MARRIED PRIESTHOOD IN THE CATHOLIC CHURCH by Quinzo


The Altar of the Cathedral of the King (Charismatic Episcopal Church)

A couple of months before I graduated from college, I was able, or should I say privileged to witness and be involved for sometime in the Charismatic Episcopal Church. They call their theological orientation as convergence movement, i.e they are trying to unite the so-called three streams of Christianity. This church is liturgical, evangelical and charismatic.

Archbishop Hines (of the Charismatic Episcopal Church) on Pentecost Sunday

It was during my practicum at the Department of Foreign Affairs in Pasay City, Manila way back April 2007 that I was able to worship with them and eventually drawn to them. Inside their warehouse-turned-cathedral is an array of eastern iconographies and religious statuaries. It looks like a typical Catholic chapel save that despite its huge size, it is fully air conditioned. Like the Catholic Church, their central act of worship is the Holy Eucharist and does it with more pomp, music and I admit, even solemnity. They are headed by an archbishop and assisted by a throng of presbyters and deacons. Their mother church in the Philippines is the Cathedral of the King located at Mandaluyong City. Their priests don the usual vestments as our parish priests do and are even more conservative as to its proper rubrics. They however differ in one conspicuous and obvious thing: celibacy. That is, aside from being padre cura, they are also padre de familia. True to their title, they are indeed a father not just in spirit but also in fact.

At the high altar of the Cathedral of the King

Once, while worshipping in this church, I saw a priest with his family kneeling at the rear part of the cathedral. He (the priest) rounded up his two kids and in solemn prayer extended his arms over his family. In a liturgical church that is also charismatic, a time of personal prayer after receiving Communion is a common practice and others do it with their families or friends. As I went back to my seat after receiving Communion, I passed by them and I heard the priest’s wife telling her lovely daughter, “Ilagay mong kamay mo sa iyong dibdib.” She instructed her daughter to clasp her hands in prayer. In some other corner, you can see other priests (when they don’t serve in the Mass) doing the same with their families with extended hands and closed eyes mentioning their kids in their prayers. For me, it was a very touching sight. It would indeed be very different when you hear your father mentioning you in his prayers. Back in our place, I continued attending their Masses. This time I learned that during Sundays, the whole Eucharistic celebration was a family affair for the parish priest. Father presided in the Mass, his son served as an acolyte and his wife and daughter sang in the choir. Though others would consider it outlandish, it gave me a new picture of an ideal family.

At the side altar of the Cathedral with Deacon Van and Ate Mel

For cradle Catholics who aren’t so exposed to the practices of other denominations, the thought of priests with girls is always uncomfortable. Though for a typical guy it is just a normal thing and a sign of masculinity, for priests it is scandalous. And we know the very reason why, our Catholic discipline forbids it. But unknown to most of us Catholics, there are married priests in the Catholic Church!

Celibacy is neither a dogma nor a doctrine of the Church; it is a discipline and there are extraordinary circumstances when the Pope granted concessions for married priests to be ordained in the church and such is the case of some Episcopalian priests and Lutheran ministers in the United States who converted to the Church together with their congregations. Examples of these priests were Father John Lipscomb-the former bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Southwest Florida, Father Sidney Bruggeman-the first married priest of Nebraska, and Father Tom McMichael-the first married priest of the Archdiocese of Seattle, among others.

Fr. Ariel Santos (a married priest of the CEC) incensing the people

Their conversions and subsequent ordinations were made possible when John Paul II issued a Pastoral Provision in 1980 allowing married former Episcopal priests to become Catholic priests, and for the acceptance of former Episcopal Church parishes into the Catholic Church.

Archbishop Hines (of the Charismatic Episcopal Church) Ordaining a deacon

Upon reception and for a considerable time of preparation they were re-ordained sub conditione as the Church does not recognize the validity of Anglican orders.(Pope Leo XIII issued the papal bull Apostolicae Curae in 1896 declaring all Anglican ordinations to be “absolutely null and utterly void.”) After then, they continue to serve as married parish priests of their congregations.

