The Deacon's Bench

The Deacon's Bench

Celibacy issue holding up Anglican document

That seems to be a sticking point in publishing the document that will help ease the way for Anglicans hoping to enter the Catholic Church:

The delay in publishing the apostolic constitution, which will allow large numbers of Anglicans to be received into the Catholic Church, is due not so much to translation problems as the more weighty issue of priestly celibacy. 

According to two reliably informed Italian newspapers, Il Giornale and Il Foglio, canon lawyers are continuing to define what has been a particularly unclear aspect of the new provision: whether married Anglicans could train as seminarians. 


Andrea Tornielli of Il Giornale reports that over the last few days, the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts has been working to clarify this point. He writes that “everything suggests” seminarians in these future Anglo-Catholic communities “will have to be celibate like all their colleagues in the Latin Catholic Church.” 

Comments read comments(8)
post a comment
Anxious Anglican

posted October 29, 2009 at 8:53 pm

Aren’t eastern-rite priests (not an ordinariate, but sufficiently analogous to allow the comparison) allowed to marry?

report abuse

Bryan Healy

posted October 29, 2009 at 10:28 pm

I believe that Eastern-Rite priests are allowed to be married upon entering the seminary, but once ordained, are not allowed to marry. Also, no married priest may become a bishop.

report abuse


posted October 29, 2009 at 10:54 pm

With respect, I was corrected only today by a Ukranian-Greek Catholic priest. He is the associate director of the office of religious education in our diocese. The eastern Churches should not be referred to as “rites” but as “churches”. I spoke of them as rites, and he was gentle but quick to correct me. Priests in the eastern Churches are allowed to be married if they marry prior to ordination. If not, they must be celibate. Married priests are not eligible to be named bishops. If a married priest’s wife dies, he may not re-marry.
That having been said, the Anglicans would not really be a separate church, but a rite within the Latin Church. As such, I see the point of making celibacy a requirement for them, just as it is for all Latin priests. But what of the pastoral provision for Episcopal priests who convert, are married, and are accepted as candidates for ordination as Catholic priests. We have one in our diocese. I wonder if that will factor into the equation at all. We’ll see.

report abuse


posted October 30, 2009 at 8:31 am

Celibacy is a bad (make that a disastrous) idea that will fade sooner rather than later.
As the number of priests dwindles, married priests, many of whom will make the move from being deacons, will fill their roles.
As abuse scandals continue, the funds available to run the church will dwindle. At some point, Catholics will need to make a choice: keep the church alive or allow it to crumble under the weight of gay priests who seek cover under the celibacy provisions.
If celibacy is not limited to the few, the very few, who can actually pull it off, it will be the death of the Church.
Married priests transferring from the Anglican body will provide the small amount of proof needed to begin the process of change.

report abuse


posted October 30, 2009 at 12:01 pm

Not sure if this prohibition still exists or not BUT I do know that at the turn of the 20th century (maybe a bit earlier)the US Bishops forbad the Eastern Churches from allowing married seminarians but mandated celibacy for Eastern Catholics in the USA. One large group left communion with Rome and became Orthodox over this ignoring of their tradition. WHY make celibacy an obstacle to reunion or communion? It is tadition not dogma. I guess the deeper reason is a fear that Latin Rite Catholics will begin to demand the same?
I know a widowed priest (Latin Rite) who says that combining the 2 vocations for Latin priests would be a disaster on the practical level (not theological) because unlike Eastern Catholic and Orthodox clergy, those of the Latin Church have many more demands put upon them that have come about because they are celibate and therefore more easily available 24/7. He says that his experience is that the Eastern married clergy have a primraily liturgical role and not the always-on-call expectations that our Latin clergy have.
In such a case I could see that introducing married clergy to the Latin Church would require a significant change in what we expect from our priests. But also…might it not then allow deacons to step up to the parochial plate and become more active staff in parishes?

