Pope opening to Anglicans may help married priesthood

October 26, 2009


(Photo: Anglican Bishop of London Richard Chartres with wife and children, 5 Sept 1995/Russell Boyce. Under the Vatican offer, bishops could not be married and Anglican bishops who join the Catholic Church must give up their episcopal rank.)

Pope Benedict’s decision to fling open Catholicism’s doors to disaffected Anglicans could challenge centuries of Catholic opposition to married priests and may bring the Church closer to married priesthood.

The opening announced last week could lead to as many as half a million Anglican faithful, some 50 of their bishops and thousands of married Anglican priests converting to Catholicism.

The conservative Anglicans, who oppose female priesthood and gay bishops, now have an exit strategy. They will have their own niche within the Catholic Church and will be allowed to convert as individuals, parishes or even as whole dioceses.

They will not have to jettison their Anglican traditions and many will find their new parishes headed by formerly Anglican married priests who will become de facto married Catholic priests after they convert.

Cardinal William Levada, head of the Vatican’s doctrinal office, the pope’s job until he was elected in 2005, acknowledged that the Vatican will have some serious explaining to do to groups that have been pushing for a married priesthood: “I think for some people it seems to be a problem because as you know there have been many Catholic priests who have left the priesthood to get married, and the question arises, ‘well, if these former Anglicans can be married priests, what about us?'”

Read the whole analysis here.

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I wonder how all the Anglican bishops’ and priests’ wives feel about converting to a religion that considers them servants, at best. How ironic that it was a woman who brought Christ’s teachings to Europe in the first place. I hope the Anglican clergy look at their daughters and sisters and wives and decide that the Catholic church with their misogynistic ways is not for them. But I’m not holding my breath.

Posted by nancyb | Report as abusive

I am so inspired by this proactive move to include married Anglican priest. I was educated in Catholic schools for 12 of my formative years. The Franciscan Priests were very important to my education and way of life. I have stayed in contact with some of them, helping me develop a more Godly lifestyle.

Bravo to those who invited our Anglican Priesthood and their families to the Catholic Church or as I was taught, catholic = universal church.

With God’s Blessings on you all,
(email address to remain anonymous)

Posted by Linda | Report as abusive

It is completely unnatural to lead a human life without having a wife for a man and a husband for a woman. In recent history, many priests were found to have sexually abused young Catholic School Students because they couldn’t control their sexual urges. They should be allowed to get married, have children, and work as priests or nuns. They won’t be able to totally focus on divine commands without fulfilling their natural desires. Be fair to them, they are only human!!!

Posted by Mohamed Alminifi | Report as abusive

Would I feel honoured to receive the Eucharist from a contemporary equivalent to the Abbess Hildegaard VonBingen? Even as a conservative Anglican I suppose I would, there is no denying that. Surely merit and justice is guiding the Archbishop, not historical contingency. Of course conservative young people are simply not comfortable with a policy of exclusion of gays or people because of gender. Actually that practice IS disgusting. Therefore I cannot believe this is the dying fall of the Anglican Church. The Anglican tradition with the trappings of State is not a moral reason to exclude people. And how can we accept that? Or if for example a gay soldier died for us and we would not include him in our prayers? It’s beyond preposterous.

Posted by DJP | Report as abusive

I think this is one of the wisest and most progressive moves by the Catholic church in a generation. The Anglican church (Episcopals to Americans, Church of England to UK)is essentially identical to the Catholic church with the exception of confession and married clergy. This move is long overdue and I hope leads to a married priesthood.

Posted by Chris | Report as abusive

Actually, the Episcopal Church allows female bishops in addition to male priests and many parishes (despite some dispute) recognize gay unions. A balance of Scripture, Tradition, and Reason makes the Episcopal/Anglican faith unique. Reason has less sway among Catholic leadership, I’m afraid.

Posted by Christine | Report as abusive

I have been an Anglican for all of my 66 years and I think that this is a grandstand play by the Catholic Church, which is in disarray and losing many former parishioners. They could make reforms that their own members would embrace. Or, they could have meaningful discussions with the Anglican Church about joining the two churches together. But, to capitulate to a church that has not changed since we left. Why would we do that ?

Posted by Jeff | Report as abusive

I think Catholic should definately be married. It’s a path to eternal happiness, and as a devout Catholic, I AGREE with priests becoming married…cmon these guys give their lives for God, so give them a little freedom!!

Posted by Conor W | Report as abusive

Why anyone would continue to be a member of a church that was started by King Henry VIII just so he could take multiple women as wives is a wonder to me. And now that the Anglican leaders are leaning so far to the left with openly gay and lesbian bishops, I think they are going to convert in droves because some people actually like the fact that the Catholic church has not made significant changes for hundreds of years but has remained true to it’s founding father; “Jesus” and its original founding document; the “Bible”. All those “progressive” Anglicans who know better what God really “intended” to say instead of what he actually said, well you can just stay in old King Henry’s politically convenient church.

Posted by Mike | Report as abusive

This vatican policy is a stroke of genius..there is no reason why a priest should not be allowed to marry a member of the opposite sex…and maybe this will destroy the conspiracy perpetrated by homosexuals within the priesthood to destroy the Catholic church. The work of Satan must be undone. Bravo for the Pope! Such brillance!
I am certain that the option of being married will amke many pious holy men consider being a catholic priest as a honorable profession.

Posted by howardhofelich | Report as abusive

At the age of 80, and not senility I must say….
Two wrongs do not make it right. Search the scriptures,
say James 1:5.

