This posting on the Commonweal magazine blog (9/11/2007) by David Gibson is very interesting. It essentially confirms what we already know about the Pastoral Provision -- that while it is a foot in the door for a married priesthood (which is why I blog perhaps excessively about it), it is also moving the Catholic Church more firmly into the socially conservative camp. The counterpoint to this is that our more liberal priests are becoming married priests too...in the Episcopal Church. I think it is so ironic that these Pastoral Provision guys oppose a married priesthood. Perhaps they regret being married???
D. Paul Sullins, a sociologist at Catholic University of America and himself a married priest-convert from the Episcopal Church, has a new survey of married convert-priests that shows they are generally as conservative as we suspected--only more so. As summarized in the September issue of ReligionWatch (not yet on-line), Sullins' survey of many of the 70 married men who have become priests in the U.S. since 1980 under the Vatican's special exception shows that they are consistently more conservative on sexuality issues than celibate priests. Some 84 percent of convert-priests said sex before marriage is "always" a sin, as opposed to 57 percent of other priests, and 89 percent said homosexual behavior is always sinful, versus just over half of other priests.
Interestingly, married convert-priests were far more likely than other priests--61 versus 29 percent--to oppose allowing priests to marry. Hypocrisy, some may say. Or maybe they know something we don't? Also, a whopping 97 percent of the converts describe themselves as "somewhat" or "very" conservative, versus under 30 percent of celibate priests who self-identify as conservative. Also, married convert-priests are more likely than other priests to view ordination as giving them "a distinct and permanent status in the church" (92 v. 77 percent).
Something tells me this story is more about conversion than optional celibacy.