Aside from these converted Episcopal priests, there are also other married priests in the Catholic Church who belong to the Eastern Rites of the Church. What are these Eastern Rites? Most of us Catholics may not be aware of it, the Catholic Church is a communion of particular churches who recognize and are under the full authority of the Pope. Though united in the doctrines of the faith, these different Rites have their own discipline and liturgical and devotional traditions. The Latin Rite is the rite we Roman Catholics belong to. But aside from this, there are Maronite Catholics in Lebanon, Chaldean Catholics in Iraq, Ukrainian Catholics in the Ukraine, and Coptic Catholics in Egypt-these are what we call the Eastern Catholic Churches. Majority of these Eastern Churches were in the beginning Orthodox Churches who eventually recognize the authority of the Pope. When you come to know them more, the way they celebrate the Mass, the vestments of the clergy and some other externals, they are more similar to our Orthodox brothers than to us Catholics. They also had a different priestly discipline, particularly when it comes to celibacy. For priests, celibacy is optional; you may or may not marry. However, a priest could only marry before his ordination. If he is single upon his ordination then he should remain single for the rest of his life, moreover if the wife of a priest dies, he is not legible to marry again. Monks on the other hand should be celibate and bishops should be chosen from among the monks. And from these Eastern Catholic priests are the 10% married priests of the Catholic Church.

Personally, I still believe in the dignity of the celibate priesthood. Our Church is a missionary church. We sent thousands of missionary-priests to different lands from ancient to modern times and we made saints of them. They converted many people, they faced many risks, and some of them did die. Imagine if they were married with wives and children to feed, raise and care for. This would surely limit their mobility and peace of mind. It was due to this ideal of offering oneself wholly to God that the Church spread to different lands. We made throngs of servants who are willing to sacrifice even their personal pleasures for the sake of God’s Kingdom. And this was exactly what our Lord Jesus urged us in Matthews 19:12,

“Some are born incapable of marriage. Others have been made that way by men. But there are others who have given up the possibility of marriage for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven. He, who can accept this, let him accept it.” (CCB)

I still have profound respect for our married Catholic priests but it is my desire to offer myself wholly to God one day.

Even if that means celibacy.

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21 thoughts on “MARRIED PRIESTHOOD IN THE CATHOLIC CHURCH by Quinzo

  1. Good Day!
    I am a catholic faith person, married and soon be a father. i dedicated my life to serve the Lord. During my younger years I always wanted to be a priest.But my parents disagree. Because of my elder brother, he was then an ex-seminarian. Now I am a working professional wanted to become a married deacon but the catholic church here in the Philippines do not have married deacons.I want to ask if I still have a chance to be a deacon or priest even if I am married?I want to serve God in return for his goodness and blessings that he has given to us. Do you have church here in cebu? Hope you could help me.Thank You!God Bless!

  2. Good day!
    Sadly, as of the present, I think there is no possibility for you to enter the ordained ministry of the Catholic Church here in the Philippines. As you have said, the Philippine Church do not have married deacons yet,however if you will be able to settle in the US and still have the desire then I could see a future possibility.
    While the Eastern Catholic Churches do accept married men to the priesthood, the problem is they do have certain considerations and restrictions for persons who do not belong to their Rite. Since you wasn’t raised as a Maronite or Chaldean Catholic, you can expect that to be one of seeming obstacles. Besides, as far as I know, there are no Eastern Catholic Churches yet here in the Philippines.

    The Charismatic Episcopal Church which I also mentioned in my article is not in communion with the Pope and the validity of their order and sacraments is still not recognized by the Catholic Church. However, they do have married priests. Should you wish to contact them, then you can visit their church in Cebu. Church of the Holy Family, Mango Park Hotel, Gen. Maxilom Ave., Cebu City.

