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Priests' wives

An op-ed piece in today's Times asks an interesting question: "What will life be like for the wives of Roman Catholic priests?" The article, by historian Sara Ritchey, considers the fate of women married to Episcopal priests who join the Catholic church.But Professor Ritchey gives a very strange answer to her question, considering it solely in terms of what she says happened to the wives of priests up to and around the time the First Lateran Council prohibited clerical marriage in 1123. Quoting Peter Damian, she says that priests' wives should beware a tradition that views them as the clerics charmers, devils choice tidbits, expellers from paradise, virus of minds, sword of soul, wolfbane to drinkers, poison to companions, material of sinning, occasion of death ... the female chambers of the ancient enemy, of hoopoes, of screech owls, of night owls, of she-wolves, of blood suckers.I wouldn't have expected an argument like this from an academic historian; it takes the ascetic Peter Damian's advocacy of clerical celibacy in the 11th century totally out of its historical context, and inserts it without qualification into a vastly different time.The article doesn't take into account that a few things might have changed in the church and in society at large in the last nine centuries.


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Maybe we should chalk it up to a medieval historian trying desperately to be relevant. I just read it and had the same reaction. She says we're a tradition that is suspicious of priest's wives, which is true historically, but that doesn't explain how it is that this new arrangement came about. Peter Damian would not approve, so how did we get from here to there in the last thousand years?At least she noted the multiple causes of the celibacy rule. Gary Wills once claimed in the Boston Globe that it was just a property thing and some misplaced asceticism, which is true, but only part of the story. Often it is claimed that the church didn't want to lose property, but as Ritchie properly notes, it was the laity who didn't want priest's sons running off with their donated lands.

I know it's early, but I think we have a front-runner for Worst Op-Ed of the Year...A couple of things:Ritchey doesn't seem to realize that there have been a couple hundred, at least, married clergy in Latin-rite Catholicism for 30 years, not to mention Eastern-rite Catholic priests. So the experience has already occurred, and in my interactions with married priests and their wives it's been fine. Moreover, Ritchey seems unaware of the experience of wives in Protestant denominations, where they are still often treated as humble help mates and little more. I've spoken with several female clergy who have often remarked how much more congenial they often find Catholic priests to work with than their own male counterparts who view women as wives. A couple suggsted that Catholic priests may be used to working with women religious, who are used to running organizations and institutions. Oh, and Peter Damian should be given some credit for being ahead of his time on calling out the clergy on sex abuse. In any case, Paul's critcisms (and JC's) are bang on.Oh, and give Bill Donohue his due!

What will life be like for wives of Roman Catholic priests?Perhaps proud, honored, and deeply spiritual. Proud, honored, and deeply spiritual that they and their spouses are gifted with the sacrament of marriage and ordination, honored that with God they can experience intimacy and divine love in their relationship, deeply spiritual in that where two or more are gathered in God's name, God is with them.Why should the public see them any differently?

Poor op ed.If a significant number of married priests take over parish assignments, will the issue of mandatory celibacy in the Western rite be questioned more?

I liked the piece. As to what has changed in nine centuries? The Church's attitude towards women has not. Ask a priest what he was taught in the seminary about women. (I liked the article on The Heights, too. What about a thread on all the D.C. big shots, like Santorum, whose children attend the Opus Dei school?)

In some Protestant churches, the pastor's wife has a significant role as counselor to women, organizer of parish events, etc. They do this without training, of course, and sometimes well and sometimes badly. I'm not suggesting this (heck, I train people for ministry, so I DO think preparation is a good thing!) but it is a role beyond that of standard "wife" for many pastor-partners, often a substantial ministerial role. This becomes an interesting dynamic in our time, when pastors' spouses come in both sexes (in most churches) and are often professionals in other fields themselves, and may not want to be thought of as an adjunct pastor, or a pastoral assistant without pay.

Gerelyn,Santorum went to Rome in 2002 to deliver a speech in honor of Escriva, on the centenary anniversary of Escriva's birth. Thanks for the link to the OD school. I understand Harvard and other Ivy schools have OD residences for students like alums of The Heights.While Prof. Ritchey's op-ed quotes vivid language that no doubt was also part of Protestant thinking that emerged a few centuries later, I believe the underlying attitudes linger surreptitiously. Otherwise, why the need to escape Episcopalian women priests by becoming Catholic clergy? I am heartened to hear that exposure to sisters by Catholic priests supposedly moderates discrimination. Sisters I know find the atmosphere less salutary. It seems progress comes very slowly; two thousand years to get only this far? A hopeful future beckons though because of the male Catholic priest shortage.An Episcopalian husband and wife are both priests, and good friends of ours. See what is possible.

