Monday, June 13, 2011

What priest shortage?

The U.S. currently has over 25,000 Catholic priests who were forced to an “inactive” status because they got married yet who are willing to serve, according to CORPUS an international married priest organization.  To put this number in perspective, according to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ website, there are 27,284 diocesan priests in the U.S.  Thus, the U.S. has almost as many priests in a forced inactive status as it has diocesan priests.  Do we really have a priest shortage?

Between diocesan priests and the additional 12,000 or so religious order priests, the U.S. has around 40,000 Catholic priests who cover all U.S. parishes except the 3,000 – 4,000 parishes without assigned clergy.   Reactivating 25,000 married priests would easily fill that gap.  Do we really have a priest shortage?

Worldwide there are over 125,000 married inactive priests as compared to the 400,000 or so current active priests.  Between 50,000 and 60,000 parishes worldwide have no priest, a number easily erased by reactivating 125,000 married priests.   Do we really have a priest shortage?

For over 1,000 years, the church had married priests and popes. Even today the church has married priests such as Anglican priests who converted to Catholicism or priests in the Ukrainian Catholic Church.  The church law regarding priestly celibacy for the Roman rite is considered a discipline rather than doctrinal.  Thus, changing the rule about priestly celibacy just needs the pope to say it’s o.k.  Why does the pope prefer creating an artificial priest shortage rather than caring for the flock?  Why does he prefer closing parishes to allowing married clergy consistently in all Catholic rites? 

All I can say is, “What priest shortage?”

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