July 08, 2005

Fathers, Husbands and Rebels


By Elizabeth Mehren
Times Staff Writer

July 8, 2005

BOSTON -- The priests came from three states, converging on a suburban park one Sunday to conduct an outdoor Mass. Wearing white vestments with rainbow-hued stoles, they led the worshippers in prayer and song. They stuck closely to traditional Roman Catholic liturgy.

But as they raised their arms in blessing, the five men revealed unmistakable proof of defiance: All wore wedding bands.

These men, who still consider themselves Roman Catholic priests, have wives, children and unflinching commitments to their 2,000-year-old faith. As married priests, they say, they are not heretical anomalies but, instead, are following a model set by priests and popes in the earliest days of their church. They are part of a growing national network of thousands of deeply religious men who believe marriage does not compromise their ability to serve as spiritual ministers. ...

More and more rank-and-file Catholics, whose respect for church hierarchy was shattered by the clerical sex-abuse scandal, are accepting married priests and seeking their services.

Boston College theology professor Stephen Pope said the abuse crisis made Catholics question not only the teachings of the church, but also "the credibility of the teachers." The disaffection is so strong, Pope said, that "a lot of average Catholics today would be open to married priests because they think the priests would understand their plights more readily than a celibate priest."

Posted by kshaw at July 8, 2005 12:15 PM