Tag Archives: priest

Meet the Chaplain: Kansas City Chapter chaplain sensed priestly calling in 4th grade

DIOCESAN PRIEST 27 YEARS, ALSO SERVES MULTIPLE ROLES IN VICARIATE AND CURIA

Father Kenneth A. Riley, 53, is the new co-chaplain of Legatus’ Kansas City Chapter, which is set to charter in August 2019. The Chapter encompasses members from both Kansas City, Missouri and Kansas.

Father Riley, who has been a priest of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Missouri for 27 years, is also the diocesan vicar general for administration, the moderator of the curia, chancellor, and the judicial vicar. He recently spoke with Legatus magazine.

How do you juggle all your responsibilities?

Some days, I juggle it better than others. It’s really about what is the next deadline? What is needed most at the time? I try to give each of them a little bit of time every day but I also have great people I work with who really keep things moving too.

Did you always want to be a priest?

I thought about it in the fourth grade. I was an altar server. I loved it and thought, “Well, this would be kind of cool.” But that quickly went away and I then wanted to be a photojournalist and travel the world. I wanted to find local people, local stories, and just kind of walk with people and hear their stories, their lives, and see how God acts in the world.

How did you then discern the priesthood?

In junior high and high school, the idea of the priesthood kept coming back. I talked to my folks about it. I woke them up one night and told them I couldn’t get rid of this idea, that maybe God was calling me to be a priest. We had to shake my father awake. He said, “Okay, we’ll talk about this later,” and went back to bed. My mom and I stayed up for the night and talked it through.

Was there a moment when God confirmed for you your vocation?

In my junior year of Conception Seminary College, I had an experience coming back from the Rec Center. I went to the student chapel outside of a required prayer time and sat there. I had an experience of God laughing at me, but it was like one of those times where someone tells you a joke and you’re not getting it in the moment, but then it kind of clicks. I was very much at peace then that this is where God was calling me to be.

How did you get acquainted with Legatus?

Several years ago, when they were starting the group, they would meet at the cathedral, which is where I’m in residence, so I kind of knew them and would help out with confessions and Mass. They had a different priest chaplain for a number of years, and when he was reassigned, the bishop invited me to pick up the mantle and try to help the Legates as they move forward as a fledgling new chapter.

What have been your impressions of Legatus?

I love that there is such a prayerful spirituality and tone. I love the fact that they’re professional networkers who live their faith. I appreciate their faithfulness to the Church’s teachings, beliefs, and practices. I think lifelong learning is very important for all categories, and if you can do it with like-minded individuals of faith, that’s just a tremendous blessing for people.

Do you have any hobbies?

I like to go to the movies. I used to run a group for Catholics in the social media profession locally. I enjoy working and making faith connections with movies and television. Also, I like going out with friends for food and drink. I like to try different foods and converse over dinner. For me, that is very Eucharistic.

What is the value of media to evangelization?

We cannot not engage social communications and the media. This is the digital world we’re in. But we need to do it with charity and love, not hate and name-calling. At the same time, we have to call out people who do not speak the good, the true, or the beautiful, and continue to have the Gospel and the Good News presented there.

Meet the Chaplain: Lincoln chaplain first pondered priesthood in youth, when dad was ill

INTENDED TO QUIT SEMINARY AFTER A YEAR, NOW CELEBRATING 30 AS A PRIEST

As a young man, Father James Meysenburg entered the seminary with the idea that he would attend for one year and then quit to prove to himself and others that he was not supposed to be a priest.

Today, Father Meysenburg, 55, is about to celebrate his 30th anniversary of his ordination.

“It didn’t work out the way I thought it would,” Father Meysenburg said with a laugh during a recent interview with Legatus magazine.

Father Meysenburg, a priest of the Diocese of Lincoln, Nebraska, became the chaplain of Legatus’ Lincoln Chapter a year ago. He is also the chief administrative officer of Pius X High School in Lincoln, Nebraska.

How did you become a Legatus chaplain?

I lived with the previous chaplain in residence at St. Joseph’s parish where he was pastor. If he was gone for some reason and couldn’t do the Legatus Masses, I would cover for him, so I got introduced to it that way. And because of my position here at Pius X, I knew probably half or a third of the people that were in the Legatus Chapter anyway

How would you describe your time as a Legatus chaplain so far?