Yes, the place near Harvard is included in this list: read a novel recently, Vestments, that was pretty good. I found the priests' conversations about women interesting. (And I loved the bits about the great Archbishop Ireland.)

I think Paul Moses tries a bit too hard to remove the mote from Sara Ritcheys eye who draws present day lessons for Catholics from history of a millennium ago of the origins of celibacy as Catholics are now asked to embrace a married clergy, refugees from an Anglican community that honors women and gay/lesbian priests.As David Gibson points out, the operative model and comparative experience for a Catholic married priesthood is the one that has already existed for millennia with our Greek Catholic and Orthodox cousins.In Ritcheys defense, it seems to me that the initial critical reaction from some on this blog to her historical deconstruction of a married clergy may be that it originates from an woman in her academic perch who enjoys more than several degrees of freedom in her analysis from the rigid, male-dominated Catholic mythology about priesthood and, in particular, its peculiar central celibate character.From my reading of the NY Times op-ed, its hard to argue that Ritchey doesnt hit all the historical bases in her argument. To complain that she doesnt give 11th-century monk Peter Damian his due for calling out clergy sexual predation essentially amounts to nitpicking. [Dont you think Ritchey nails Damian with the women-married-to-priests as blood suckers quote?]My favorite part of the op-ed is Ritcheys bang on depiction of the wives role of these new Catholic married priest as SACERDOTAL ATTACHE the perfect appellation which evokes Catholicisms desperate eternal struggle to diminish the human dignity of women.Its like saying to women: Mind your place girl, after all you only came from Adams rib.P.S. The best way to give Bill Donohue his due is to ignore him.

As I am wont to do in discussions of this sort, I'll mention that there are thousands of deacons in the US (about 15,000, I believe), and most of them are married. So the contemporary Catholic church's experience with this is quite extensive.Our formation program was very encouraging of wives to serve alongside their husbands. They received all the same formation that we did, including the same certificate in pastoral theology at the end. The official church has a vision, I think, that it is a beautiful expression of the sacrament of marriage that a deacon and his wife minister together.Yet the involvement of deacons' wives in ministry is all over the map. Some have the inclination, time and skills to be very involved, and a number do minister alongside their husbands. Some want absolutely nothing to do with it for whatever reason (often because they don't want to be in the public eye). And a lot end up somewhere in between. FWIW, that's where my wife and I are. I do some things with her and some things without her. She has done the same over the years.Also - my understanding of the "ordinariate" is that these priests and their wives are coming over specifically to minister to Anglicans who have become Catholic, and will continue to worship using Anglican liturgy. It will sort of be Anglicanism within Catholicism. I presume a lot of Episcopalians are already accustomed to priests being married. So I don't think it's going to be a big deal for them.

Perhaps Ritcheys op-ed was an act of reparation on the part of the Times for the balanced piece on the experience of married Catholic priests that was published last Saturday, which you can find here.

Gerolyn, You wrote: "As to what has changed in nine centuries? The Churchs attitude towards women has not. Ask a priest what he was taught in the seminary about women." This priest was not taught in the seminary anything remotely like what Peter Damian wrote. I was taught that women are of equal dignity with men. As for "the Church's attitude towards women," let's not commit Ritchey's mistake of confusing the views of Damian with "the Church's attitude" in the twelfth century, nor with "the tradition." And I don't remember anything like his crazy views in the writings on women of recent popes. Surely something has changed.

The sheer illogic of this op-ed piece, with its reliance on evidence from centuries ago but complete lack of interest in evidence from today,is blatant. Is that illogic as well as exaggeration and distortion justified because the treatment of women in Catholicism remains far from what it should be? To some people, evidently. I am not sure which is more discouraging, the op-ed or this reaction.

