12 September 2009

Married Priests

If there is to be a proper set-up for Anglican Catholics united with the Holy See, among the subjects addressed must be that of a married priesthood - which is something deeply embedded in our Tradition.

Vatican praxis is that those clergy already married are accepted as married priests into Full Communion; but those not married upon their reception are not allowed to get married. Nor are widowed priests. And the acceptance of married clergy is restricted to the 'first generation'. No future married ordinands will be ordained. Let me explain what I think is right about this.

The Anglican Tradition of priests marrying needs a rethink. Few things are more indecorous than the old Anglican custom of a young curate arriving in a parish and being competed for by the unmarried young women of that parish. And the Great Tradition is not very welcoming of the concept of priests marrying. Anglicans of that peculiar type that rejoices in finding areas where our tradition coincides with the Byzantine tradition and stands against the Roman praxis tend to forget that Byzantines are far from keen on priests marrying.

What is wrong with current Vatican praxis is the refusal to accept that, after unity, future generations of married ordinands will be accepted. A married priesthood is a long-standing part of what we are, and is not repugnant to the practice of Byzantines both 'dissident' and 'uniate'. Refusing to contemplate the possibility of this continuing among us is a radical rejection of our faith-history and of what God has done among us; it is reminiscent of the bully-boy tactics of Latin bishops in America over the years to prevent the continuance of a married clergy among American 'uniates'. It is no secret that this has led to quite unnecessary dissensions and schisms.

Against and for a married clery continues.


Pastor in Monte said...

I think that part of the problem is that whereas the Easterners are recognized as churches in the full sense, the Anglican Communion is regarded as a wandering bit of the Western Church, and therefore should, mutatis mutandis, be subject to the same canon law as the rest of the West.
I think your American example has more to do with the fear that a married clergy might tempt Latins to convert to the Uniate Churches—something not particularly well founded, I think—than a desire to suppress a married priesthood on principle. That was more a feature of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.
Would you be in favour also of Episcopal marriage, as in the CofE? That has no support in the tradition of East or West.
I do, however, certainly see the problem.
I don't think, however, that married clergy are going to be refused ordination, in whichever generation they come across. The difference was that first-generation Tiber-swimmers had their cases decided in England, rather than referring the matter to Rome. Future bathers must have their cases decided by (presumably) the Congregation for the Clergy. I have no reason to believe that they will prove hard-hearted.

William said...

Pastor: The issue is not whether Rome-bound married clergy are going to be refused (re-)ordination, in this generation or subsequently, but whether those already "on board" who are in the married lay state will be deemed ineligible as ordinands.

While I take your point that Rome is likely to think that a uniate Anglican body "should, mutatis mutandis, be subject to the same canon law as the rest of the West", I fully agree with our host in seeing this issue as being one of the principal mutanda.

Joshua said...

Surely the question ought be, what is more perfect? While the perfect should not be made the enemy of the good, it is a fact that perpetual celibacy and continence is a higher state, and it is a glory of the Latin West. Allow convert clergy to be ordained, even if they are married, yes; but it is by us Romans felt as somewhat of an insult (to our priests, most of all) to those never fallen from Catholic unity to presume to think that an easier way be allowed to those who have ummed and ahhed about returning to Rome since, oh, 1845, and at every crisis to have said, Just one more step and I'll pope!

I mean no offence, but to Catholics some Anglican musings can seem intolerably proud. What the Holy See ought grant! How about sackcloth and ashes first, and privileges for chastened converts later?

Forgive me for speaking my mind. I do appreciate that for the good of souls, it may be for the best that Rome grant unheard-of special deals to ex-Anglicans, so that Unity be restored. My only fear is that this would make for an Imperium in Imperio, suitable for refined folk not about to deal with hoi polloi of Irish extraction. Recusant families too would be insulted...

Pastor in Monte said...

Fr William: Would you mind clarifying your first paragraph, please? If I read you rightly, you are objecting that some who are already (Roman) Catholics have not been ordained, or have had their ordinations postponed sine die. If you do mean this, then I have to say that I know of only one married former Anglican priest who has tried for ordination but whose ordination has not taken place, and that is at least partly down to his own actions. In no case am I aware of the marriage itself being a problem. Perhaps you know of cases that I do not.
Maybe you mean something else by 'on board'.

