Meet the priest—and his family

Only the Pope can allow married priests who convert

by Katie Engelhart

Meet the priest—and his familyA Prince Edward Island man is set to become the province’s first married Catholic priest. Martin Carter, a former Anglican clergyman, will be admitted to the Catholic priesthood in August. Currently, the Roman Catholic Church does not support the ordination of married men. P.E.I. Bishop Vernon Fougere explains that Carter, who is married and has three sons, “had to petition the Holy Father—the Pope—for permission”; the whole process took almost four years. And Fougere stressed that Carter’s case was exceptional: “In the Catholic Church, we do not ordain married men. [This] does not mean that permission will be given tomorrow to every married man to be ordained.”

Still, Timothy Scott, a Catholic priest who is also president of St. Joseph’s College in Edmonton, says that the ordination of married men has been happening for 15 or 20 years—but “quietly.” And, Scott says, there’s a catch. The exception to the Church’s rule of celibacy for priests is only made for men who were priests or ministers in other Christian denominations—Anglican or Lutheran, for example—and then converted to Catholicism. A man who is born Catholic and later marries can never become a priest. “It’s a bit confusing,” he concedes. And every case needs the approval of the Vatican.

Scott says the conversion of Anglican priests to Catholicism is part of a broader trend among conservative Anglicans frustrated with their church’s more liberal practices. In particular, he says, many Anglicans disapprove of ordaining women and performing blessing services for homosexual couples, and so might be drawn to the more orthodox Roman Catholic Church. So what do the the members of Charlottetown’s St. Pius X parish think of their recently converted priest? “I have not done a survey, but the people I have spoken to in the shopping malls are elated that this can happen in the Catholic Church,” claims Bishop Fougere. “A lot of people see the Church as being very rigid, but that is not always the case.”




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Meet the priest—and his family

  1. Most Ukrainian Catholic priests are both "Catholic" and "married". They take their orders from the same Pope in Rome. A fact that the Church hasn't promoted much and the media have been too lazy to look up.

  2. This statement "“In the Catholic Church, we do not ordain married men." is false. Married men are ordained all the time in the eastern Catholic rites (Ukrainian Catholic, Coptic Catholic, etc.) (yes, these are part of the Catholic Church, just not the Roman Catholic Church).

    What is not done in the Catholic Church, ever, is to allow priests to marry. But that is a different kettle of fish.

  3. This statement "“In the Catholic Church, we do not ordain married men." is false. Married men are ordained all the time in the eastern Catholic rites (Ukrainian Catholic, Coptic Catholic, etc.) (yes, these are part of the Catholic Church, just not the Roman Catholic Church).

    What is not done in the Catholic Church, ever, is to allow priests to marry. But that is a different kettle of fish.

  4. awesome. some moderation

  5. As an Anglican, Martin Carter is already a ,'Catholic,' and will be no greater one after his ordination in the Roman Catholic Church than he was before. All validly baptised people, are made catholics by that very act of baptism and most are later confirmed in that privilige by the bishop at their confirmation! The Roman Catholic Church is not the Catholic Church in its entirety,it is simply a Catholic Sect dating from the Council of Trent. To slightly misquote and without to much distortion, if indeed any, John Evelyn, the English Diarist , Martin Carter will be come a Trentist/

  6. Glad to hear there is some flexability in the Roman Catholic church! I just came home from Nova Scotia after meeting with a long time friend who was the victim of clergy abuse. This friend is now severly damaged mentally (and has been for 30 years) I have now left this church, because I cannot be part of an institution that has caused so much pain over the years, and has become wealthy doing it. I still get spiritual fullfilment shoveling snow from my neighbour's driveway, or mowing his lawn. But I do wish this pioneering priest well…!

  7. This is actually very wonderful to hear. :)

    I am not a Catholic, I am not a Christian. But my mother was raised as such, and her late father was a Catholic priest.

    To divulge some family drama, he was going to enter the clergy when he met my grandmother. They were married and had children, both were raised Catholic so the marriage was a Catholic one. My grandmother however left him for another man, which in some interpretations of parts of the Bible effectively nullifies the marriage. Then my grandfather tried to re-enter. He needed special dispensation as well, and had to remain unmarried and celibate afterward, but he was a well-known and well-liked priest for many years. Even after being forced into early retirement as an actual priest, he was still a major source of spiritual help and guidance for many he had touched along the way and he'd drive all around two provinces to do so.

    At his funeral, the family section was filled with his children and grandchildren, as well as his sibling. I was a pallbearer.

    Sorry for the personal ramble. Just amazing to hear of other priests who are doing something similar. I honestly believe my grandfather's experiences of being a family man gave him a different perspective than most priests, and that is what really drew some people towards him, although of course it was far from his only strength.

  8. Vive l'Eglise Catholique !

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