THE RECENT DEBATE regarding married clergy has been quite well argued both for and against, but I have been keenly awaiting someone to raise the practical problems which would have to be faced. Amazingly, no one seems to have considered them.
Let us use our own parish here in rural Shropshire as an example. We are some 400 souls spread over 150 square miles, our weekly collection is in the region of £200. Suppose we had a married priest with four children living in the presbytery. How could the parish support him? To provide a living wage, pay for heat, light, telephone, wear and tear on furnishings would prove impossible. Two cars would be a necessity as our nearest station is 17 miles away. How would we pay the road tax, insurance and running costs? The present system of paying the minimum self employed insurance contribution would be inadequate to cover the family.
Now let us suppose that Father died suddenly in his mid 40s. How would the parish provide for the widow and her children? How would the Bishop manage to evict her so that the new incumbent could take possession of the presbytery? I suggest it would be extremely difficult. Even in a larger urban parish, where they have the luxury of a curate, were he to be married as well can you imagine two wives in the one kitchen?
Perhaps those who argue so forcefully for married clergy would like to provide a few answers?
John H Sale Shropshire
GS HUTTON is wrong in saying that the Church has never permitted the marriage of men already ordained (Letters, Catholic Herald, 28 July).
In the pontificate of Paul VI, a number of priests were dispensed from their vows of celibacy and permitted to marry. They were not permitted to go on exercising their priestly functions, but they are still priests and some have actually been allowed back into the active ministry on being widowed.
Such dispensations have been discontinued under the present Pope, but I have not heard anyone question the validity of the action of Paul VI. I can only conclude that the Church is able to allow priests to marry, but for reasons of discipline does not do so. The present situation seems to me very unsatisfactory.
Chris Feetenby W Yorkshire