Pastor in Monte said...

There is, of course, the much wider issue that many within the Western Church would actually like to see married men ordained. By a sad coincidence, of course, those are precisely the people who would not afford you and your brethren a welcome, seeing you as strengthening the more traditional wing of the Church.

So, I think that the marriage of clergy is actually not really the issue. In my diocese we have ten or so married former Anglicans, and in general they have settled in well without any problems on the ground that I can see (at least with respect to their being married). The issue actually is the general Anglo-Catholic appreciation of tradition &c; one reason among others why I follow Fr Hunwicke's blog avidly. That is what some (Roman) Catholic senior clergy do not want to encourage.

Perhaps some fear that, having swum the Tiber, (re-) ordination may be refused. Well, that is always a possibility, of course, but I don't think marriage would be much, if any, of a deciding factor. I'm sure you are perfectly aware that there are some (married and/or single) who have either unsuitable companions or unsuitable habits now within the CofE; it would be gravely imprudent of the R.Catholic Church simply to rubberstamp the finding of their original ACCM or ABM (if I have that right) conference, without a prudent decision as to their suitability now in existing RC dioceses. That is the real situation, I think. Those bishops who are simply opposed on principle to convert clergy (and I think there may still be one or two) are easily avoided, an approach being made to the more sympathetic (who are all known).

Pastor in Monte said...

The likely situation is that married clergy will be tolerated within the Latin Rite for the current generation; that is, those who have a wife need not be separated from her (one at least in my diocese has been breeding enthusiastically since his ordination), but that this will not continue except in the case of convert clergy, a situation which is expected to become increasingly rare. Their sons, should they seek ordination, will be expected to live as celibates.

A different, but not unrelated point: There is yet another position, which I think may be in the minds of some, that if one cannot achieve a third province in the Anglican Communion, then one might try something of the sort in the Roman. Well, you never know, of course. It's been tried in the States with reasonable, if small, success. But Rome will still, I think, not grant a third province/ full Uniate status in England. There is no ancient patriarchate of Canterbury, and Rome still thinks of England as part of its own, Western, Rite. Moreover, the very argument of this blog suggests that that is really how you view yourselves.

But the real reason is more conclusive. I would agree with much that I have read about the unique tradition of the CofE, and think that it would be a shame if it were to be lost. There is genuinely much that it can contribute to the Catholic Church. But you all need to think long and hard about what it is that you want to preserve, and reach some agreement among yourselves about it. I have heard Anglicans who want to ditch the lot, and others who want to preserve even the pro-Calvinist divines. If there is no real inherent unity between you, then there is nothing for the (R) Catholic Church to reach an accommodation with. If you can decide that you all want
1) married clergy (priests, anyway)
2) a unified rite, such as they have in the US, and decide what it is to be
3) your own organization, bishops &c, and can set it up now in embryo, empowering people to negotiate on your behalf
4) and decide that you all believe Catholic doctrine
5) and moral theology (and try to live it),
6) and actually try and promote and teach just what it is that the Anglican tradition contributes to Western Christianity,
then there is some hope that Rome will listen sympathetically to a group solution. But Rome is not going to set something up for a very disparate bunch of guys who all have different axes to grind and who can agree only over how unaccommodating Rome is.
Until then, Rome is, in fact, going to continue to receive converts on an individual basis.
Over to you, chaps.

Священник села said...

Byzantines are far from keen on priests marrying

If by Byzantine the Orthodox are meant, this is incorrect. There is a massive preference for married parish priests in the Orthodox world. Indeed the ordination of a non-monastic single man for parish ministry was generally unheard of until the mid-19th century (and it was an innovation of the Russian Church). The rule has been: married men for parishes, monastic clergy for monasteries. Some overlap for particular and limited ministries in parishes by monastic clergy assigned such tasks.

