Married Priest Now Sleeping on Couch

The BBC is reporting that a married priest is saying that priests shouldn't be married. Two things -
1) Is this really news? A priest agrees with the Church? Sadly, maybe it is.

2) I really hope his wife isn't reading the newspaper or he's totally couching it for the foreseeable future.
A married Roman Catholic priest from Burnley has said he believes the church is correct to prefer single celibate clergy in their parishes.

Father Paul Blackburn is the most recently ordained priest into the Salford Diocese.

He is married with three children.

A former Anglican minister, Father Paul embraced Catholicism after growing dissatisfied with the direction the Church of England was taking on some moral issues.

He said single priests are better placed to serve God by giving their entire life to his ministry.
I'm joking a bit about this but it's actually a nice piece about a new priest if you can set aside the shock of the writer that the priest isn't pushing for married priests.

Wait. Is it shock or disappointment?


  1. First, I just want to say that I normally really enjoy your blog, but was a bit disappointed in your positioning of this article. You state that this priest "agrees with the Church" in point 1 above. A more accurate statement would be that he agrees with the Roman Catholic Church. The Catholic Church includes Eastern Catholics, which have always, and continue to, have married priests. I agree that there is value in having celibate priests; I simply don't think that it eliminates the place for married priests in "The Church." As our Blessed Pope John Paul II said, we need to "breathe with both lungs." Conversations like this promote disunity between us all.

  2. Why would he do it then, if he's so ineffective and can give so much less? Anglicans are free to come over and be ordinary Catholics with families like the rest of us lunks, and still contribute greatly to the Body of Christ. Of course, laypeople have a lot less ecclesiastical power... Oh, I get it.

    And way to throw the wife and kids under the bus. Some hard-working mother and her beautiful children have been reduced to impediments to ministry. Couch him.

  3. Jocelyn-

    Thanks for writing what I wanted to say!

  4. There is no "Roman Catholic Church". There is the "Latin Rite", and there are the other Catholic Rites, and they are all part of the Catholic Church.

    And yes, I'm sure the BBC reporter was the stupid one here. But it's annoying that they can't get this correct, especially since it's a pretty simple concept.

  5. Even though celibtate priests is not the rule in the East, celibacy is preferred by the Church as a whole and always has been (NB: it is a preference not an absolute requirement). This preference is in Scripture from both St. Paul and Our Lord and has been seen as the more perfect state for clerics for the entirety of the Church's history.

  6. Why correct him for writing about "the Church" when you obviously know what he means? Priest and laypeople speak about "the Church" all the time.

  7. Because from an Eastern Catholic point of view, it is important to disabuse people of the idea that the Latin rite *is* the Church, all by itself.
    Susan Peterson

  8. Susan Peterson- YES! If we are truly praying for all to come back to the Catholic Church, we need to understand the different rites (same dogma- sometimes differing 'small t' traditions)

  9. I think the priest is just acknowledging the obvious: if a priest has a wife and children, he cannot give priority to his priestly ministry; it must, naturally, come behind his duty as a husband and father. It is self-evident.

  10. I once went to a talk given by a married priest who was refreshingly honest. He said that he doesn't work on weekends or after 8PM. If you call his house after that time you better be almost dead because his wife will be mad.

  11. anonymous at 10:14- wow! My husband works weekends (he is a priest after all) and takes a cell phone call at any time. It is a team effort and I would never be 'mad' for him fulfilling his vocation (and job)---would this so-called wife be 'mad' if her doctor-husband worked weekends or took a call late- of course not, because he is making loads of money. very sad....

  12. Every priest is different...married or celibate. Some are lousy, and some are wonderful. We are all sinners. I don't think pointing out the short comings of any specific priests is edifying to anyone.

    My point is, contrary to the way that this article was presented, "that the church believes ALL priests should be celibate", is inaccurate. That is not the Church's teaching whether we agree with it personally or not.

  13. I would like to say thanks to those who spoke out here about this story. When I first read it, I was greatly troubled by it, but said nothing. I'm glad others took it upon themselves to say what I had not the gumption (or, perhaps the grasp of what really was bothering me) to say.

    The fact is that this priest did, indeed, throw his wife (to whom St. Paul said he should be like Christ is to the Church) and his children (about whom Jesus said "let them come to me") under the bus.

    Now, MAYBE this turns out to be an argument in favor of the discipline of celibacy if this guy is having trouble meeting his PRE-EXISTING sacramental commitment to his family while also meeting his sacramental commitment to the priesthood. Or MAYBE it's just an argument against this doofus ever being admitted to the Catholic priesthood and the Church instead finding people in this situation who can do a better job of multi-tasking.

    In the end, as others have stated, celibacy is a matter of discipline, and is NOT the teaching of "the Church" for all priests.

  14. I note "prefer single celebrate clergy in their parishes," and "better placed." He does not say that there should be NO married priests just that single, celebrate priests in the Western Catholic Church is "preferred" and "better."

    Oh and "in their parishes". What about married priests to serve in other roles?

    One last question for the BBC: Was he ordained into the local dioceses or into the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, which is the Anglican Ordinariate?

  15. Suburban Banshee,
    The term is "particular Churches." Rites are liturgical rituals. The Roman Catholic Church includes more than just the Roman Rite (which now has 3 forms: Ordinary, Extraordinary, and Anglican): it includes the Ambrosian Rite, the Carmelite Rite, the Dominican Rite, the Mozarabic Rite, Carthusian Right, and Bragan Rite.

    The Byzantine Churches, which are several, use the Byzantine Rite, which includes the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, the Divine Liturgy of St. Basil the Great, and the Divine Liturgy of St. James (the oldest known form of the Liturgy).

    The Syriac Churches use their own rites, known as Syriac Rites, and because of the geographical and historical disparity, the Rites within the Syriac Church vary even among themselves.

    The Coptic Churches, based out of Egypt, are closely tied to the Syriacs though historically separate, and use their own Rite.


Post a Comment