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Thursday, September 12, 2013

Married priests: Thorn Birds still thorny

Still thorny...   (Photo by Edgovan22)
Some are wondering whether dramas such as the unrequited love between Father Ralph de Bricassart and Meggie Cleary may soon be a thing of the past.  That's because they are rooted in the Roman Catholic tradition of priestly celibacy – a tradition that the Vatican
now seems at least willing to "discuss."

F. Brinley Bruton of NBC News reports that Archbishop Pietro Parolin, the Vatican's new secretary of state (and number-two person), "has said that priestly celibacy is not church dogma and therefore open to discussion."

Wikipedia explains that in the earliest years of the church, many of the clergy were married men.  
1 Corinthians 9:5 (New Living Translation) seems supportive of this.  It reads as follows: Don't we have the right to bring a Christian wife with us as the other apostles and the Lord's brothers do, and as Peter does?  (Note:  This passage indicates that Peter, the very "rock" that the church was built upon, was himself married.)

Nevertheless, clerical celibacy became a "deeply entrenched" facet of Roman Catholic priestly life for centuries.  In fact, many of Pope Francis' predecessors had declared the very topic to be "off limits."

Some, upon hearing this latest Vatican news, might be envisioning a Thorn Birds remake with Ralph and Meggie living happily ever.  Sorry to say, these folks might be gravely disappointed.  Even with a change in policy, chances are that priests would not be allowed to marry after ordination.  In other words, married priests would have had to already taken their wedding vows before entering the priesthood.

Since Ralph did not meet Meggie until he was already ordained, these particular Thorn Birds will likely be singing their sad sweet songs for many years to come.


Copyright September 12, 2013 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

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