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. Key inquiries: What are the problems and promises affecting the priesthood today? How do those realities affect our parishes and sacramental lives?
In support of this project, Voice of the Faithful 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. Cardinal O’Malley responded with a short reply from his office, saying that enrollment in his own local seminary had increased and hoping that prayer would help increase enrollments elsewhere also.
In response, the Priest Support Working Group sent a follow-up letter with additional details about declining numbers in the priesthood and the lack of sacramental access this creates. You can read that reply by clicking here.
You can read the original letter in its entirety here.
The press release reporting on the letter is available here.
In 2012, as a follow-up to the initial work by the Priest Support Group, Voice of the Faithful asked 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. The pastoral provision applies now to a minister from another faith tradition who wishes to become a priest, while married men born Catholic are denied the same.
Click here for the Petition to Ordain Married Men.
What You Can Do
We ask you to join the conversation. Read the current petition. Consider ways you might initiate discussions in your parish about the issue.
VOTF also has a DVD and study guides available related to the review of mandatory celibacy previously requested. We urge you to review them, organize affiliate meetings on the issue, and use the guides and DVDs as a way to start conversations in your parish too. Order the DVD using the mail-in form or place an order online.