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Crisis in the Priesthood: Conversations About Celibacy

What led to the Church’s adoption of celibacy and do those reasons remain valid in days when the number of priests in the U.S. continues to decline and access to the sacraments may be restricted as a result?

VOTF's Priest Support Working Group asked those questions as part of a two-year look at the overall state of the priesthood. We followed up in 2012 by asking the USCCB to request a pastoral provision that would permit the ordination of married Catholic men the same way that bishops now ordain married converts to the priesthood.

Now we ask YOU to help us roll out the next phase: bringing the request to ordain married men directly to your bishop. 

You can begin by reviewing our brief history of celibacy in the Roman Catholic Church and an OpEd on the flaws in mandated celibacy, then follow the Action Plan for 2013.

Action Plan

The pastoral provision applies now to a male minister from another faith tradition who wishes to become a priest. He can be ordained, and remain married, while married men born Catholic are denied the same opportunity. Voice of the Faithful supports a new pastoral provision that would extend this opportunity to married Catholics.

How Can You Help?

Use our Petition paperAction Steps, and Talking Points to organize a committee prepared to meet with your bishop. Use the Bishop Letter template to develop a personalized request to your bishop, and then use the Tips as well as the Talking Points to prepare for the meeting. Also review the work we support on addressing the problems of clericalism.
Our 2013 Action Plan complements VOTF's ongoing efforts to address the issues of clericalism and priest shortages as well as similar efforts and petitions promoted by FutureChurch. (To see prior contacts and responses from your bishop, use FutureChurch's summary.)

Previous Actions 

The call for a new pastoral provision grew out of work initiated by VOTF's national Priest Support Group, which asked two key questions: What are the problems and promises affecting the priesthood today? How do those realities affect our parishes and sacramental lives?

In addition to preparing Study Guides and a DVD for that project, VOTF also sent a letter to Cardinal Sean O’Malley, who then was the Chair of the USCCB Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life, and Vocations. We requested an ecclesial review of mandatory celibacy for diocesan priests. The materials developed remain available for use in parish or affiliate meetings, and as background for your meeting with a bishop--some data references should be updated with current statistics from the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) as noted in the Talking Points.

Order the DVD using the mail-in form or place an order online.

Study Guide 1

Study Guide 2

Handout 1- History

Handout 2- Parish Models

Reading List

Data and Studies on Celibacy

Letter to Cardinal O'Malley (2008) and a follow-up reply to his response