About Married Priests
Being ordained as a Catholic priest begins a state of life and
a mission that is lifelong. There is a common misunderstanding
that there is something known as an "ex" or "former" priest"
According to official Catholic teaching, once a priest is validly
ordained, that ordination is forever.
The Sacrament of Holy Orders, like [Baptism and
Confirmation], confers an indelible spiritual character
and cannot be repeated or conferred temporarily"
- Cathechism of the Catholic Church
Regardless of whether a priest remains celibate or chooses
marriage, the duty of spreading the Gospel and revealing
Christ present in the world belongs to him. The mission given
to a priest on the day of ordination is his for life.
...the character imprinted by ordination is forever. The vocation and
mission received on the day of ordination mark him
permanently -C.C.C. #1583
Nowhere in the Scriptures does Jesus ever mandate that his
leaders must be celibate. And, for the first 1200 years of the
Church's history, priests were permitted to marry.
[Celibacy] is not...demanded by the very nature of the priesthood as
is evident from the practice of the primitive Church.
-(Vatican II, ‘Decree on the Ministry & Life of Priests,' # 16)
Likewise, since 1981, the Church has allowed Anglican and
Lutheran ministers to convert and become Catholic priests
while keeping their families. These married Catholic priests
serve in parishes throughout the U.S.
When a priest discerns that celibacy is not a healthy way for
him to live and makes the decision to leave the celibate
priesthood, he is asked by the Catholic hierarchy not to
perform sacraments any more.
Yet when the decision is made to continue priestly ministry, it
is never with a callous or dismissive attitude to the leaders of
the Church. On the contrary, it is out of a profound love for
both Christ and his Church that a man continues to minister as
At the center of what we do as priests is the Body of Christ,
both the Eucharist & the Church. We seek to do what all
priests do, celibate and married; that is, to proclaim the Gospel
and to reveal Christ present in the world.
Scriptural & Church References
Regarding Celibacy & Priesthood
1 Timothy 3; 2-5
..a bishop must be.... married only once....He must manage his
own household well...if a man does not know how to manage
his own house, how can he take care of the Church of God?
...appoint presbyters (priests)in every town on condition that a
man be..married only once, with believing children.
Code of Canon Law
After it has been validly received, sacred ordination never
- Canon # 290