Latin Rite Catholics will soon get a dose of what Protestants have experienced for a long time:errant "PKs" - priest's/preacher's kids (a significant problem in Protestant ministerial families)divorceinfidelityrebellious wives who don't want to be treated as a free worker bee (well, we pay for her housing, healthcare, etc., don't we? why shouldn't she work for it?)These experiences will be quite new for Latin Rite Catholics and let's hope that the (un)natural reaction will NOT be: it must be her/their - the kids' - fault.

I missed the "Beliefs" column Fr. Komonchak linked to above, but I'm guessing Richey didn't - I suspect she read that and recognized a timely "hook" on which to hang some research, and the op-ed editors liked the pitch. The silliest thing about this piece, in my view, is how it ignores the fact that these women are already priests' wives. What Peter Damian said in the 11th century is surely just as relevant for contemporary Episcopalians.

Gerolyn, You wrote: As to what has changed in nine centuries? The Churchs attitude towards women has not. Ask a priest what he was taught in the seminary about women. This priest was not taught in the seminary anything remotely like what Peter Damian wrote. I was taught that women are of equal dignity with men. As for the Churchs attitude towards women, lets not commit Ritcheys mistake of confusing the views of Damian with the Churchs attitude in the twelfth century, nor with the tradition. And I dont remember anything like his crazy views in the writings on women of recent popes. Surely something has changed.---------Hi, Joseph,Glad to know priests were/are taught that "women are of equal dignity with men".

Yes--as an academic (and as someone whose parish has a married assistant pastor--a former Methodist minister), I had a similar reaction when I read the piece this morning: I don't know anyone who's so irresponsible as to suggest that the conditions that obtained in their time period are totally true today! Had she acknowledged Oppenheimer's "Beliefs" column and presented her Op-Ed as merely providing some (very limited) historical perspective on priests' wives, it would have been okay--though to be worthwhile, it ought really to have given a fuller survey of attitudes towards priests' wives through the centuries.As it is, it's dumb punditry and dumb scholarship.

An important question, but there seems a chance for a new start on this front, since most Catholics don't have any traditions or (in most cases) preconceived notions about priests' wives. 1. As others have pointed out, this is not totally new in the RCC, since we have had a few married priests for several years in the Roman rite, and a much longer history (though not in the USA) in the Catholic Eastern Churches. 2. It seems to me that the Anglican Ordinariate will face a crisis in a few years when its convert priests (and their wives) start to retire or die. Rome apparently does not envision replacing them with young married priests raised in the same flock. 3. The Melkites (Catholic Syrian Byzantines) recently announced that they will consider ordaining married men to the priesthood in the U.S. That sad prohibition goes back to the aforementioned Archbishop John Ireland of St Paul, who objected (in the late 19th century) to the presence of a widower priest from the then-Austro-Hungarian Empire in his diocese. Many Eastern Catholics became Orthodox as a result; their descendants are mostly part of the Orthodox Church in America. It gave -- and still gives -- the lie to the notion that the Roman Church truly respects the legitimate customs of the various Eastern Churches (and they differ among themselves). 4. To make any of this work, seminaries -- at least some of them -- are going to have to change. We need a way to educate priests' wives as well as the priests themselves. Even without a "cookie cutter" pattern for priests' wives to follow, they are bound to face some unusual challenges. At least one Eastern Catholic jurisdiction sent its seminarians to an Orthodox institution, as one way around the problem. Good for ecumenical relations, too. 5. Perhaps a major obstacle to be faced is the increased cost of married clergy. We need to be sure that they are adequately compensated, have family health insurance, and otherwise implement the social teaching of the Church toward them. The Melkites made a tremendous contribution at Vatican II. It is good to see them once again coming up to bat. Maybe we'll get through the current craziness after all.

Fr KEqual dignity with men!!!! lovely theoretical sweettalk. Can't be Priests. Can't be bishops. And , the church would crumble we should have a red hat. Peter Damian is a saint for the Roman bureaucracy ,

The Times is just having a little fun at the expense of Catholics, whose church has become fair game for journalists in recent years. One of the author's specialties is gender relations in medieval Europe.Both paper and professor are probably enjoying the outrage.

