To the Editor:
The pat answer of “Catholic clergy should get married or have an option to do so” will not address the issue of homosexuality or pedophilia in any church or religion.
But, if one comes from other religions and is a married minister (Lutheran and Episcopalian) one can get ordained as a Catholic priest subject to interviews.
There is even a special group to enable this called the Chair of Peter to accommodate these outside vocations and get “rescripts”.
That is to say — come into the Catholic priesthood through a judicial back door. None of this holds true for baptized Catholics because “vows are taken before marriage”.
A Catholic priest who would wish to get married later on (aka late bloomer) must leave ministry altogether.
This is done through a laicization process that goes directly through the Vatican, tosses the priest to the ranks of a regular parishioner, and gives no severance pay, and the “ex clerical status” equivalent or less than some clergy who have been found guilty of pedophilia.
No public ministry, teaching, or participation in church life is permitted to the individual other than attending Mass.
Even validating the marriage in the church is “to be done without pomp and discretely” as if there is something to be ashamed of. This is speaking from the personal experience of one who had to leave to get married but at least has a military pension to live on. (Most bishops and all Cardinals have been exempt from laicization with one exception so far).
Marriage does not solve all ills in a church, but as is evidenced, neither does celibacy because there is no “one size fits all”.
The Orthodox churches (eastern Russian and Greek) have been successful with marriage as an option for 2 millennia.
That being said, there must also be a strong examination of Catholic seminaries and how the prospective priests are formed in terms of education, spirituality, and psychological maturity and healthy boundaries.
This more holistic approach in seminary formation along with an option to marry will yield strong results and resolve the vocation crisis.
Since the Letter from the Amazon conference came out last week from the Vatican, the door on the option of a married clergy for all priests (let alone the some in the Amazon) has been closed for the foreseeable future.