Catholics discovering Orthodoxy

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Ben

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Brendan....

I can understand what you are saying, to a point, but it is still not a good argument against celibacy. You can go to a phycologist or a therapist, or your married friends, for marital advice! Why do you need a priest to tell you how to deal with your marriage and your kids? Perhaps his idea of how to raise a kid or to deal with an argument is totally different than yours.

I personally understand the logic in having married priests, and I am not against a married celrgy, but just because a priest in celibate doesn't mean that he isn't a good priest or that he isn't able to meet the pastoral needs of his parish.

I think some are called to the married life, and others are not. And we must keep a balance. Which both the Orthodox and Catholic Churches have failed at doing, however it seems that the Orthodox Church is doing a better job at it, though imperfect.

I remember the first Orthodox priest I met with telling me that he was concerned that celibacy was downplayed a little too much in Orthodoxy, and that it shouldn't just be limited to the Monastic life. He told me he remembers in seminary, young men who had completed their studies and were ready to be ordained, but with the encouragement of their bishop, they spent years trying to find a wife before they'd even think of getting ordained, not because they were called to the married life, but because they felt pressured and obligated to do so.

I think Orthodoxy puts too much emphasis on priests having to be married. And as a result I know some Orthodox parishes who suffer, when their priest has 5 kids, a secular job, and a parish of 60 people.

As I said I see the logic in a married clergy, but we as a result can not downplay celibacy, and its central role in the life of the Church

In Christ,
Ben

P.S.Let us not forget that those who run the Orthodox Church are celibate, and it seems to be working out just fine!
 

spartacus

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Ben said:
P.S.Let us not forget that those who run the Orthodox Church are celibate, and it seems to be working out just fine!
AH ....this is truly the administrative difference between Orthodox Christianity and the RCC. It is I think inaccurate to say the Orthodox Church is "run" by celibate men. Granted the officers of the Church might be almost exclusively monastic -- but the head of the Church is Christ and the Church itself is the Parishioners. Individually Parishes are administartively run by the Parishioners. It is not a democracy -- more like a consenus. The Parishioners very much have a say in administrative matters. Yes this can result in some Parishes "withering on the vine" if you will ....but this is not because the priest is married -- it is because the parishioners have made choices and decsions that resulted in this.

In the Midwest there are a number of very small Parishes where it has been strongly suggested that two or more small Parishes near each other merge...or make some changes like English Liturgies and congregational singing which have been proven to help Parishes attract new members and converts -- but the Parishioners in these Parishes refuse and so suffer the consequences of their decisions.

This is the weakness of the system. The strength however is that Parishioners have the ability to greatly influence administartive decisions for good...and also have the ability and methods by which they can act if they think the Diocese has made an administartive mistake onmatters such as priest assignment, etc.

Unlike Catholicism, Orthodox Parishioners are not subject to the administrative edicts of the local Bishop. Orthodox Christinas are not serfs. Orthodox Christians will not have a priests "forced" upon their Parishes...and very much unlike the RCC there is no shortage of Orthodox priests.

In Litugical matters though -- that is the realm of the priesthood -- and thatis how it should be.

Again this goes back to my point about the inheerant weakness of an entirely celibate priesthood -- autocratically ruling over the Parishioners in matters that are not just liturgical -- but also administrative.

It is impossible for me to imagine an Orthodox priest being accused of crimes against children -- being re-assigned to another parish of unsuspecting victims -- I just can not imagine the Parishioners allowing this to happen -- or the Bishops knowingly doing this -- let alone thinking the parishioners would them get away with it. Yet that is what we have today in the RCC. We saw it with Cardinal Law in Boston...and in Illinois it looks like more than one Diocese is wanting to use the First Ammendment and the Sanctity of the Confessional are being used as justification for refusing to cooperate in criminal investigations -- how sad.
 

Elisha

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Ben,

I think these are the problems Brendan has (which I agree with):

1) Allowing convert married clergy to become RC priests, while cradle RCs can't is a double standard that is completely illogical - it's not just a "different custom/tradition" or for pastoral reasons.

2) The RCC SYSTEM of requiring celibacy of their priests and considering the sheer size of the Church creates a situation where abuse/pedophilia/molestation/etc. is more likely to occur. Taking the population of "celibate" adult men, the liklihood of sexual deviancy/abuse/pedophilia/molestation/etc. When you put a higher risk group in a pastoral situation and then compound this with the negligent behaviour of their bishops, you get the huge mess that the RCC in America has.

