Saturday, May 14, 2005

One out of Three...Really?

I was thinking about married priests today, trying to recall when in the Catholic Church's history they were allowed to marry. A quick bit of research revealed there was a period of about 1000 years or so where priests, bishops and - reportedly - 39 popes were allowed to marry. Yep. That all sounded familiar.

Then, with the click of a mouse I read that one of three American priests are!

Found it all at, which reported more interesting facts:
  • Jesus’ disciples were mostly married men.

  • Prior to the year 1139 when celibacy was made mandatory, popes, bishops and priests were allowed to marry.

  • In the past 25 years, over 20,000 priests have left the priesthood to marry--an average of 400 per state--and 110,000 throughout the world.

  • Since 1980, married Protestant ministers have converted to Catholicism and have been ordained into the Catholic priesthood.

  • Over 10% of U.S. parishes have no resident priest.

  • 40 or more churches are closing or have closed in Boston, Milwaukee, Chicago, San Francisco, Detroit and other cities.

  • 21 church laws allow married priests to provide Catholic ministry if invited by baptized Catholics.

  • Practice becomes custom; custom becomes law in the Catholic Church.*
  • (I searched and searched for the "legend" that explains that asterisk. I wish I knew!)

    Interesting perspective. Rather than waiting for an edict, these 20,000 men have chosen to simply practice what they believe. Imagine that!

    The site also features an article that reports that once priests are married, they tend to stay that way: Some 86% of married priests are married to the same person, compared to the national average of about 50%.

    I doubt that Archbishop Levada has yet to leave for Rome, but with a growing shortage of parish priests and an increasing divorce rates among its members, it seems a timely first order of business might be how to bring these 20,000 shepherds back to the flock.

    They are most definitely needed.


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