Prayers Answered: Feedback on Priestly Celibacy

My prayer today before the Blessed Sacrament was that more convert priests who are married learn about and move toward sexual continence.

Prayer answered. Read on. Bold emphases mine.

Ann,
BLUF (Bottom line up front): I am in complete agreement, and am enormously grateful for the witness given by my brother convert priest.

Coming into the Church, clerical continence was not something mentioned, even once, in our formation. The dispensation from clerical celibacy, authorized only by the hand of the Holy Father himself (Pope Benedict XVI for so many of us, including me), was all that our leadership addressed.

More than a year after my ordination to the priesthood, I ran across the very serious discussion regarding this particular question, and I have been firmly convicted about continence since that time. I do not think one can argue against it theologically with any intellectual integrity. Canonical arguments, however, abound. I have asked two vicars-general (one of whom is a professor of canon law) and a judicial vicar (also a professor) about this particular question. The two responses that I have received have been: 1) do not worry about it unless your leadership worries about it, and 2) unless a canon directly and explicitly revokes a right already held (in this case, the conjugal rights of husband and wife), then such rights are not revoked, even by entry into the clerical state. I know many who would agree whole-heartedly with these responses. I also know many, lay and cleric, who advocate for adopting the Eastern discipline. Some even go so far as to the slippery-slope that your article explicates. It’s a terrifying thought, to be honest.

The first time I mentioned becoming Catholic to my wife was months after I’d been praying, reading, thinking, and discussing it with older men whom I respected, both Catholic and non-Catholic. I did not know what her response would be, though. When I told her that, “I think God is leading us to become Catholic,” her response was, “I’m thinking the same thing.” I viewed it as a work of confirmation though the Holy Spirit. […personal information redacted…]

Corporately, I pray that our leaders will finally address it at some point, as I am not the only one who has brought it up. Because my wife and I have not come to a joint decision in this regard, I’ve received derogatory comments from some “traditional” Catholics. That, I will admit, has bothered me a bit, since I’ve also been accused by others of trying to turn back the clock on the Church, since I, like so many other adult convert priests, am very traditional in the way I approach the One True Faith. I’ve even been accused twice of mixing liturgical rites just for offering the Novus Ordo Mass ad orientem. I am required to offer the Novus Ordo, based on my current assignment. After I complete my service in this arena, though, I have already stated an intention to never offer the Novus Ordo again, but to offer the Traditional Rite and that appropriate to my own diocese. Before I had even contemplated Catholicism, a Catholic priest whom I considered a good friend referred to me as a Nicene Christian, in that I believe what Christians have historically believed since before they started to split into different groups. Christ prayed for our unity, but that unity must be based in the Truth that He brought to us. Unfortunately, since crossing the Tiber, that priest and I have not spoken much, as it turns out that he is quite theologically and liturgically liberal.

Thus, I ask for prayer for my wife and I, and for all my brother married clergy and their wives. May we all come to give this same unified witness to the faith and the reality of the priesthood.

Signed,
Fr.

Be assured of our prayers.

St. Henry II, Holy Roman Emperor, pray for us.