March 25, 2002

The Rev. Gregory Lockwood, 47, of St. Vincent de Paul parish in Cincinnati, strongly supports priestly celibacy. That might not be surprising, except for the fact that Lockwood has five children--three girls, two boys--and a wife named Karen.

He's now an administrator at the Roman Catholic parish, where his son Danny is a sixth-grade pupil. He spent five years at Our Lady of Mercy parish in Hazelwood and taught at Kenrick-Glennon Seminary here for five years, before returning to his hometown in Ohio three years ago.

Baptized a Presbyterian, he grew up in a non-religious family. By the time he was 18 and married to his wife in a Catholic church on Cincinnati's heavily Catholic west side, he was an atheist. "I had a terrible adolescence," he says, adding that he came to his senses in a submarine when he was in the Navy.

He went to Concordia Seminary in Fort Wayne, Ind., in 1984, and in the fall a year later converted to Catholicism. Lockwood estimates that there are 70 or more married priests in the Roman Catholic Church.

"I'm a big booster of celibacy, assuming you have healthy people as priests, which we obviously don't have in some cases," Lockwood says. He doesn't believe that celibacy is the big reason many young men decide against the priesthood. "I think celibacy is way down the list. I think a lot of young men are afraid of being lonely," he says.

Today, with all the swirling controversy about celibacy and priestly misbehavior, being married and a priest has put Lockwood in a curious position.

"I've apologized for the behavior of my brother priests. But people come up and say, 'Father you're OK because you've got a wife and five kids.' And I want to say to them, 'but married people assault their children. Priests are getting a terrible rap.'

"And they think I'm normal because my wife and I live a normal married life together by all appearances, and other priests sit alone in the rectory watching the History Channel, and people say these aren't normal people. That's an absolute crock. They devote their lives to people and God.

"And, yes, I'm angry. A lot of people are taking advantage of this situation to advance an ideological viewpoint. ... I am absolutely convinced that 99 percent of my celibate brothers are doing things the right way, and that they love and would die for their people."

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