The single priest

Do we think it is time to discuss the question of clerical celibacy? It has a long history. Even some pre-Christian religions required it of their leaders presumably because marriage did not seem fitting for those in direct communication with the gods. It did not appear to be an issue at the beginning of Christianity and no doubt the fact that St Peter was married would have been taken into account. However the Council of Elvira (304 AD) stated that all clerics were to”abstain completely from their wives and not to have children.”

During the Middle Ages the desirability of celibacy broadened, and the clear rules were finally stated at the Council of Trent. And there it stands. However, the movement of married Anglican clergy into the Catholic Church means that we now have married clergy on board. If we consider the possibility of dropping obligatory celibacy in general for the future there are a number of issues to consider: For example:

Do we think that a priest, as the representative of Christ, should maintain his whole focus on his vocation? He should not be distracted by family responsibilities.

How are priestly families going to be financed? If this is by the Church, that means us.

Which should a married priest put first if there is a clash – marriage and family or priestly duties?

How can a celibate priest have a deep understanding of his married flock when he is without the experience?

The Eastern churches have allowed priests to be married; it does not seem to have damaged them.

Sexuality in marriage requires deep physical desire – sometimes bordering on lust. Surely this is wrong for a representative of Christ?

Is celibacy a haven for those who lack sexual instincts, or who have perverse sexual instincts?

Would the removal of celibacy attract our badly needed increase in the number of clergy?

Would the removal of celibacy so lower the status of the priesthood that many would feel that it did not fulfil their vocation, and so reduce the priesthood?

What do you think?

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About Quentin

Science Editor, Catholic Herald. Portrait © Jacqueline Alma
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70 Responses to The single priest

  1. milliganp says:

    Quentin, you ask many questions, I will try to address one. St. Paul supported himself by continuing his occupation of tent-maker while on his missionary journeys. We have, in the past, had priests and religious who were also school-teachers, university lecturers ans chaplains in hospitals, prisons and universities. The idea that a priest should sit in a presbytery all day in case someone calls at the door asking for a priest is a very limited vision of priesthood. The Anglican church has a lot of non-stipendiary ministers so the current Catholic model is obviously not the only way of organising ministry.

    • David Smith says:

      “The idea that a priest should sit in a presbytery all day in case someone calls at the door asking for a priest is a very limited vision of priesthood.”

      That’s never been the model for a Catholic priest, has it? Much more active, I think.

  2. David Smith says:

    “How are priestly families going to be financed? If this is by the Church, that means us.”

    Yes, and this at a time when the Western church Is leaking members like a sieve and the sexual abuse scandal is even sending some dioceses into bankruptcy.

    Milliganp’s indirect suggestion that having married priests work outside the church to support their families might solve much of the money problem is at least superficially attractive, but it would surely create major problems of its own.

    • Coconuts says:

      There have also been married Greek/Byzantine Catholic priests in the Catholic Church for a long time (400 years or more?) before the Anglican Ordinariate. Besides the ex-Anglicans I guess they would be the ones to consult on this issue.

      In the Orthodox tradition priests are often paid by the state and have a lot of children (one priest I know has 7 including two adopted, another 6 and so on, especially in countryside areas). The role of the priest’s wife is important. They also have this strong ascetic tradition, even within marriage, no sexual activity during fasts I think and fasts last around 5 months or more of the year.

  3. John Thomas says:

    Yes, many questions … I will try to answer or comment on “Sexuality in marriage requires …” I think the “deep physical desire” is not/should not be a barrier to deep spiritual desire, but should enhance it (and I think does, from my knowledge of the Anglican clergy – I am Anglican, of course, and have had deep conversations with a few clergy over the years). I’m sure – if I may speak personally (I’m lay, of course) desire has enhanced my own spiritual experience. “Lust”? I understand lust as a specifically sexual desire for those people for whom such desire is illegitimate/inapropriate – I do not think marital partners – for whom desire is appropriate, indeed, necessary, if their marriage is to be real, and to survive – can have lust for one another. However, perhaps the RCC defines lust as ANY sexual desire (I wouldn’t know), but if so, why does it marry people (whom, it knows, are sure to sexually desire one another)? For anyone (not just clergy!) to sexually desire a person whom one is not married to is sinful.

