The Vatican announced Oct. 20 it will allow Anglicans and Episcopalians to join the Catholic Church. This would allow Anglican and Episcopalian parishes to retain their unique rights and practices, while recognizing the pope as their religious leader.
Now before my devout Catholic grandparents completely cut me from their will, I have a memo to get out to every Catholic priest that bangs his head against the wall every time a Victoria’s Secret commercial comes on. This means married Anglican and Episcopal priests may now be ordained as Catholic priests, sexual intercourse still included in the contract.
This is a radical move for a church that appears to evolve in doctrine slower than the actual evolution of humanity itself (for those who believe in evolution, that is).
All the originally ordained Catholic priests better hope this is just phase one in abolishing celibacy for all Catholic clergy. Unfortunately, the Vatican has a tendency to let change happen slowly over time – as in over the course of hundreds of years.
Off and on since the fourth century, and officially in 1074, Catholic priests have been expected to have a solitary union with God. As celibacy goes against basic human nature, it is no surprise that no fewer than seven popes, four who are saints, have been married. This includes St. Peter the Apostle, the first pope of the Catholic Church.
The bold and unexpected move was an attempt by the Catholic Church to tap into a pool of 77 million Anglican and American Episcopalians that have been sharply divided by the Anglican Church’s ordination of women and the blessing of homosexual couples.
But in reality, the move should be the first step in reversing over a thousand years of “human rule” backing the institution of celibacy within priesthood.
While married Protestant clergymen have been allowed to convert to Catholic priesthood on a case-by-case basis, the Vatican’s move to allow married Anglican and Episcopal priests to convert to Catholicism will likely lead to a substantial influx of married men into the Catholic priesthood. The move will likely also lead to entire Anglican and Episcopalian parishes switching allegiance to the Catholic Church.
The Vatican’s opening of its doors to married Anglican and Episcopal priests will no doubt strengthen the Catholic Church in numbers, but will also present itself as a more accepting and progressive church to Christian churchgoers on the bubble about which denomination is right for them.
With the Vatican’s lack of transparency, centuries of blunders, hypocrisy and idiocy, Pope Benedict XVI’s blitzkrieg into the Anglican nation was a rare sliver of brilliance by a more pragmatic, open-minded and opportunistic Vatican. This Vatican realizes progressive doctrine is the only way to pick itself of up from the shameful ashes of centuries of cover-ups.
The institution of celibacy itself can be blamed for the molestation scandals that has plagued the Vatican in recent decades. End celibacy and it is likely that instances of child molestation within the Catholic Church will decrease dramatically.
The Catholic Church is finally openly recognizing the hard reality that celibacy was less based in scripture and more based in an attempt by Pope Gregory VII to amass land and property from priests by not allowing them to have families. This in effect gave the Catholic Church inheritance to a priest’s possessions and estate.
As I am a practicing Catholic, I pray that Pope Benedict XVI and the Vatican will make the correct decision in completely abolishing the institution of celibacy within the Catholic Church.
For those Catholics who still have doubts about dissolving celibacy from their church completely, heed the words of St. Paul, who said, “It is better to marry than to burn.”
Ryne Sulier is a junior news-editorial journalism and political science major from Plano.