That’s the eye-catching headline in the UK’s The Tablet, which calls for a reconsideration of marriage and Holy Orders. Snip:
Those who are unmarried at the time of ordination, including widowers, must vow themselves to celibacy thereafter. In the words of the presiding bishop: “By this consecration you will adhere more easily to Christ with an undivided heart.” The subtext of this might be read as a suggestion that the married men about to be similarly ordained do have divided hearts. That their family life and marriage are perhaps regarded as somehow second-best. There is of course the possibility, that, on the decease of his wife, the deacon might consider a vocation to the priesthood but I would hope that bishops would show the utmost compassion and sensitivity in making such an approach to a deacon in mourning. Those who are called to married life and are inspirational and ethical professionals in the commercial world may not be the best candidates for life as presbyters. Deacons bring witness and ministry into the workplace and the public square in a way that priests and bishops cannot. Deacons are the only rank of ordained clergy permitted to have secular professional and civic roles. So, in effect, rather than trying to squeeze deacons into a traditional presbyteral mould that may not suit their gifts, a deeper appraisal of Holy Orders is called for. Now seems an opportune time to undertake such an exercise, acknowledging the presence of God in marriage, family life, celibacy, the workplace, civic life – in fact, we need to re-evaluate how best to be Christ to the world.
For the record: I almost never drink decaf. I’m fully caffeinated. Just ask my wife (shown above, earning her halo as the long-suffering deacon’s wife…)