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An Opening in Catholic Church re. Married Priests?

February 28, 2014

A married man has been ordained in the Maronite Catholic Church in St. Louis, Missouri… with blessing of the Pope.  What may it mean?

The story of this ordination can be found in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch found here.  According to the article, the Maronite Catholic Church is one of 22 churches of the Eastern rite who “recognize the authority of the pope and are in communion with Rome.”

In Europe, the Middle East and elsewhere, many priests in these churches are married, but this is the first one in the United States for this particular church, and according to the article, allowing Eastern rite married priests in the US has “generally been banned” since the 1920s.

Apparently this exception is a pretty big deal.  I have heard elsewhere that other married priests do exist in the US, but they have been unique and unusual cases such as a few Episcopal married priests who converted to Roman Catholicism and desired ordination.  Actually, I wouldn’t expect any major changes in practice or a flood of new married priests in the near future, but this could perhaps be significant.

What do you think? Is this perhaps an indication of a sea change and that this pope may begin or support a series of significant changes in things like a celibate priesthood?  

If so, what practical effects would you expect, beyond the potential impact on the sexual abuse problem? (And don’t forget that Protestants have a major problem there as well – just not as much known or publicized.) 

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