In the Orthodox Churches, a man destined for parish ministry is meant be married before ordination to the diaconate (and in many or most places even the sub-diaconate). This avoids that seeking or being sought that can be so awkward in parishes (yet fascinating in fiction). Traditionally it has even been the case - or at least the outcome desired by the church authorities - that a priest who has become widowed would leave parish ministry for something else - teaching, administration, or the monastery. Things have admittedly become muddled through course of the last century and the challenging circumstances the Orthodox have found themselves in.

austin said...

Andrew: It is perfectly correct to say that orthodox priests cannot marry. But also that the orthodox ordain married men. As you know, once ordained, priests can neither marry nor remarry. Some in the Western church, understandably, see this as a rather disingenuous exploitation of a loophole.

I also prefer married clergy, if only because they have at least one person who is able to tell them the truth about their public performance.

William said...

Pastor: Forgive me if I was unclear. I was referring to the (putative) future situation in which a body of Anglicans has been received corporately into communion with the Holy See. As Fr H wrote:
What is wrong with current Vatican praxis is the refusal to accept that, after unity, future generations of married ordinands will be accepted.

You say of convert clergy: Their sons, should they seek ordination, will be expected to live as celibates. I would hope that in the envisaged future situation, policy and perceptions in Rome would be shaped by those (e.g. the present Holy Father?) who understand and value the genius of Anglicanism sufficiently to wish to incorporate all that is best about it into the mainstream Western Church. And that, for me, includes the ongoing practice, not merely the temporary toleration, of married priests – as Fr H says, this "is something deeply embedded in our Tradition".

I would hope, in fact, that having "a proper set-up for Anglican Catholics united with the Holy See" would be seen in terms of mutual enrichment, a non-zero-sum game, rather than in the winners-and-losers terms of "demands" and "concessions". That, though, implies an acceptance that the Anglican Tradition is (for all its problems – and your six-point "shopping list" is a salutary reminder of the very real problems that exist even among those who self-identify as Anglican-/Anglo-Catholics) not merely a mutilated and corrupted caricature of "proper" Western Christianity. Those who, like Joshua, insist that "sackcloth and ashes" are the order of the day will no doubt fight tooth and nail against any such acceptance.

Anonymous said...

I find myself in great agreement with you. Certainly one should not marry ordained people, but I would argue for ordaining married males.
Of course, this also points out a very serious issue in th ealtin church today, and that is the status of our celibate clergy. I recently attended my 20th anniversary of graduation from Anglican seminary (Nashotah House) and one thing that struck me was how NORMAL the clergy were, in comparison with their Roman counterparts, who seem especially to have great difficulties in having even an ordinary conversation with us lay married men.
I think one thing at the root of the problem is how celibacy has been handled. In the early Church the model for celibacy seems to have been St. John the Baptist, the original "man vs. wild" whereas in the modern church the example seems too often to be Oscar Wilde (though my sympathy to the latter, who died repentant). As opposed to pummeling their bodies, as St. Paul says, they seem often addicted to food, drink, soft living, an expanded waistline, and effeminate manners and speech. Not an example for men of any kind, celibate or not. I admit that celibacy can be a useful pastoral example to set for men who are trying to be chaste, but only if those who are celibate are both examples of chastity and of manhood.

Independent said...

One might argue that it mght have been far better for the church in, for example, the Middle Ages to have had a married clergy rather than often one with recognised mistresses. Even later after the Council of Trent in 1612 the Archbishop of Salzburg lived with his concubline and 15 children. Not surprisingly his clergy followed his example. As St Paul said it is better to marry than to burn.

Woody said...

If I may intrude a couple of thoughts from an American layman (and member of one of the very few Anglican Usage RC parishes), the Pastoral Provision here in the US has in one sense worked rather well, in that a number (I have heard upwards of 100) former married Episcopalian clergy have come over to Rome and become Roman Catholic priests. What I do not have good information on is how those men are doing now. My impression from strictly anecdotal evidence is that many of them are placed in rather out of the way positions such as hospital chaplains (a very necessary position, of course) or rural parish curacies. Somewhat against the previous thought, but also telling in its own way, is the fact that the AU pastor/chaplains of two of the most recently fully erected AU communities (not even given personal parish status) have been found to be extremely useful by their ordinaries and given other, additional, responsibilities in regualr parish or toehr such settings, in at least one case to such an extent that the original AU group may be somewhat adrift.

