As a married former Anglican priest who is now a Catholic I sometimes hear Catholics say things like, “Excellent, and it’s about time too! I hope all our priests could marry. That would solve a lot of the problems.”
What they mean is that relaxing the celibacy rule will solve the priest shortage, solve the problems of pedophile priests, solve the problem of loneliness and ‘difficult’ celibate priests.
I can tell you from being in a church with married clergy that you would only exchange one set of problems for another. Here’s a story from England about a married priest who ran off with his female assistant. I am not relishing the problems outlined in this article, nor am I tut tutting and pointing the finger at the Anglicans.
I’m simply pointing out that having married clergy would not necessarily solve any problems.
Marriage has problems too. It was all best summed up by an old Irish priest I met in England. “What do you think Father,” I said, “About all of us married men becoming Catholic priests?”
“Well,” he said with a twinkle in his eye, “I expect sometimes we’ll be jealous of you…and then again, I expect sometimes you’ll be jealous of us.”