    • David Smith says:

      Google “lust theology catholic”. The Catholic Church seems to use the word “lust” to mean something bad:

      http://catholicleader.com.au/analysis/what-is-lust

      “THE Catechism of the Catholic Church says that “Lust is disordered desire for or inordinate enjoyment of sexual pleasure. Sexual pleasure is morally disordered when sought for itself, isolated from its procreative and unitive purposes” (CCC 2351).”

      But my Chambers is not predominantly negative:

      lust /lust/

      noun
      Strong sexual desire
      Passionate desire
      Eagerness to possess
      Longing
      Appetite
      Relish (rare)
      Pleasure (Spenser and Shakespeare)

      intransitive verb
      To desire eagerly (with after or for)
      To have strong sexual desire
      * To have depraved desires

      ORIGIN: OE lust pleasure

  4. David Smith says:

    Quentin asks:

    “Do we think that a priest, as the representative of Christ, should maintain his whole focus on his vocation? He should not be distracted by family responsibilities.”

    That’s been the RC model for a very long time. Changing to married clergy would upend this.

  5. David Smith says:

    Quentin asks:

    “How can a celibate priest have a deep understanding of his married flock when he is without the experience?”

    Straw man. A psychiatrist doesn’t need to be manic depressive in order to counsel manic depressives.

    • John Thomas says:

      Yes, but the person in question still has to get the knowledge from somewhere. The psychiatrist does not have to be a manic depressive, sure, but he/she needs to have got knowledge of depression from somewhere, in this case training, books, counselling experience, etc. Where does the priest’s experience of, say, fatherhood, come from? Is he trained by people who have been there and done it? I wouldn’t wish to knock the RC approach – but I just remember that when I had young children (1980s) I drew some comfort from the fact that my (Anglican) vicar had been there about a decade before me, and had personal knowledge of having a young family.

      • David Smith says:

        “The psychiatrist does not have to be a manic depressive, sure, but he/she needs to have got knowledge of depression from somewhere, in this case training, books, counselling experience, etc. Where does the priest’s experience of, say, fatherhood, come from?”

        Yes, a celibate priest who’s never married and had children lacks the direct experience that might help in counseling married people, with or without children. That’s a deficit, surely. However, sexual institutions, at least in the West, seem to be moving decisively away from the nuclear family. There’s even, now, a movement away from sexual contact between men and women, period, sparked by the almost Puritan hostility of progressive women. That will, I imagine – I hope – correct itself, but I suspect that the wide “civilized” world may never again return to what seems to me the wisdom of married monogamy.

  6. David Smith says:

    Quentin observes:

    “The Eastern churches have allowed priests to be married; it does not seem to have damaged them.”

    Muslim men can have multiple wives, and Islam has not crumbled because of that.

  7. David Smith says:

    Quentin asks:

    “Sexuality in marriage requires deep physical desire – sometimes bordering on lust. Surely this is wrong for a representative of Christ?”

    “Wrong”? “Surely”? Check the magisterium. If the answer’s not there, toss a coin.

  8. David Smith says:

    Quentin asks:

    “Is celibacy a haven for those who lack sexual instincts, or who have perverse sexual instincts?”

    The latter certainly seems to have been the case over the past half century, but that’s likely because a lot of mid-level clergy and some hierarchs apparently interpreted Vatican II as giving them the green light to encourage it.

    I’d guess that men with *no* sexual drive are rarer than hens’ teeth, but I’ve read nothing on that.

  9. David Smith says:

    Quentin asks:

    “Would the removal of celibacy attract our badly needed increase in the number of clergy?”

    Nobody knows. My guess is that you’d get a small uptick in seminary applications. In return, you’d be changing the nature of the priesthood and the Church in very big ways. Be careful what you ask for. Fools rush in.

  10. David Smith says:

    Quentin asks:

    “Would the removal of celibacy so lower the status of the priesthood that many would feel that it did not fulfil their vocation, and so reduce the priesthood?”

    “Lower the status”? Depends on whom you ask, no? The future’s not ours to see. It would certainly be a big gamble. Ask yourself if things are so bad now that you’re willing to risk long-term disaster to fix a short-term problem.

  11. Hock says:

    Having married clergy in the Catholic Church is a lot more widespread then we perhaps realise. Former Anglican priests plus married Catholic priests in the Eastern Catholic Churches, married Permanent Deacons.
    Celibacy both inside and outside marriage should be a personal choice. All the potential problems listed by Quentin can be overcome by a desire for change and to enable that change to take effect.
    It has already been proven.
    One possible solution is to have what were once termed ‘short service commissions’ in the Forces.
    Viz be a priest for a pre-determined and limited amount of time, with a reduced training period than at present.

