Posts Tagged married priests

Now is the time for married priests / National Catholic Reporter

“At the Last Supper, Jesus said, ‘Do this in memory of me,’ not ‘have a celibate priesthood.’ The need for the Eucharist trumps having a celibate priesthood.”

It is time for the Catholic bishops to stop hoping for an increase in vocations to the celibate priesthood and to acknowledge that the church needs married priests to serve the people of God. We cannot have a Catholic Church without sacraments, and a priest is needed for the Eucharist, confession, and anointing.

“At the Last Supper, Jesus said, ‘Do this in memory of me,’ not ‘have a celibate priesthood.’ The need for the Eucharist trumps having a celibate priesthood.

“For at least 50 years, the Catholic Church in the United States has seen a drop in the number of priests. According to CARA reports, in 1970, there were 59,192 priests in the U.S.; by 2016, there were only 37,192. Meanwhile, the number of Catholics increased to 74.2 million from 51 million. That means the people/priest ratio grew from 861 Catholics per priest in 1970 to 1,995 per priest in 2016. These numbers include all priests both religious and diocesan, as well as retired priests. When the priests currently over 65 years of age die, these numbers will be even worse.”

By Thomas Reese, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

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Call for married Catholic priests renewed amid declining number of celibate clergy

The numbers are becoming alarming – too many Catholics for too few priests in many parts of the world. As 2017 begins, Catholic Church watchers are again stressing how the Church must find a way to minister to the faithful with so few priests and how one possible solution could be to relax priestly celibacy.

Two examples suffice to show the situation’s urgency, too few priests to ensure proper ministry, especially availability of the Eucharist:

  • Brazil has 140 million Catholics and only 18,000 priests, one priest for every 7,800 Catholics
  • The United States has 80 million Catholics and only 37,500 priests for its 17,233 parishes – already 3,499 parishes have no priest in residence despite numerous parish closures in the past decade.

In 2013, the Voice of the Faithful movement, which supports a married priesthood, stated, “Every Catholic understands the need for spiritual nourishment, especially for the regular reception of the Body and Blood of Christ in the Eucharist … We also understand the responsibility of the bishops and priests to make the Eucharist available to the faithful.”

In Brazil, leading Catholic theologian Leonardo Boff is suggesting that married priests who have left ministry, like himself, be allowed to return and that the Brazilian bishops have asked Pope Francis specifically for this. For those who might easily dismiss his suggestion, the National Catholic Reporter recently pointed out that Francis has long thought about a married priesthood. Then Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, archbishop of Buenos Aires said the celibate priesthood is a “matter of church law and tradition, not doctrine, and “it is a matter of discipline, not of faith. It can change.”

In the United States, Mary Pat Fox, VOTF president, said that VOTF’s 2013 petition to U.S. bishops asked them “to request a pastoral provision from the Pope that would allow them to accept married Catholic men for ordination.” According to VOTF’s petition, the same procedures would be used as “in the pastoral provisions that have allowed married Episcopalian, Anglican and other Protestant clergy to be ordained in the Roman Catholic Church.”

Either one of these solutions surrounding priestly celibacy could help alleviate the Catholic priest shortage. As VOTF’s 2013 petition concluded, “Certainly in every diocese there are mature married men, with children or even grandchildren, who possess a deep Eucharistic spirituality and might consider ordination in order to provide the Eucharist to the faithful.”


Voice of the Faithful®: Voice of the Faithful® is a worldwide movement of faithful Roman Catholics working to support survivors of clergy sexual abuse, support priests of integrity and increase the laity’s role in the governance and guidance of the Church. More information is at www.votf.orgContact: Nick Ingala, nickingala@votf.org, (781) 559-3360

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Brazil may soon have married priests, says Leonardo Boff / National Catholic Reporter

Pope Francis may soon fulfill the Brazilian bishops’ special request to allow married priests to resume their priestly ministry, liberation theologian Leonardo Boff said in a Dec. 25 interview in the German daily Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger.

“‘The Brazilian bishops, especially the pope’s close friend Cardinal Claudio Hummes, have expressly requested Pope Francis to enable married priests in Brazil to return to their pastoral ministry,’ Boff said. ‘I have recently heard that the pope wants to fulfill this request — as an experimental, preliminary phase for the moment confined to Brazil.’

“With its 140 million Catholics, Brazil needs at least 100,000 priests but it only has 1,800, which is a ‘catastrophe,’ Boff said …”

By Christa Pongratz-Lippitt, National Catholic Reporter — Click here to read the rest of this story.

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Priests ask American bishops to discuss, act on four issues / Association of U.S. Catholic Priests

The largest association of U.S. Catholic priests is asking the U.S. bishops who begin their annual fall meeting today (Nov. 14) to discuss four issues confronting the Church and society. They are racism, non-violence, ordination of women deacons and the ordination of married men to the priesthood.

The priests’ request was made in the form of a letter, dated October 25, to each of the bishops. It was signed by Father Bob (Bernard R.) Bonnot on behalf of the Leadership Team and the one-thousand-plus members of the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests.

