• For users new and old: the forum rules were streamlined when we transitioned to the new software. Please ensure that you are familiar with them. Continued use of the forum means that you (a) know the rules, and (b) pledge that you'll abide by them. For more information, check out the OrthodoxChristianity.Net Rules section. (There are only 2 threads there - Rules, and Administrative Structure.)

Orthodox Priests and Marriage

TomS

Archon
Joined
Apr 6, 2003
Messages
3,186
Reaction score
0
Points
0
Age
64
Location
Maryland
Orthodox Priests Have the Option
Greek Church, Unlike Catholic, Allows Clergymen to Marry, but Celibacy Has Its Rewards

By Bill Broadway
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, April 27, 2002; Page B09

Before his ordination four years ago, James T. Paris was getting pressured by his mentor, the Rev. George Papaioannou.

"Come on. You've waited long enough. Let's ordain you now as a celibate priest," Paris recalled Papaioannou saying. "We need some good bishops."

Papaioannou, then senior priest at Greek Orthodox Church of St. George in Bethesda, told Paris he had the potential to become one of a dozen bishops in the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, the largest Orthodox denomination in the United States.

Paris knew the drill. Because Orthodox bishops come only from the ranks of unmarried priests, he faced the choice of all Orthodox seminary graduates: Be ordained unmarried and promise to remain that way throughout your career, or get married and then be ordained. Once ordained, there's no turning back.

The decision was not difficult for Paris.

"I always wanted to get married and did not want to choose the celibate route," Paris, 41, said at home this week with his wife at his side. But he acknowledged that the older he got as a bachelor, and the longer he postponed his ordination, the more likely he was to choose the life of an unmarried priest.

Fortunately, he said, he met Eleni Mathios, fell in love and married. On Nov. 1, 1998, Paris was ordained and has remained at St. George's, as associate priest and eventually priest of the 850-family parish.

Paris had a choice his Roman Catholic counterparts do not have.

Since the 12th century, celibacy -- defined by Webster's as "the state of being unmarried" and "complete sexual abstinence" -- has been required of all Catholic priests, said Chester Gillis, a professor of theology at Georgetown University. Previous synods had addressed the matter, but it wasn't until the First Lateran Council in 1123 that mandatory celibacy became "normative," he said.

By that time, Christianity had begun to split into two branches, Western and Eastern, over theological and political issues. The married priesthood was one point of dispute, said the Rev. Robert Stephanopolous, dean of Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral in New York. Orthodox Christians said optional celibacy had been allowed since the 1st century; Roman Christians said it had not.

U.S. cardinals meeting in Rome this week restated support of mandatory celibacy for Roman Catholic priests, calling sexual abstinence a "gift to the church from God" and asserting that there is no scientific evidence linking celibacy and pedophilia.

But the crisis of confidence brought by the current scandal could bring celibacy to the discussion table in June, when 300 U.S. bishops will meet in Dallas to discuss the cardinals' recommendations for preventing further abuses and restoring the trust in Catholic leadership, observers say. The bishops cannot act without Vatican approval.

"Is it time to look at optional celibacy? It might be," said the Rev. William J. Byron, pastor of Holy Trinity Parish in Georgetown and former president of Catholic University.

Optional celibacy would allow candidates for "secular" or diocesan priesthood, those who planned to work as parish priests, to marry and have families. The option would not apply to men and women who join religious orders, said Byron, a Jesuit priest who called celibacy one of the "organizing principles" of religious communities.

The Greek Orthodox practice of appointing only celibate priests as bishops dates to the 5th century, when the church decided to halt the loss of extensive land holdings to heirs of married bishops, Stephanopolous said. Thereafter, bishops were chosen from the ranks of monastics, who have always taken vows of chastity.

There are precedents for married priests in the Catholic Church. Many Eastern Rite Catholic priests, those who head Orthodox-style churches under the authority of Rome, are married. And several dozen married Episcopal priests have switched to Roman Catholicism since 1980, when Pope John Paul II approved a provision allowing them to serve as Catholic priests.

Dean Hoge, a Catholic University sociologist who has studied Catholic and Protestant churches over three decades, said the rule of celibacy is unlikely to change under the current pope. But practical demands eventually could overshadow theology and tradition in bringing about a shift in policy, he said.

"The big issue is not whether celibacy is a good or bad thing, but about the terrible shortage of priests," Hoge said. The Catholic population in the United States is 63 million and continues to grow, but the number of priests continues to decline, increasing clergy workload, frustration and burnout, he said.

Studies have shown that allowing priests to marry would dramatically increase the pool of potential candidates. After a 1985 survey of Catholic undergraduates, Hoge predicted that there would be a "fourfold increase" in men considering the priesthood if celibacy were made optional.

