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We already have first-rate married priests
SIR – Fr Ian Hellyer (Letter, November 24) says that the “celibate state is the most appropriate state for the priest and should be the norm for the Latin Church”. Christ recommended celibacy as the ideal, but did not command it. St Peter and other Apostles were married men and there were married priests for the first thousand years of Church history.
The Vatican II decree Presbyterorum Ordinis, while recommending ecclesiastical celibacy and stating that it accords with the priesthood on many scores, adds that celibacy “is not demanded from the very nature of the priesthood, as is evident from the practice of the primitive Church and from the tradition of the Eastern Churches. In these Churches, in addition to all bishops and those others who by the gift of grace choose to observe celibacy, there also exist married priests of outstanding merit”.
In England we already have married priests: ex-Anglican convert clergy, many of outstanding merit.
So if there is no problem in ordaining married men, may we have many more. They would be welcome on many scores. Freely chosen celibacy is wonderful, as shown in the religious orders of men and women, but mandatory celibacy for secular priests can be unduly demanding; though again there are many who freely choose this for the sake of the Kingdom.
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