(NCR Online) It seems that married priests are on the horizon in the Catholic church. Word is that an experiment will soon take place in Brazil to address the severe shortage of priests in that country.
We know, of course, that married priests are already active even in the United States. Episcopal clergymen and even some Lutheran clergyman who have entered the church have been allowed to serve as clerics and remain married. As is to be expected, things will go slowly. Pope Francis could simply make an announcement that henceforth priests can get married within the church and that would be that. Of course, that is not the way we do things in our church.
South America, perhaps followed by Africa, are continents where the need for additional priests to serve the people has considerable urgency. Therefore, they may be good places to experiment with a married clergy. Perhaps married deacons may be ordained to priesthood, or priests who have left the priesthood and married might be reinstated. Naturally, only small steps can be taken. One doesn’t want to push the envelope too dramatically.
Even this incremental step, however, is meeting some resistance, and some of the resistance is coming from liberals. In a 2014 article, Jamie Manson described the movement toward married priests as a major step backward for women priests. Married priests will remove much of the leverage for women priests. If there is no significant felt need for women priests, then it will be easier for the hierarchy to continue to say no to them. [More]