(Vatican Radio) - The problems facing married priests in the Eastern Catholic Church were at the heart of a seminar in Rome this week, sponsored by the Australian Catholic University and the Sheptytsky Institute of Eastern Christian Studies at St Paul University in Ottawa, Canada.
The Second Vatican Council’s decree on the Eastern Catholic Churches clearly reaffirmed the value of the Oriental rites with their distinct liturgical practises and traditions. Yet a Vatican document dating back to 1929 prohibited Eastern rite bishops from ordaining married men in the West or sending them from the East to Western countries where they were said to cause “confusion among the faithful”. While Roman or Latin rite bishops in some countries, such as Australia, formally welcome married priests to serve their Eastern rite communities, others still see it as a source of tension and division.
To find out more, Philippa Hitchen went along to the conference and spoke to Fr Peter Galadza, a married Ukrainian Greek Catholic prelate and professor of Oriental liturgy at the Sheptysky Institute in Ottawa…..
“We organised this conference because frequently there’s this misconception that somehow a married priesthood is less than authentically Catholic. We understand that as we’re only one percent of the total population of Catholics throughout the world, this is not always going to be understood or covered. Nevertheless we know that throughout the centuries, married priests with their wives and children have suffered for their Catholic faith…..
In the case of the Ordinariate (for former Anglicans), a lot of people have told me it’s a kind of a transitional reality. But we are concerned……..that instead of being recognised as an integral part of our tradition, as is guaranteed by Vatican II, it will be just like the Anglicans, a temporary exemption and we don’t see ourselves as a temporary, alien, immigrant reality in North America…
Are we suggesting the Latin rite should do this? Absolutely not, in the same way as we don’t like them telling us how to do our Divine Liturgy, we certainly don’t want to tell the Latin rite what to do with regards to celibacy. But when it comes to our own tradition of optional celibacy, that has to be respected
I begin my speech with a word of profound gratitude to His Holiness for that exhortation (Ecclesia in Medio Oriente) – there’s a recognition, right after the very legitimate recognition of the consistent value of celibacy, he then says ‘I also turn with a word of encouragement to the married priests and their families that during this great time of difficultly they might be encouraged and upheld… “