- Tuesday, 08 November 2011 06:36
News seems to be made about a Catholic married clergy in the USA, at least among the Eastern churches. It’s not new news but it is an interesting development in the USA that needs insight and pastoral action. The new bishop of the Melkite Church in the USA, Bishop Nicholas Samra (btw the first American born leader of the eparchy), spoke of the need of having a properly formed clergy to pastor the 27,000+ souls of the Melkite Church in the USA, even ordaining married men. In the coming year there may be one celibate man ordained.
This is not the first time the Melkite Church is doing such. More than 3 decades ago several married men were ordained in Canada but judged by the Holy See to be illicit; the former eparch Bishop John Elya ordained 2 married men and his hand was slapped.
In the western world married clergy is not viewed by the Holy See to be pertinent whereas in the old world, married men serve as priests. This carries the old prejudice of Archbishop John Ireland who demanded a celibate clergy of the Eastern Churches; his unreasonable proposition helped create the Ruthenian Orthodox Church in the USA. With the Eastern Catholic Churches it is part of their venerable ecclesiology to ordain married men to the priesthood. On a pastor’s side, the needs of the laity to follow their traditions. Looking at reality in front of him, there is a demonstrable need for Samra (and other Eastern Churches in the USA) to provide a clergy for his people. The eparchy doesn’t have enough single men willing to do the work, nor does it seem reasonable to hope beyond all hope for an exclusive celibate priesthood. The gospel needs to be proclaimed and sacraments administered for our salvation.
Pray to great Mother of God and Saint Nicholas for the grace of prudence for Bishop Nicholas!