Statement on the Compatibility Of Priesthood And Marriage
From the 1985 Synod of married priests and their wives in Arricia, Italy
Compiled by Dr Heinz-J. Vogels
The married Catholic bishops and priests represented in this Synod and their wives, on the basis of the Church’s decisions of faith, give unanimous testimony of the following Catholic truths:
1. Since all the sacraments of the Church derive from the same source, from Christ, priesthood and marriage cannot be incompatible, but must be able to join each other in the same Christian receiving them, in the Western as well as in the Eastern Church.
2. The right of the apostles and of all those who proclaim the Gospel to take along with them into the communities a sister as wife, as formulated by Paul (1 Cor 9:5), is a complete power given to the apostles by Christ and therefore belongs to the unalterable ius divinum. It cannot be abrogated by the ecclesiastical legislator, because it is, moreover, a fundamental human right.
3. The so-called reduction of a priest to the lay state is impossible from the point of view of dogma, if it is done only because the priest wishes to receive the sacrament of marriage, it is an unjust measure.
4. Every community has the right to have the ministries necessary for itself and to present suitable candidates for these ministries. Furthermore the apostolic authority instituted by Christ has the duty to ordain by the laying on of hands those candidates whom the authority finds suitable.
5. Beside the theological reasons there are also pastoral ones for the abrogation of the law of celibacy.
I a) The priests in nearly all countries are old.
b) Seminaries remain empty, except in some few countries
c) Up to one third of Catholic parishes have no pastor of their own.
d) One In five Latin Catholic priests have married.
e) The papal dispensations for converted pastors to remain married as priests have created inequality and legal insecurity.
II a) The evidence of chosen celibacy on one hand and of matrimonial union on the other would be clearer and more striking.
b) The human maturity of priests who have no charismatical vocation to celibacy would be possible.
c) Married people would be represented in the leadership of the church, so that the interests of all might equally be respected.
d) Women could take part in the decisions of the church, as is widely accepted in secular society.
e) Priests could better take part in the life of the faithful.
f) The clandestine partnerships beetween priests and women, which are unworthy to human dignity and which do harm specially to the women, would cease.
g) The desired approachment to the other Christian confessions who all admit the married minister, would be greatly facilited.
Ariccia, 30 August 1985. Giustino Zampini, president, +Jerónimo Podestà, vice-president, Paolo Camellini, secretary, Heinz-J. Vogels, coordinator prep.comm.