A recent survey of new priests concluded that "satisfaction or dissatisfaction with the celibate life is the strongest factor affecting overall priestly satisfaction," Hoge said. Ten percent to 15 percent of Catholic priests resign within five years of ordination, and more than half of the resigned priests questioned for the 2000 study did so for reasons related to celibacy, he said.

About one-fourth had fallen in love with a woman and wanted to continue the relationship through marriage or other means; about one-fourth were heterosexuals who had no love interest but decided that they could not continue the celibate life; and 5 percent to 15 percent were homosexuals who wanted an open, long-term relationship with a man.

Most others who left the priesthood "felt lonely or unappreciated," said the report, which will be published as a book in July as "The First Five Years of the Priesthood."

The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America also has too few priests for a growing population. But a tradition of married clergy has helped create stability, said the Rev. Michael Kontogiorge, vice chancellor of the New York-based archdiocese.

About 91 percent (575 of 630) of active Greek Orthodox priests in the United States are married, and it is "very rare" for Greek Orthodox clerics to resign, he said.

Only three priests have resigned in the last two years in the 1.5-million-member denomination. All were widowers who had young children and wanted to remarry, Kontogiorge said.

Under Orthodox rules, a celibate priest cannot marry after ordination, and a non-celibate priest cannot remarry and remain a priest, even if his wife dies, he said.

Widowers who remain celibate can become bishops, but that's happened just once. Five years after Papaioannou's wife died in 1993, he became the first married priest to be appointed bishop in the century-old U.S. Greek church. He died in 1999.

Paris, who was a banker and financial analyst for eight years before realizing his true calling as a priest, said most Greek Orthodox seminarians "take for granted they will all find young ladies and get married."

Eleni Paris, 29, a marriage and family therapist, said she wanted a husband who was "strong in the faith" but never thought about marrying a priest until she met James.

"We've grown a lot together," supporting each other's jobs and looking forward to having a family, she said. A married priesthood "establishes some normalcy of human connection of love" that allows the priest to experience the same "ups and downs" of married parishioners, she said.

Their schedules increasingly clashed as "Father Jim" took on greater responsibilities at St. George's. "We always eat breakfast together, but I can't remember when we've shared dinner," he said. They try to take one weekday for personal outings.

The pressures will increase after June 1, when Paris assumes his new appointment as dean of Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Phoenix, a rapidly growing parish of 1,000 households. Eleni Paris will be moving away from her home town of McLean, and once the couple settles in, they hope to start a family.

But Paris said she knew what she was getting into as a presvytera, or priest's wife. "I love people and I love talking with people," she said. "It's hard to complain about it."

James Paris said he looks forward to the challenges of his new job and will try to avoid the mistake many priests make by "being married to the church" and spending too little time with their families. He knows the pitfalls, having grown up in a family of priests, including his father, dean of Ascension Cathedral in Oakland, Calif., a brother, an uncle and a grandfather.

Paris also is content knowing that he might never make bishop. "That's as high as I can go," he said of his new role as head priest of one of the denomination's 34 cathedrals. "God willing, I will spend the next 25 to 30 years" there as pastor and father.


-¬ 2002 The Washington Post Company
 

Aidan9

Newbie
Joined
Apr 23, 2016
Messages
7
Reaction score
0
Points
0
Location
N Ireland
Faith
Traditional Catholic
Jurisdiction
Britain and Ireland
I've been a Roman Catholic all of my life. Six years ago my wife ended our marriage. I feel a strong call to priesthood. In theory could I become an orthodox priest?
 

RaphaCam

Patriarch of Trashposting
Joined
Oct 22, 2015
Messages
8,788
Reaction score
168
Points
63
Age
24
Location
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Website
em-espirito-e-em-verdade.blogspot.com
Faith
Big-O Orthodox
Jurisdiction
Exarchate of Gotham City
Aidan9 said:
I've been a Roman Catholic all of my life. Six years ago my wife ended our marriage. I feel a strong call to priesthood. In theory could I become an orthodox priest?
IIRC, divorce before reception in the Church doesn't count.
 

IXOYE

Archon
Site Supporter
Joined
Mar 21, 2006
Messages
3,004
Reaction score
30
Points
48
There was a priest that was on this forum briefly that said it was counted.
 

Mor Ephrem

Hypatos
Staff member
Moderator
Joined
Oct 3, 2002
Messages
36,372
Reaction score
239
Points
63
Age
40
Location
New York!
Website
www.orthodoxchristianity.net
Faith
Mercenary Freudianism
Jurisdiction
Texas Feminist Coptic
Aidan9 said:
I've been a Roman Catholic all of my life. Six years ago my wife ended our marriage. I feel a strong call to priesthood. In theory could I become an orthodox priest?
There isn't really an "in theory".  You'll have to ask the bishop of the diocese to which you will belong when you convert to Orthodoxy.
 

