While I’m not sure that the reason for including these priests into our fold, is the main reason we should be welcoming them into Catholicism, I’m also excited to see what the end result is of having more men in the priesthood who do not have to exercise celibacy.
But a larger question looms, we have welcomed married men who have had differences with us into our priestly ministry, but what about offering permanent deacons the same option?
I certainly want to uphold the ministry of deacon as a distinct calling and if celibacy was optional tomorrow, I would hope that many deacons continue to be deacons and not just become priests. Their distinctiveness is something that we should honor and be joyful for their ministry. However, might some of these Deacons felt called to the priesthood and simply chose the diaconate because they had no other option when it comes to ordained ministry? I would wonder why those who have been long time Catholics not be extended the same welcome?
Might we think about those who might feel this way and offer them an opportunity to re-examine their ministry because after all a Deacon has been a loyal Catholic and perhaps have struggled with this for some time.
While I would think most Deacons wouldn’t take the option, I do think that those that would at least want to examine what their call has manifested itself into and see if they really feel called to the diaconate or if they are only become deacons because they can’t be priests. While formation is supposed to weed out these types, I’m sure there are plenty of people who discover a call to the priesthood post-ordination to the diaconate as well.
And by the way…nobody’s said this but does this open the door for the famous Fr Alberto Cutie to come back to his diocese?