Now for the other hand: we have heard over the years of a number of places where it was attempted to erect some kind of AU community, usually with incoming Anglican clergy, but not always, and these attempts were rebuffed by the local ordinaries, for reasons which varied, as I heard it, but which when considered all together lead some of us to suspect that the US bishops do not really like the idea of the Anglican Usage, for the "progressive" bishops because AU folk are seen as "conservative" and thus to be discouraged, and for the "conservative" bishops because of the married clergy and the different liturgy. So the bottom line is that there are at most really three thriving AU parishes, all here in Texas. We hope and pray for the success of the other communities, including a new one starting in Kansas City, for sure. But we also have to face the facts as they exist.

Woody said...

All this is to say that those of us here in Texas who are "gung ho" for the Anglican ethos in the Roman Church are hoping a praying very much (perhaps we should also add a somewhat more Roman practice, and mortify) that a separate juridiacl structure will be derived to house the TAC and other incoming Anglicans in a more user-friendly environment, and, frankly, get the Anglican part of Rome out of the clutches of the local bishops, who have proven to be unfriendly (one is amazed at how the "one size fits all" approach perdures, on both sides of the aisle, as it were). From this point of view, it seems to me that a uniate church structure would be best, and could accommodate even ordination of married men, as do the Ukrainian Catholic and Melkite Catholic Churches, for example (although it is correct to say that, for the reasons mentioned, few if any of such ordinations occur in the US; sed contra I understand that the Byzantine (Ruthenian) Catholics have the theoretical right to do this here if they get Roman approval first; not sure if any have been done under this new regime however). For what it is worth, while deeply respecting the determination of those who are celibate, I have come around to thinking that in such a setting, ordination of married men would be preferable.

With respect to the thinking concerning the status of the returning Anglicans as splinters coming back to the Latin tree, or the like, if I am not mistaken the length of time in which Anglicanism has been separate from Rome (in one way or another) is almost the same as the period of time from the mutual excommunications of 1054 to the Union of Brest, and the latter is shorter if one counts from what is probably the real breaking point, the Fourth Crusade and the sack of the City, in 1204. And while Anglicans did not come from an Eastern liturgical heritage, they did come from a Western one that had a number of usages, and, since it could all kind of be categorized as "Extraordinary Form" - like, surely can be seen as pretty different from the current Ordinary Form, so the analogy with the Eastern uniates seems to me to be a reasonable one, all things considered.

Finally on the same line, there is the argument advanced by Romano Amerio in "Iota Unum", to the effect that (pardon my inexactitude here, I am working from memory) the accretion of accidents will ultimately affect the substance; thus, he says, Napoleon would not be Napoleon without Magenta (or other famous victories). For 450 years Anglicanism has been developing its own forms of worship, spirituality and discipline. It thus would be quite logical to assert that whatever may have been the case initially, the Anglicanism of today is not merely a splinter from the old Latin tree.

All this having been said, allow me also to use this forum to express my personal thanks to Pastor for his work (of which he knows), as well as recommending his Catholic Book of Hours, which is to my mind still the best Roman prayerbook around. OK, other than the Missal, of course.

Woody said...

Apologies indeed for (a) all the typos, and (b) my not having read Fr. Hunwicke's second post on Anglicanism below, in which I think he makes much the same point as my last, for perhaps a somewhat different purpose, when he says:
"But in the unhappy centuries of our separation from Peter, grace was not stopped up. A tone emerged; a style, a way of doing theology, of living the Christian life, which in itself is by no means unCatholic; a sober tone, a careful tone, a tone which read deeply and with understanding in the Fathers and looked to Byzantium and beyond as well as to Rome."

Joshua said...


I am actually very sympathetic, despite my tone earlier, to corporate reunion: I have known many ex-Anglicans, laity, priests, even a bishop, and they are all fine upstanding Christians, showcasing the rich blessings of their Anglican heritage now brought into Catholic unity.

Indeed, just recently I've been establishing contacts with the TAC, since, if they come over, I may be able to find a place of
worship among them!