report abuse

Greg from Australia

posted October 30, 2009 at 1:34 pm

As one of the Traditional Anglicans considering this move to Full Communion with the Catholic Church, I can assuredly say that the issue of a celibate priesthood is not the biggest issue concerning us. We asked for and have been assured that a married priest is okay now and into the future. We will be treated the same as the Eastern Churches – married priests will not be able to become bishops. The bigger issue concerns the Vatican’s view of our Holy Orders – if our Holy Orders are seen as invalid (and therefore we need to be re-ordained as Catholic priests), then what of the masses we have offered, the baptisms, confirmations, weddings and funerals, and confessions heard and absolutions granted? Are they all invalid too? This is a huge pastoral problem. We have many celibate priests already. We have married bishops already and they won’t be allowed to be bishops anymore – I feel for them. We asked to be accepted as a Church in full communion with Rome (like the Greek Orthodox and other Eastern Rite Churches) and the Pope has very generously offered us a way to become Roman Catholics but that is not what we asked for. This whole issue of the married priesthood and recognition of our Orders and Sacraments will go away if the Pope was a little less generous and accepted us as a Church in it’s own right and not as a group seeking to become Roman Catholics. A lot more of us would be able to make this journey with a clear conscience.

report abuse


posted October 30, 2009 at 2:27 pm

I think it’s a bit over the top to say that celibacy will be the death of the Church. The Church has required celibacy of her priests for centuries and the Church is still very much alive. I’m not sure what’s changed so drastically that celibacy will be the death of the Church now. If anything, in our sex-obsessed culture, we could benefit from the witness of those who have found meaning in their lives without sex.
That having been said, it’s neither here nor there to me if the Church decides to change the discipline, though I think it’s pie-in-the-sky pipe dreaming that she will do so anytime soon, especially in order to meet the demands and expectations of western, secular culture.
If the change is made, it needs to be done right and well. The Protestant model has been the disaster, with a divorce rate among Protestant ministers much higher than the national average, a “we don’t like to talk about it” problem of marital infidelity among Protestant ministers that is causing scandal, an incidence of sexual abuse of minors by Protestant ministers that is higher than that by priests, and a low average years of active ministry among Protestant ministers. It isn’t simply a matter of telling priests, “Okay, you guys can marry now.” Dante pointed out some of the difficulties. While celibacy certainly brings it’s own problems to the Church (one of which was NOT the abuse scandal), a married clergy will bring a whole host of different problems. So, let’s not pretend that allowing priests to marry will be some sort of panacea.

report abuse

A Visitor

posted October 31, 2009 at 5:05 am

Here are some ideals, aspirations to which Church tradition (not dogma) has always encouraged in its priests: Faith, hope, love, dignity, celibacy.
Here are some ideals which have been ignored over the centuries by a significant number of priests, bishops, cardinals, and popes: Faith, hope, charity, dignity, celibacy.
To paraphrase St. Paul, the least of these is celibacy. The claim is that the rule must be not only honored or preserved, but forcibly imposed, because marriage would inevitably compromise the operational efficiency of priests. Such a claim is an insult to every member of the non-Roman ordained clergy, from Orthodox priests to Reform rabbis — not to mention every married fire fighter, police officer, or emergency-room physician.
I can only hope that the next pope has an MBA from Fordham, rather than a theology doctorate from a European ivory tower. Then perhaps the non-dogmatic aspects of priestly qualifications, duties, schedules, workloads, and lifestyles can be reconciled with the so-called Real World.
Buy your tickets early for Vatican III — God willing.

report abuse

Post a Comment

By submitting these comments, I agree to the terms of service, rules of conduct and privacy policy (the "agreements"). I understand and agree that any content I post is licensed to and may be used by in accordance with the agreements.

Previous Posts

This blog is no longer active
This blog is no longer being actively updated. Please feel free to browse the archives or: Read our most popular inspiration blog See our most popular inspirational video Take our most popular quiz ...

posted 10:42:40pm Dec. 12, 2010 | read full post »

One day more
A reminder: "The Deacon's Bench" is closed! Please enjoy the archives! ...

posted 11:26:20pm Dec. 11, 2010 | read full post »

Meet Montana's married priest
Earlier this week, I posted an item about Montana getting its first married priest. Now a local TV station has hopped on the bandwagon. Take a look, below. ...

posted 10:29:55pm Dec. 11, 2010 | read full post »

Big day in the Big Easy: 10 new deacons
Deacon Mike Talbot has the scoop: 10 men today were ordained as Permanent Deacons for the Archdiocese of New Orleans. This group of men was formally selected on the day the evacuation of New Orleans began as Hurricane Katrina approached. The ...

posted 6:55:42pm Dec. 11, 2010 | read full post »

Gaudete! And let's break out a carol or two...
"Gesu Bambino," anyone? This is one of my favorites, and nobody does it better than these gals: Kathleen Battle and Frederica von Staade. Enjoy. ...

posted 1:04:10pm Dec. 11, 2010 | read full post »


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.