Raymond Ramirez | Wednesday, April 12, 2017
Pope Francis has said the Catholic Church may consider ordaining married men who could potentially then work in remote areas faced with a shortage of priests.
The time is in the near future, and we now look in on Fr. and Mrs. Andrew Holliman, sitting down for breakfast in their modest ranch-style house, in a suitably remote area:
“Good morning, sweetheart,” said Mrs. Holliman. “You look pretty tired — didn’t you get any sleep?”
“Not really; I’ve got two baptisms tomorrow, a marriage preparation class, the McGinty funeral and I still have to get my Holy Week sermons done,” her husband, a priest said. “I seem to get farther behind every day.”
“I know you have a lot on your plate … except for donations,” she cackled, pleased with her cleverness.
“If that’s a crack about our finances, I don’t appreciate it,” he snapped.
“No, not at all,” she said, setting down the coffee cups on the table and touching his shoulder. “I know you are at the mercy of the charity of our parishioners. It’s not your fault that they’re a bunch of cheapskates.”
“Oh, I know you didn’t mean anything. It’s just that this whole ‘viri probati’ thing… .”
“Say what, now?”
“You know, the program under which Pope Francis got older married men into the priesthood. It’s called ‘viri probati’ because supposedly it covered men who had already proven themselves in a life of service to the church.”
“Now I remember. So, how exactly did you turn occasional Sunday mass attendance and spotty contributions into a life of service?”
“I assumed it was okay to fudge the form a little if I said something about it in confession.”
“Makes sense to me; I guess it’s better that any number of other sins. And really, dear, I’m the last one to be all holier-than-thou; remember, my dad was a tax accountant. And I do sleep with a priest,” she giggled.
“Exactly — when I was working as a corporate lawyer we often had to help clients rehabilitate their image. So I figured that buffing up my spiritual resume was a forgivable offense — especially in a tight job market.”
“True, and none of us is getting any younger. I just wish that, well, we could … .”
“I know, you’d like to move closer to the kids,” he said, taking her hand in his. “I’d like to do that, too, but you know the rules require us married priest to stay away from big cities.”
“I still don’t see what the big deal is — after all, there have been married priests in the church for years, what with Anglican ministers who converted, Coptic Catholics and some eastern churches.”
“I hear you, but the Pope is concerned about getting conservative Catholics in major media markets upset.”
“Upset? These are the same traditional Catholics who ignored all manner of perversions, but were apoplectic over getting some bad press because of it? And don’t get me started on the hypocrisy over birth control.”
“Now sweetie, calm down. I think we have been extremely traditional in our approach to birth control. I am absolutely opposed to any birth control other than the rhythm method,”
“But I use birth-control pills.”
“And I forgive you. See how that works?”
“Well, you’re the guy with the funny collar, so I’ll trust you on this. Still, it seems a little odd that the Pope could just change the rules about priests getting married after centuries of doing it differently.”
“From what I gather it’s the difference between dogma — like the resurrection of Christ—and infrastructure. The Pope is free to change the infrastructure to meet changing demands. Sort of like a company acquiring a startup or spinning off an underperforming division. Hey, that gives me an idea for one of my sermons: ‘make sure your reduction in faith does not lead to a reduction in force.’”
“I think it might need a little more work.”
“What’s the matter? Did you give up your sense of humor for Lent?”
“That should be the theme of your sermon — a little humor can help us get through the toughest times.”
“Sounds good to me,” Fr. Holliman said, finishing his coffee. “Oh gosh, I’m running late. I’ll see you after vespers.”
“Well, you better go. And if you leave the toilet seat up one more time I think we’re going to revisit the whole celibacy thing.”
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.