Asteriktos

Strategos
Joined
Oct 4, 2002
Messages
39,996
Reaction score
508
Points
113
Faith
-
Jurisdiction
-
Mor Ephrem said:
You'll have to ask the bishop of the diocese to which you will belong when you convert to Orthodoxy.
+2
 

Alveus Lacuna

Taxiarches
Joined
Sep 17, 2008
Messages
7,424
Reaction score
8
Points
38
Location
Missouri, USA
Faith
Orthodox
Jurisdiction
OCA
I've known of both happening. Some bishops count the divorce a scandal and won't ordain, others see it as washed away in baptism. Converting because priesthood is being denied to you in another church doesn't seem like the best motivation to me. It would be the truth of Orthodoxy.

That being said, my spiritual father, who is a priest and now monastic, is a widower to his second marriage, but his first wife remains alive and this was not an issue in his being made a priest. I will say that he the best priest I have met.
 

mike

Protostrator
Joined
Sep 14, 2008
Messages
24,873
Reaction score
0
Points
0
Age
30
Location
Białystok / Warsaw
Faith
Christian
Jurisdiction
Diocese of Białystok and Gdańsk
Sonce when being a divorce was an issue for ordination?
 

mike

Protostrator
Joined
Sep 14, 2008
Messages
24,873
Reaction score
0
Points
0
Age
30
Location
Białystok / Warsaw
Faith
Christian
Jurisdiction
Diocese of Białystok and Gdańsk
Mor Ephrem said:
mike said:
Sonce when being a divorce was an issue for ordination?
You don't get out much, I guess. 


And a few other notable examles. And probably thousands of less notable.
 

Mor Ephrem

Hypatos
Staff member
Moderator
Joined
Oct 3, 2002
Messages
36,372
Reaction score
239
Points
63
Age
40
Location
New York!
Website
www.orthodoxchristianity.net
Faith
Mercenary Freudianism
Jurisdiction
Texas Feminist Coptic
mike said:
Mor Ephrem said:
mike said:
Sonce when being a divorce was an issue for ordination?
You don't get out much, I guess. 


And a few other notable examles. And probably thousands of less notable.
I'm not unaware of that.  But there are contexts in which divorce in and of itself is scandalous enough to make ministry impossible, so it can be treated as "an issue for ordination".
 

Aidan9

Newbie
Joined
Apr 23, 2016
Messages
7
Reaction score
0
Points
0
Location
N Ireland
Faith
Traditional Catholic
Jurisdiction
Britain and Ireland
Alveus Lacuna said:
I've known of both happening. Some bishops count the divorce a scandal and won't ordain, others see it as washed away in baptism. Converting because priesthood is being denied to you in another church doesn't seem like the best motivation to me. It would be the truth of Orthodoxy.

That being said, my spiritual father, who is a priest and now monastic, is a widower to his second marriage, but his first wife remains alive and this was not an issue in his being made a priest. I will say that he the best priest I have met.
for some time now I've been of the opinion that Orthodoxy is the purest form of Catholicism
 

Minnesotan

Archon
Joined
Sep 14, 2014
Messages
3,329
Reaction score
1
Points
0
Age
32
Aidan9 said:
Alveus Lacuna said:
I've known of both happening. Some bishops count the divorce a scandal and won't ordain, others see it as washed away in baptism. Converting because priesthood is being denied to you in another church doesn't seem like the best motivation to me. It would be the truth of Orthodoxy.

That being said, my spiritual father, who is a priest and now monastic, is a widower to his second marriage, but his first wife remains alive and this was not an issue in his being made a priest. I will say that he the best priest I have met.
for some time now I've been of the opinion that Orthodoxy is the purest form of Catholicism
Just out of curiosity, why do you list your faith as Baha'i?
 

Aidan9

Newbie
Joined
Apr 23, 2016
Messages
7
Reaction score
0
Points
0
Location
N Ireland
Faith
Traditional Catholic
Jurisdiction
Britain and Ireland
I'm a member of the Baha'i Faith for six years. Recently however I've had thoughts about reverting to Catholicism. I don't know why I'm having such thoughts, no obvious trigger
 

Orest

OC.Net Guru
Joined
Jun 14, 2007
Messages
1,567
Reaction score
1
Points
36
Aidan9 said:
I've been a Roman Catholic all of my life. Six years ago my wife ended our marriage. I feel a strong call to priesthood. In theory could I become an orthodox priest?
Let's see here: you really wanted to become a married priest but were RC.  Now  all of a sudden you want to be an Orthodox priest?  Is that a condition of your conversion?
 