We Orthodox are just saying that the RCC is just reaping the harvest of the bad seed of requiring celibate priests.
 

spartacus

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Ben...

If Celibacy is such a critical role in the life of the Chruch...then why was it optional in the RCC for the first 1,000 + years?

And as far as seeing priests for counseling....This idea that a RC parish priest is only to be seen for purely spritual counseling is a very new facet of the modern RCC. I am not that old but I remember as a child Catholics seeking out their priests for counseling because they wanted that counseling to come from a spiritual source rather than a secular one.

Two years ago when I was still a practicing RC I had some difficulties within my extended family and had some choices to make on how I could approach the dificulties of dealing with relatives who were committing some grievous sins. I called my parish priest and was looking for guidance on these matters from a spiritual perspective -- and was essentially told that due to the size of the parish he really could only spend time with me if someone was dying....unfortuantely my experince is more the rule than the exception in the Chicago area.

Is the job of a priest to shepherd his flock -- or just to celebrate mass, and preside over funerals and confession?

And about your conversation with Orthodox priest...I wonder if perhaps he was making an effort to be polite....if an Orthodox wants to live the celibate life he or she can enter a monatry. However if they want to be a parish priest -- it is better in general if they have the life experince where they can identify with the issues their Parishioners face.

Tis is why the RCC find it necessary for lay people to do most of the pre-cana counseling and education in its chools where matters of sex and marriage are concerned. AT a prominant boys Catholic HS in the Chicago area they had an Orthodox priest who was the head of their religione dept. This Orthodox priest who was hired to teach the RC kids religion -- because he wasa degreed theolgian --was laso asked by the priests there if he could teach on the subject of sex ed. -- because ,the RC priests told him, "they won't listen to us".
 

Elisha

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spartacus,

I hadn't read your new post before I posted.

A couple of corrections:

1) Got news for you - what the bishop says, goes. They tell the priests where to go. BUT, if the parishoners don't like said priest, they can protest by...not going to church and not paying tithes. The bishop would then get the clue and get a more appropriate priest. This is more of a moderate view between what you described for EO vs RCC.

2) There definitely IS a shortage of priests. Ben has a point, as there ARE Orthodox priests with families and full time secular jobs. Not ideal, but reality. The shortage may not be as grave as in the RCC, but it is reality.
 

Brendan03

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Im going to set up a new thread on this topic in Orthodox -Catholic forum, because we are meandering a bit here.
 

spartacus

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Elisha said:
spartacus,

I hadn't read your new post before I posted.

A couple of corrections:

1) Got news for you - what the bishop says, goes. They tell the priests where to go. BUT, if the parishoners don't like said priest, they can protest by...not going to church and not paying tithes. The bishop would then get the clue and get a more appropriate priest. This is more of a moderate view between what you described for EO vs RCC.

2) There definitely IS a shortage of priests. Ben has a point, as there ARE Orthodox priests with families and full time secular jobs. Not ideal, but reality. The shortage may not be as grave as in the RCC, but it is reality.
1.) The Parishioners also control the amount of the priest's salary....an extremely powerful tool yes? Compared to the RCC the Orthodox system seems to empower the Parishioners much more in such matters than what RCs could ever hope to be.

2.)Compared to the RCC there is nowhere near a shortage of priests in the OCA that I am aware of.

The last RC parish I was in had more than 2,200 families (more than 6,000 parishioners) and only two priests with one of them having to be shipped in from Africa (a nice man...but very few can understand him given his thick accent). My experience is not at all uncommon for the RCC in urbanized and suburbanized areas in the US.

And as far as Orthodox priests with families and secuilar jobs -- how large are their Parishes? Is it not the Parishioners who determine this situation by their decisions?

Again I am blessed to have such a healthy, strong and growing OCA parish so close to my home. My perspective I think is that of a new convert whose experience is one of being in an Orthodox Parish that is very healthy...and it does not take long to realize it....you hear it in the congregational singing and see it the faces of young families and tons of little kids.

People of every age and race, with ethnic backgrounds as diverse as the American experience.....Speaking mostly English but also about a dozen other languages...all worshipping together.
 

Brendan03

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"Parishioners much more in such matters than what RCs could ever hope to be."