It’s an impressive group of people to be around. I’m edified by their faith. I’m edified by how they try to bring their faith into their businesses and into their homes, especially in their families. I always appreciate the quality of speakers they have brought in over the years. That combination of being surrounded by real quality, faith-filled people, and having people who come in and give inspiring talks has been really wonderful. It’s been a real blessing for me.

When did you first suspect you were called to the priesthood?

Probably like most young boys, as an altar boy, you think about it. I quit thinking about it until my seventh-grade year, when my father got sick with colon cancer. That was when I started thinking about things to do with eternal life and what this world is all about. After my father died when I was in eighth grade, I kind of forgot about it, but it was always in the back of my mind. Then in my senior year of high school, I had a couple of people say, “Hey, have you ever thought about the priesthood?” I wanted to tell them to get lost.

Did you feel more comfortable about it when you entered the seminary?

No. I battled, wrestled, and tried to come up with every excuse I could as to why I should leave. It really wasn’t until I was two months away from my diaconate ordination that I had a sense that, “Okay, this is really an invitation. I can say ‘no’ and God will still love me, yet all the signs are saying that is what the Lord really wants me to do.”

What kind of assignments have you had as a priest?

I’ve been involved in education my whole priesthood. When I was newly ordained, the bishop at the time had two big priorities; one was vocations, the other was Catholic schools. All the priests were assigned to teach in Catholic schools because he wanted a priest’s presence to help with vocations. So I started teaching. After a year or so, I found that I really loved teaching. The bishop later told everyone to get an administration degree, so I went to the University of Nebraska and got my educational administration degree. 

Do you have any hobbies?

I like golfing. I wish I could say I was good at it, but I’m not. I am also a motorcycle enthusiast. I’ve enjoyed taking some great trips on a motorcycle. It’s been a few years now since I’ve been able to take a long trip, but I really enjoy it. Going up into the mountains with the bike, it’s really mind-clearing.

Embracing Catholic faith first involves obedience to it

One of the most striking examples of the fact that there’s always more to learn about our faith is the priest who, while saying Mass one morning, gained another insight on Mass he never realized before.

The priest had been ordained for 50 years!

I’ve been a priest 30 years, and am still learning. The object of our faith is God, and He’s infinite; we never reach the end of knowing and understanding Him. In heaven, for all eternity, we’ll constantly be learning new things about God.

And yet this God, who is infinitely beyond our comprehension, shares His life with us today. We know Him as our spouse in the New Covenant. We know what He expects of us, and how to serve and obey Him.

Hence we speak about studying and living our Faith.

On the one hand, our Faith involves knowing concrete things about God and the things of God. Some of them we know by human reason (like the existence of God, or the moral truth that killing a baby is always wrong), and others we know only by Divine Revelation (like the Trinity or the Eucharist).

God has spoken to us. Faith has a content. It’s not just an attitude or a good intention.

On the other hand, Faith is the obedient acceptance of the relationship God initiates with us. Saint Paul speaks of “the obedience of faith” (Rom. 1:5). It is precisely in submitting ourselves to God that we encounter and better understand his truth. Isaiah says it well when he declares, “Unless you believe, you will not understand” (Is. 7:9).

The proclamation of the faith is called evangelization. It is the announcement of what God has done for us in Christ, and the urgent invitation to accept Him. Once that “Yes” of faith is made, then catechesis unfolds for us more extensively the meaning of that “yes” and the content of what God has spoken. Theology is then the work of deeper study, comparing the truths of revelation with the dictates of reason, and the various tenets of the faith with one another.

All this is well summarized by what we see in John 6 where, after many of his followers left Jesus because they could not accept His teaching about the Eucharist, Peter says, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe, we have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God” (Jn. 6:68-69). In other words, Peter and the other apostles didn’t understand His words about eating His flesh any better than did the ones who left. But they understood who was speaking, and the authority of the one who spoke. They exercised the obedience of faith, knowing they would have a lifetime to more deeply understand it.

There is a lot of confusion in the Church today. But as I was discussing with a senior Vatican cardinal not long ago, there is no “secret knowledge” in the Church. No Church leader has more books of the bible or chapters of the Catechism than any of the rest of us have. The Faith is wide open for everyone to know, accept, and study. There is a clear body of teaching that the Church has always taught. It is OK to be confused about what a particular person says at a particular time; but there is no need to be confused about what the Faith says.