Racism in Church and Society

The AUSCP thanked the bishops for their January 2016 statement that called for confronting the poison of racism, and noted that the priests in their June 2016 assembly had made this effort a goal of the members. “We are committed to find ways to make anti-racism ‘a habit in our Catholic communities,” Bonnot said.

Non-Violence as a Strategy for Church and Society

The priests cited a statement jointly issued by the Vatican Office for Justice and Peace and Pax Christi: “An Appeal to the Catholic Church to Re-Commit to the Centrality of Gospel Non-Violence.” Bonot said, “Our Church remains far from putting [non-violence] forward as our primary response to conflicts.” He said the priests are committed to use their voices to encourage priests, members of the faithful and others “to make non-violence our first response,” and that the priests “urge you to be part of that international effort.”

Ordination of Women as Deacons and Married Men as Priests

The AUSCP began asking the bishops to consider these options in 2013, echoing groups such as FutureChurch and Voice of the Faithful. The AUSCP in 2015 asked the bishops to establish a committee to study the question of ordaining married men to the priesthood, echoing the request of the National Federation of Priests Council in the 1970s. Bonnot noted that Pope Francis has called for fresh consideration of women as deacons.

“AUSCP sees these proposed ordinations as matters of prudence that can help address the pastoral needs of the faithful. By 2019, half of active diocesan priests are able to retire, so the number of priests available to serve full-time will rapidly decline. Many now retired priests are aging out of service. We AUSCP priests, mostly 50 and above, urge you as a bishop, with our bishops collectively, to give us reason to hope that there is relief on the horizon. We are also concerned that this shortage will thrust young priests into crushing responsibilities before they are adequately prepared,” (the letter said).

The letter also asked the bishops to consider taking steps that would enable lay men and women to preach at Mass, noting that “not all priests are gifted in this matter,” and many pastors cannot speak well in the languages of their congregations.

“The national elections will be over when you meet,” Bonnot said, “but the issues confronting our society and Church will remain. Our voices in addressing those issues are important for the faithful and for all citizens.”

For comment or more information
Father Bob Bonnot, AUSCP Leadership Team Chair: auscpbonnot@gmail.com(link sends e-mail), (330) 397-1257
Sister Jackie Doepker, Executive Secretary: office@uscatholicpriests.org(link sends e-mail), (872) 205-5862

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Ordination of married men would cause other major changes within the church / National Catholic Reporter

The question of the theology of ordination to the priesthood just isn’t going to go away.

“First, in a meeting with Italian priests in Rome in February, the pope, they tell us, said that he is going to put the topic of the ordination of married men ‘into his diary.’ Meaning on his list of subjects to be — what? Addressed? Discussed? Opened to consideration? Promised? The possibilities are tantalizing.

“In countries where some Catholic communities never see a priest more than once a year, the implications of a new and developing clergy — a married clergy as well as a celibate clergy — conjure up images of a church choosing to be vital and viable again.

“In the United States itself, as well as in far off rural outposts, parishes are closing at a great rate. In fact, the very superstructure of the church of the ’50s — its community-building impact, its services and ministries, its vibrant witness — is dimming. People drive miles to go to Mass now or don’t go at all. They volunteer in civic agencies now rather than in parish ministries because there are few or no church projects impactful enough to demand their commitment. Instead, the church, where there is one, has become a private devotion.

“But if Pope Francis takes the question of married men seriously, that could, for a change, lead to real change.”

By Joan Chittister, National Catholic Reporter — Click here to read the rest of this column.

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High-ranking U.S. Jesuit: Married priests would be healthy for the Church / Cruxnow.com

A high-ranking US Jesuit says he wouldn’t be surprised if Pope Francis ushers in an era of married priests in the Roman Catholic Church, and says the move would be healthy for the Church.

“‘I used to say, ‘Well, it will change but probably not in my lifetime.’ And then Pope Francis came along, and what I see him doing is opening the avenues for discussion,’ the Rev. Michael Garanzini, chancellor of Loyola University Chicago and the secretary for higher education for the worldwide Jesuits, told Crain’s Chicago Business on Monday (Aug. 18).

“He told the paper that the clergy abuse scandal spurred discussion of married priests and led to an ‘openness to a priest’s physical and psychological health.’

“Garanzini noted that the Catholic Church already has some married priests, most notably when married Anglican priests convert to Catholicism.”

By Michael O’Loughlin, Cruxnow.com — Click here to read the rest of this story.

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U.S. Priests Want Married Men to Be Ordained, Support Worker Pensions, Immigration Reform and Opening Up Bishop-Selection Process / Religion News Service

A proposal to ask American Catholic bishops to request church approval to ordain married men as priests was approved June 25 by the 230 priests attending an assembly of the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests this week in St. Louis.

“The group also announced support for full payment of worker pensions, asked that lay people have a role in the selection of diocesan bishops, and made plans to help Catholics learn more about Church teaching in regard to immigration rights and responsibilities.

“In recommending a call for the church to ordain married men, the association cited published reports that Pope Francis would welcome such a request from bishop’s conferences around the world.”

By Religion News Service Religion Press Release Services —  Click here to read the rest of this press release and see contact information for the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests.

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