Wednesday, February 11, 2009


I find it rather humorous that the Cleveland firefighter’s band is receiving the same criticism as the Catholic Church in the brouhaha over their disciplining of their drum major who broke the rules of the band during the inaugural parade in Washington D.C. (If you didn’t catch the story, here it is.) It seems a silly thing to get ones shorts in a bunch over (and many people have) but I am going to weigh in just the same. No, I do not feel particularly sorry for the man who later quit in a huff. Nobody forces anyone to be a drum major. And if you decide that you want to be the drum major for a particular band, you follow their rules. If you do not want to live by those rules, then maybe you are not really called to be a drum major – at least for this band. (He had the right to break the rules and hte had the right to discipline.) People who do not get this have no idea what it is to be in a military band.

That being said, nobody forces the priest to be celibate. The Church is not cruel in forcing its priests not to marry. Rather, if a man believes in the Catholic Church and if he feels that the celibate lifestyle would be the best way by which he might cultivate his soul toward God and help others do the same, then it asks him to consider the priesthood. Nobody forces anyone to be a celibate priest. And if you decide that you want to be a priest for this Church, you follow the rules. If you do not want to live by those rules, then maybe you are not really called to be a priest – at least of this Church (Eastern and converted priests aside.)

The point is that there is not a right (by anyone) to be a priest or a drum major no matter how deeply you feel called to it or how many protesters you can drum up (pun intended) to back you. It is a calling by the Church (in the case of priests) or by the band. Is marriage bad? No. It can and has and does work alongside priestly ministry. Is winking and waving at the president bad? No. Millions of people do it every day and we get by. Both rules could be changed. But for now they are not and until they are we agree to live by it or find another way to express that which we feel called to do.


Anonymous said...

An interesting parallel. I recall seeing a news clip of the drum major, and hearing, "See? Right there, see the hand?" -- but not having caught any of the inaugural events (by choice), didn't know much about the brouhaha. Dear God, I'm so sick of such onion-eyed brouhahas, but I see your point.

I've read of thousands of priests who left to marry, but many never left the priesthood in their hearts. Aw, how could they, you know? But the fact is, not only is priestly celibacy da rulz, but they are so for great reason. But even if one doesn't understand that, it comes from Rome. Period!

Here in America we want everything -- we want the men to wear makeup if they want, and we want the women to smoke cigars if they want. And even here in brisk and stoic New England --the complete geographical opposite of wildnwooly California --one can see both {{{shudder}}}.

I love the fact that most of the priests I've seen are virgins (please, God!) like their High Priest, Jesus. They are missing out on nothing crucial, as St. Paul often assured. They are Father to us all --and free to be that.

uncle jim said...

bravo ... again

Anonymous said...

Dear Father, Thank you for your clear explanation of celibacy, in which the priest voluntarily gives up "a good" for a higher purpose. In your homily on Sunday you alluded to the fact that the priest becomes the "father" to his parish.

Warren said...

I find this "married priest" idea pushed at us rather insulting to those priests who are already comitted to, and fully understand the life to which they are called, and have said Yes to it.

I find that my priest acquaintances and friends, and the franciscan friars I know, are completely (to a man) eloquent and outspoken in their defence of this consistent practice of the Church, which St. Paul eloquently describes, and which the magisterium of the Church has given us, as a part of our sacred tradition.

Some people however seem intent on reducing Priest to a job like milk-man, or gas-station attendant. Let's knock down all barriers without asking which of those barriers were actually the weight-bearing walls that hold the roof up...

I also find it ironic that people ask for the Catholic church to become essentially what the Anglican communion already is.
This is like walking into McDonalds and ordering steak, or walking into a hair-dressing salon and asking how much for an oil-change and a tune-up.


Anonymous said...

Fr. V,
What is the difference between a man being a priest rather than a woman being a priest?

I've always wanted to know..

Anonymous said...

As a woman--believe me, you wouldn't want a woman!! We are way too emotional! We get too wrapped up in everything and take everything said personal. ;)

Plus, that would be kind of weird if woman were priests--they would be married to the Church, who is Marry??
HMMM, can we say--lesbianism!!

Anonymous said...

That's Mary--not Marry!!

Anonymous said...

Dear Anonymous, I'm sure you are familiar with John Paul II's reasoning on why women are not ordained to the priesthood. So, I will look at more practical reasons. Of course, we all know that the priest stands "in the person of Christ." If you were casting a play, would you cast a man in the role of Mary? Speaking of Mary, Jesus did not make His Mother a priest. You could say that He was afraid to upset the cultural norms of Judaism, but the gospel accounts show Jesus "taking on the Establishment" many times. He upset cultural norms merely by talking to the "Woman at the well." So, I doubt that He was afraid to ordain Mary for cultural reasons. I think that men need a role model of faith and sacrificial love, a real man who will take on the role of "Father" to a parish.

Anonymous said...

Well men being married to the church is kind of gay-like too. The Nashville Dominicans call themselves "brides of Christ" if they are the brides of Christ, wouldn't that make men "grooms of Christ?" That sure sounds gay; it brings to mind a same sex spiritual marriage... Personally I would feel more comforted if a woman was my priest rather than a male. I think it come easier for women to mingle with parishioners and get to know them. Women have more of a nurturing characteristic rather than men, who USUALLY lack the quality. Women are EQUAL to men, and that makes me very angry with the Catholic Church. A wise nun once told me that women will indeed be ordained, and I really hope she is right. However, isn't it time for CHANGE and adapt with the feminist movement? Sure, it would be odd seeing a woman in a collar/cassock, but many view it simply as a uniform. Sometimes this makes me want to become a protestant-- better opportunities for women. I personally see my priest as just a person who decided to be a priest, and not as a “little God.”

