The editors of the Catholic newsweekly America suggest that during this Year for Priests church leaders be open to dialogue on the question of married clergy. Otherwise, say the editors, Catholic communities run the double risk of being only infrequent Eucharistic communities and losing the benefit of the pastoral care and public witness of priests.
"Silence and fervent prayer for vocations are no longer adequate responses to the priest shortage in the United States," say the editors. After reaffirming that "vocations can be promoted through youth rallies, the Internet and, as always, with prayer," they ask, "What about the recruitment and training of married men as priests?"
The editors point out that married priests already minister in the Catholic Church, both East and West, including former Anglican and Lutheran ministers who have entered the Catholic Church and been ordained in the Latin rite. They suggest that the wishes of the more than 16,000 permanent deacons in the United States, as well as the 25,000 priests who have been laicized, should be considered as the question is examined.
"Our plea is modest," the editors conclude in the May 4, 2009 edition of America. "The bishops of the United States should take greater leadership in openly discussing the priest shortage and its possible remedies. These should not be conversations in which we face a problem only to find every new avenue of solution closed. Rather, they should be exchanges fully open to the possibilities offered by the Spirit."
Discerners, how do you feel about this question?