Sunday, November 16, 2014

Fantastic news for Eastern-rite Catholics in the West: Ordaining married priests is allowed again!

Unconfirmed: word is Pope Francis has effectively rescinded Cum Data Fuerit: Eastern-rite Catholics in Western countries may resume their custom of ordaining married men as priests! (More.) It's been going on in recent years, piecemeal, case by case. That's wonderful! It's not a sellout to Catholic liberals OR to the tiny, Internet-driven claque of quisling Orthodox wannabes in but not of the church ("let's dump our doctrine and then join the true church"). Rather, it's a great example in the liberals' faces of fervent, CONSERVATIVE married priests.
  • It's not doctrine. The church can make and change disciplinary rules such as this. So our churchmen had the authority to ban the ordination of married men in the West.
  • We made a huge mistake that this is trying to right. Eastern-rite Catholics weren't and aren't heretics. The American Roman Rite clergy wanted to keep the discipline of priestly celibacy, but by being so bigoted they pushed a lot of people out of the church for no good reason (the Toth and Chornock schisms).
Married priests aren't a cure-all for our vocations drought.

What WON'T happen:
  • The Roman Rite dropping priestly celibacy. By the way, the East HAS clerical celibacy: not only monks but celibate bishops, who are usually monks.
  • Priests getting married. In theory possible but against ancient custom. The East ordains the married; it doesn't marry the ordained. Priest widowers can't remarry, another form of clerical celibacy.
  • Scads of Roman Riters trying to switch rites to be married priests. It NEVER worked that way, because churchmen are wise to that, the rules protect the integrity of the Eastern churches so no easy switches, and Catholic liberals hate traditional liturgy and small-o orthodoxy so they wouldn't want to switch. (Most such among the young just leave the church anyway.)
  • Traditionalist outrage. That we're all dumb or ignorant is an Internet myth. (Although the blog post that Gabriel refers to is nasty, and he calls them on it. "The Eastern Orthodox practice contradicts the Latin understanding of the priesthood." Wrong and dumb. We and the Orthodox share the priesthood.) Rather, the Novus Ordo has led many devout, sound Roman Riters to go to Greek Catholic churches, either as a refuge or a permanent switch (some people are called to that). My first traditional Catholic liturgy, in 1985, was Ukrainian. Educated small-o orthodox Catholics are all for this.
What probably won't happen but it would be neat if it did:
  • Thanks to this precedent, the ordinariates for Anglo-Catholic alumni get to keep ordaining married priests beyond the first generation, the converts.
  • Better ecumenical relations with the Orthodox, meaning they're one step closer to returning to the church.
  • ACROD, the Johnstown Diocese, for whom this issue is its original, real reason to exist (there are still ex-Catholics in it, in their 90s), comes back to the church. Only logical. But they're angry at us and they've bought the Orthodox line, moving from, allegedly, "Byzantium is second-class" (how Cum Data Fuerit came across, of course) to "Byzantium IS the church," which isn't right either. As for the Toth schism, the OCA thinks it's Russian.
  • The decline of the Greek Catholic churches in America is reversed.
  • There's a vocations boom among ethnic Ukrainians and Ruthenians in America.
  • The dominant Catholicism in America becomes Byzantine, not Novus Ordo.
Top picture: Holy Trinity Greek (Byzantine) Catholic Church, New Britain, Conn.

Second picture: Holy Protection of the Mother of God Byzantine Catholic Church, Denver, Colo.


  1. Anonymous2:26 pm

    The Holy Father will be in Pennsylvania. Maybe he could make a gesture to the now-Orthodox who left us. Apologize to them or wash their bishops' feet or something.

    I think you're right that most Latin Trads will be happy for us. Some have a procrustean distaste for married clergy exploding their intellectual categories, but they are a minority.

    And yeah, considering how conservative married priests tend to be, it'll be interesting to see how the Left reacts if/when married priests are more common.

  2. Great story, thanks.


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