Theological Foundations of a Married Priesthood (under construction)
"This is a great mystery, but I speak in reference to Christ and the Church" (Eph. 5:32).
"Two other sacraments, Holy Orders and Matrimony, are directed towards the salvation of others; if they contribute as well to personal salvation, it is through the service of others that they do so" (Catechism 1534).
"[M]aybe it is the right moment to give birth in the Church to a real catholic theology of priesthood, a theology able to include also the married priesthood, a lawful(legitima) (PO 16) tradition of the catholic of the Church and a state always considered as based upon a divine call. Up to now the catholic theology of priesthood has been a theology for celibate priests, without a real place for married priests" (Basilio Petra, 2015).
Let us ask the Holy Spirit bring us deeper into the mystery of the holy priesthood in the 21stCentury such that neither celibate priests are disparaged nor married priests are disparaged. In this way, both lungs of the Church will breath with renewed vigor for the salvation of souls.
Following the Second Vatican Council and its call for the universal call to holiness among the laity, the Church’s reflection on marriage and family entered a new phase in salvation history. These conditions from a Council that esteemed married clergy (cf. PO) and the unfolding of the mystery of the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony (cf. GS), along with modern-day attacks on the Christian family since the Council, and even the opportunity for a common united witness of East-West, and someday the Orthodox Churches with married priests reunited with the Catholic Church, laid the foundation so that a theology of the married priesthood can emerge in a time when both marriage and the priesthood are under unprecedented diabolical assault. At issue is the Church’s understanding of the relationship between these two Sacraments of Service (Orders & Matrimony which contain an essential link). Herein is just one theological foundation for a married priesthood that also honors the celibate priesthood.
Ontologicalism or the "ontologicalist error" refers to the position that mandated celibacy-continence is essential to the priesthood and somehow comes to us from the Twelve Apostles. Tracing mandated celibacy and continence to the Apostles, however, is “a bit of a stretch” without basis in Tradition. Opponents of married priests, for example, point to the Spanish Synod of Elvira which was only a local Synod of 19 bishops and not the universal Catholic Church. Continence is really a back door sneaking in of celibacy for married ordained men, a burden not of divine origins of Tradition from Christ but the traditions of men. It does not follow that we should throw out celibacy. Nevertheless, the ontological position borders on heresy and the case can be made that it is even outright heresy. While there is basis for celibacy in Scripture and Tradition, there is a paucity of evidence for *mandated* celibacy in Scripture and Tradition. The key word is mandate. There is a difference between celibacy v. mandated celibacy. Thus, celibacy is not the essence of the priesthood; rather, love is the essence of the priesthood as Benedict XVI taught. And even if the discipline of celibacy and continence existed on a wider basis, the Church today has the authority to regulate any celibacy or continence requirement such as through a dispensation which would not be a break any Apostolic Tradition.
As Benedict XVI taught, love is the essence of the priesthood. The priesthood is then lived in either celibacy or married life as expressions of love (agape).