Friday, May 20, 2005

Reflection on the Dual Calls of Marriage and Priesthood

Jim Lovejoy wrote recently:

Jackie reminded me that this is a special day for me... I had almost forgotten.. We went out for lunch.. to celebrate!

This coming January Jackie and I will commemorate our 35th anniversary of marriage. Today is my 49th year of ordination to the priesthood. The Institutional Church sees this as a contradiction. We do not!.What we see as a contradiction is the Church's insistence on mandatory celibacy for all priests.

The priesthood and maririage are my vocations....just as doctors have a vocation to medicene and to marriage; lawyers have a vocation to the legal service and to marriage; actors have a vocation to the stage or the theater and a vocation to marriage.That is very normal to most people The Church insists that celibacy is a gift, yet it is forced on those who feel called to the priesthood. How can celibacy be a gift if it carries a pricetag? Would you give your child a birthday gift but tell him or her that it comes with a pricetag...?

In light of these reflections, I am saddened by two recent events. The one was the report that a certain bishop had refused to allow a married priest (who did not get a dispensation from celibacy.... perhaps because he could not accept the Church's insistence that he "never reveal to anyone that he was a priest"... as a requirement for receiving the dispensation). to have a funeral Mass at the time of his death or be buried in a Catholic cemetery....... and yet another bishop found it fitting that he celebrate a funeral Mass for a convicted pedophile priest... because, all things considered he was a "good pastor"

I do not object to anyone having a Mass celebrated on their behalf..... even a pedophile priest... because after all, isn't that why Christ suffered and died.... for all of us as sinners.?? What I do object to is the singling out of married priests as beyond redemption.. After all is said and done, we never left the Church. We simply made the choice to receive another Sacrament, that of marriage. God willing, we had children. We raised Catholic families. Like so many others, we worked hard to provide for our families; we participated as best we could in bettering our communities and the world around us... and mystery of mysteries, we continue to love and support the Church...... because we believe that the Church is the people he sanctified by His Blood.

We have serious doubts about the hierarchical structure, ormulated by men and perpetuated, from time to time, by acts of violence and intolerance (e.g. The Crusades, The Inquisition, The Sale of Indulgences, etc.), but despite this, we trust the Holy Spirit to prevail in the last analysis.

Yes, this is a special day for me. I was ordained a priest, I am a priest, and I always will be a priest and I thank God that I will someday appear before Him, and not before any pope or bishop to have my integrity judged!!!!!

Jim Lovejoy, married priest