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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.

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.