    • hi! we have Eastern Catholic priests and communities in the Philippines from the ECC-Metropolitan See of the Philippines and All Asia. They now have 10 eparchies (dioceses) in the Philippines. Most of their priests are from the RCC. Im from molino, bacoor,cavite. we have masses every wednesday, Friday and sunday in our subdivision officiated by eastern catholic priests. They are very good at delivering homilies- something that you could hardly find in any of the parishes nearby, they offer mass prayerfully- you could really feel the presence of the Holy Spirit, they are very hands on in nourishing our spirituality – they go beyond just sacramental functions, they don’t even demand stipend and leave all the “collections” to the community. Practically they are just here for service. My experience with them is my first time to really see and appreciate the services of a priest. yet the diocesan priests here in cavite are attacking them , calling them fake, i felt sorry for their struggles, they are truly serving us without monetary interest, we feel God’s presence in them and in their ministries. we need these kind of priests. They belong to the Ancient Church of the East with Mar Addai II as their Patriarch based in Baghdad. Their roots could be traced from the early Christians from the persian emprire where around 4 million of them were persecuted because of their faith. pls help pray for them because they are being harassed and persecuted by their brother priests from the RCC. Truly they are very good priests with the heart of Jesus. God bless you

    • OH, I just love these shots. And right across the seetrt from you! How awesome. I think this in the top 3 of things I miss… churches and cemeteries. Sounds odd, I know, but the above ground gravestones I find strangely comforting, and the old solid churches with stained glass, well they just feel more spiritual. I like the two as a set… The blue of the sky echoed in the blue of Mary’s robe against the white and gray, that just knocks me out. Thanks to Owen, I’m so glad I found this blog!

    • I know one community in panggasinan here in the Philippines that accepts married people to the ordinations

    • Yes, we exist in the Philippines, The Eastern Catholic Church, Syrian-Chaldean Rite. You can find us in Antipolo, depressed areas, serving His people among urban poor.

      See you, God bless
      Josephus Bar Thoma

  3. I just wish they would stick to the use of proper terms on national television. My mom thought she was watching a Catholic mass, similar with differences especially in the Holy Communion portion where they used bread and gave it even to babies. She said the commentator kept repeating the word Catholic. Well, they are not. They are Charismatic Episcopalians not Charismatic Catholics. There is a big difference! Using the term Catholic in their TV masses can mislead people.

    • This shot is outstanding, James. It’s hard to take your eyes off of the stuate of Mary. I grew up by a cemetery and if there is one thing I learned it’s that you are never alone in a cemetery.

  4. Let us not focus on the understanding that Roman Church is the Only Catholic Church. “Catholic” by real meaning is “Universal”. We were being molded in a Dominant Roman Catholicism here in Philippines. CEC has its apostilic succession that sets the legitimacy of being part of the Universal Catholic Church. The Charismatic Episcopal Church mean not to mislead people as the church would claim the universality of its faith and tradition, and that’s how Catholicity all about.

  5. I don’t have the official capacity to announce whether or not a church has a valid apostolic order, but based on my research, the CEC has a more verifiable apostolic succession than say, the Iglesia Filipina Independiente.

  6. I believe, if I am not mistaken, The Aglipayan Catholic Church or IFI took its Apostolic Succession from Anglican Church.

    One thing that I really wanted to let every one know that the Universality or the Catholicity of our faith is in Christ. Things may vary the way our church would worship God but what matter is our Faith to One Lord and God. We’ve been praying for the unity of the church. Just like Family, we may belong to a different family(has its own Family name), but the unity is there because of respect and love. I believe that’s what God would want us to be. In one body, there will be many parts that works together in harmony to in the gloyr of the God.

  7. The original Iglesia Filipina Independiente founded by Fr. Aglipay has no valid apostolic succession. The early epistles of the IFI declared that the episcopate is just an office and not an Order and that the fullness of the priesthood is contained not in the episcopate but in the priesthood. Therefore, a priest can ordain a bishop, since as stated earlier, the episcopate is just an office and not an Order. This understanding is different from the understanding of Holy Orders in the ICCEC and more so in the Catholic Church.
    It was only many years later that the IFI headed by the then Bishop Isabelo de los Reyes, Jr, sought episcopal consecration from the Episcopal Church of the United States. But the problem is that Anglican Orders is neither valid nor recognized by the Catholic Church. Pope Leo XIII published the bull Apostolicae Curae declaring that Anglican Orders is absolutely null and void. The reason was due to the revision of the Anglican Ordinal which denies the sacrificial character of the priesthood, therefore, since that revision the intention of Anglican ordination is no more the creation of bishops and priests but ministers similar to that of the Protestant churches.
    Well, technically, that’s what it is. But with regards to other churches, here’s what the Vatican says in the letter entitled DOMINUS IESUS issued by the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith,

