Romance Blooms in a Catholic Seminary for Fr. Roman


In Eastern Europe, Eastern Catholic priests are usually married. When Eastern Catholics started migrating to the US about 120 years ago, their married priests were not welcome.

Earlier, I wrote about the tension that still exists in some quarters between Eastern Catholics and Latin Catholics regarding a married priesthood and its ecumenical implications. When Eastern Catholics gave up their communion with Orthodoxy and entered communion with Rome they were guaranteed the right to continue their tradition of ordaining married men to the priesthood (see section 9 of the Treaty of Brest). However, when Eastern Catholics started migrating to Western lands where the Latin Church was dominant it often became a problem to have both traditions (the Eastern tradition of a married priesthood and the Western tradition of a celibate priesthood) coexisting in the same place. This led to restrictions being placed on Eastern Catholics in the US and Canada (and in some other countries as well) that outlawed ordaining married men as priests and the requirement that henceforth only celibate men be ordained. Such restrictions led to tens of thousands of Eastern Catholics leaving union with Rome and returning to Orthodoxy.

This problem still exists in some areas but it appears that the situation is beginning to change, especially with regard to the Ukrainian Catholic Church in Canada and the US. An indication of the change in attitudes is this delightful vignette just posted from the 40th anniversary celebration of St. Elias Ukrainian Catholic Church in Brampton, Ontario, Canada. Fr. Roman Galadza, pastor of St. Elias, describes the tension he experienced in the mid-1960s between the then expected norm for a Ukrainian Catholic seminarian in the US to be ordained and remain celibate and the love that began blooming between him and a Ukrainian girl he met at a Ukrainian Catholic parish in New York named Irene. At about 2 minutes and 40 seconds into this video he starts telling their story:

This seminarian, realizing he was called both to marriage and priesthood, was able to find a Ukrainian Catholic Bishop in Canada who would ordain qualified married men in accordance with the Eastern tradition.

That such romantic stories can be told publicly is an indication that real change is happening between Eastern and Western Catholics. There has clearly been a clash of cultures and traditions between Roman (Latin Rite) Catholics and Eastern (Byzantine and Ukrainian) Catholics over this issue. Sadly, the much smaller Eastern Catholics lost out in this conflict but these are promising signs.

I think, however, some quarters of the Roman Catholic Church still are not prepared for such normal stories of love between a seminarian and his future wife. Hopefully, that will begin to change. Hopefully, also, regulations on married clergy in other Eastern Catholic Churches outside of their “home territory” will be lifted in the future.

UPDATE: November 23, 2011 — For updated information on the Ban on married clergy and how it is currently applied, see the article: Vatican: Ban on Ordaining Married Men in Western Lands is Not Dead.

6 Responses to Romance Blooms in a Catholic Seminary for Fr. Roman

  1. KatolikTimur says:

    Amen… I am hoping the West is getting ready to accept sincerely the tradition of the East about married clergy.

  2. John W says:

    I am a proud “Latin” and I understand and accept married clergy in the Eastern Rites.

  3. […] Romance Blooms in a Catholic Seminary for Fr. Roman Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)The NY Times Discovers Greek Rite Catholics…(because their clergy are not…St. Alexis of Wilkes-Barre, Pray to God for us!Protestantism’s Eastern Blind SpotCelibacy: Doesn’t this Contradict “the husband of one wife?” […]

  4. Christopher W McAvoy says:

    I am also a proud “Latin” and I accept and understand celibacy in the eastern tradition but believe the reasons the west rejected it in the 5th century are unorthodox, flawed and should be following the eastern example. The eastern example has been proved correct by my personal friendship with numerous married byzantine priests (who have many happy well taken care of children and spouse).
    I will spend my life working for those rights to be regained within the Latin Church.

    In the immortal words of St Patrick:

    “I, Patrick, a sinner, a most simple countryman, the least of all the faithful and most contemptible to many, had for father the deacon Calpurnius, son of the late Potitus, a priest, of the settlement [vicus] of Bannavem Taburniae; he had a small villa nearby where I was taken captive. “

  5. Michael M. says:

    For the record, I am a practicing Ukrainian Catholic who does not favour the existence of married clergy within our faith. Even though our priests were afforded this right by the Union of Brest, it was a right particular to Ukraine. In past years, very few married men were ordained to the priesthood in North America. Instead, many had to seek ordination in Europe and then return to Canada or the United States in order to function as priests. Now it appears that well over 50% of our priests are married. Coincidentally, other Eastern Rite catholics (e.g. Byzantine Cathlics in the U.S.) very rarely ordain married men.

    It is my opinion that a married priest is unable to attain the same level of spirituality and pastoral commitment as an unmarried priest. For married clergy, it’s a case of having “the best of both worlds” (which is not open to Latin Rite priests). I sometimes wonder whether a married priest’s first priority is his spouse/children or his church.

    The term “orthodox catholicism” that is used on this website is a disturbing oxymoron. Let’s acknowledge that orthodoxy and catholicism are two distinct paths of faith. The creation of some sort of hybrid amalgam of orthodoxy and catholicism is unrealistic and untenable.

    • orthocath says:

      Just to clarify: I’m a member of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA). Every Sunday when we recite the creed we say: “I believe in one, holy, catholic and apostolic faith.” So, we believe we are both orthodox and catholic. Thus the name for this blog.

      As to the issue of married clergy. While Orthodoxy fully respects celibacy for those who have been given this gift, it also realizes that the call to ministry as a priest is not limited to single men. So, our Churches ordain married men also.

      As to “whether a married priest’s first priority is to his spouse/children or his church,” there’s a simple answer. It’s to his spouse/children. Still, the married priests I know make every effort to be available to their parishioners as much as possible.

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