Posted by Lou | Report as abusive

How delightfully hypocritical of the Roman Catholic Church. For years, they have opposed marriage of priests. However, now that the Church of England is having internal dispute and struggle over the proper place of women and gays within the Church; the opportunistic Church of Rome decides to move in with their unique double standard views. Under the guise of “providing a home” for disaffected Anglicans, the Church of Rome once again shows it’s true colors; opportunistic and hypocritical. Just as it has done for centuries, the morally bankrupt Church of Rome tries to claim the high ground and ends up looking more pathetic than ever.

Posted by Mike | Report as abusive

It would be nice if those that attack Catholics had some idea of why the institution founded by Christ has the tradition of a male priest class rather than judging them by modern notions as if it were a PTA group. You need to look into the history to understand. No one makes you go , you know.

Posted by Ron | Report as abusive

Dear Chris – There is actually a very significant difference between the Anglican tradition and the Catholic church, beyond married priests. (Confession, by the way, is not a difference as it is a sacrament in both churches.) The most significant difference is that the Catholic church ascribes infallibility to a human being, the Pope, from whom all decisions emanate. The Anglican tradition, on the other hand, leans on the workings of the Holy Spirit to infuse the church as a whole with the answers to theological questions. The first tradition leads to dysfunction when the “infallible” human Pope asks for actions that many humans cannot perform, like celibacy. The section tradition leads to dysfunction when some members don’t see themselves following the church as a whole. Anglican tradition, scripture and reason often lead to messiness. “Infallibility” often leads to seemingly unreconcilable elements of stated doctrine.

Posted by Sharon | Report as abusive

Correction: I should have said “The second tradition . . .”

Posted by Sharon | Report as abusive

I think sound Anglicans of previous generations, such as John Charles Ryle, would not want anything to do with the current Anglican Church. As for the Roman Catholic Church, it as an institution has been apostate for much, much longer. There are a few christians in both organizations no doubt but why stay in organizations that go so clearly against the teachings of scripture?

Posted by Kevin D’Arcy | Report as abusive

The apostacy of the “church” is definitely here. The bible is clear on gay marriage. The bible is also clear on teachings. For Anglicans to join with the Church of Rome would be an apostate move. Anglicans go to God to pray: No man comes to the Father but by me saith the Lord. I would think that following Christ authentically means: we don’t pray to Saints, we don’t pray to Mary, we confess to God in our prayer closet privately, we do not claim that the Islamist God is one and the same as the Christian faith (Catholic teaching does!), we conduct communion in remembrance – not literally; what was the purpose of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross then? So many troubling errors that do not match with biblical teachings…The book of Timothy outlines the plan for “male” ministers with “wives”. It’s all pretty clear. Followers of Christ: Search the Scriptures – as did the Bereans. Do not look to man, or any church to tell you what truth is. Look to God’s word. He will lead your heart accordingly. Just ask.

Lou – we should always search the scriptures. Amen to that.

My soul grieves for the modern church. The ecumenical eve is upon us.

Posted by Polly | Report as abusive

The author made one error: “Priests were permitted to marry during the first millennium of the Church history before the celibacy rule was adopted.”

This should read, “Married men were permitted to become priests…” This distinction is lost on some of the bloggers, too. The Orthodox Churches, which allow men to become married and then to become priests, also do not allow the reverse procedure.

The Roman Catholic Church ordains married men as deacons but,for example, a deacon is not allowed to remarry if his wife dies.

Posted by Peter Nyikos | Report as abusive

If the people want to return to the original fold, what is the problem.
It is better than converting to some other religion!!

Posted by nimbu pani | Report as abusive

Amazing, all this just from an interpretation of God’s word.

Posted by bjco | Report as abusive

The Roman Catholic–not simply “Catholic”–Church’s true intentions after four decades of ecumenical dialogue with the Anglican Communion is now revealed: enough of almost 500 years of charade; submission is the price of Christian unity. That is to say, the Roman Catholic Church has been and will always be the only authentic manifestation of Christianity. Given the failure of the Vatican to quietly correct much less acknowledge some of their own doctrinal and heirarchical errors, I would hope that theologically and spiritually grounded Anglo-Catholics will not be taken in by such shallow and condescending ploys as tossing potential converts the “married priest” and “Anglican liturgy” scraps. “High Church” Anglicans are neither superficial liturgists or “closet” Romans. Jesus’ prayer for unity, “that they all may be one,” will never be fulfilled under the current terms. When are the Anglican leaders going to rebuke this nonsense?

Posted by William F. Cissel | Report as abusive

I am amused by a comment above. If Anglicans are treated as servants in catholicism what is the problem, isn’t that everybody’s goal?

Posted by Carlton Perry | Report as abusive

Jesus is the way the truth and the life. Unity is only possible through the power of the Holy Spirit. Despite this the Pope is the visible head of the Roman Catholic church. I am glad that traditional de facto Anglicans have taken their most recent stance against gay marriages, ordination of women and wish to maintain tradition. No man made structure is perfect but the theology and tradition of the Catholic church is absolute. Fortunately we are on a journey and can repent and be delivered from evil through the ministry of healing and deliverance. I pray that other Christian denominations would open their eyes. Through ignorance they condemn the praying to Saints and Mary the mother of Jesus or don’t understand transubstantiation. Ask the Holy Spirit to teach you the truth. He will lead you to the Roman Catholic church.


Posted by Barbara de Souza | Report as abusive