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Martina Ilic wrote:

Hi, guys —

I am currently studying Year 12 at Nazareth Catholic College in Adelaide, Australia. I would like to ask your assistance with my Religion major assignment which is on the topic:

Should Catholic Priests be allowed to get married?

I am looking to interview a priest and was wondering if you could be of assistance. If you could give me a list of some priests that I could e-mail/interview it would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks,

Martina Ilic

  { Can I interview your priest for my assignment: Should Catholic priests be allowed to get married? }

Fr. Jonathan replied:


Sure!

Mike sent me your questions and my replies follow.

You said:

  1. When did you know you were going to be a priest?

I have known God was calling me to be a priest since my 18th birthday.

  1. What inspired you to become a priest?

I do have an uncle who is a priest and an aunt who is a religious sister, and I come from a very faithful Catholic family; however my real inspiration to be a priest comes from within.

The knowledge that God has called me is a very humbling thing and if God truly is calling me to be a priest who am I to say no to God. There is great joy that comes with knowing in your soul that you are doing what God wants you to do, whether it is as a priest or as mother or father or artist or doctor or social worker — whatever it is. Not everyone feels fulfilled (in their life) that they are exactly doing what they are supposed to be doing — I am very fortunate in that.

  1. When thinking about becoming a priest, did the fact you had to stay and remain celibate for the rest of your life make you think twice about joining priesthood?

At some point in my journey in this life I had to come to terms with this reality, but I passed that a long time ago. If it were different, I think I would make a good husband and father and all of us are biologically wired for a loving relationship, but I have never found it particularly difficult to live. I know priests that struggle with it, but personally I do not. It would be a difficult life to live with that kind of struggle. I made a commitment for life and I am content with that commitment and I don't dwell on the alternative because it is not an option.

  1. Do you think Catholic priests should be allowed to get married? Why/Why not?

It is not up to me so I don't have an opinion. There is great freedom in celibacy to live a fully committed priesthood without a family legitimately taking my attention. If some day it changes, then I think there will still be priests that choose to be celibate. I do not think this discipline will change however.

  1. If Catholic priests were allowed to get married and have families, in your opinion, would it affect their work and duties towards their community? Please elaborate?

Without a doubt. Sometimes Protestant ministers tell me that they love their spouse but when it comes to their ministry they envy my celibacy. When God calls
a person to a family that is a huge commitment of time and of emotional energy.
I have none of that. It completely frees me to do the work God wants me to do.

Many years ago a bishop asked me to go to Rome for four years to study Canon Law. I said yes — I did not go home and discuss it with my wife or to see if my family could do it. Often as a priest you are called to places in the middle of the night — I just go — I do not worry about the safety of my family when I am away.

Priests need to be away on retreats — hard to do with a family. What I am saying is that because of celibacy, I am available whenever God calls — this would be much harder if I were married.

  1. Why are Protestant and Anglican priests allowed to be married and have families while Catholic ones aren't?

You would have to ask a Protestant or Anglican historian that question. I will however say this — because I am celibate I am unusual. It is so unusual that you are asking me these questions.

In other words, it is a sign to the world of the Catholic priest's willingness to sacrifice their natural longings to say to the world how important their faith is.

  1. Does that mean the Catholic priests are better serves of the community then their counterparts of another religion because they only answer to God and church and not their wives and children?

There are many wonderful Christian ministers who are able to do incredible ministry and be married as well. I would never say we serve better — I will say that I live a celibate life because God has called me to it — and I am very honored by His Calling.

I hope this helps,

Fr. Jonathan

Martina replied:

Hi Mike,

A big thanks to you and Fr. Jonathan.

Your help is greatly appreciated.

Thanks,

Martina

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