  12. Geordie says:

    This idea that celibacy is superior to the married state is debatable. Marriage is a sacrament and celibacy is not. Sacraments are a source of grace and they draw us closer to God. The Church hierarchy has been hung-up on sexual matters since the earliest times. However, sexual guilt was inherited from the Greeks. The Jews had no hang-ups about sex. To the Jews, sex is a gift from God and should respected as such.
    The important thing in life is to do God’s Will. That’s our vocation. Many priests felt called to the priesthood but not to celibacy and this has been the root of many of the problems we have had in the past and today.
    We shouldn’t think of a “lower the status” for priests. Status is unimportant where God’s servants are concerned. Status has resulted in clericalism. The laity are not of a lesser status as long as we all do God’s Will.

  13. Nektarios says:

    The imposition of Catholic dogma insisting that their clergy should be celibate and give their reasons is unbiblical and unapostolic. Forbidding to marry by the Church of its clergy is a sin.

    I remember once having lunch with a friend of mine, who confided that he believed he had the gift to be celibate. Your choice, I replied, but personally, I would not have it in a gift. Knowing how this man’s life is, it was the right choice for him.

    • galerimo says:

      Nektarios, my dear Brother in Christ, the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God: the Incarnation of Jesus Christ: the Blessed Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, really distinct and equal in all things – these are among the dogmas of the Catholic Church from which there can be no dissent – not the disciplinary rule of celibacy for male clerical priests.

      The Catholic Church changed the long standing rule of abstinence from flesh meat every Friday to an observance of that rule for only two days per year. It would take no more in order to change a rule like celibacy.

      However, you may still have a valid point here.

      If the Church abolished all its dogma overnight very likely it would have little impact on the twice yearly mass attendance of most Catholics at Christmas and Easter, nor affect much the waving of a yellow and white flag in the multitudes during the course of a, once in a lifetime, Papal visit.

      However, the appearance of a female resident in the parochial house who starts bossing people around in the sacristy – that would certainly shake them to the core of their catholic contentment!

      • Nektarios says:

        Galerimo

        All the doctrines or dogmas of the Church are as I said on previous occasions are Apostolic. These doctrines or dogmas as you rightly say, (among the children of God or true believers) is without dissent. They are the things that are surely believed among us and we are exhorted by the Holy Apostles to hold fast to them.
        However, all dogmas of the Roman Catholic Church are not Apostolic. The same is true in the Orthodox Church and in Protestant Churches.

        The reason for this is not so much they don’t know of them, but they don’t know God an has little place in their lives. So many believers find themselves failing and don’t understand it.

        Another issue of the Apostolic doctrine and teaching, it was never intended for the world at large, but solely for those who were members of the Church.
        Now we are in the position where St. Augustine said, ‘ I went looking for the Church in the world and lo, I found the world in the Church.’
        It seems so many such of this world are in places of authority in the Church causing confusion and heresy and conflict everywhere and would cast doubt, add to or take away from, or see themselves as superior to the Apostles.
        God help us and save us!

  14. Geordie says:

    Nektarios
    “Insisting that their clergy should be celibate” is not a Catholic dogma. Get your facts right.

  15. Nektarios says:

    Geordie
    Your right, of course, it is not a dogma, what would you call the RCCs wanting to maintain celibacy within the clergy?
    I do believe things are changing within the RCC on this matter?

  16. galerimo says:

    I’ll tell you what I think – It amounts to little more than sanctimonious stupidity. And it doesn’t work.

    Mandating celibacy for every man who presents for priesthood is a downgrade of the virtue and the sacrament. A virtue requires to be freely chosen for its own goods and not as a means to getting ordained. A sacrament is an encounter with Christ.

    This issue goes to a more fundamental understanding of ministry on the one hand and the church’s ability/willingness to affect a genuine pastoral change on the other. Voluntary celibacy and inclusive ministry are needed for our Eucharistic church communities to thrive.

    Coconuts and Hock point correctly to the current married Catholic priests in the Eastern Catholic Churches, under the jurisdiction of Rome as well as the married permanent Deaconate.

    Geordie too is right when he says that many priests feel called to the priesthood but not to celibacy.

    Clear evidence of this exists in the numbers of socially clumsy, boorish, self-absorbed priestly causalities who only survive their imposed loneliness by choosing either “Punch or Judy”.

