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Mary Conway wrote:

Hi guys,

I have a question. I was listening to something on Catholic Radio 930 AM, in my area, reaching the Chicago suburbs and the diocese of Joliet, Illinois.

They said that the United States Catholic Church has ordained a few men who were married with the understanding that, if their wife passed away, they would not be able to re-marry. These men went through the extensive seminary studies and the extensive psychological testing and were ordained as Catholic priests in the United States.

I am a cradle Catholic and this sounds just fine to me. We need good men who want to become good priests. I mentioned this in our Catholic Bible study and the other women said that this was not possible.

  • Did I misunderstand what I heard on Catholic radio?

Please let me know if this is correct. I hope it is.

God bless you!


  { Does the Church ordain married men with the understanding that they cannot re-marry? }

Eric replied:

Hi Mary,

Not only is it possible (I myself knew a seminarian in this situation), but it is possible for a married man, whose wife has not died, to be ordained to the Catholic priesthood. This may happen with a special permission, (called the Pastoral Provision):

  • for Episcopalian or Lutheran ministers who convert to Catholicism
  • Or, it may happen in the Eastern Rites of the Catholic Church, which, in general
    (with exceptions, notably in the U.S.) do not practice clerical celibacy.

I happen to know several Eastern Rite Catholic priests who are married with children. In fact, one of them is the father of a girl whose miraculous cure was the final, necessary miracle for the canonization of St. Edith Stein (the girl's name is Teresa Benedicta McCarthy). So tell that to your friends and freak them out!

Let me add something to my answer. I wasn't sure of this, but did some additional research.

Even a divorced man, provided he has an annulment, can be ordained. So if you are free to marry, you are basically free to be ordained under the normal rules, and, in some cases, even if you are already married, you can be ordained.


John replied:

Hi Mary,

Just to further clarify Eric's answer.

The Church can ordain married men but as rule, in the Latin Rite, she does not.

However, once ordained, a priest cannot marry.


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