Mollie, I suspect Dr. Ritchey may have been driven to some distraction by Mark Oppenheimer's column, as she wrote about it here, and somehow managed to work in Bishop Zavala:

The point here is that the creation of the Ordinariate is about sex, and resoundingly so. It affirms, not questions or challenges, the Catholic teaching on priestly celibacy and procreative marital sexuality. In fact some outspoken Catholic leaders, like Cardinal Donald Wuerl, have even suggested that the questions posed by the presence of married Catholic priests will disappear within a generation as potential seminary applicants who wish to enter the ordinariate must choose to commit to celibacy.The creation of the Ordinariate has firm historical roots in Catholic doctrine on priestly celibacy. So while members of the Ordinariate may celebrate their homecoming into Catholic fullness of the faith, let them know that their whole reason for being lies in matters of limiting the sphere of permissible human sexuality.Bishop Zavala, after a career of service to 66 churches and advocacy for immigration rights and the conditions of the working poor, still resigned. Catholic teachings on the dignity of human sexuality have hardly been challenged.

I don't think Dr. Ritchey is as [distracted] as some on this blog seem to be when a woman blurts out the obvious, and then anchors it in historical research: After a thousand years, the Catholic Church's misogyny still is wearing no clothes!

Mary Bergan: If you don't see any difference between Peter Damian's views and those of the leaders of the contemporary Church, you should have your eyes examined.

Jim Jenkins, please -- What evidence do you or Ritchey have that priests' wives are subject to the treatment Peter Damian describes, or anything like that? I mean, this argument is a bit absurd, but you, Jim Jenkins, are a layman. So I imagine all you do is "hunt, fish and entertain"? Because that's all Msgr. Talbot said you could do, and over the centuries there have been any number of derogatory things said about lay people by clerics. Ergo...

The point is, Fr. Komonchak, if you look at the church's history of its treatment of women through women's eyes, Ritchey's view would find many sisters and brothers.If I may suggest, the diagnosis of myopia may be an artifact of gender and politics.

David Gibson, please - You know as well as I do that while the church has somewhat cleaned up its act over the last few centuries [At least, I haven't heard of any organized witch burnings recently?], the Catholic Church, especially its hierarchy, goes out of its way week after week to denigrate and demean the humanity of women. Don't you read?Interesting that you mentioned above Gambino Zavala: Didn't you find it curious that Arch. Gomez went out of his way to announce that the mother of Zavala's children would be financially compensated? Is this an example of what Ritchey cited as the church's fear that priests' wives only covet the church's wealth?I have personally witnessed members of the hierarchy in private meetings react with thinly veiled fear and loathing for women. [Most are good enough politicians to not put this side of themselves on public display.] Especially if any woman would dare attempt to hold bishops or clerics to account for their betrayal of the people's trust and confidence. These are the same clinical symptoms associated and consistent with insults to the pathological narcissistic ego. I do entertain whenever possible. I don't hunt or fish. Had to put the tennis racket away - knees no good. Hiking is all I can manage these days - had to give up the team sports, but my teenagers keep me young. I don't consider myself a "laymen" about any part of my life, personal or public or religious. Who is Msgr. Talbot, anyway? Sorry, I don't get your attempt at condescending analogy.

M'arrendo alla Madonna.

Mr. Jenkins: I won't apologize for wanting to make some distinctions in these discussions. Yes, many women are dissatisfied with the situation of women in the Church today, but it helps no one to pretend that the reason for what they think is discrimination are the same ones articulated by Peter Damian.

"As David Gibson points out, the operative model and comparative experience for a Catholic married priesthood is the one that has already existed for millennia with our Greek Catholic and Orthodox cousins."Jim Jenkins ==Hmm. I wonder. I suspect that I'm much closer culturally and perhaps even theologically to a dear high church Anglican lady friend that I would be to an Eastern Catholic. Granted, I haven't known any of the latter well, except for the boyfriend of one of my room-mates. She dated a Ukranian Catholic boy quite seriously. Let's just say I"m glad she didn't marry him. How close to the spirituality of the Orthodox Churches are the Uniate Churches? While the Uniates can have wives, is their spirituality more like that of the Orthodox, e.g., like that of the monks of St. Athos? The latter are so anti-female that women are not allowed anywhere near the islnd, and the monks won't even allow female animals on the island.

