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Catholic Deacons and Celibacy: Conjugal Love and Charitable Disagreement Comments

A highly regarded Canon Lawyer claims that married men ordained to the diaconate or the priesthood in the Roman Catholic Church must practice continence. What does Canon #277 say and what does it mean? Will the discussion raised by Canon lawyer Edward Peters reach Rome? With the coming infusion of married men serving as Priests and deacons it is time for a clarification of Canon #277 which dispels confusion. Continue Reading

11 - 20 of 38 Comments

  1. John Grimes
    4 years ago

    Whatever the meaning of the canon in question, there is no doubt in my mind that , if it intervenes, Rome will quickly put an end to this "how many angels dance on a pinhead" debate, and its clarification of the law will make abundantly clear that marital relations are not forbidden to deacons. Like one of the commentators above, I smell more than a little Jansenism in all this.

  2. TaylorKH
    4 years ago

    Very good article Deacon Fournier. Celibacy is quite right for someone who does not participate in the Sacrament of Marriage. Even if a person becomes a Deacon, and if he is married, he is still married. Orders does not cancel Baptism; neither does it cancel Marriage; if anything, it is an enhancement on top of those Sacraments.

  3. John Mainhart
    4 years ago

    There are two serious problems with this assessment of celebacy.

    If a Deacon and his wife are disposed through their love of God to practice a celibate life why is it necessary for him to have the Church establish such a relationship? If the church puts such a system in place then the wife must endure unchristian pressure to do something that the Deacon had not stipulated when he formed a sacramental covenant at his marriage ceremony in the first place. I just finished reading Pope John Paul's encyclical regarding the teahing that only men can be priests and part of that sacrament is Celebacy. I think this is an attempt to dialogue once again the same old story that the Church has answered on a number of occasions

  4. Jerriel
    4 years ago

    There should be no debate on whether celibate or married clergy and continence.

    Charity.. that is all.. that's the answer. not which is holier.
    Just Charity.. Giving your whole self in the service of the Church.

    Jesus gave His whole self when He died on the cross..
    Put Jesus in the center.
    No need to debate on this.. No need for bright arguments..

    Charity, this is the gift of the Holy Spirit.
    Celibate and continence are for charity.

  5. Paul
    4 years ago

    How wonderful to see an on-fire, pro-life, pro-Humanae Vitae, orthodox Catholic like Deacon Fournier bravely address this issue.

    I believe that we, the Western (Latin) Church, through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, should re-discover both the Divine Liturgy of the Eastern Church, and the Eastern Church's ancient tradition of ordaining married men to the diaconate and priesthood.

    O Theotokos of Vladimir, our Lady of Tenderness, pray for us!

  6. Helen Reilly
    4 years ago

    Thank you so much, Deacon Fournier, for this clear, rational look at this question.

  7. Brett Manero
    4 years ago

    Excellent article as always, Deacon Keith. I agree completely, especially with your conclusion of where the Holy Spirit may be leading the Catholic clergy in the one reunited Church to come. Thank you!

  8. Leon Suprenant
    4 years ago

    I really appreciate Ed Peter's and Deacon Fournier's respectful discussion of this sensitive issue which surely should be clarified by Rome. This is one of those areas where canon law seems to say one thing, and the common practice is otherwise.

    One thing about Keith's presentation that I'm sure Fr. Ryland and others who have researched the issue would dispute is Keith's conclusionary assertion that married clergy is an "unbroken" tradition in the East and an "ancient practice" to be "recovered" without regard that in the earliest centuries clerical celibacy was the norm in both the East and West. Surely that's a historical debate, and the Latin Church doesn't meddle with the practice of Eastern Catholics on this. But as Latin Catholics we should nonetheless be faithful to the Latin rite tradition and the Latin rite Code of Canon Law, as interpreted by the Holy See.

    Thanks for a really good treatment of the subject--what I've come to expect at Catholic Online!

  9. Elizabeth
    4 years ago

    While I think it's great to "reflect" on marriage and celibacy, it seemed the point of the article came at the end, basically in a call for opening the priesthood to married men. I have to disagree, and I think our current and previous pope make it clear that, thankfully, this will not happen any time soon. Anglican converts are the exception, not the new rule.

    I also think this article does some confusing blending of the 2 vocations. "Marriage in Christ is a vocational call to the evangelical counsels" is, I belive, not true and even misleading; the word "poverty" does not appear anywhere in the Nuptial Mass, married chastity is not "chastity" in the sense understood by the evangelical counsels, and the only one who is promising a new kind of obedience in marriage (above and beyond the obedience we all owe to Christ and the Church) is the wife. The rich young man was not being called by Christ to get married and follow Him; he was being called to poverty, chastity, and obedience, which he rejected. We each have a call from God, and we ought not to try to "have it all" in this life. The counsels are not requirements, and married people can still be holy and become saints, but it's confusing to say you can live the counsels in marriage. Marriage is beautiful, it's wonderful, it's holy, yes; but it's not compatible with religious life (which IS a call to the evangelical counsels) or the priesthood, until the pope says otherwise.

  10. vance
    4 years ago

    I have read for years that many people propose that the celibacy rules change. Why?? Men who 'Volunteer' to become priests know what the rules are. If they can't accept the rules, then they DO NOT need to volunteer. I believe it is more than this. There are people who have an agenda to change what they would like the Catholic Church to be.

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