes place. No one can deny it! They can’t contain their sexual appetite and consequently they express it on the most vulnerable section of society – children!

Married people too abuse young and inexperienced young children. Again we emphasize, but it’s for a different reason.

We are not simply going to give permission to an abuser to get married in order to solve the problem! That would be complete nonsense!

But why are we asking for married priesthood then?

The first primary reason is the bible. How could we encourage people to read the bible and then go against the bible? Most of the apostles were married. How can we justify that our priests today go against the bible? If we start making excuses for not following the bible then all teaching will fall away!

Secondly, we firmly believe that a priest with a woman at his side would change his outlook on life, spirituality and philosophy of work completely. We can’t simply insist on the mentality that men alone are better qualified for the job. As time passes by, we notice that teens who are still coming to church, in most cases have a very active mum (in the religious sense)!! Mums, in many cases are doing a priest’s job by speaking about God to children and bringing Him alive to them. In many parishes, the contribution of women is often hidden. But that doesn’t mean that it’s not important!

Married priesthood is going to be the starting point of a new revolution where all the teaching of the church has to be: reflected on, shared, discussed and action taken upon! All this enveloped in an environment of prayer. Let’s not be afraid of the Holy Spirit who speaks in different times and in different ways though various and unexpected people!

The power of a good community

Does anybody remember the story of Noah’s ark? If you have forgotten it then go to Genesis chapter 6 and read it!

Why do we start with this story? Well, some of our readers have been following this blog for quite a long time. I wish to say a big thank you. I’m really happy about it. It’s never an easy job to start a new community let alone an online one. Online-community has more challenges. We only meet through writing! It’s obvious that writing does not tell the whole story yet it is very crucial to communicate with each other. The fact that some people stayed here through writing is another hidden miracle!

A community is compared to Noah’s ark because we have several types of characters which is easily represented by the different types of species mentioned in the Bible. Some of them could be: there is the bee (busy person); elephant (somebody who thinks that he/she is the most powerful); the eagle (the one who sees far away); the horse (one who runs fast); the snail (the one who walks very slowly); the cow (a very generous person); skunk (a person who stinks – literally); chameleon (one who changes opinion in front of others!); monkey (one who takes advantage of others by climbing on their ‘backs’); the mouse (the one who works in the dark when others are not suspecting anything at all); the donkey (one who works a lot but most probably never gets a simple thank you) and many other animals.

Familiarity breeds contempt. It means that if one knows someone or something very well, one can easily become bored with them and stop treating them with respect. In other words, instead of respecting another person, knowing his/her week points, makes one treat others with disrespect! This is our phase at the moment where some readers are playing the part of God by judging others and using words to judge others. One can refuse to accept homosexuals but one cannot call them names or treat them with disrespect (just to mention one example).

I can mention an infinite number of private emails where some readers actually wanted to impose their opinion or values on our blog. They have called me names, judged me, tried to persuade me to delete some of the articles written. A few others tried to threaten me! Well I can write a whole book about adults behaving worse than children. Well, as I have experience with education, I know from first hand experience, that not all people would like to be taught notwithstanding all the buzz about the importance of education!!

One has to value one’s experience. It is one’s practical bible. God is telling something to somebody through his/her own experience. Therefore one has to value his/her own experience. Yet, it doesn’t mean that everybody has to come to the same conclusion! We cannot conclude that all priests are simply pulling women’s legs (although a large number do exactly that). There could be a unique story where love takes the right path and they get married! Why do we paint reality with a black colour? Or is it because we are still bitter about our own experience and we don’t like the idea that others could be more successful? In other words, are we jealous?

Others, surprisingly, think that whatever is being written on the blog, it’s done simply to tease them or to make them angry!! They are truly suspicious! A word of advice is never to mention names of other readers so there won’t be a direct reference – at least! If they are too sensitive, they should never write on a public forum!

I know as well that some people are still suffering from a past love experience with a priest. One can easily become bitter and tries to ‘bite’ other people! Maybe it’s time for such people to admit of having a problem and calling a professional counsellor who helps them to externalise what’s troubling them in a safe and positive way!

In the meantime, the ‘old’ readers can nurture or take care of new followers. The new ones will follow if what they read is ‘spiritually fit’ and helps them see God’s call in their private own lives. Please remember that the written word unlike the word which is spoken, remains there forever…even after your death! So please think before your write. If you’re angry, don’t write. Wait for sometime or a day or two.

