The Malta Independent 10 December 2018, Monday

INDEPTH: ‘The Church could consider allowing priests to wed, but would need to be prudent’

INDEPTH online Thursday, 29 March 2018, 12:08 Last update: about 9 months ago

The Church can consider allowing priests to wed, but would need to be prudent, Father Christopher Caruana, a priest for 15 years with the Dominican order said on INDEPTH.

He was being interviewed on INDEPTH by The Malta Independent's editor-in-chief Rachel Attard.

Asked about the reduction in the number of men choosing to become priests, and whether the time has come to consider female priests, he said: "The reduction in the vocation is not a direct symptom of a reduction in faith, but rather a symptom of smaller families... In the past we had larger families with many children, resulting in more priests and nuns. Today there are families with one or two children and I doubt how much they would enjoy promoting priesthood for their only child for example. There are exceptions and I am not judging anyone. I think the main factor in the reduction of people taking up the vocation is not due to the nature of priesthood."

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He said that he does not believe the ordination of female priests is on the agenda of the Church. "If you told me married priests, yes as it is not essential for ordination for someone not to wed. It is a condition in order to be a priest in the Roman Catholic Church not to wed, but it is not from the intrinsic nature of the sacrament. So much so that when we received Anglican ordained persons coming to Catholicism we accepted them, including married pastors, ordaining them into priesthood. So there is not, on a theoretical level, something incompatible with married life. Right now it is a necessary condition," he said, but added the Church could change this in the future however the Church is still far from this.

Asked for his personal opinion on the matter, he said that one can consider it, but must be prudent. "Priesthood requires a lot of energy and time, and from my own experience I do not know how you can take care of a wife and family providing them with the love and energy they deserve while at the same time giving yourself in that way to God's people.  One side will suffer."

Faced with questions regarding the church being no different than a government, he said they are very different. "Firstly the Church does not have political power, and has no interest in that. It has a big impact because it is a moral authority."

He said he would not know what kind of society could claim to be free, promoting expression if the Church is censored. He said the Church is a social and educational conscience which contributed tremendously over the years on educational and social levels, culturally etc.

"The Church has a big impact yes, but as much as it can, stays away from political authority and I think we suffered  a bit when the Church was too close to political authority over the years."  He said that the more it distances itself from that link the more authentic it can be to Christ's mandate.

He spoke about the Church's message and the ties between culture and Christianity in Malta. He spoke about the Church's role in forming peoples' conscience, in addition to being asked about the challenges faced by the Church in today's day and age.

 


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