    When it comes to celibacy, counter-reformation thinking remains a major influence along with a Tridentine theological mindset in the Catholic Church.

    Our priesthood is more akin to an Old Testament model of Temple worship, requiring compliance with strict purity laws than to the inclusive Christ centred service model He gave us.

    As you say, this is really about a misapplication of the gospels when the ordained hierarchy are seen as an “ontologically” superior group of Apostles compared to the wider group of the baptized disciples?”

    Mark never refers to the twelve as Apostles. Disciples are listed by name, but there is also reference to the “others”, (Mk 4:10) to the “many”, (Mk8: 34) whom he understood to be disciples too.

    For Mark the selection of the twelve is not any sort of establishment of a new priestly cast. Jesus is the model of discipleship. Leaving all to follow Jesus is not a claim that only religious or clergy can make but according to Mark, it is for all disciples of Jesus.

    Luke does use the title Apostle of the twelve (Lk 17:5), and they are special among the disciples. But in Luke’s description of Jesus’ final addresses to his disciples he states how all are to be witnesses, not just the twelve, all are to receive what the Father has promised and all are to be clothed with power from on high (Lk 24:36-53).

    The Council of Elvira was talking about men enjoying sex with their wives before saying mass. Presumably the night before! It was not about imposing celibacy. And it obviously made no difference to anyone. By 580 Pope Pelagius II was promoting his policy of not bothering married priests as long as they did not hand over church property to wives or children! Still today an intended of function of celibacy.

    Not until 1123 did Pope Calistus II at the First Lateran Council decree that clerical marriages were invalid and then subsequently at the Second Lateran II council of 1139 did compulsory celibacy gain general force of law for Catholic priests.

    So, by my reckoning next year the established practice of priests being married in the Catholic Church is older than mandated celibacy by 80 years. I hate to sound like an ultra right wing conservative but maybe it is time we went back to our old practice!

    Hock’s idea of a “short service commission” is an excellent one and aligns more closely with the inclusive nature of stewarding service that we see in the Gospels.

    There is a definite need in our church life for more inclusion at every level of ministry both for women, and for men who are married. We do find ample evidence in Scripture and early church life of such inclusiveness.

    It’s not just “the single priest”, that ought to be in question here; given his ontological and mandated celibate status it is more like the “priest as a singularity”.

    • David Smith says:

      It’s ironic that some of us are advocating a married clergy in an age when marriage itself seems on the wane. If priests are to have the freedom to choose their lifestyles, along with their sexuality, why shouldn’t they be free to simply go with the flow of the secular society, wherever that takes them? It’s pretty clear that the state of sexual unions will be in continual flux for a long time. Why lock the church in to only two options – married or celibate? Why not a homosexual pair of priests? How about a group marriage of, say, priests and nuns, with everybody sharing responsibility for a small cluster of parishes?

      That’s tongue in cheek, but once you open Pandora’s box, this is the sort of thing that’s likely to come storming out. The Church at the moment is clearly torn between holding the line and letting the boat go where it will, between tight discipline from Rome and extreme subsidiarity in the provinces, and from my vantage point, the progressives look to have the upper hand. Progressives being what progressives are, I don’t think it’s at all unlikely that they’d be in favor of what to those of us who favor tradition looks like some pretty wild stuff. How you value what you see is all a matter of where you stand.

      • Coconuts says:

        Among younger (and more committed) Catholics progressives might not be so dominant; when I was doing a course for vocations to the religious life a few years ago there were a surprising number of young traditionalist Tridentine rite people, actually outnumbering the progressives.

        I’m wary of following the lead of mainstream Protestant denominations, this seems to bring on rapid and drastic collapse in the number of active members of the church. I think it’s possible this is linked to a more secular and pluralistic society, there are more options (other religions, secular Humanism etc.) and it’s possible for a church to lose its distinct identity and what sets it apart from just generic charity or social work.

        Also, among the Russian Orthodox, while there have always been married priests, the strong general trend seems to be to associate holiness with asceticism. If you are holy you refrain from sex, you fast a lot and survive a lot of the time on meagre food, engage in hard physical labour for mortification and long periods of meditative prayer.

    • Quentin says:

      Galerimo, your contribution gives me the opportunity to remind all contributors that the maximum wordage is 600; yours is over that. I have not removed it because it is a long time since I have mentioned this. But I will in future.

      I think of contributions as an exchange of conversation. That way they get read!

