I am fully eastern in my theology so I’m a pro married clergy man. I think the Roman Catholic Church should relax the rule. In this time of vocation crisis will it help? Yes but celibacy is not the REASON why we have no vocations and though relaxing the rule will bring more in at this difficult time, its not the only obstacle preventing vocations.
The signs of the times both within and without the western church are the reason. The church over the centuries has lost the simplicity it once had when it ordained men in the beginning. Men were examined for their closeness to Christ not how many years they did in university or whether or not they came from a wealthy middle class background.
Nowadays the church in Ireland elects its priests like the public does its politicians. They must have a clean background, money and usually from a farm or grew up in the country side. Either way they must be squeaky clean and have had a good education prior to application. They must also do 10 to 15 years in a seminary before they’re released to the public as their new parish priest.
To make matters worse, even to be a monk ( with exception for some Cistercian communities )one must have a decent education. The Franciscans and capuchins won’t accept anyone who hasn’t graduated high school or done some university. This of course contradicts saints such as St.Joseph of Cupertino a monk who could neither read nor write like St.Anthiny the great who also was illiterate. Yet both men were Mystics and close to God.
The simple process of the church of old saw men being taught and educated where they lacked. They were given sufficient catechism but that was it and monitored for their zeal for Christ after which they were ordained. There was no 15 years of seminary. Many used to be gangsters, thieves and hooligans as opposed to the quiet wealthy boy from the street corner who knew nothing about the world outside his door.
The church of old did not call the qualified but she qualified the called.
This is one of the reasons why the church is lacking vocations, top that with their obsession with what age men should be ordained a deacon or priest and you’ve got one major obstacle course in which to reach priesthood.
You often hear people say “ah well if the Holy Spirit is calling you then you will become a priest. ” but look at all the highly educated who got through the doors and were in fact pedophiles or people with a progressive destructive outlook on the church ? The Holy Spirit calls and moves with the church indeed but not everything the church does. The church also makes it hard by suppressing the Spirit with their many obstacles placed in the way of the called and as a result many don’t bother engaging in the priesthood.
There are so many fine young men with – not an amazing but fair – education out there who are so close to Jesus and would make fine young priests. But the church has made complicated what used to be simple in the birth of the church. The Orthodox Church are turning people away from its seminaries because there is no room. They have retained this simplicity. Just the other week I saw a documentary of an orthodox bishop talking about how he was in prison and used to be a drug dealing gangster and now he’s a bishop.
Isn’t that amazing? You wouldn’t see that in the western church. My Roman Catholic diocese Archbishop as much as I respect him and have a sincere love for him he is nonetheless very feminine. He really sounds unequipped to deal with real people. That’s my observation only but he doesn’t sound or look like a leader to me. Jesus did say that many are called but few are chosen I suppose.
I lost an Eastern Catholic priest from Facebook over this conversation today. He wasn’t happy with me at all as he was all about how a priest needs to be a certain age before he is ordained as it’s important a mature priest is ordained. When I tried to explain to him that the Holy Spirit doesn’t call you according to age nor is maturity in the Spirit measured by how old you are, he threw a tantrum and unfriended me.
We need priests who are hard nuts with life experience. The priests of Ireland today are so feminine, from a middle class cushioned, educated and well to do background. They would jump out of their skin if you said as much as boo to them in the street. The Orthodox priests though who used to be thieves, gangsters and experienced a metanoia are the ones who usually do well. They look and sound like men whereas the western clergy are totally out of touch with people and have zero social skills and end up looking and sounding like homosexuals.
The vocation crisis in addition to the relaxation of celibacy also needs to see a return to a simpler way of life as in the church of 33AD. Relaxing rules such as preparing and selecting only rich educated mommas boys from the countryside is also needed.
These will help I think. What do you think?