I am prefer the Trad. Latin Mass if at all possible, and have much sympathy with fellow victims of liberal oppression, especially as they strive to preserve Catholic beliefs and worship.

However, I wrote what I did because many Catholics do feel that the tone of High Church ruminations about swimming the Tiber is frankly presumptuous.

There ought be something of metanoia in conversion and reunion, surely! I believe it was a festal occasion, but also penitential at the outset, when Cardinal Pole reconciled the Realm of England to the Holy See...

I did go on to emphasise that for the good of souls much could be granted to help unity be achieved.

It is, though, painful for Catholics to see what our clergy are bound to airily dismissed. Abusus non tollit usus: if some priests are unmanly or worse, that is their shame, but the most high calling they ought live is to be men of men, "with a heart of iron for chastity and a heart of gold for charity."

Never forget: unlike the majority of marriages, which end in divorce, the majority of priests do persevere in their vows, so away with the insinuation that all Roman priests are secret perverts.

It is in fact typically Protestant to misquote St Paul in the 7th chapter of his Epistle to the Corinthians: for even to them in that immoral port city, he held out Christian virginity as the more perfect counsel, while not denigrating holy wedlock.

I think Western Catholics are entitled to be offended by these demands for special privileges.

As I mentioned, it was the recusants who kept the faith at the cost of their estates and lives, not those who were as the Vicar of Bray. Being insulted for wearing a surplice is all very well, but it hardly compares with the witness of the Forty Martyrs, hung, drawn, and quartered.

Unknown said...

Here! Here! Well said, Joshua. I quite agree. The Anglo-Caths do really need to realise what they sound like to even us sympathetic Romans.

I would, however, go one step further. We cannot allow the use of Cranmer in the liturgy. Speaking as a Recusant I find it genuinely repulsive that that wicked heretic's words might be used in the Holy Mass. It is an insult to those thousands who suffered or died rather than hear one word of that mans work read from a pulpit.

Besides, don't most Anglo-Caths today use the Novis Ordo Missal anyway?

Joshua said...

Sentire cum Ecclesia: the words of Cranmer, in the Anglican Use Book of Divine Worship, are now in use in Catholic Masses.

It was not for his skill as a translator - all agree on his great talent - but for his heresies that he was burnt (good riddance to bad rubbish). The Church has wisely ruled that those of his works not vitiated by misbelief are usable.

Anonymous said...

Sung to the popular children's tune:

Jesus loves to burn the her'tics!
All the her'tics in the world:
Red and yellow, black and white
Burning gives Him great delight!
Jesus loves to burn the her'tics of the world!

Jesus loves to burn the Anglicans,
All the Anglicans in the world:
Popish, Pray'r Book, High and Low,
Let us set them all aglow!
Jesus loves to burn the arr'gant Anglicans!

Jesus wants to see them grovel!
Boot-heals of recusants they
must lick.
On their bellies them must go,
They are a-holes; don't ya know?
Jesus wants to send the Anglo-Caths below!

Jesus hates for men to marry,
Better let them all be celibate.
Women are defilement,
(And they raise of monthly rent)
Jesus hates to waste the tithe on married priests.

Jesus loves to burn the her'tics!
All the her'tics in the world:
Red and yellow, black and white
Burning gives Him great delight!
Jesus loves to burn the her'tics of the world!

Joshua said...

What a sick and perverse obscenity. Shame!

William said...

The song, or the attitude it is satirising?

Albrecht von Brandenburg said...

but the most high calling they ought live is to be men of men, "with a heart of iron for chastity and a heart of gold for charity."

This is nonsense from the French school of counter-reformation piety - I'm familiar with it, I was stuffed with it up to the back teeth in an SSPX seminary!

Rev'd up:

On the basis that you're being serious (it's hard to tell over the internet) I offer the following -

Jesus would assuredly prefer heretics not being burnt, on the basis that he would prefer heretics not to be heretics at all. This is much the same as his preference for murderers not being hanged, on the basis that he would prefer them not to be murderers at all.

But given, that murder and heresy deserve capital punishment, if some idiot insists on murdering or being a heretic, Christ assuredly approves of their execution.