Fr. Komonchak -- Many men are dissatisfied with the situation of women in the Church today. The very different meanings of "equal dignity" as said to be taught in the classroom, as demonstrated in practice, and as rationalized post facto drive home the emptiness of the claimed theory. Peter Damian's views on females may have been distorted by the environment in which he spent most of his adult life; it was probably a better school for developing expertise about the state of clerical vice which he documented for Leo IX. Above (7:55pm), it's unclear whether you are dismissing the questionable reasons from Peter Damian or the current phenomenon of discrimination. if the former, what would you suggest as alternative reasons "for what they think is discrimination"?

"For Peter Damian, one's sex did not determine a person's virtue or power."see pp. 761-763 here: article also touches on another issue raised by the op-ed. It argues that although Peter's original view was that priestly impurity might invalidate the sacraments he later changed his mind, having read Augustine more closely. Cf. also the interesting letters of Peter to Agnes of Poitiers, former regent of the Holy Roman Empire, who had been accused of favoring abbesses presiding over brothels.'s probably enough material here for several George Stephanopoulos questions and numerous follow-ups in the next debate.

As a priest, I would welcome married priests and their wives--as I have welcomed deacons and their wives. But I do have a thought or two. 1) Catholics will have to learn to give more to support a priest and his family. Over the years I have come to know some Protestant ministers who work for next to nothing. That is not just. My Diocese has a better insurance program and better retirement than most of the Protestants I know, especially the Assembly of God and Foursquare. But, with a family, a priest will need more. 2) The PK thing is real. There must be some way to help kids deal with the fact that their father is a priest. But at the same time, many of the best ministers I have come to know are the sons or daughters of ministers. It always amazes me that the hierarachy in its wisdom dismisses that possibility. 3) I have known some wonderful deacons over the years, and I have known some wonderful deacons' wives. But some of the most outrageous human beings I have ever had to endure have been the wives of deacons. 4) Now I am in my seventies, living by myself, helping out where I can. I am sure the Lord is overjoyed by my loneliness. I try to fill it with prayer, am learning how to make friends in the senior community etc.. But it would be wonderful to have someone by my side. Over the years, when I had to face life with its problems by myself, that would also have been wonderful. They say that the Church is my spouse. Yikes! OK, then. The parish. Well, sometimes. But as often as not such a metaphor is baloney.

I am in my sixties and grew up Protestant, attended Orthodox services for 16 years, and have known so many PKs both as children and adults that they are too numerous for me to number. If anything these PKs were better behaved and "adjusted' than most kids. In my current parish we have two adult PKs and one stepson of a priest who are more devout than most people. Our senior priest has four fine adult children and 12 grandchildren. His grandchildren are no different from those of anyone else. As far as I am concerned this PK concept is a stereotype just like "army brat." In my hometown, the village bad boy was the son of a prominent doctor. Maybe doctors should be celibate and devote their lives to healing our bodies 24/7?

"At least 25,000 Americans have left the priesthood since 1970, Father Sullins says. Many of them expected the church to lift the celibacy rule, but when they realized the rule was staying, they left and got married. Twenty-five thousand former priests in a country with fewer than 40,000 priests today. Celibate or not, all Catholics can do the math." (the last paragraph of the balanced NYT article cited by Fr. Komonchak above)I am one of those 25,000 married priests, barred from priestly ministry because I chose to marry. It's been almost 20 years since I withdrew from active priestly ministry. If the leaders of the Church really believe that one does not cease "being" a priest just because he no longer permitted to actively minister as a priest, they are playing a dangerous game: as the NYT writer concludes, "Catholics can do the math." A fellow married priest commented recently, "They have squandered a generation of priests."Our Eastern Catholic and Eastern Orthodox brothers in the Priesthood provide us an example of married priests in ministry that has worked for many centuries. Their wives, by the way, are respected and honored. In the Greek Orthodox parishes, the priest's wife is referred to as "Presbytera" and she is fondly considered the "Mother" of the parish along with her husband, "Father"; the Russian Orthodox refer to the priest's wife as "Matushka" (Mother).The 25,000 of us who are "married Catholic priests" probably will not live to see a day when we will be recognized and called back to active ministry, because our leaders do not have a vision or imagination big enough to see beyond combining and closing parishes ... bending over backwards to preserve the status quo. The married priests I know are passionate in their love for the Church and continue to serve their fellow parishoners in whatever limited capacities the Church allows. And, by the way, the official line that priests who have married has "scandalized" their fellow Catholics is just not true: we married priests are known in our parish communites, respected by our fellow parishoners, and appreciated for the gifts we are able to offer.What has "scandalized" and deeply wounded our Catholic people -- internationally -- is thecover-up of the devastating and criminal sexual abuse of our youth.

