Ordaining married men to the priesthood
Sir, – Some few years ago Pope Francis, in answer to a question about ordaining married men to the priesthood, said that if any bishops’ conference asked for this, that it would be studied.
It now seems that at the Synod of Bishops from the Amazon Basin to be held in Rome in October 2019 this is very much on the agenda. The members of the synod are the bishops from the Amazon Basin of nine countries.
I think this is a good and necessary measure to strengthen evangelisation and build Christian communities.
It has been said that these should be elderly men.
I suggest that it would be better if the men were younger; in the 35-55 age bracket.
They would have more energy, would be still involved in work and affairs of the world, be able to relate to younger people and would have a longer life of service.
They should be selected from men who live a good Christian life, have been put forward by their local community, and have a family that is willing to accompany and support them in their mission.
In the case of the Amazon Basin, they should be from the indigenous people.
Their preparation should be orientated to evangelisation and not just to fill slots of an administrative or sacramental nature.
Presiding at the Eucharist would of course be part of their mission.
Their main aim would be to form Christian communities and so advance “The Kingdom of God” in this world. They should be formed more by scripture and the life of Christ than by canon law.
The Lord uses the expression “The Kingdom of God” more than 70 times in the gospels and makes less mention of the Catholic Church. This is a start on a new road and must avoid bringing these new priests into the clerical culture of the present church.
Some people ask how are these men and their families to be supported material-wise. To my mind this is not a useful question to start with. I do not envisage these men living apart in a traditional parochial house. They should continue with their normal life and work; not separate themselves from the rest of the people. Parishes as such are not the only structure necessary to live a Christian life.
I hope that Pope Frances lives long enough to see this become a reality. – Yours, etc,
Fr PAT EGAN, SSC