Some married men would become priests if asked

Some married men would become priests if they were invited to, a Belgian bishop told the Synod of Bishops on behalf of Belgium’s bishops’ conference.

Bishop Jean Kockerols said the vocations of Christian marriage and “celibacy for the kingdom” of God “deserve to be equally promoted by the church.”

Kockerols said Christians are expected to pursue another vocation out of their baptismal vocation in a way that gives “flesh” or substance to the sacrament of baptism.

In the same way, he said, some people may hear a call to serve and be ministers of their communities.

This call comes to them whether they are married or not, he said.

“I am convinced that some young people,” who, out of their baptismal vocation, answered a call to commit themselves to “the bonds of marriage would readily answer ‘here I am’ if the church were to call them to priestly ministry.”

Focusing on a deeper understanding of the term “vocation,” Kockerols said vocation begins with answering the call to life – choosing life and choosing to listen to and love the Lord.

“For the Christian, this call to life is an invitation to be and to become a disciple of Christ, ‘Come and follow me.'”

He said the baptismal vocation is “the source and summit” of all other vocations and people’s answer to each call prepares them for the important choices to be made in life.

The church must accompany young people so that they can become disciples of Christ “each at their own pace,” he said.

If the church does not become better committed to this task, it “will continue to lose credibility.”

Jesuit priest, Tommy Scholtes, spokesman for the Belgian bishops’ conference, underlined the conference’s support for Kockerols’ views.

He also said allowing for the priestly ordination of married men could be one way to address dwindling vocations, but that it was not the only solution.

The problem with vocations “is also a question of the credibility of faith in the world today,” he said.

He noted Orthodox churches and Protestant communities, which allow married men to become priests, are also seeing a lack of men wishing to pursue ministry.



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