Irenic Thoughts

Irenic. The word means peaceful. This web log (or blog) exists to create an ongoing, and hopefully peaceful, series of comments on the life of King of Peace Episcopal Church. This is not a closed community. You are highly encouraged to comment on any post or to send your own posts.


Married Man Ordained as Catholic Priest

the Rev. Bille LoweFather Lowe gives a blessing after his ordination.

A week ago today, the Rev. Bill Lowe became the first married priest in the Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles. He didn't do it by getting married against his church's wishes. Father Lowe was ordained by the archbishop and with the consent of the Vatican through a loophole which allows married Lutheran and Episcopal priests to become Catholic priests and remain married. The whole thing is explained much better at California Catholic Daily with their story Exception to the rule: Los Angeles archdiocese ordains first married priest.

Cardinal Roger Mahoney put it this way,
The practice of ordaining such persons in Germany goes back at least to the pontificate of Pope Pius XII. This practice is not so much an example of relaxing the discipline of priestly celibacy as it is an instance of an extraordinary act of compassion on the part of the Church in regard to someone whose whole life had been spent in both preparation for, and the exercise of, pastoral ministry.
Father Lowe and his wife, LindaLowe has been married for 44 years and has 3 children and five grandchildren. He will certainly bring different life experience to his new ministry than his fellow Catholic priests. As an Episcopal priest in his 22nd year of marriage, I have no interest in a future as a Catholic priest but neither do I have anything against the idea. I knew of this provision which has led to more than 70 married men becoming Catholic priests in the past 27 years and I thought I would share it with y'all.

Certainly, married clergy are the historic norm in the eastern churches with an unbroken succession of married priests in Greek and Russian Orthodox and other churches in that part of the world. So married priests have always been so. I'm just intrigued by how this practice, though a rare exception, may or may not form a precedent for future actions by the world's largest Christian denomination. On this point Cardinal Mahoney adds,
This is not a precedent that implies any diminishing of the value of celibacy in priestly ministry, but an instance in which the Church acts in an exceptional way to strengthen and ennoble the gifts brought by its newest members.
My one thought is that Cardinal Mahoney's words notwithstanding, it will be difficult for those in Father Lowe's church and the clergy alongside whom he serves not to see this as setting a new precedent. Catholic children who see him with his wife at church functions will grow up seeing a married priest as a model of ministry within their church and may find it odd to learn that this is, other than a loophole, against the norm, if not rules.

AskthePriest has a previous post on priestly celibacy at Clerical Nookie.

The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor

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