Sunday, 13 October 2013

Pressure from Latin Bishops to Not Ordain Married Priests

Australian Latin Bishops (and a certain Eminent Latin Bishop in Sydney) have put pressure on Australian Eastern Catholic Bishops (and more specifically the new Maronite Bishop) to not ordain Married Priests.

There have been Vatican decrees that have said ordaining married men in the diaspora is canonically illegal. For example, the 1921 decree cum data fuerit. This decree was originally directed to the Greek Catholics in the US, but has been applied universally to all Eastern and Oriental Churches sui juris to prevent the ordination of married men to the priesthood in all of the diaspora. Another example is in 2008 when the Congregation for the Doctrine of the faith reaffirmed the norm of binding celibacy of Eastern Priests outside of 'Patriarchal Territories' (Source - Italian). 

So technically, every Eastern Bishop who ordains a married man to the priesthood in the diaspora (without a dispensation from the Vatican) is being disobedient due to the decrees stated above.

Before I continue though, I would like to add that in one of the Australian Catholic Bishop's Conferences (ACBC) all Bishops voted 'Yes' for Rome to remove the official restriction on Eastern Bishops ordaining married men. The only Bishop to vote 'No' was Bishop Leonard Faulkner.

This makes me wonder why these certain Bishops are willing to favour removing the restrictions on married Priests in the ACBC, but not extend the same feelings in private.

There are some reason I can think of that would make Latin Bishops put pressure on Eastern Bishops regarding married priests. These reasons are:
  • The current political climate with the whole pedophilia scandal.
  • The possible conversion of Latin rite parishoners to become Eastern Priests simply because they can get married.
If any of the above reasons were used, then I believe the Latin Bishops either think we're very stupid or cowards. Both of which are highly offensive and untrue.

Eastern Bishops are aware of the political climate regarding Married Priests. But why should we worry about it anyway? Why should this be a problem? Why is there pressure?

Also, if the Latin Bishops think that our Bishops will just ordain any man who approaches us from the Latin-Rite to become a married Priest then they think we are stupid. I am sure that any Latin-Rite man who approaches one of our Bishops would have to go through a rigorous process of why he is changing rites in the first place. I assume we would also need to get permission of the Local Latin Bishop for him to change rites (only if this permission wasn't given so liberally in the opposite direction).

I believe it is a massive impeachment on our rights as sui iuris Churches that there is pressure on our Bishops to go against their Eastern Traditions. Latin Bishops have no (or should have no) juristiction over Eastern Eparchies. And while we thank the Latin Church for all it has done for us in the past, our tradition of having married priests should not change simply because we are in a Latin-majority country. This, I believe is a type of bullying that as Easterners we should not have to put up with. Infact, we should not have to face in the first place.

I would like to also mention that the Synod of the Middle Eastern Bishops which took place in 2010 asked for further synodal control of areas outside of Patriarchal Territories. This would affect the extension of Synodal authority to all matters of particular law, including that of the ordination of married men to the priesthood and includes Patriarchs being able to appoint Bishops in the Diaspora. These requests were given to Rome without fulfillment.

There is sort of a 'work around' solution that has been used on occasion by several of the Byzantine Churches sui juris: that is, sending married men over to the Patriarchal territories to get ordained. And following this coming back to the diaspora so that the local Eparch can assign him as he sees fit.

Please pray for our Bishops. That they may preserve our traditions, spirituality and theology in the diaspora.

Through the prayers of the Birth-Giver of God Maryam, and Mor Ephrem. God Bless you.


  1. "Also, if the Latin Bishops think that our Bishops will just ordain any man who approaches us from the Latin-Rite to become a married Priest then they think we are stupid."

    Indeed. The process of transferring Churches is not particularly easy when a male applicant expresses a desire to be ordained to the priesthood. In those cases, the receiving bishop will be very suspicious of the applicants motive, and it's almost guaranteed that the request for transfer will either be delayed for a longer than usual period or denied outright. Eastern and Oriental bishops are not in the business of helping people to subvert Canon Law.

    1. beithGazo "It is a different story when going from an Eastern Rite to the Latin Rite though. Permissions are given easily" I have never heard this to be this to be the case, and I have of heard quite the opposite, except of course for a women of an Eastern Catholic Church who choose to make the easy switch to the Latin Church of her husband, which can be reversed back to ECC if the marriage ends, which change requires no permission.

    2. Anonymous, How many of formerly Orthodox Churches or other Easterners do you know who are currently practicing in the Latin Church? Do you think the local priest consulted the Eastern bishop as REQUIRED?

  2. Eastern bishops should be careful though that married priests do not stifle celibate vocations to the priesthood.

    I know of certain eastern eparchy in Australia that due to its great dependency on married priests has not had any celibate vocations to the priesthood in decades. A Church without celibate priests is greatly impoverished as they can devote much more time and energy to the Church as they do not have the obligations to their wife and children that a married priest would have.

    1. Aphrahat,

      Has the bishop opened a monastery in that Eparchy? Celibate Easterners have traditionally never been left 'alone' so to speak - in the Eastern Tradition, celibates should take vows and live within Community in a domestic Church, as a married laymen or cleric would be in his household.

  3. May be the question has been answered by Jesus Himself: "Why would you be jealous because I am generous?" Matt 20:15b