  17. Geordie says:

    Coconuts
    Your definition of holiness is way off the mark. We are all called to holiness which is a gift from God for those who follow his Will. God is calling me to live my life as He wishes but He is calling others to live different lives. Holiness is not attained by our own efforts; we do as best we can, what our vocation calls us to do and we leave the rest to God.

    • Coconuts says:

      Geordie,

      It is not my own definition as such, it is a certain idea of holiness that I got from various Orthodox people and found it interesting. I would guess now that it is due to the influence of the monastic tradition on Orthodox spirituality and the idea of struggle against the eight harmful passions. The ascetic practices are understood to strengthen people against the influence of these passions and the activity of devils and malevolent spirits that seek to exploit them.

      I think there will also be a cultural element, the lives of average none religious people here can seem pretty austere by Western European standards so it is not surprising that the idea of what it takes to be holy is also more severe.

  18. John Nolan says:

    Whatever the merits of ordaining ‘viri probati’ (married men of good education and mature years, who have had a successful career and have no desire for advancement), certain facts have to be considered.
    1. The Roman Church is not going to ‘leapfrog’ the Orthodox and allow men to marry after they have entered the clerical state (i.e. after deacon’s Orders). This would be ecumenical suicide.
    2. For the same reason, married men would not be eligible to become bishops (Orthodox bishops must be celibate. Even in the first millennium married men had to put aside their wives before episcopal consecration).
    3. Unlike his Orthodox (or Anglican) counterpart a Catholic priest does not have fixity of tenure; a bishop may move a priest from one parish to another without his consent. This would present problems should the priest have school-age children.
    4. A young man wishing to have the best of both worlds (marriage and ordination) would therefore have to marry in haste (before deacon’s Orders), and we know where that leads.
    5. The same young man may have exceptional talents and would make an excellent bishop, but that avenue is closed to him. Would someone accept a permanent commission in the army if he knew from the outset that he would retire as a subaltern?

    Galerimo’s talk of ‘voluntary celibacy and inclusive ministry’ and ‘Eucharistic church communities’ suggests that he has moved a long way from established Catholic doctrine on both ordination and ecclesiology. His history is also suspect. Clerical marriage/concubinage may have been common in the west at the end of the first millennium, as was simony. Both were regarded as abuses by the eleventh-century reformers. The Lateran Councils of the twelfth century were not outlawing a previously legitimate activity; they were affirming that clerical marriages had always been invalid.

  19. Nektarios says:

    John Nolan

    There is not one scrap of evidence Biblical, Apostolic, for forbidding anyone to marry Bishops, clergy or deacons. In fact, forbidding to forbidding to marry was seen as extreme and a sin.

  20. Nektarios says:

    Correction:- delete the second forbidding. Thank you.

  21. John Nolan says:

    Nektarios

    It might have escaped your notice, but only protestants are Sola Scriptura. By all means stick to your teeny-weeny sect and spurn the rest of Christendom, Catholic and Orthodox alike.

    It’s ironic that Apostolic authority is invoked by ecclesial communities which do not have Apostolic succession and do not have valid Orders, if indeed they have Orders at all.

    I expect you believe that Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene and established a bloodline.

  22. Nektarios says:

    John Nolan

    I notice you do not reply to what I said in my posting, but resort to the usual standard insults.
    I would remind you numerically, the Protestant and the Catholic Churches are neck and neck.
    Apostolic doctrine, teaching and practice which is the Scriptures we have in our hands in our own language is both Protestant and Catholic and every true believers’ sole authority.

    There is no such thing as Apostolic succession as such described by the Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches. It is an ecclesiastic set up with a grab for money, power, authority ( which they do not have) and prestige.

    I won’t go into all the issues of the departures from the Apostolic doctrine, teaching and practice
    which is by several degrees the cause of all our powerlessness and failure.

    • David Smith says:

      “There is no such thing as Apostolic succession as such described by the Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches.”

      That’s certainly a valid point of view. On one hand, you have the human need to think for oneself, and on the other, the need to be taught. I sense that the dominant contemporary culture in the West is strongly biased toward the former. Whether more than a minority will ever willingly return to the latter is up in the air. I admit that the orthodox Christian model, much as it appeals to me, may be permanently out of favor.

