Okay, I know that there have always been “special dispensations” and exceptions and the like for married priests converting from Anglicanism to Roman Catholicism and remaining priests. But now it looks like Rome is doing everything it can to bend over backwards and make this transition as easy as possible for as many Anglicans as possible.
So clearly, what’s happening here is that Rome is more than willing for a big influx of married priests which would oversee numerous flocks, right? Well, as I understand things clerical celibacy is not a dogma of the church, rather it is a pragmatic pastoral practice that the church has adopted and could, ostensibly change (after all it has been quite different at points throughout the church’s history).
Now, if clerical celibacy is a pragmatic pastoral practice it seems like it should be, well, pragmatic. In other words it should have some distinct practical advantages that make it preferable. But doesn’t this move to include any married Anglican priests reveal that the Vatican clearly doesn’t believe this? I mean, if being married really was an impediment to caring for a congregation, why would they be so eager to make space for it with Anglicans?
It seems patently odd for a church to make exceptions for its converts that it refuses to dispense to its faithful lifetime members, doesn’t it? And if being married in and of itself isn’t problematic for Anglican clergy who convert, why would it be problematic for Catholic priests to begin with?
It also seems undeniable to me that clerical celibacy has contributed to the decline of the Catholic church, at least in the West if not elsewhere. The massive shortage of priests has been documented at length. So, given that, and the fact that, at least for Anglican converts, marriage doesn’t pose a practical problem for ordained ministry, why does the hierarchy insist on retaining mandatory celibacy as the clerical norm? What possible advantage does it have? I really can’t think of any. And if its supposed to be somehow a practical move that helps the practice of pastoral ministry it seems like this is an utterly vital question.