In this case, as an editor of the blog, I would like to give the example of a captain on a ship. A captain should listen to what the sailors are saying, but finally it’s only him who has to decide. In a community too, somebody should serve the community by taking tough decisions. Now taking decisions means (sometimes) that some people are lost. This could be for various reasons but one of the most common one is that not everybody is trained to come to one conclusion whether one likes it or not. I do remember when I was in the friary, that trying to give voice to the people at first created more problems. Parishioners were invited to select the best time for mass. Well everybody gave a different time. There was no agreement. So we had to decide. Obviously those disagreeing with our decision said all sorts of words, but a community needs a decisive line of management after all. It’s like parents versus teens. Somebody has to decide whether you like it or not.

In any case, in Noah’s ark, all sorts of animals lived together! I’m not asking anybody to change his/her character, but to see everything from a different perspective – that of Noah’s ark. I will never ask somebody to leave (unless something really bad happens), but I would ask everybody to put on God’s glasses. Together we can make it. Yes all animals can live together if they have a strong community awareness. Let’s show and be that kind of community.

A priest-in-love writes to us!

Finally we have a priest who is speaking about his heart adventures!! Well, I’m not promising anyone that he is going to answer all questions or any questions at all. At least we can have a glimpse about how he seas this new person in his life. Maybe some day in the future he will continue to reveal more about his life in the parish. Obviously we are hiding his identity for practical purposes.

I’m Gabriel, a Catholic priest in my late 50s. 

I was ordained when I was in my mid-20s.

I’m 5 foot 10 inches (1.8 metres) tall. I’m fit and lean: a testament to the control I use when choosing only clean living and what goes into my body.

I’m a busy Pastor where I spend 8-12 hours a week driving between my rural parishes and diocese offices. On my “day off” I enjoy swimming and video chatting with friends and family. 

I’m a happy priest and I feel loved and admired by my parishioners: especially the seniors many of whom I have formed a close bond with.  In fact, they love me so much that they petitioned the diocese to keep me in their parishes instead of moving the Pastor every 2 years as is the norm in my diocese.  I’ve been there for nearly 7 years now.  

I thrive on the predictability of my daily life as a Pastor. I like to be in control of my world and refers to myself as “somewhat of a control freak”, though I’m very careful to never try to exert control over others.

I would like to share with you about something which happened today that shook my inner self.

Today I saw a woman. She is new, but somehow seems familiar.  There is something about her.  Something that draws me in and is enticingly frightening,  Like I’m playing with fire and want to get burned.

Something.  I can’t put my finger on it.

She has this sadness in her eyes.  Those eyes, big, beautiful and brooding. Sad, but sparkling – How does that work??  She looks healthy enough but yet seems frail and fragile.
 She is wearing makeup.  Why? to cover something up?  Not some physical imperfection, but something else that she doesn’t want the world to see?   I imagine her with no makeup.  Freshly showered, clean, hair wet.  Oh no, don’t go there!.  I’m immediately trying to guess her age.  Young, too young.  I guess about 15 years younger than me.  My brain starts arguing with itself – Too young for what exactly?  Stop it you fool!

I introduce myself.  I don’t even know what I said, in all probability something absurd, because for some reason, I’m not thinking clearly.  I wonder if she thinks I’m examining her a little too closely so I avert my gaze towards the other parishioners, only to look back to find that she is still looking at me.  Now I’m embarrassed.  Do I look okay?  Is my hair messed up?  Can she see into my soul?  Okay, gain your composure.  Act professional.  You’re not a teenager!  What is wrong with me?  I’m sure she thought I’m an idiot.  Oh no, I feel like I’m staring.  What in the world is happening here?  I shake her hand and somehow my other hand comes up and I have her hand in both of mine now.  I think probably that’s a little too friendly too soon but I’m committed now and  I blurt out “I hope to see you again – WE hope to see you again”.  She thanks me and leaves and I have to consciously remind myself not to watch her walk all the way through the welcoming area and out the door.
You’re acting like a fool Father.  Don’t feel much like a “Father” right now.

I go back to the elder I was speaking to before who immediately says “She’s lovely isn’t she?”  Oh my Lord.  What an imbecile I am.  Now I’ve embarrassed myself twice already in a span of about 2 minutes.  I don’t answer and try to resume the conversation we were having before my brain and my heart decided to go their separate ways.  But I can’t focus and feel the need to find quiet and solitude. Nevertheless, I carry on with all the necessaries and all the niceties I’m on cruise control, robotic.  All the while I want to bolt to the parking lot in case I can catch another glimpse of her.

I should have asked the elder who she is.  She seemed to know her.  No, that would be a huge mistake.  Oh well, it’s too late now. 
Why am I so out of control?  Why do I not feel like a priest right now?  I’m feeling guilty already.  Why?  Have I done something wrong?  Maybe I should talk to someone.  No, I don’t want to do that either.  I’m probably reading way too much into this.