Anonymous said...

Dear Anonymous, Some women have been hurt and abandoned by their fathers or spouses. When such is the case, these women need to develop healthy relationships with both men and women. I don't know if most Catholics seek to have a close and nurturing relationship with their parish priests. We want to like and respect our priests but, especially in a large parish, it would not be feasible to expect a priest to have warm and nuturing relationships with all those in need. Priests and counselors must maintain an appropriate emotional distance, just as we all need to do with other adults, male and female. People in authority, especially priests, are not intended to fulfill our emotional needs. That role belongs to close family members and spouses. Yes, women are equal to men in dignity. But men and women are not the same. Each brings their own way of relating, thinking and acting. You just said so yourself, by pointing out that women are by nature more nurturing. A person who needs nurturing should not seek it from a priest. The priest is a spiritual father. A person who wants a female priest needs motherly nurturing. Must that nurturing come from a female authority figure who leads a congregation? I think not.

Anonymous said...

Great points, however, I do not agree. I am very hurt that if I had a calling to be a priest or a spiritual leader I would not be able to carry it out as an 'administrator'. Yes, being a nun is an option, but not appealing at all. If women could be priest, the vocations would grow immensely (and if priest could marry as well). I almost wish there was the Church of Rome and the Catholic Church of America, just like there are different types of Judaism.
(My liberal Catholic Girls' education is speaking here).

Anonymous said...

Dear Anonymous, As I understand it, the priest offers his life in sacrifice. Sacrifice involves giving, not seeking. He does not seek the prestige of being an administrator or leading a congregation in ceremony. He does not seek to dress in fine robes for the purpose of being noticed among his congregation. The priesthood is not a job or a role. He is a priest "24/7." If you wish to be an administrator of a parish, you can become an Anglican priestess. Why try to change the disciplines of the Roman Catholic church when you can easily convert to another denomination? Do you desire to serve God's people in response to a call from God or is it an inner desire of your own choosing? If you were a nun, you could aspire to be elected abbess of your monastery. During WWII the Nazi SS wanted to take over a certain monastery as a base of operations. The mitred Abbess said, "Over my dead body." And the Nazis left.

Adoro said...

Anon ~ Leaving the Church because you cannot be a priest indicates not that you have a problem with the indicates you do not understand what you HAVE in the Church.

Is Our Lord in the Eucharist not enough for you? Is His sacrifice not enough for you to submit your own will to conform yourself to His? Obedience is the key that opens Heaven. Humility is the only way we can know God.

Pride is when we angrily seek what WE want and close ourselves off to what God wants and has expressed through revelation and the teaching authority of the Church.

A female priesthood hasn't saved the Anglicans...what makes you think it would save the Catholic Church?

Further, the priesthood is a calling from God..not the world. It's also a life of sacrificial service, not power. The authority isn't worldy authority, but something that comes straight from our Triune God, defined and exemplified by Christ, and handed on to the Apostles to pass down to MEN.

As women, we have a special role to fulfill and that's what we need to understand.

I used to be a radical feminist, too. I used to say women should be priests, that priests should get married, etc. But that's because I didn't understand who I was as a woman.

Women will NEVER be ordained in the Catholic Church. Period. A male-only priesthood is, in fact, an infallable teaching because, among other things, it belongs to the deposit of faith.

You may be interested in Sr. Sarah Butler's book - she set out to "prove" that women should be priests, and in delving into history and facts, learned otherwise. If you are truly seeking the answer to this question, you should not fear to pick up this book and truly SEEK.

Anonymous said...

And yet a priest is more than a drum major; a priest is a sacramental minister whose presence and action is required in order to facilitate the liturgical worship of the church, and who is necessary in order for the People of God to partake in the Eucharist as is their right. The priesthood is not to be confused with a glorified "boy's club" whose members "buy in" by virture of their aquiesnece to a set of archane and irrelevant rules and regulations. The imposition of the discipline of celibacy upon the prebyteral ministry has arguably resulted in the deprivation of Eucharist from millions of Catholics around the world. Celibacy is not inherently required of the diocesean priesthood; and many have argued that its imposition has resulted in a grave injustice to the faithful who wish to participate in the Eucharist weekly yet are unable to do so. It is demeaning to equate the Priesthood of Jesus Christ with a drum major in a marching band.

Fr. V said...


Nobody is equating priesthood with drum majors - And I would challenge you on your thought that changing the rule on celibacy would cause this great influx of priests. You assume that those who left and even say that they would return would. You assume that those who are in when the rules change would remain - and you assume that this would really cause that much of a change period bu those who are in niether group. It is pretty much a universal problem that there are shortages of ministers in mainline denominations that allow married gay and women priests.

"The priesthood is not to be confused with a glorified "boy's club" whose members "buy in" by virture of their aquiesnece to a set of archane and irrelevant rules and regulations."

This comment is not helpful. Part of if is exactly true. Yes, any participation EXACTLY corresponds to ANYONE'S aquiesence to teachings, rules, and regularions of the Church. Demeaning this does not help clarify the issue that really should be addressed. Should some rules that are not essential to faith be changed? Maybe. But it won't happen through belittling other's positions or making sloppy claims that changing them would cause people to beat down our doors in an attempt to get into the "new Church."