  23. ignatius says:

    I must say this is a pretty depressing thread to read through. Perhaps it is worth pondering as to why none of you have been able to say anything positive about those who have committed themselves entirely to the service of God and who have been thus consecrated? The vast majority of ordained men will be giving of themselves as best they can, despite their own human frailty, in
    the midst of the many peculiar demands their calling makes upon them.The priestly calling is also one which, as John Nolan intimates, can shift in pastoral focus and in geographical situation pretty much on demand.
    We seem to think so little of those given to spend their lives utterly in our service. As to marriage have any of you ANY idea of the pressures of ordained life in the single, let alone the married state? Have any of you any idea of the stresses strains and marriage breakdowns which come from attempting to be all things to all persons as well as having a family?
    Also my limited experience from being both a Samaritan and a Prison Chaplain it doesn’t seem to make much difference, in terms of behaviour, whether ordained persons are single or married in terms of their falling prey to temptations and abuses of the flesh.

    Regarding the old chestnut about marriage enriching the ordained life it does seem strange that people think that a parish priest would have no inkling of what marriage life entailed…do none of you ever attend the confessional or do you not think that priests have eyes to see with?
    Having said all that I can see something in the discussion regarding the voluntary nature of celibacy in calling. At the moment there is the choice between priesthood and the permanent diaconnate in terms of celibacy or not. As a married Deacon I know that I value my wife’s support greatly but I also know that part of me would happily embrace the celibate state for the simplicity and freedom it brings.

    • David Smith says:

      “I must say this is a pretty depressing thread to read through. Perhaps it is worth pondering as to why none of you have been able to say anything positive about those who have committed themselves entirely to the service of God and who have been thus consecrated? The vast majority of ordained men will be giving of themselves as best they can, despite their own human frailty, in the midst of the many peculiar demands their calling makes upon them.”

      Nearly all the priests and religious I’ve know have seemed exemplary people. I’m grateful for their commitment and sacrifice and for having had them in my life.

      “do none of you ever attend the confessional or do you not think that priests have eyes to see with?”

      I seem to remember reading that the confessional today, at least in America, is little used. We live in a very individualist, very ego-centered culture. Humility is out, apparently.

    • Quentin says:

      Just to add another point to this. As a trained marriage counsellor, several years ago, I was warned against using my own marital experiences to guide my advice. The function of the counsellor is to work in terms of the client. He or she must be helped to explore their own feelings and to choose the solutions and objectives which they recognise as constructive. Volunteers to become counsellors who appeared to know all the answers were not thought to be suited to the work. An intelligent compassionate priest would certainly be helped by his broad knowledge of marriage from his pastoral work.

  24. Nektarios says:

    Ignatius

    We seem to think so little of those given to spend their lives utterly in our service. As to marriage have any of you ANY idea of the pressures of ordained life in the single, let alone the married state? Have any of you any idea of the stresses strains and marriage breakdowns which come from attempting to be all things to all persons as well as having a family?

    My answer to having any idea about those pressures in ministry let alone the married state, well, Ignatius yes i do, firsthand.

  25. John Nolan says:

    Nektarios
    Why do you use a Catholic forum to promote your brand of Protestant fundamentalism? As far as I can see, the only advantage might be if you could persuade some of the heretics inside the Church to join you on the outside. You can start at the top and work down.

    By the way, how do you like your stake?

  26. ignatius says:

    Nektarios:

    Re your comment to JN:
    “I notice you do not reply to what I said in my posting, but resort to the usual standard insults.
    I would remind you numerically, the Protestant and the Catholic Churches are neck and neck..”
    see this link to the Pew research unit: http://www.quora.com/What-percentage-of-the-worlds-Christians-are-Catholic-Protestant-and-Orthodox
    The figures seem to be 50.1% Catholic and 36.7% Protestant.

    I don’t much personally care about these figures either way Nektarios but I have developed the habit over the years of checking these assertions of yours. Without exception all prove to be wrong while the sources you quote often turn out to be ludicrously biased or downright dodgy. Perhaps you think that even on this site the globalist communist conspiracy is at work?

  27. John Nolan says:

    In addition, there is no Protestant Church as such, simply a multiplicity of sects – 30,000 at least. Protestantism is the weakest of all the great heresies. Or as Newman put it, ‘to be deep in history is to cease to be a protestant.’

    • Nektarios says:

      John Nolan

      It matters little to me but would correct you that the Protestant Churches are far from being sects, unless you mean they are breakaways from the Roman Catholic Church?
      Whether Catholic or Protestant or Orthodox, the important thing is for all of us to know God.
      When we do, all this bickering about religious/church supremacy fades into insignificance.

