I have read many insightful blogs on the subject in the last few weeks, and feel compelled to write my piece. If it is not completely obvious by now, I am no theologian. I could laugh at the absurdity of the situation (and have) but I have also shed a tear. This is all a bit too close to home for me you see...
In 1978 a young Roman Catholic priest went to his bishop with a dilemma, or rather a decision in this case. He had met a woman whom he knew to be his soul mate, and so not wishing to break his ordination vows he asked to leave the priesthood so that he may be free to marry her. It was an agonising decision, he had felt a strong and persistent calling to the priesthood since childhood and had angered his mother when he followed God's call, and now he was to give it all away for a woman who had captured his heart.
The man was encouraged to attend a specific retreat centre which helped priests who were 'wayward' in all sorts of ways, and was made to feel as if he was committing a grave and dire sin by falling in love with this woman. He refused the retreat and left with a letter from his Bishop assuring him that neither he nor his fiancee (also a practising Roman Catholic) would be welcome in any RC church in his diocese and beyond. The man felt deeply hurt and saddened, but after they were married, he was encouraged by friends to try a church which would welcome them and be a catholic home within the Church of England. It was during this time that their children were born and that the man felt that he still had such a calling from God to ordained ministry that he wished to serve Him in the Church of England.
This couple are my parents. That committed and sincere priest my late Father who served 20 years in the priesthood and is a priest forever.
Dad had a peer in the RC priesthood. A person he held dear, who committed suicide after being treated in the same sort of centre that my Dad was recommended to attend. Falling in love is apparently a 'sexual problem' which needs 'treatment' and the treatment this man (whom I will not name) received led to his depression and subsequent suicide.
So you can see why I find it very difficult to accept that the Roman Catholic church have received with open arms priests who are married, whilst continuing to deny priests of Rome the opportunity to marry, should they so wish.
I feel that celibacy can be a great tool and benefit for those who feel truly called to it. However I do not believe that to be a priest in God's church one needs to be celibate or male for that matter! (That's a whole other blog post, although interesting to note that my Dad was in favour of the ordination of women.)
For me this is the greatest absurdity in a whole heap of absurdity.