The ordination of married men to the priesthood “needs to be explored openly within the church in England and Wales at national and diocesan levels,” the retired bishop of Portsmouth, England, has said.
Speaking to NCR, Bishop Crispian Hollis said he was “increasingly aware” of the pressure which priests are under due to the shortage of priests. He believes the issue of ordaining married men should not be left to “conversations within parishes and among the lay faithful.”
His comments were made as new figures released by the National Office for Vocations in England and Wales showed a drop in the number of men entering formation for the diocesan priesthood. Director of the office, Benedictine Fr. Christopher Jamison, described the fall as “disappointing.”
The Movement for Married Clergy, a lay organization founded in 1975 to promote a married priesthood, recently called for a national assembly to discuss celibacy and the possible ordination of so-called “viri probati,” or married men of proven faith. Backing the call, Hollis said it would not, in some senses, be a new departure for the church in Britain because “we already have a number of former Anglicans who are married and who have been ordained as Catholic priests.”
Source: National Catholic Reporter