Marriage won’t solve the priest shortage

The Roman Catholic church should reconsider if it thinks the priest shortage can be solved by letting priests marry.

It hasn’t solved the problem in the Ukranian Greek Catholic Rite which allows priests to be married, says Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk.

Shevchuk is the Major Archbishop of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church.

He was responding to questions about next month’s Catholic bishops’ synod in Rome, which will consider allowing older married men who live in isolated areas to be ordained because of an acute a priest shortage in their region.

Although in the Ukraine itself there are many priestly vocations in the Ukranian Rite (which is full communion with Rome), the high numbers aren’t matched in seminaries in other countries, Shevchuk says.

“The familial state does not favor the increase in vocations to the priesthood. This is our experience.

“The same church with the same way of living the priestly vocation in other countries around the world does not enjoy this quantity of vocations.”

Noting the call to the priesthood comes from God alone, Shevchuk describes it as “a vocation which can neither be increased nor decreased based on the state in which this vocation is lived,” including whether the priest is married or celibate.

Priesthood is “a way of offering one’s life for the good of the Church,” he adds.

Even with the high numbers in local seminaries, the shortage of priests – even in Ukraine – is “a challenge for everyone.” Shevchuk says.

And, no – he doesn’t have any “recipes” to solve the problem.

What is important, he says, is to “look to the essential: That is, the vocation to the priesthood” as a call from God.

It is “a profound call by the Lord to be his priest. All the rest must be submissive to this central call.”

Shevchuk says if he could give some advice to the bishops meeting for this year’s Synod, he would say: “Don’t look for easy solutions to difficult problems.”

Instead, given that the priesthood as a whole is in crisis, the essence of the vocation in itself “must be developed.”

A Synod of Bishops on the priesthood focusing on ways to “understand the best way to live this vocation” is called for, he suggests.


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