Indeed, let’s study and live it better each day!

FRANK PAVONE is national director for Priests for Life – the largest ministry in the Catholic Church focused exclusively on ending abortion. Learn more at www.ProLifeCentral.com

Father Flanagan’s Visionary Cause Takes Modern Focus

On the morning of the dedication of a life-sized statue of Father Edward Flanagan, the founder of Boys Town, rain poured down in his hometown of Ballymoe, Ireland. Steven Wolf, president of the Father Flanagan League Society and vice postulator of his cause for canonization, checked the weather. Rain was forecast throughout the country all day.

Wolf had traveled from Omaha, Nebraska to the little Irish village of 250 people. He brought with him the statue purchased by alumni of Boys Town to honor the famous priest.

Father Flanagan was born on July 13, 1886 in a whitewashed limestone, thatched-roof cottage, the eighth of 11 children in a hard-working farm family. He emigrated to the U.S. in 1904 and was ordained a priest in 1912.

Tom Lynch, director of Community Programs at Boys Town and also director of their Hall of History Museum, explained that Father Flanagan came to Omaha as a diocesan priest to be with his older brother Patrick, who was also a priest.

ROOTS OF BOYS TOWN

“Father Flanagan saw men living on the streets, so he opened a shelter and called it a working men’s hotel,” Lynch said. Over time, men started showing up with drug and alcohol and mental problems. What they had in common were broken families, no education, and no skills. It inspired Father Flanagan to seek out homeless boys living in junk yards, railroad yards, and even prisons and offer them a better life.

“He went to a Jewish friend and borrowed $90 to rent his first home in 1917,” Lynch explained. “It was an old mansion that had been converted to a boarding house. In two weeks, he had 70 boys. By 1920 he needed a bigger facility to house them.” A priest with a crowd of homeless boys of different races and religions was not especially welcomed in neighborhoods, according to Lynch. Father Flanagan rented another building for a while until he was able to buy the Overlook Farm, about 10 miles west of Omaha.

“The property was beautiful with orchards and crops in the field, and a lake for swimming and fishing,” Lynch said. “Father Flanagan announced: ‘We are free and independent, we will build our own village.’” It was the start of Boys Town.

By the 1940s, the village had expanded to over 1,000 acres. At the public school, some boys were discriminated against and on average, they were around three years behind so Father Flanagan started a school for them. He created individual learning programs and also taught them trades. Church on Sunday was mandatory, but the denomination was of their own choosing. Father Flanagan had said, “Every boy must learn to pray; how he prays is up to him.”

ABUSE IN IRELAND

Father Flanagan was a social reformer, protecting the rights of children, fighting racism, closing reformatories, and insisting that every child had a right to basic necessities. The boys flourished under his supervision. At this same time, however, children in his homeland were not doing so well. In 1946, Father Flanagan received letters from Ireland begging him to investigate religious-run industrial schools that served poor and homeless children and unwed mothers. He went unannounced and was shocked.

After he returned to the U.S., Father Flanagan wrote letters to key people and spoke to a reporter, calling the institutions a disgrace where children were treated harshly and abused. The Irish government was furious and denounced him in the Irish parliament. Undeterred, Father Flanagan vowed to return to clean things up. However, after World War II ended, President Truman asked him to assist governments with programs for war orphans in Japan, Korea, the Philippines, Austria, and Germany.

Father Flanagan complied with the president’s request in 1947-1948, planning to then get back to Ireland. He died of a heart attack in Berlin, Germany on May 15, 1948, however. Sadly, it would be another four decades before the truth became public. Beginning in the 1990s, a series of criminal cases and Irish government enquiries established that hundreds of priests had abused thousands of children over decades. If only Father Flanagan had been listened to.

DEDICATION DAY

Back in Ireland, before the dedication ceremony in November 2001, Wolf and 40 other Boys Town alumni climbed onto a bus outside their hotel, 10 miles from the village of Ballymoe. “It’s not going to rain on Father Flanagan’s day,” Wolf announced to the others. People smiled at his optimism. The rain kept coming though. There would be three bishops, the papal nuncio to Ireland, the U.S. ambassador, members of the Irish government, and a letter from their president would be read, and the Celtic Tenors would sing the U.S. and Irish national anthems.