  28. David Smith says:

    All Christians are on the right track, I think. But it’s a broad one, with a great deal of variety in its different regions.

    We’re only sojourners here on this little planet, tiny creatures alone in a cold universe. Let us cherish the warmth of companionship wherever we find it.

  29. ignatius says:

    Nektarios:

    “…Ignatius
    I would such figures from a Roman Catholic source. Like you I do not personally care much about these figures….”

    The figures I quote are not from a Roman Catholic source, at least have the decency to check before you blather on.

    • Nektarios says:

      Ignatius

      I copied your link you posted, so who is Al Lundy? If it not catholic data, then what is the source?

      A Al Lundy
      Al Lundy, Practicing Catholic for 60 years, Deacon, servant of God
      Answered Mar 20, 2017 · Author has 4k answers and 392.5k answer views
      Approximately 1/3 of the world population is Christian.

      Of Christians approx 50.1 % is Catholic.

      36.7% is Protestant

      11.9% is Orthodox

      The remainder, just over 1% is Other.

      So Ignatius, who is Al Lundy

  30. G.D says:

    Does not the Sacrament of Priesthood (as taught by the Church) only differ from the ‘priesthood of the laity’ as to the graces of Eucharistic Transubstantiation, and forgiveness in the Confessional? …….. Is there any reason why the Spiritual Nature of the man ordained Priest is deemed different in ways from those not ordained? ….. Are not all other functions (even the ‘passing on of the faith’/teaching) capable of being equally performed by the laity? (Depending on individual talents and graces of course). ……. …. Why did Jesus say there was no marriage in heaven? ….. What happens to a lay person’s ‘creative impulses/energy’ when they live a celibate life? Is there any difference between eros and agape? …..It seems to me, answers are not in the ‘legal’ or ‘social’ aspects of ‘church’.

  31. John Nolan says:

    Ignatius

    I would concur with your analysis on this and other matters. I don’t doubt that Nektarios is a sincere Christian; my objection to him is that he posts on a Catholic blog to disseminate anti-Catholic polemics which are tiresomely familiar to anyone who has studied the history of the protestant ‘Reformation’.

    It is the commentators who claim to be Catholic whom I find to be problematic. Galerimo and GD are two cases in point.

  32. Quentin says:

    Now I like the variety! There Is no regular contributor I would rather be without.

  33. ignatius says:

    Now now john,…put away the Klashnikov lad ..its Christmas soon …

  34. G.D says:

    Ignatius, ban all arms, it’s Christmas & Easter everyday – Emmanuel; Happy Christ Mass.

    To those that have the need to adhere strictly to the basic principles of any subject or discipline (a fundamentalist mind set) there is no truth in any comments that threatens their own narrow perspectives. Which of course excludes the commentator, of said comments, from the fundamentalist clubs inherent in the minds, of said fundamentalists, of any collective. …. When fundamentalists find that problematic it gives hope for future growth, of said fundamentalists, and development in the collective. Thanks be to God for it.

  35. Alasdair says:

    With apologies – A non-scientific straw pole of some of my many Catholic friends yielded the following “results”.
    Everyone was OK with the idea of married priests.
    Most would not be OK with female clergy.
    I mentioned that the priest’s wife would almost inevitably become a non-executive key figure in the parish (as is generally the case with “protestant” vicar’s and minister’s wives). Some said that they would not like that to happen.

  36. ignatius says:

    Alisdair,
    Yes, thats about the general gist I should think. People would get used to ‘priest wifes’ taking a leading role though as everyone knows the Catholic church is, in fact, largely run by women! On the other hand my wife has no role in our church whatsoever…her work keeps her fully occupied.

  37. John Nolan says:

    G.D.
    For most people, adherence to the basic principles of any subject or discipline is axiomatic. I have read through the whole of your comment several times and can make no sense of it whatsoever.

    • G.D says:

      Of course you can’t – you can’t step out of your own clubs ‘mind set’ to see the commentators point of view.

      • John Nolan says:

        The commentator’s point of view needs to be expressed coherently. Having one’s own private language is all very well, provided that at least one other person understands it. To the world at large it’s gibberish.

      • G.D says:

        Oh, dear John …. you suppose (from your fundamentalist mind set) that because you don’t understand the meaning of something the ‘world at large’ wouldn’t.
        Concluding (from your supposition) others comments that don’t make sense to you personally, have no meaning or ‘truth’. It must be so gratifying to be so fundamentally correct all the time. ….. Then again, it’s probably an unrecognised burden too?