Orest

OC.Net Guru
Joined
Jun 14, 2007
Messages
1,567
Reaction score
1
Points
36
mike said:
Mor Ephrem said:
mike said:
Sonce when being a divorce was an issue for ordination?
You don't get out much, I guess. 


And a few other notable examles. And probably thousands of less notable.
True Mike, but this famous example and others became monks.
 

Indocern

OC.Net Guru
Joined
Aug 5, 2014
Messages
1,351
Reaction score
0
Points
0
Faith
Christian
Jurisdiction
Orthodox
My priest told me that I must become priest, because I often come to him and ask him questions.
 

hecma925

Orthodox Taliban
Joined
Jul 31, 2013
Messages
21,477
Reaction score
983
Points
113
Age
160
Location
Wandering Fool
Faith
Truthful Chalcedonian Truther
Jurisdiction
Enemy State Orthodox Church Abroad
Indocern said:
My priest told me that I must become priest, because I often come to him and ask him questions.
Um...
 

Indocern

OC.Net Guru
Joined
Aug 5, 2014
Messages
1,351
Reaction score
0
Points
0
Faith
Christian
Jurisdiction
Orthodox
hecma925 said:
Indocern said:
My priest told me that I must become priest, because I often come to him and ask him questions.
Um...
In my country to be priest you must be married first, so I think it is good thing.
 

scamandrius

Merarches
Joined
Jan 22, 2006
Messages
9,407
Reaction score
10
Points
38
Location
Omaha
Faith
Greek Orthodox
Jurisdiction
Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Denver
Indocern said:
hecma925 said:
Indocern said:
My priest told me that I must become priest, because I often come to him and ask him questions.
Um...
In my country to be priest you must be married first, so I think it is good thing.
There are no hieromonks in your country? Which country is that again?
 

Indocern

OC.Net Guru
Joined
Aug 5, 2014
Messages
1,351
Reaction score
0
Points
0
Faith
Christian
Jurisdiction
Orthodox
scamandrius said:
Indocern said:
hecma925 said:
Indocern said:
My priest told me that I must become priest, because I often come to him and ask him questions.
Um...
In my country to be priest you must be married first, so I think it is good thing.
There are no hieromonks in your country? Which country is that again?
Bulgaria. Yes there is, like everywhere.
 

Sharbel

OC.Net Guru
Joined
May 31, 2017
Messages
1,601
Reaction score
4
Points
36
Faith
Orthodox
Jurisdiction
Greek
Aidan9 said:
I've been a Roman Catholic all of my life. Six years ago my wife ended our marriage. I feel a strong call to priesthood. In theory could I become an orthodox priest?
If your marriage is annuled by a Roman Catholic canonical tribunal, you're then single and are free to marry or to a priest.  Converting to another Church to play the odds of becoming a priest means that you're neither called to convert nor to the priesthood.
 

Alpha60

Taxiarches
Joined
Mar 14, 2017
Messages
5,793
Reaction score
11
Points
0
Location
Alphaville Zone Sud
Faith
Christian
Jurisdiction
Orthodox
Sharbel said:
Aidan9 said:
I've been a Roman Catholic all of my life. Six years ago my wife ended our marriage. I feel a strong call to priesthood. In theory could I become an orthodox priest?
If your marriage is annuled by a Roman Catholic canonical tribunal, you're then single and are free to marry or to a priest.  Converting to another Church to play the odds of becoming a priest means that you're neither called to convert nor to the priesthood.
Unless he feels that Orthodoxy is the legitimate Catholic church.  Many Catholic priests have crossed the Bosphorus; if I had to guess, I would say that 99% of our celibate priests who are not hieromonks, who did not start out as monastics, but who are "secular" (and such priests are rare in Orthodoxy, quite rare) are Roman Catholic priests received by vesting, who did not join a monastery but continued to serve in parishes.  Especially Greek Catholic priests in the US, who unlike their European counterparts were enjoined from marriage, who converted to Orthodoxy (Ruthenian to ACROD or Ukrainian, mostly).
 

Sharbel

OC.Net Guru
Joined
May 31, 2017
Messages
1,601
Reaction score
4
Points
36
Faith
Orthodox
Jurisdiction
Greek
Alpha60 said:
Unless he feels that Orthodoxy is the legitimate Catholic church.
But then he'd have to answer the question if he'd still feel the same if the priesthood were denied to him.  If yes, then he's found home.  If no, then he's unlikely to find any home.
 
Top