Early church did not have celibate leadership

THE letter from Paul Kokoski of Hamilton, Ontario (Irish Examiner, November 27) cannot be allowed to pass unanswered.

His views on priestly celibacy are not the only possible ones in the fullness of the Catholic Church today.

The early church did not have a celibate leadership. The Roman Catholic branch of the church introduced it in the 12th century.

At the time of the Reformation in the early 16th century, other branches of the church restored the practice of allowing priests to marry.

In the Church of Ireland today, a branch of the catholic church in which I am a priest, men (and women too since 1990) marry or not as seems right for them as individuals, and under God who has called them to ordination.

I am forced to wonder if Mr Kokoski has ever spoken to a married priest, or to the family of a married priest, or to the parishioners of a married priest. I fear he has not.

There are good and not-so-good celibate priests, and there are good and not-so-good married priests, and to suggest that only celibate priests can carry out a good ministry is not correct.

For myself, I believe I am a better priest because I am married and have children.

The practice of the Roman Catholic branch of the church in imposing celibacy on its clergy is not in line with other branches of the Christian church, nor with the leadership in other world faiths.

Canon George P Hilliard

The Chaplaincy

University College Cork

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