Yearning To Serve
A reader writes:
Now that the Catholic Church has decided married Anglican priests are welcome to join the fold so long as they're opposed to the ordination of women and gays, I find myself thinking about my sister's college friend in the early 1980s. He was a devoted Midwestern Catholic who very much wanted to become a parish priest, preferably in his native Indiana. He fell in love with my sister, who regarded him (in that deadly parlance of young women everywhere) as "just a friend."
The night before he was to be ordained, he called her. If there was even a hope she could one day see him as her husband, he would forgo his ordination. She told him the truth: no.
I've thought many times over the years about his painful position and the Church's ridiculous celibacy requirement (particularly given the history). How many young men could the Church recruit into the priesthood if it would acknowledge a simple truth: most human beings crave the sustaining and enriching bond of a partner? That question doesn't even touch on women and gay Catholics who feel the call to minister.
How does the Church in the 21st Century double down on "thanks but no thanks" to thousands, possibly tens of thousands, of Catholics who yearn to lead others in the Profession of Faith? What does the Anglican decision communicate to Catholics priests who sacrificed the the foundation of a loving, human companion for life?
Of course, what the Anglican offer communicates to female and gay Catholics who yearn to become clerics is clear.
My sister's friend never received his parish appointment. He was scholarly guy, so the Church sent him on to grad school, then law school, then to a PhD program. He has since the 90s been an ordained priest who serves as an attorney in the legal division of the Vatican. When my sister became engaged to marry nine years ago at age 40, he offered to fly back to the states to perform the ceremony. They were unable to coordinate their dates.