On the lighter side, and anent the question of the role role of the wives of Protestant priests, ministers, etc: go rent a copy of Samuel Goldwyn's 1947 movie, The Bishop's Wife. The bishop is David Niven, the wife is Loretta Young, and when her cares and duties to her husband and her church threaten to overwhelm her, Cary Grant is the obliging angel who comes to earth to help see her through the crowded Christmas season and all that attends it. It is a charming movie, and will offend none save those who believe Bishop Niven should realize he is not a church leader, but only that of an "ecclesial community."I would agree that married priests would bring us new problems, as well as new gifts, but I expect the latter would far outweigh the former. As for scandal, yes, probably there would be the occasional marital breakup. But would any of this make us as ashamed of our church's leadership as we have been in learning of the abuse scandal in all its ramifications?

Now I am in my seventies[...] I am sure the Lord is overjoyed by my loneliness.[...] But it would be wonderful to have someone by my side.The same is true for many formerly married people who are now widowed. In every couple in which the two spouses do not die at the same time, one is going to outlive the other: about half of the people live the end of their life without a spouse.

Your empathy, Claire, is heartwarming. I suspect that this priest has suffered that loneliness most of his life (when he could have shared it with someone else). His age is not the issue. Take it from one who's been there.I cannot help imagining Rome's response if the Archbishop of Canterbury were to create an Ordinariate for disaffected Catholics and married priests, welcoming them into full union and a welcome back to active ministry the Anglican Communion. The Anglicans are far more inclusive than the Romans: they don't need to create an Ordinariate, because they've been other Christians with open arms. I think that the Archbishop of Canterbury responded with extraordinary grace when Rome poached members of his Church right under his nose.I am personally saddened that the only efforts Rome seems to be able to make are toultra-conservatives like the Lefebrists and now the ultra-conservative Anglicans...never an olive branch to those wounded by those suffering from Rome's intransigence and fear of change.

SSorry for the typo: I meant to write in my last line "to those suffering from Rome's intransigence and fear of change."

Ken - I haven't seen anything from Rome that says that it favors unity only with ultra-conservatives. If liberal Anglicans or, say, President Obama's former church in Chicago (which is United Church of Christ, I believe) petitioned Rome en masse to reunify (something, btw, that the Lefebvrists have not done), I would bet that a good-faith effort would be made to accommodate them. Naturally, reunification presumes genuine unity in faith. But if the issues can be worked out - why wouldn't Rome want to do it?

What about the Lefebrists, Jim, who deny the validity of the Second Vatican II outright?My point is that Rome seems so worried about these conservative groups, but there has been no olive branch offered -- at least for dialogue -- to groups that dissent on the progressive side. Can you think of any? There are a lot of sincere, thinking Catholics who dissent on various issues who are walking oiut because they can't see any hope of real change coming from Rome. And Rome couldn't care less. It's going to take a financial jolt, and it's coming, to wake these guys up.

I think Jim P. is being disingenuous as well.One issue that there seems to be perceived as part of the problem is that the policy makers look like an"old boys club" and IMO probably are.

Just read this story yesterday: Many years ago the theologian Charles Davis, OP left the Church saying it is corrupt. His friend Herbert McCabe, OP, replied, "Of course it's corrupt. But that's no reason to leave it".Ah, Fr. McCabe. Shouldda been pope. :-)

Is there really nothing the laity can do about the state of the Church besides pray? Tomorrow is MLK's birthday. What would he do about it? How about an Occupy the Nuncio's Front Yard movement?

William Taylor raises several good practical and poignant thoughts, thank you. Re the practical, I read that the Ordinariate is having a Devil of a time in England coming up with money to support the news priests and their families. Apart from priests' wives and celibacy, this experiment may give Catholics a good sense of what it really takes to support a pastor. As with men and religious in years past, it seems to me Catholics have had it pretty good with the celibate priesthood -- men who are avaiavlable to all, all the time, and cost so little! Just as we are now discovering the real cost of a Catholic education, we may one day discover the real cost of supporting a pastor, and perhaps we'd be less smug about the state of many Protestant congregations -- or we'd learn to donate as much as they do.