  38. John Nolan says:

    ‘Everyone was OK with the idea of married priests’. So they should be. On Gaudete Sunday I sang at a Missa Cantata in the classic Roman Rite. The fact that the parish priest was married with three grown-up daughters made no difference at all.

  39. David Smith says:

    Whatever Rome decides to do or not to do about regulating or not regulating the sexual lives of its religious, the Church will stumble on, as it’s done for two millennia. I hope, though, that it will have the good fortune to return to thoughtful, learned, articulate, conservative leaders. Political, impulsive, angry, dictatorial popes please no one but political, impulsive, angry Catholics, leaving those of us little inclined to continual revolution either to stay and look on helplessly or to opt out, finding new communities elsewhere.

  40. Nektarios says:

    Well said, DS, but I sometimes wonder if such change is a little too late in the day.
    Such opting out or finding new communities what what happened at the Reformation, big time and alas it has been going on ever since.

    The biggest danger comes from liberalism unlike the time of the Reformation where those Catholics
    did not what to leave, but were left with no other choice.
    Liberalism which is really no more than opinions and it seems whoever shout the loudest wins.
    We are better than that.

    May I take the opportunity to send my Christmas greetings to Quentin and to all the contributors
    and readers of Second Sight Blog.

  41. John Nolan says:

    G.D.
    I can understand that you make wrong and indeed unwarranted inferences from what I write, since I express myself in coherent English (and Latin too, pro opportunitate). You are not alone on this blog in attributing to me opinions, or indeed a ‘mindset’ which is purely speculative on your part. I have had to slap down another contributor, one John Candido, on numerous occasions for making the same error.

    However, in your case you compound the offence because you are obviously incapable of expressing yourself clearly and coherently. I do not attribute any ‘mindset’ to you, since I have no intention of entering into your personal Bedlam.

    All the same, I hope you manage to have a happy and less confused Christmas.

    • G.D says:

      Out of the box is my mindset … and your self imposed box prevents awareness of it’s richness; hence seen as Bedlam by you … yes, i understand your mind set. ….. Maybe you could profess yourself in Latin in the future? It would be a blessing not to have to see your tortured and convoluted repressions. … All the same, ….. may the Christ Child Bless you this Christmas with a taste of the awareness above and beyond the constraints of logical analysis.

      • John Nolan says:

        G.D.
        In view of the season, I shall ignore your egregious presumption and impertinence. Not everyone is as incapable as you are of logical thought and clear expression.

  42. Alasdair says:

    All churches, Christian communities, or whatever you choose to call them, have a chronic problem of recruiting clergy and a demographic timebomb is ticking. It seems that the RCC has made an additional very heavy millstone for its neck by limiting the field to men who are prepared to be celibate for life – apart from the Anglican “converts” that is.
    My understanding is that celibate male-only clergy is (as it was described to me) a “small-t” tradition rather than a “big-T” tradition and as such can be changed (at least the celibate bit).
    Pardon my presumption. I am a non-catholic who occasionally attends mass, receiving a blessing during eucharist and I do occasional voluntary work alongside catholics.
    Wishing us all a happy and less confused Christmas.

    • David Smith says:

      ‘It seems that the RCC has made an additional very heavy millstone for its neck by limiting the field to men who are prepared to be celibate for life – apart from the Anglican “converts” that is.’

      I wonder whether it’s all that big a millstone. Theoretically, on paper, celibacy is a deterrent to recruiting priests, but nearly all Christian denominations seem to be falling apart. Having a married clergy is not saving them. If the Catholic Church, both in desperation and to get in sync sexually with the secular culture were to allow priests to marry but then were to continue to lose membership, that could even make things worse. We’d have made a major concession to the amoral world and have got very little in return. It would look sad and be sad.

  43. John Nolan says:

    Alasdair
    Reserving ordination to celibate (i.e. unmarried) men is a discipline in the Latin Church, and may be relaxed in certain circumstances. The Eastern Churches also have a discipline of celibacy, although it is not applied in the same way. Even the Anglican Church, which breaks with the discipline of both East and West by allowing those already in Orders to marry, required resident university Fellows to be celibate until the end of the 19th century.

    Elizabeth I would have preferred her clergy to be celibate, but didn’t get her way on this. Since her Church was ‘by law established’, the views of Parliament had to be taken into account.

    You are right to assume that the reservation of Orders to men is a matter not of discipline but of settled doctrine.

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