Please, No More Married Priests
I know that might sound somewhat insane to any of my parishioners. They know, after all, that I myself am a Catholic Priest, and I am married. Let me make a few things clear here at the very beginning. I love my wife and children. My wife and I have been happily married for 33 years now. Neither my wife nor I have any regrets about being married (feel free to ask her). We also do not have any regrets about my being ordained as a Catholic Priest. I cannot be more thankful to be married, and to be a Catholic Priest. Let that be perfectly clear.
Now, with that said, let me repeat: "Please, no more married Priests". This is not a selfish motivation so that I can get something that I do not want others to share. Nor is it an elitist attitude that wants only the Ordinariate to have this practice (for there are already numerous married Catholic Priests among the Eastern Catholics; e.g. Byzantine, etc.). I think that married men who become Priests have a special charism that allows them to serve in parishes with certain advantages, but then celibate Priests also have a special charism that allows them to serve with certain advantages. Of the two, celibacy has more of the traditional symbolism and (in my humble opinion) the greater advantages. I am not saying anything new there; it has been said many times before (and, yes, in the Catholic Church).
Now that Pope Francis is speaking about the possibility of reconsidering celibacy as the norm for the Priesthood, I believe I need to speak up. It may be a good thing someday but not now. We have too many problems in the family, weak marriages, and an over sexualized culture for it to be as simple as "changing the rules". There are so many ramifications to be considered, that I am fairly certain that it is impossible for us to implement a change in this area today without serious problems that will be greatly regretted in the long run. The limited manner in which former Anglican priests who are married men are allowed to be ordained as Catholic Priests is enough (and maybe even that is too frequent?).
Being married and ordained is a great challenge; not just on the Priest, but even more so on the wife and children. Picture this one scenario: Married Priest's home, phone rings and wife answers it, woman on the line asks to speak to the Priest but does not want to give her name. The wife must be able to let it go and not ask what he spoke to the woman about (I love my wife even more for being able to do this--I do not know if I could!). That takes trust and a tremendous relationship between husband and wife. In other words, the Priest is really married to both the Church and his wife, and the wife must understand that he never took vows to obey her, but he did take vows to obey his Bishop!
We do not need more married Priests; what we need is more faithful Priests. We need Priests who obey the rules of the Church, teach what the Church has always taught, and reject modernism (in all its forms). We need Priests who are willing to die for their faith and do not bow to the state when it tells them to go against their Lord. We need Priests who take their vows seriously and are not sodomites. If we stick to these essentials, then we may have fewer Priests, but at least they will be able to be trusted once again.
In modern culture it is not as easy at it may seem to just "let married men be Priests". That will not fix anything. The Eastern Catholics have had married Priests for centuries, but we would be prideful to imagine that we can just pick up the practice wholesale and make it work. I strongly encourage caution; not just a little, but extreme caution. To lighten up on the standard of celibacy for Priests can lead us down a road we do not want to travel. The Pope certainly has the authority to choose this, but let us pray that he use wisdom and choose not to do so at this time.