14 September 2009

Married Priests: Practicalities

And I have tended also to chide those well-meaning Anglicanophile Irish with the Financial Question. "It's lovely to hear you so enthusiastic about our Anglican tradition of a clergy allowed to be married. I take it that you and your fellow laity would be prepared to put your money where your mouths are and shell out the much larger sums of money needed to support a married clergy". At this point they usually tend to go quiet and thoughtful.

It is no secret that English RC bishops have tended to cope with the Financial Question by appointing ex-Anglican married priests to the sort of chaplaincies which are well-paid because the Government provides the salaries. I cannot say that I would like to be a RC bishop constrained in his appointments by this consideration. And I can imagine the sort of thoughts that must go through the minds of celibate presbyters as they watch this policy in operation. And there have been sad cases of married Anglican clergy who have been received into full communion and have been extremely disappointed when they have been eventually refused presbyteral ministry on the grounds that there is no way of providing for their families.

I believe that a married clergy is a major part of our Anglican patrimony which God calls us to bring into the unity of the universal Latin Church. And a real married clergy; not just a clergy in which the already married are tolerated as a concession for the first generation. But we can't expect other people to pay for it. We need to be a discrete organisation in which we raise the money to sustain our own custom. And there must be no sense in which our custom undermines the tradition of celibacy in the rest of the Latin Church. We would ordain the already married who had a long-term association with our community but those already ordained would not be allowed to get married and under no circumstances would we accept clergy from elsewhere who sought to join us so that they could get married. Our shortage of money would in any case prevent us from welcoming with particularly open arms Fr O'Murphy when he suddenly and simultaneously discerned his loves for the Anglican liturgical tradition and for the Sacrament of Matrimony.

Oh yes ... and I think we should come into line with the custom both of East and West of having a celibate episcopate. Would it be the end of the world for the ambitious to have to choose between a mitre and a wife?


Joshua said...

I think as you now put it this would avoid the offence I took earlier; apologies for getting my back up!

Anonymous said...

At least here in the USA, there are plenty of RC parishes that could afford married priests. Nevertheless, the money issue appears as an hobgoblin for those who don't want to look at it realistically. A married priest is forced to subsist more modestly than his un-married brother. Less eating out, less vacationing, less entertainment etc. - less occasions to the flesh, less occasions for sin.

I recall Geo Herbert discussed (in A Priest to the Temple) two general categories of temptation, one each for the married and un-married clergyman. The married to become sloth in the comforts of a satisfying home life. While the un-married suffers a cupidity of power for lack of a profitable occupation for his spare time.

austin said...

Celibate episcopate? Isn't Mrs Proudie an integral part of the Anglican heritage? Half the fun of the mitre is seeing the wife using it to disembowel her rivals.

CG said...

1 Timothy 3:2 could be used to support an argument for married bishops.

Albrecht von Brandenburg said...

Regarding the issue of clerical marriage, here is a link to a traditionalist (pro-SSPX) forum, one of the better ones, that deals with many of relevant issues - and yes, I support, in principle, the SSPX, but am in favour of clerical marriage:


I am, as my name suggests, posting as Albrecht von Brandenburg.

The financial issue is a red herring: "seek ye the kingdom of God, and all these other things will be added unto you..."

Catholics rarely even support even the celibate clergy adequately, but apart from noting the sinfulness of it, that's a topic for some other time.

Many of the relevant issues are dealt with in "Celibacy: Gift or Law?" by Heinz-Juergen Vogels. Everyone who thinks that they have something intelligent to say on this topic should obtain this work, and read it first, before opening their mouths.

Clerical marriage is a no-brainer, as the Yanks would say. Just check 1 Cor 9:5 in the original Greek.

Jeremy Stevens said...

A friend of mine, an Anglican Use priest, married with children, was called repeatedly to come to the local hospital (big city, "down South," USA) for every evening (say 6 pm or so until midnight) emergency. All the local priests took a turn doing "overnight" emergency duty.

He finally asked one of the nurses, "Now I don't mind at all, and I'm glad you think to call a priest, but could I ask why you always call me IN THE EVENINGS?"

She smiled and said, "We can never find any of the other priests at home! One of our nurses knows your parish and said you were one of the few Catholic priests who is MARRIED WITH CHILDREN. So we figured you HAD TO BE HOME AT NIGHT! And you always are!"


Oh, I know, the other Fathers were all at parish meetings.

Just as during the day, they're all out doing the census!

St John's, Horsham said...

So much of this is, simply, wrong. Your impressions are quite misguided.

SOME married FACs have been appointed to university/school/hospital posts but many, and in my diocese, all, are running parishes in the same way as celibate priests. Their parishes support them and the diocese pays a salary. Canonically, because they're married, they can't be appointged PPs, so they given an honorary non-canonical title of Priest in Charge. A local PP is made, solely for canonical purposes, the PP (in absentia).

Any 'constraints' the bishop may have will simply be good pastoral concerns for children's schooling, house size, etc. I imagine that pertains in the CofE too.

In over 10 years of priesthood I have NEVER heard a celibate colleague bemoan his lot or look with green eyes at his married colleagues. It just does not happen. We all accept that we were ordained in the 'ordinary' way and they were ordained 'with exceptions'. Fair enough. It wouldn't be possible without Rome's blessing.

FACs who come over must come over because it's right to become a Catholic. They cannot expect to impose terms or conditions. If it's right that they become Catholics then it's right that they become Catholics. Only then will matters of ordination be considered. How could it be otherwise? This makes the courgaeous decision of those who do come over all the more grace-filled. Those few who are not ordained are refused for reasons which are as varied as the folk they concern. Some of them do not have wives and families. Some do.

Looking in from the outside has caused you to see only a distortion of what's real. That's a shame.

Independent said...

Better Mrs Proudie than an episcopal mistress. Better Mrs Bold than a priest's mistress.