Alexandra Alter's article in Sunday's Miami Herald entitled Priests Screened for Cruise Ships, (Sunday, January 16), misses the point. She criticizes Married priests serving as cruise ship chaplains because they do not have the official sanction of the Corporate Catholic Church. These married priests, all validly ordained, are ministering under the auspices of CITI Ministries/Rent-a-Priest (CITI), a lay Catholic organization that calls married priests back to ministry. The age-old Catholic teaching, defined at Council of Trent and codified in church law (Canon 290) is "once a priest, always a priest."
Married priests are quietly at work in the church - on every continent - ministering to people who have no priest to meet their spiritual needs. Married priests began their work as cruise ship chaplains when cruise lines found it impossible to find Catholic chaplains among priests still within the Corporate Catholic Church to meet the needs of Catholic passengers on holiday cruises. According to Canon Law, when no other priest is available, married priests must respond (Canon Law 843). Without married priests serving as cruise chaplains, many Catholic passengers would be unable to worship on Christmas or Easter, days of profound religious importance to all Christians.
Both the World Council of Churches and the International Council of Community Churches recognize and ecclesiastically endorse married Catholic priests as ordained Catholic ministers. Currently, CITI member priests work as Catholic chaplains in the military, minister in hospitals, celebrate the Eucharist for small, priest-less communities, and witness legal marriages. Like Jesus, they proclaim God's word despite the opposition of religious authorities who would silence them.