Friday, December 26, 2003
Christmas peace, all. I was getting into a fervent discussion on optional celibacy for diocesan clergy on another blog. At a suggestion I was being arrogant (my wife will confirm this quality) and impolite, I thought I would offer a few brief thoughts here: - I think celibacy is more of a challenge today for diocesan priests who try to live a monastic discipline (what was learned in seminary) in a decidedly non-monastic setting (what amounts to a secular-laced hermitage). - Many, if not most priest proponents of optional celibacy are not self-seeking in their favorable opinions, hoping for moral nookie in the rectory. I think it would be very difficult to make a case for an ordained person to marry. Instead, I think the priests publicizing petitions are looking out for the good of the Church. - Optional celibacy would expand the pool of priest-candidates to people who have been married for 10-40 years, who have adult children (or mostly grown), and who are at least forty years old. - Local bishops or national conferences should be able to make the determination of optional celibacy for their priest-candidates, not Rome. Rome should have a say in guidelines for ordination, but the call on mandatory celibacy should be at a lower level. All most of us want is an open discussion on the matter. Nobody is suggesting mandatory marriage for existing clergy. Nobody is suggesting an immediate unilateral relaxation of this discipline. For the good of the Church, the matter should be carefully discerned now. And not by Roman fiat.