I find myself praying that she comes back again but I feel thrown off.  Maybe I don’t want her to come back.  God help me.  What is happening?  I feel unsettled. 
A missed opportunity, or perhaps I dodged a bullet. 

I spend the rest of the day trying to get her out of my mind and trying to determine whether I am happy that I met her or not.  And to regain my confidence which is inexplicably shaken.

One of our readers, E.C., wanted to share some thoughts with us.

I’m a woman. When I started my journey back into Christianity about 7 years ago, I started with the Eastern Orthodox Church, where married priests with their wives and children were the norm, and an unmarried priest was seen as odd, but of course, quite welcome.

It seems funny then that I settled on Roman Catholicism, where the priests make a promise of celibacy to their Bishops, never to have a spouse or children.

I respect the priest who honestly wants and welcomes celibacy into his life and who knows how to handle that, but many men feel that they have no choice but to live this celibate life in order to have their priesthood.

So many men force themselves to live a celibate life when they are not meant to do so, hoping for the best possible outcome, only to realize when it’s too late that what they desire is a family as well as the priesthood.
A few scenarios are then possible:

-The priest continues on with his pastoral duties but lives a very lonely and frustrated life.
-The priest, in his frustration, uses his power to his advantage, using people to fulfill his unmet needs in an inappropriate way, either with adults or with minors.
-The priest forms a meaningful, loving, consensual relationship with an adult partner, but must keep it secret for fear of being exposed and losing his pastoral position, and thus his livelihood.
-The priest leaves the priesthood in order to pursue the building of his family, usually regretting that choice because he knows he was meant to be a priest, but he also loves the family that he’s made/wanting to make. He will be torn for the rest of his life.

Forcing a man to choose one vocation or the other when he desires both will only leave him broken in the end. If he chooses one, he will always yearn for the other.
Although some are quite happy never to think of the priesthood again, they would be the minority.
Once a priest, always a priest.
“Tu Es Sacerdos In Aeternum”

Now, on to our beloved Pope Francis:

“Pope Francis has appointed members of a pre-synodal council who will collaborate with the secretariat of the Synod of Bishops in preparation for the Pan-Amazonian synod next year”
-National Catholic Register

To be discussed, among other things, optional celibacy for priests in that region.
In doing so, he is opening the door for wider discussion on the need for optional celibacy throughout the entire church.

“Although some exceptions already exist to allow married priests in the Catholic Church (the Eastern rites and the Ordinariate for former Anglicans for example), the Amazonian case could be used to allow for married clergy wherever priest shortages might exist, and therefore permit a far wider provision.
Whether any change to the discipline will actually happen remains speculative, but past statements along with today’s appointments makes it clear that a push for some change to the discipline is already going ahead.”
-National Catholic Register

Let us pray that this synod will open the eyes and the hearts of those who claim to be against optional celibacy for our beloved Roman Catholic priests.

Let them see the benefits that it will bring, including, but not limited to:
-A reduction in abuse cases.
-An increase in priestly vocations.
-An improved quality of life for priests.
-An increase in the number of people who attend the Holy Mass.
-An increase of understanding and trust between priest and parishioner.

And finally, on to one of the reasons that I take this topic so personally:

I have been in a relationship with a Roman Catholic priest for the last 6 months, but it has been very difficult on us both. My siblings and a few of my closest friends know of our relationship, but that is it.
He is a very confused man, he does not believe that opening the door for optional celibacy is the solution for many of the crises in our church, but he gladly keeps the secret relationship with me.

I cannot understand how someone in his situation can think that way.
Most likely, our romantic relationship will end, it has gone back and forth for a while now, so it’s just a matter of time. Although, him and I both agreed that when it ends, we will remain friends, as we do get along very well.
I am not the first relationship that he has had while he’s been a priest, I am at least the third -that is what he’s told me.

I don’t like the hypocrisy that he is putting forward, leading this double life.
I wish there was something I could do to open his eyes to what I’m trying to show him. I try to drop hints all the time about how I feel about forced celibacy, but he quickly changes the subject.
There is an age gap between us(15+ years, and I am in my 30’s) so I wonder if that contributes at all to his mindset?
For now, I have stopped pushing him, and just try to enjoy our time together.

Optional celibacy will not fix all the problems in all of our priests and in our church, but it is a step in the right direction.

Pictured above: My partner and I.

“Oh, to love and to be loved. It is to us sustenance, just as food, water, air, God!
We need it in our lives, and to deny that is to deny a large part of what makes us human.
We are made in the image and likeness of God, so then to love is not only good, it is Holy.”
-E.C.