Priests shouldn't marry, says married priest

Fr Joshua Whitfield and family (Whitfield family)

You might be surprised to know most married Catholic priests are staunch advocates of clerical celibacy, writes Fr Joshua Whitfield, a married Catholic priest from Texas, in the Dallas Morning News.

My wife and I, we have four children, all younger than seven. Ours is not a quiet house. A house of screaming and a house of endless snot, it's also a house of love, grown and multiplied every few years.

But here's what's strange about us: I'm a Catholic priest. And that is, as you probably know, mostly a celibate species.

The discipline of celibacy, as a Christian practice, is an ancient tradition. For priests, celibacy has been the universal legal norm in the Catholic West since the 12th century and the de facto norm long before that.

Yet there have always been, for good reasons, exceptions made, particularly for the sake of Christian unity. The Eastern Catholic Churches, for example, many with married priests, have since early modernity flourished in the Catholic Church.

Likewise for me, a convert from Anglicanism. I'm able to be a Catholic priest because of the Pastoral Provision of Saint John Paul II, which was established in the early 1980s. This provision allows men like me, mostly converts from Anglicanism, to be ordained priests, yet only after receiving a dispensation from celibacy from the pope himself.

But these are exceptions made, as I said, for the sake of Christian unity, because of Jesus' final prayer that his disciples be "one". They do not signal change in the Catholic Church's ancient discipline of clerical celibacy.

I, for one, don't think the Church should change its discipline here. In fact, I think it would be a very bad idea.

Because the Catholic Church believes Christians should be united, it sometimes makes exceptions from its own, even ancient, disciplines and norms, in my case celibacy. My family and I are not test subjects in some sort of trial run put on by the Vatican to see whether married priesthood works. Rather, we're witnesses to the Church's empathy and desire for unity.

FULL STORY

I'm a married Catholic priest who thinks priests shouldn't get married (Dallas Morning News)

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