My World of Religion, Politics, Entertainment and Social Issues

If you are visiting my blog, expecting to see 'Toward a Progressive Catholic Church,' I have changed my title to reflect my wide assortment of interests. Having retired from my secular job, I hope to devote the rest of my life to my hobbies, ministries and perhaps a part-time job that makes good use of my communications skills. This blog will be designed to address my multi-faceted interests.

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Location: Rochester, New York, United States

I have an M.A. in Theology and an M.Div (Master of Divinity) from St. Bernard's School of Theology and Ministry. I am currently a media consultant and promoter of classical music. I am also certified as an officiant by the Federation of Christian Ministries for baptisms, weddings and funerals and minister independently of the Rochester Diocese. My life has encompassed many interesting paths: broadcasting, free-lance writing, video-production, music, ministry and a secular job in government. In addition to this blog, I have a YouTube site at www.youtube.com/priestray and I have a Facebook page.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Marriage as Impediment to Ordination

While marriage continues to be celebrated as a sacramental union in the Roman Catholic Church, our hierarchy also refers to marriage as an impediment to priestly ordination. What the Church is essentially saying is that marriage is a blessed state as long as married parties keep their distance from the priesthood, thereby preserving the Holy Orders for celibate men.

In consideration of our hierarchy's disciminatory practices, I continue to voice three questions: 1.) How many married men, called to ordination, end up frustrated due to the fact that their gifts are stifled by the very same Church they wish to serve? 2.) How many priests who have entered into marriage would continue their vocations in the Roman Catholic Church if marriage were not an 'impediment'? 3.) How many women continue to feel as though they are second-class citizens in the Roman Catholic Church due to the fact that the doors to ordination are closed to them?

Having addressed my support of womens ordination and the plight of married priests in many of my prior writings, I would like to take this opportunity to address a situation I find myself in. This is to say that I am a married person, called to ordination. Yet, our hierarchy continues to remind me that my marriage is an 'impediment' to the ordination I am called to. This raises a very deep and emotional theological/spiritual question: "If, after several years of discernment, I have come to realize that the Holy Spirit is calling me to priestly ordination in the Roman Catholic Church, can it possibly be true that our hierarchy is putting handcuffs on both the Holy Spirit and me by preventing my ordination from taking place?

For now, I am continuing my fight within Roman Catholicism on issus of reform. Whenever I get discouraged, I constantly remind myself that it is the sacraments, liturgy and tradition that keep me grounded in the Church. Yet, I continue to have a constant struggle concerning my gifts, which are suppressed by the powers-that-be. It is for this reason I occasionally get frustrated by the lay ministries I am restricted to, as meaningful as they can be. As I continue to realize I am being called to preside, preach, anoint, baptize, officiate at weddings & funerals, etc., I can't say I will always be a Roman Catholic, unless the voices demanding Vatican III and an inclusive priesthood are heard within a few years.

In relation to my struggle, I have been in dialogue with an independent bishop. He is in need of priests and has encouraged me to come on board, whereby considering my theological and ministry degrees, ordination could conceivably commence within a very short time-span. Ironically, I would need to go through four years of formation in my diocese to become a Roman Catholic deacon, despite my M.A. and M.Div. (Deacons are only required to receive an M.A.). In this context, a Roman Catholic bishop in another diocese informed me that if the celibacy rule changes, it is most likely the first married priests would come from the ranks of the diaconate. So, he encouraged me to become a deacon, whether or not this is my calling, with the expectation this could be a stepping stone to the priesthood. Yet, my position on this is simply that if one discerns carefully, the diaconate and priesthood are two separate callings. (The diaconate is primarily an ordained ministry of service and the priesthood is highly sacramental in its character.) It is to the priesthood that I am called.

At least for now, I remain a Roman Catholic working toward change. However, if the Holy Spirit leads me elsewhere, I guess I will need to be open to that possibility.

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