Thursday, November 16, 2006

lawful joinage

The issue of whether priests may be married has been a hot one lately, and some expect a Vatican statement about it. A lot of the Catholics I've talked to (and some of the non-Catholics) say they would hate to see the Vatican capitulate on this one, and it looks like they won't be disappointed. When it's framed as capitulation (to make recruiting priests easier, for example), I agree that it would be sad to see the Church give in. But at the same time, I think it takes a lot of courage to revisit an old rule and evaluate its continuing validity. It always seemed like a hard-line rule for something even Paul was slow to make black-letter statements about. But then, I'm not Catholic, so I approach it from a non-Catholic perspective. I think Catholics view the priests' role a little differently from how non-Catholics view the pastoral role.

3 comments:

Carissa said...

I had one more thought about this other than what I posted on facebook. From my observation, priests really are supposed to be spiritual fathers. I mean, you call them "Father," for Pete's sake. That's something you really don't get with a pastor, I think largely because they are married and have children. They're someone else's father - not yours. For that reason, I would be more likely to share my problems and struggles with a priest than I would a pastor. I've had pastors whom I liked and very much respected, but I have really never expressed my spiritual and emotional struggles to them the way I would be willing to express them to a priest.

The Bard said...

Paul didn't just "not lay down a black letter law." He explicitly said that he had a RIGHT to be married if he wished the same way all the other apostles did. I may be wrong here, but I think even the Catholics do not say that priestly celibacy is a biblical mandate.

I think I disagree with Carissa's post. I would have a harder time asking someone with no wife and no children certain questions because I think that it is impossible to truly understand or counsel certain situations unless someone has a family themselves. Could someone withold children really know what it is like to deal with wayward children. The Catholic response spiritualizes things about the priest being "Father" too much for my taste. We are flesh and blood humans.

Becca said...

Well from what I understand (Catholics, please correct me if I'm off), Catholics view priests more as an earthly example of what Christ is like rather than as a spiritual example of how life on earth should be. Thus, priests are viewed as, like Christ, married to the church, while pastors are encouraged to be married to a less-esoteric woman to provide an example of of a godly family (a goal of which, as Carissa points out, many fall unfortunately short).

Maybe this stems from the churches' different emphases of the purposes of marriage. Both cite unitive, procreative, and spiritual aspects, but I think they list them in different orders.