My experience with PKs has been that more than a few of them resent the fact that, because one of their parents is a minister, they are expected to be "holier than thou." The errancy/rebelliousness usually sets in during their teen years and the ministerial status of a parent seems to be a significant factor in their rebelling.Congregants tend to hold PKs and ministerial spouses up to a standard that they would like to see emulated, ofttimes higher than they themselves emulate.I am good friends with the son of a Serbian Orthodox priest who is a marvelous man, an excellent father and about to become a deacon in his church. One of his brothers is also a priest and his uncle is a bishop. The mother has achieved the status of priest's helpmate be virtue of her personality and willingness to do the work without the pay. PKs are not all problems, but Latin Rite Catholics have never had to deal with (acknowledged) children and (open) spouses of their priests. But that day is ending.

Charles Davis was not a Dominican, but a diocesan priest.

While following the Mary Winkler case (Tennessee preacher's wife who killed her husband), I noticed many posts on the old Court T.V. message board from preachers' wives who were abused--physically, financially, emotionally, professionally, spiriturally, sexually, by their husbands.Googling "domestic abuse preachers' wives" brings up information on this topic. I hope there are no instances of this among the wives of the new Catholic priests who left the Anglican religion because of its tolerance of women. The wives and children of abusive ordained men face even more pressure to keep it secret than do other victims of domestic violence. Speaking out could cause the wage earner to lose his job. It could cause opprobrium to be heaped on them by those who believe women should submit to their husbands. Etc.

I'd like to add that it's(sad) fuuny to me how this thread at times overlaps the one below:I think the issue of religion vs. Jesus is based on a sense of instutitional lack of credibility and in the Church divided today that same issue colors the way people approach issues like the ordinariate, celibacy, etc.Ken's hopes have no hopes, whatmatters is indoctrinated clergy who wil indoctrinate - that is the prospect and that plays into the breach.I think many answer Ann's question about what to do by indifference to the institution but finding other approaches to spirituality while retaining the Eucharist(with little or no care for the indoctrinated truths.)I can't see major changes coming in support of what's happening.Part of the turnoff will continue to be the question of women in the Church -of course, no longer a hammer of witches approach - but a sense that second class is still the position asigned. Isee Fr. Barron nad the Anchoress have raised a few hackles in their view of the Church and women -clearly party of the breacvh.And the sex abuse issue is still with us (see philly today about undisclosed priest pornographers.)And good old Bill Donahue casting victims and their supporters as "malcontents" -good old Bill, beloved by Cardinal Dolan and Abp. Chaput.The problem to me is that voices of moderation get ittle shrift so why not be indifferent to the continuing approach of BXVI and his more to become Roman curia. his hierachyies chosen to support that ,and their supporters.?

Thanks, JAK. Whatever happened to Davis? Is he still a theologian? Amazon doesn't list one book by him.

First of all the op-ed forgets to mention that Peter Damian was not referring to the legitimate wives of priests, but the one's who should not have been with them in the first place, since they already had their wives.Damian had equally harsh words for the priest's themselves.This context has been missed not just by NYt, but by Commonweal as well.Liberal bias?There is also a lot more to this debate, than they hate women blah, blah.In both Catholicism/Orthodoxy the priesthood stands for something.The priestess movement would change the religion itself.To quote the former Anglican priest, Fr. Scott Newman: "No Catholic, including no Anglo-Catholic, can accept that there only two sacraments, and to dismiss the other fivemost especially the sacramental priesthood of bishops and presbytersis, in effect, to deny the sacramentality of the Eucharist.""For a Catholic, to say that a sacrament was not instituted by Christ is to say that it is not a sacrament of New Covenant. Also for a Catholic, there is no possibility of the Eucharist without the sacramental priesthood. That is why Catholics insist that it is logically impossible to talk about the Eucharist as a sacrament without also talking about the priesthood as a sacrament." The Episcopalians have only permitted priestesses by making changes to theology itself.One should also note that Apostolic tradition does not marry already ordained priest even in Orthodoxy and Eastern Catholicism. In both Bishops, still have to be celibate.There are many who give up everything to pursue a religious vocation, there are others who come in with a list and then throw a fuss when things don't go their way.They have misunderstood the whole point of a religious vocation.They never stop to think that what needs changing is not 2,000 years of Christian revelation, but themselves.