My article last week entitled “ Should priests be allowed to marry?” drew persuasive arguments for and against the proposition.
Allow me to reprint or at least paraphrase some of the comments.
For the status quo – Do not allow priests to marry:
Reader Ching D. Aunario argues as follows: Yes, celibacy is not directly mentioned in the Scriptures but it is part of tradition which should be given its due respect and obedience.
Ms. Aunario quotes St. John who said: “There are, however, many things that Jesus did; but if every one of these should be written, not even the world itself, I think, could hold the books that would have to be written.”
She continues: “We learn about His life in Sacred Scriptures and Sacred Tradition. Assisted by the Holy Spirit, the Magisterium of the Church preserves the deposit of revelation and is her authoritative teaching office. It was entrusted by Christ to the Roman Pontiff and all the bishops in union with him. Following Sacred Tradition, priests have remained celibate. Christ is the same yesterday, today, and always. His teachings are not subject to popular survey, human tendencies and inclination.”
She concludes by quoting the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
“Tradition and Sacred Scripture are bound closely together and communicate one with the other. Each of them makes present and fruitful in the Church the mystery of Christ. They flow out of the same divine well-spring and together make one sacred deposit of faith from which the Church derives her certainty about revelation”.
Reader Manuel Acosta argues as follows:
“For ordained ministers to marry or have a family is quite complicated. It’s a reality that the parishioners will have to support a married priest. What if he doesn’t get enough support from his parishioners? …. For me, celibacy is a gift. And that celibacy is possible. And I can prove it.”
Reader Honorata Vicencio thinks otherwise:
“Yes, allow priests to marry and the offspring(s) will be fed by the community…… There is an age-long tradition among married Protestant Ministers… Indeed, why not (allow) the Catholic priests?”
Reader Rico Agcaoili (brother of my former Ateneo classmate Noni Agcaoili) batted for selective lifting of celibacy:
“My wife of 42 years, Stella, who has a Masters Degree in Pastoral Ministry at the Ateneo has advocated for limiting celibacy to the priests who are with religious orders like the Jesuits, Dominicans, etc.
“Diocesan priests may marry and need not be celibate. Reason: the former have their own community of religious. The latter do not (have) their own community and need the support and companionship in their parishes and other missionary assignments. This new celibacy policy may even increase vocations because married men may also apply for ordination after study and training.”
What does Pope Francis have to say on the matter?
Returning from his recent trip in the Middle East, Pope Francis was interviewed by journalists who accompanied him in his flight back to Rome.
Here is a report by the Associated Press:
“…. Pope Francis said Monday that the celibacy of priests is not a matter of Church dogma, while defending its value amid calls among some Catholics for the requirement to be dropped.
“Talking to reporters on his return flight from the Middle East, Pope Francis said ‘there are married priests in the Church’, citing married Anglican ministers who joined the Catholic Church, Coptic Catholics and the priests of some Easter churches.
“The celibacy of priests ‘is not a dogma’, the pontiff confirmed, apparently leaving the door open to debate on the subject.
“The Church, and notably the current pope’s predecessor Benedict XVI , had previously said that the celibacy issue was not a matter of unbendable church dogma unlike, for example, the resurrection of Jesus Christ”.
My conclusion: All things said, celibacy may be lifted. But don’t expect this to happen tomorrow or day after tomorrow. Pope Francis has his sights on other more urgent reforms.