LOS ANGELES – Some Los Angeles-area Roman Catholic priests are urging an open discussion on whether to allow married clergy as one solution to the growing priest shortage, and say they hope Cardinal Roger Mahony will raise the issue to church authorities nationally and in Rome.
Calls to discuss the option of a married clergy came earlier this week at an annual assembly which drew about half of the archdiocese’s 1,200 priests.
Many priests lauded Mahony for allowing the debate on a topic considered taboo a decade or two ago. Celibacy has been a cornerstone of the Catholic priesthood for more than a thousand years, and many priests say that efforts even to discuss it had been suppressed until recent years.
“We have made an extraordinary shift in the last 10 years,” said Msgr. Clement J. Connolly of Holy Family Church in South Pasadena. “It’s a new day when we can even talk about this now with respectability and a certain reverence and understanding.”
Support to discuss the issue was not unanimous, according to participants who attended the meeting. Opposition was particularly strong from many younger priests and some priests from foreign countries who work in Los Angeles.
“Rome knows what it’s doing,” said the Rev. Donatus Ekanachi, a Nigerian native and associate pastor of St. Raymond Church in Downey. “The Catholic Church has one head, and anyone who challenges that head becomes a rebel.”