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Married Priests

July 07, 1988

This is in response to " 'Married Priests' Plead for Church Roles" (Metro, June 25). It is about time officials in the Catholic Church began to tap their resources among the inactive clergy who are ready to become active again. To some it is a scandal that the church denies itself the services of those whose only disqualification from ministry is the fact that they are married. The years of training it takes to educate a priest are wasted if a relatively trivial rule prevents us from exercising our ministry.

However, we do exercise a kind of ministry, carrying our pastoral skills into other walks of life, reaching people who would never ordinarily be reached by a parish priest. It is too bad that we cannot carry on a sacramental ministry, but, even so, we have professional careers that draw upon our skills and upon our basic commitments as Catholic Christians. There is more continuity than discontinuity in the transition a former priest makes to lay life. As in all transitions, something is gained and something is lost.

Former priests must take time to heal and get over the resentment of being deprived of their ministry as part of their transition to lay life. Only then will they be able to serve well, if the time should come for them to be reinstated. After all, ministry is a community function, and belongs to the church more than to any individual minister. This is why active and inactive priests alike ought to respect church authority, even when they disagree with it. Ministry is not for self-gratification.

It is not good that some former priests continue to function as priests after they leave the ministry. The faithful are not ultimately well-served if we go about creating confusion by offering our services without the approval of a local bishop. The net effect of this is divisive.

The best thing we can do toward our own reinstatement is just to say that we are here and ready to serve.

ROBERT E. DOUD

Glendale

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