Oh, and just an aside, he would also prefer Anglicans not to be Anglicans.

As regards compulsory celibacy and my disagreement with it, please see my comments on Fr H's final post on the matter.

Do you, by the way, get p*ss*d or something, before commenting?? Just asking, that's all...

William said...

"[I]f some idiot insists on … being a heretic, Christ assuredly approves of their execution."

Glad you were able to clear that one up. (Good, too, that you have such direct access to Our Lord's thought-processes on these tricky issues.)

To quote another children's hymn:
"Jesus hates me, this I know,
For a Catholic told me so."

Anonymous said...

To quote another children's hymn:
"Jesus hates me, this I know,
For a Catholic told me so."

BRAVO, Fr. William!

My little rhyme was tongue-in-cheek -- though, I confess, I hoped it would rattle the ultra-montanist Roman cage! But, as happens from time to time, the gorilla escapes his cage and it's good to make for the exit once you've rattled.

Judicious, just murder for Jesus -- Bah!

Better then to have burned Hippo's Augustine prior to conversion? Burn Aquino's Thomas (Remember the Pope condemned him)? Burn Francis who was such a fool for God? You blood suckers who think Christ, the murdered, glories in your taking up the torch - grow up and be men! Shall we praise Mary I, condemn Eliza I for judiciously thrusting the lance? To think, there are animalia who think to justify the slaughter of the Huguenots. Guilty from righteous Abel to Zacharias....

Albrecht von Brandenburg said...

"Shall we praise Mary I, condemn Eliza I for judiciously thrusting the lance?"

Yes, so grow up and stop your rubbish.

There's all the difference in the world with, after due process of the law, inflicting capital punishment (in the case of Mary Tudor, or for treason, murder, attempted murder, sodomy, burglary, robbery under arms, etc. etc. trials) and murder, whether perpetrated by a private citizen or some pretended claimant to the throne cloaking it in the trappings of the law.

Perhaps you'd care to explain how or why God could not only approve of capital punishment in principle in the OT, but somehow, after the incarnation, it transmogrifies into murder??

And no ecclesiastical court, properly constituted, could have found St Thomas Aquinas guilty of heresy - he denied no defined dogma of the faith.

Rev'd up, do you think that because you possess some ability as a poet, it follows that you're also a philosopher and/or theologian?

Albrecht von Brandenburg said...

"Glad you were able to clear that one up. (Good, too, that you have such direct access to Our Lord's thought-processes on these tricky issues.)"

Yes it is, you see, Fr W., it's part of having the abiding presence of the Holy Ghost preventing the church from proposing error to be believed under pain of sin in matters of faith and morals.

You could have it too, if you could face up to the fact that Anglicanism is not subject to said abiding assistance from above...

Oh, and what do you think of Christ's indulging in the corporal punishment of the money-changers? You're not going to de-mythologise that incident away, are you?

Anonymous said...

He who is without sin cast the first stone.

There is a profound difference between execution by the state for infractions against man - "treason, murder, attempted murder, sodomy, burglary, robbery under arms, etc. etc. trials)" - and murdering heretics for an oligarch's perceived/invented infraction against God. They believe God to be such a one as themselves! The Jew thinks Jesus an heretic!

Even S Paul accused himself of potentially harboring heresy and he clearly accused S Peter of it.

O cleanse Thou me from my secret faults!

Albrecht, your homicidia categorizes you as one of the Ebionites - the Poor Ones - AKA Recusants who are, as it were, grinning dogs who run here and there for meat and grudge if they be not satisfied. Go suck some second-hand "holy smoke" with that Thompson bloke. Or better, what you need is a hike in the mountains to restore a sense of God's grandeur and our unworthiness.

This Anglo Catholic sinner only desires communion with the spirituality of Rome, not Roman personalities.

Albrecht von Brandenburg said...

Well, Rev'd Up, one need not be particularly perspicatious to see that your rejoinder is not, in any way, a meaningful reply - and besides, I've got much better things to do than to waste my time on that sybarite Thomson.

If you want an intelligent debate, why not come to Ardens Ignis?