So is the answer to allow married men to be ordained? Having married priests would certainly help the vocations crisis, and married men might relate better to married people.
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A priest covers his head with a book as Pope Francis celebrates a Jubilee Mass in Saint Peter’s Square at the Vatican on April 3, 2016. As a former Anglican minister, I have been ordained as a Catholic priest under a special measure called the Pastoral Provision even though I have a wife and four children.
With a bit of reflection anyone can see that marriage in and of itself does not automatically make a man mature, self-giving and happy.
In my experience of married clergy in both the Evangelical Churches and the Anglican Church, marriage is not the magic bullet for the lack of vocations.
For the Church Fathers, the Catholic priesthood was the “perfection” of the Levitical priesthood, according to Cholij. if the Levites practised temporary continence when in the sanctuary, so much more should Christian priests, always ready to serve, practise continence,” Cholij writes. “Sanctity alone makes us what our divine vocation demands, men crucified to the world and to whom the world has been crucified, men walking in newness of life who … In heaven, men will neither marry nor will women be given in marriage—instead, they will be like the angels, as Christ says in Matthew .
seek only heavenly things and strive by every means to lead others to them,” Pius X writes in his apostolic exhortation, . In a special way, celibacy makes priests living witnesses to this future reality.
But that’s not how the popes of the twentieth century saw it.
In their words, celibacy is the “choicest ornament of our priesthood” (Pius X), “one of the purest glories of the Catholic priesthood” (Pius XI), and a discipline that makes the whole life of the priest “resound with the splendor of holy chastity” (John XXIII). Above all else, the Catholic priest is an —“another Christ.” This is clearest in the sacrifice of the Mass, when the priest acts in the person of the Christ in offering the Eucharist.
Stefan Hartmann's letter to the Vatican, which he posted on his Facebook page, requested release from the traditional oath "in acknowledgement of my weaknesses and failures, with all due humility and after long consideration of my conscience and personal situation".
The 59-year-old, whose parish is in Oberhaid in north Bavaria, claims superiors recommended he rescind his own ordination after he revealed on a TV talkshow in January he had secretly fathered a daughter in 1989, eight years after vowing celibacy at Trier cathedral.
As Paul VI put it, priestly celibacy “proclaims the presence on earth of the final stages of salvation with the arrival of a new world, and in a way it anticipates the fulfillment of the kingdom as it sets forth its supreme values which will one day shine forth in all the children of God.” Stephen Beale is a freelance writer based in Providence, Rhode Island.