    17. Therefore, there exists a single Church of Christ, which subsists in the Catholic Church, governed by the Successor of Peter and by the Bishops in communion with him.58 The Churches which, while not existing in perfect communion with the Catholic Church, remain united to her by means of the closest bonds, that is, by apostolic succession and a valid Eucharist, are true particular Churches.59 Therefore, the Church of Christ is present and operative also in these Churches, even though they lack full communion with the Catholic Church, since they do not accept the Catholic doctrine of the Primacy, which, according to the will of God, the Bishop of Rome objectively has and exercises over the entire Church.

    With regards to churches devoid of apostolic succession,

    On the other hand, the ecclesial communities which have not preserved the valid Episcopate and the genuine and integral substance of the Eucharistic mystery,61 are not Churches in the proper sense; however, those who are baptized in these communities are, by Baptism, incorporated in Christ and thus are in a certain communion, albeit imperfect, with the Church.62 Baptism in fact tends per se toward the full development of life in Christ, through the integral profession of faith, the Eucharist, and full communion in the Church.

  8. That makes it more clear and understandable how IFI would establish their identity and legitimacy. Can’t make more comment with what they have because I am not really certain how IFI became chruch/Catholic if in term of Apostolic succession would mean. All I know, that’s how things would be more legitimate. So many denomination would claim to be the original church but the legitimacy is in the passing on of authority from Jesus to the apostles and to the successors(Bishops). It all started in the early 5 churches. History will tell us how. . . .

    • You can also check the Eastern Canons. Catholicism actually started in the East not in Rome, where Christ died in Jerusalem. Christ himself was and is the founder together with his disciples. Roman Church actually originated from the ancient church of the East, this is why the Easter Church is the older brother of the Roman or Latin church. Check the web for more information.

      Unfortunately, like the spanish prayles, other Catholic Churches including Eastern is still persecuted by the Roman empire church. They do not adhere to the doctrine of Ecumenism. After all, we should be One in Christ. Amen

  9. just want you to know, we are eastern catholics of the chaldean-syrian rite under metropolitan mar mikhael of edessa and mat addai ll, church in montalban,rizal. we celebratr the quiddisha qurbana every sunday. we are no romans nor protestants. just in case you would want to share some of your time with us.

  10. International Communion of Charismatic Episcopal Church especially the one with Sunday mass on television was a former group of Pentecostals. While discovering the Church Fathers and the early Christians, they found out that they were liturgical. And so, that Pentecostal group slowly embracing a more traditional norms of Christianity. From being an evangelical, they become catholic. However, this sect is not in communion with any Episcopal Church nor they are Catholic.
    Here in the Philippines, a Roman Catholic should be always vigilant since many groups here looks similar with Catholics: Aglipayanism, ICCEC, Apostolic Catholic Church, Eastern catholics, etc. To verify these groups, we should always seek if they are in communion with the Pope. If not, prudence is need to deal with these ‘catholic’ groups.

  11. The most severe pennshmuits for us men await those of us who failed in two ways:1). Those of us who had a chance to enter the Priesthood and did not. We will burn in the hottest fires of Hell because of all the souls that were not brought to salvation by our failure;2). Those of us who did not marry and have as many children as the will of God allowed.

    • About your intention of joining the order, well first and foremost, even though I was drawn to the spirituality and zeal of the Charismatic Episcopal Church, I remain a Roman Catholic. Second, I don’t have an order since I am a diocesan seminarian. If you are a Catholic and want to pursue religious vocation, you can start by searching for search-in seminars conducted by different religious orders near your area or you can start by making your intentions known to your parish priest. Have a good day and God bless!

      • God call in a very mysterious way, in His time and way… no age limit, no discrimination, as long as you have that faith in Him, to serve and live the Way to calvary leading to paradise..

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