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Married priesthood, celibacy, and the Amazon Synod: An Eastern Catholic priest’s perspective

I am an Eastern Rite Catholic priest of the Byzantine Rite of the Ruthenian jurisdiction. While I myself am a celibate priest, I come from a long line of married Byzantine Catholic priests on both sides of my family. It is with great interest that I am following the apprehension among many of my Latin Rite brethren that a potential outcome of the upcoming Amazon Synod is the restoration of married priesthood in the Latin Rite of the Church, a practice that also existed in the Latin Rite during the first millennium of the Church.

It is the jurisdiction of each particular Church, East and West, to determine for itself whether or not the discipline of mandatory celibacy, or an adaptation of this discipline, ought to be the required norm for all men ordained to the priesthood. Since the Latin Rite Church has maintained the custom of mandatory celibacy for priests for over a thousand years, any hint at change in this regard does indeed warrant the utmost prudence, honest scholarship, and wise discernment.

For the sake of clear discernment on this issue it is critical to avoid erroneous foundations upon which arguments for mandatory priestly celibacy are often founded. For a further treatment of these arguments I would also refer the reader to Dr. Anthony Dragani’s essay titled “Is Mandatory Clerical Celibacy an Apostolic Tradition?”

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