Thursday, March 16, 2017

Married Priests

I'm all in favor of them. If Pope Francis is so inclined, and I've read rumors saying he is, I say, the sooner the better.

First, it will make the Church younger and more masculine. There's nothing the Catholic Church needs more right now than big infusions of energy and testosterone. Young people have always left churches as a part of them finding their own way apart from their families of origin. Having said that, it's pretty hard to bring them back when they're ready if your priests are 60 years old and effeminate.

Second, I don't think the theological arguments are all that strong against it. I've always had the feeling that they're kind of explaining the reasoning after the fact instead of deriving catechism from first principles. If you want a knock-out punch, there's Matthew 8:14-15.
Jesus entered Peter’s house and found Peter’s mother-in-law in bed with a fever. He took her by the hand and the fever left her,
If Peter is the rock upon which He built His Church and Peter was married, it seems perfectly fine to allow married priests. On counterpoint, here's the response from Catholic Straight Answers.
Note that the passage does not mention St. Peter’s wife, but only his mother-in-law. The Gospels, however, make no mention of St. Peter’s wife, living or nonliving. Therefore, St. Peter’s wife must have died before Jesus called him to be an apostle.

For full disclosure, Clement of Alexandria (Stromata, III) (c. 202), said St. Peter was married, had children and witnessed his wife’s martyrdom in Rome. These terse points were recorded, citing Clement, in St. Eusebuis’ The History of the Church. Given the silence of other church fathers about St. Peter’s wife and children (who would have had some prominence in the history of the early church), and the lack of any archaeological evidence of ancient Rome, which holds the burial sites of St. Peter and so many other early martyrs, one would conclude St. Peter’s wife died before he had been called as an apostle.
Meh. That's pretty ambiguous data upon which you'd build a crucial point of Catholic doctrine.

Heck, if you really want to go all-in, reclassify priests' wives as nuns and ask that they go through formation as well.


IlĂ­on said...

I Tim 3:2 (NIV) - "Now the overseer (*) is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, ..."

I Tim 3:2 (KJV) - "A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; ..."

(*) i.e. bishop

"Second, I don't think the theological arguments are all that strong against it. I've always had the feeling that they're kind of explaining the reasoning after the fact instead of deriving catechism from first principles."

You've always had that feeling because that is the case.

The first or primary reason that the Roman denomination decided that priests couldn't marry is because back in the early middle ages, before the legal concept of "the corporation" was fleshed-out, church property had a habit of ending up in the hands of the children of priests.

The second, and now primary, reason that the Roman denomination continues to insist that priests can't marry is to glom onto the male instinct for group-identification-and-solidarity. This is the same reason that armies (and street gangs) refer young unmarried men -- a man with a woman directs the bulk of his labor and loyalty toward the woman and their children; a man without a woman will tend to direct that toward his group.

Anonymous said...

I have always thought that the Catholic Church had the right idea: there is no bigger pain in the a** than the children of the leader of the flock. About fifty percent of the time, they are good kids, but still pains in the tuchas. The other fifty percent of the time, they act extremely entitled.

Then there is the pay scale. It has always frosted my buns how rabbix argue for/justify what is generally exorbitant pay. One is that they are not supposed to be paid to be the rabbi as such, but the fiction is that they are being paid to NOT do something else, like, oh, say, be a lawyer or a doctor. But if they don't have the JD or MD, and have not passed the appropriate licensing exams, then they really can only be paid to NOT be a professor of religion. And let's give them the adjunct's pay. Oooooh, but then it is argued that they need to be paid enough to send their children to the overpriced private Jewish day school. Frequently, they get a house and on top of that, they get an exorbitant salary. (It might be pointed out that there are many who DON'T get paid an exorbitant salary, but when I lived in NYC, the students from HUC and JTS all were so self-important and felt they deserved enormous salaries. I so wish someday to be on the synagogue hiring committee interviewing students like that...)

Another reason I though the Catholic Church had the right idea is that their church, their flock, the congregants get him pretty much 100%. Most of the time, I really felt like our congregation was no more than a 40 hour a week job. In which case, they really needed to hire three more rabbis to take over the rest of the week. But then the rabbis aren't really considered "pastors" in the same sense. Although, Jewish congregations (including this congregant) would like them to serve in a pastoral role.

Maybe you could do like the Greek Orthodox Church? There are like two levels or priesthood, one of which can get married.

Jedi Master Ivyan said...

The prohibition against marriage among the priesthood is something that always confused me about Catholicism. I think that some very gifted would-be priests would forego that calling because they know they could not abstain.