It varies by jurisdiction in North America, I think. I do not think it operates like this in the Orthodox world, however, I think it exists here because of the history of how parishes were established here (more grass-roots than top-down), but it can lead to problems as well, so we have to be careful.

"Compared to the RCC there is nowhere near a shortage of priests in the OCA that I am aware of."

Probably because we are a lot smaller. Also remember that we have many convert priests, half or so of our active clergy are converts and the situation is similar at the seminary level. In terms of generating vocations among cradle Orthodox I don't think we're much better off than the RCC is per capita, for many of the same reasons (ie, our secular, materialist society).

"And as far as Orthodox priests with families and secuilar jobs -- how large are their Parishes? Is it not the Parishioners who determine this situation by their decisions?"

Well this is true, it is up to the parish to support the priest properly financially, and if not, then well he may have to work and Matushka may have to as well.

Brendan

 

Elisha

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The salary thing drillsdown into another inadequacy by jurisdiction.

In the OCA you probably get more service/$$ since more services are offered on average and priest salaries are lower. While in GOA parishes, you have a less services but better paid priests. I don't know if this is a function of richer parishioners, the parish sacrificing priest salary for other ministries/projects, different mentality or some combo of this, but this is reality.
 

Aristocles

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Elisha said:
The salary thing drillsdown into another inadequacy by jurisdiction.

In the OCA you probably get more service/$$ since more services are offered on average and priest salaries are lower. While in GOA parishes, you have a less services but better paid priests. I don't know if this is a function of richer parishioners, the parish sacrificing priest salary for other ministries/projects, different mentality or some combo of this, but this is reality.
I think you are right. Elisha.
I think my little ACROD parish gets an awful lot of work out of our priest and his rather meager salary.
I don't know the OCA. I do know there are parish guidelines "suggested" in GOA by the archdiocese. In the ACROD the guidelines are a bit more than just suggestions - but they're pretty small to start with and to pay less is rather sinful in itself. Both jurisdictions' levels reflect parish size (and age/status - missions being less burdened) and exceptions can be made. The GOA parishes tend to be larger and better able to pay more also. Many Greek priests are again learning that if they offer a fuller liturgical schedule - "we will come", eventually :)

Demetri
 

spartacus

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Elisha said:
The salary thing drillsdown into another inadequacy by jurisdiction.

In the OCA you probably get more service/$$ since more services are offered on average and priest salaries are lower. While in GOA parishes, you have a less services but better paid priests. I don't know if this is a function of richer parishioners, the parish sacrificing priest salary for other ministries/projects, different mentality or some combo of this, but this is reality.
As far as the OCA this issue came up last Sunday as our Rector Priest was sharing his experiences in the previous week where he spent several days working with an ailing Parish out of state. It is my understanding that in the OCA, the Diocese advises each parish as to what they should be paying the priest -- something comparable to what a professional with a similar level of education and experience would make in the local area...However, it is up to the Parishioners to determine exactly what the salary ends up being....so one ends up with situations like:

To afford a bigger mortgage, roof repairs (insert expense here) -- "let's lower the priest's salary when the new one comes in next month"

It is a downside to the system....but with freedom comes responsibility...and compared to how the RCC operates Orthodox Christianity allows the Parishioners enough administtaive freedom to succeed or fail as a Parish -- to let the fruits of their tree be known.

In the RCC wealthy Parishes support Parishes with less wealth through the supervision of the diocese...This is in concept a good idea -- stewardship. I know our Parish helps support a mission in another town over 120 miles away. There is also talk of our Parish planting another mission in a town maybe only 20 miles away because we have grown so much and are literally bursting at the seams.

In comparison, the RCC is adminstered with a corporate and almost military-like approach....the effect in my opinion is a Chruch that if judging from the buildings seems healthy....but if all the news in our media today were not enough....

At the end of every RC mass when the congregation is told:

"The Mass is ended...."

and the congregation responds

"Thanks be to God" It very often sounds like a sigh of relief. ::)

I know there will RCs who smile at this last one because it is so true.

I will galdly take all the jrusidictional issues, and the possibility of being in a parish that might very well fail...if it means being able to worship in a truly reverant way with fellow Parishioners who are not "relievedieved" when the Liturgy is over and not trying to kill each other to see who can get out of the parking lot first. ::)
 

DerekMK

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This thread has drifted from its initial purpose....this board is not intended for debatate - please move those to the Orthodox-Catholic or Free for all board in the future.
 
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