Friday, October 23, 2009

Priest + Marriage = Catholic Priest?

In light of the recent news that the Vatican has reached its hand out to the Anglican clergy, put off by liberal reforms in the Anglican church, by offering acceptance into the Catholic Church yet allowing them to retain Anglican traditions, I began to wonder what implications this would have.

The Anglicans and Catholics are not that different in their traditions. Following its break with the Vatican, the English church kept most of the liturgy and tradition that characterized the Catholic tradition. After 475 years of separation, there are some dogmatic differences, but the two are still very similar when compared to the direction other Protestant groups have taken. The one big exception that comes to mind, however, is celibacy of the clergy. As things currently stand, clergy in the Catholic tradition are celibate and Anglicans may marry, have families, and still serve their flocks.

How will the Vatican’s grafting in of these married priests affect its current priests who are still limited by vows of celibacy? I see a few potential points to mention:

The divide between the two clergies won’t survive for long. Young Catholic men who want to serve and yet would like to have families will enter the Anglican priesthood. There’s no way the Catholic orders would be happy about that.

It could cause a total repeal of Catholic celibacy as the Pope takes a more pragmatic line towards reconciliation with Anglicans, Orthodox,
Arians, etc. over doctrine that your typical Catholic doesn't know or care about. (What?! You dare believe that the Trinity is homoousian and not homoiousian?!)

Maybe this backfires when conservative elements in the Vatican disagree. I remember when the Pope was selected that many liberals were disappointed that he was considered to be a hard liner, when it looks like he is much more pragmatic.

Update: The Economist has a nice article summing up some of the implications for Anglicans and Catholics.

1 comment:

Jeremy said...

If you had the choice to dedicate your life to the service of God and also fulfill one of life's purposes, that of procreation, or simply dedicate your life to God and pray for the willpower to resist temptation, which would it be?

Valid point in the post. If both pristhoods are acceptable, more will enter the "cloth" where they can have families. Accordingly, this move towards "unity" may eventually backfire on the Catholic Church.