As the bus rolled along on bumpy, country roads, the rain slowed. By the time they pulled into the village, where 1,800 would come for the ceremony, the clouds parted. The ceremony took place under a blue sky. After the ceremony, clouds moved back in and the rain resumed.

Many “God-things” seem to happen when Father Flanagan is involved, according to Wolf. He lived at Boys Town as a 14-year-old runaway from a single-parent home. Wolf graduated from high school at Boys Town where he had been the editor of the school newspaper and joined the Army National Guard while he was still a senior, which he just retired from after 38 years. He went on to earn a degree in journalism and master’s degree in public administration.

Wolf did not convert to the Catholic faith until years later when he had a family of his own and was a board member of the National Boys Town Alumni Association. “When I talk to other alumni, every single one of us calls that place home,” he said. “The essential ingredient is love. For that ingredient to be there for everyone, that’s God’s love and that’s what ties us all together. Father Flanagan would say, ‘It’s not my work, it’s God’s work.’”

CAUSE FOR CANONIZATION

In May of 2017, Omaha’s three-year investigation into Father Flanagan’s life received a decree of judicial validity by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, according to Father Ryan Lewis, the archbishop’s episcopal delegate for the Cause and also chaplain for the Omaha Legatus Chapter. The next step is to determine if “Servant of God” Father Flanagan lived a life of heroic virtue. If so, he will advance to the status of “venerable.” Generally, a miracle credited to his intercession will be required for beatification, and a second miracle for canonization.

Many Legates of the Omaha Chapter are also members of the Father Flanagan Guild, promoting his cause for canonization. Mass prior to the monthly meetings takes place at the Church of the Immaculate Conception in the heart of Boys Town where the nave on the west side holds Father Flanagan’s tomb.

“With the sexual abuse crises across the globe, to lift up someone like Father Flanagan at this time—an American priest who worked with youth and who did so in a heroic, dare I say in a saintly way—is an example that we need now more than ever,” said Father Lewis. “At a time when morale is down among priests, we can look to him with great pride that he was one of ours.”

Father Flanagan’s work lives on. Boys Town began accepting girls in 1979 and has become a national organization with programs across the country including in-home family counseling and programs for schools.

For more information about Father Flanagan, to download prayers, or to plan a pilgrimage with Mass and a visit to his tomb, go to www. fatherflanagan.org.

PATTI ARMSTRONG is a Legatus magazine contributing write

 

The priest – husband of one Wife – for life

According to the Catechism (CCC 1579), priestly celibacy is a discipline found in the Western Church for those who are “called to consecrate themselves with undivided heart to the Lord and to ‘the affairs of the Lord’” (1 Cor 7:32). Eastern Catholic churches maintain a tradition that allows for married priests, but, as is also the custom in the Western Church, those who hold the office of bishop must be unmarried. Since it is a discipline that was introduced later in Church history by the Church’s authority, the presence of married clergy in Scripture does not refute it.

This discipline is also not an arbitrary one but follows Paul’s teaching that a married man is anxious about pleasing his wife whereas the unmarried man is anxious about pleasing the Lord (1 Cor 7:32-34). In fact, both Saint Paul and Jesus practiced celibacy, so taking vows of celibacy would follow Saint Paul’s command to “be imitators of me, as I am of Christ” (1 Cor 11:1).

Some Protestant apologists, however, claim Paul condemned celibacy, calling it a part of the “doctrines of demons” taught by those who “forbid marriage and enjoin abstinence from foods” (1Tim 4:1,3). In fact, Paul said that “a bishop must be above reproach, the husband of one wife” (1 Tim 3:2), which means, according to Todd Baker (author of Exodus from Rome: A Biblical and Historical Critique of Roman Catholicism), “Rome blatantly contradicts Scripture by demanding their bishops and priests must be unmarried celibates.”

The Catholic Church does not teach that marriage or eating meat is evil. In fact, it is because these things are good and pleasurable that it is praiseworthy when someone abstains from them to serve the Church for a season (such as during a Lenten fast) or for the remainder of an entire lifetime as in the case of clerical celibacy. The fact that Paul desired that all could be celibate like him (1 Cor 7:7) makes it highly implausible that he would have condemned voluntary vows of celibacy.

Baker dredges up the canard that priestly celibacy is responsible for the clergy sex abuse crisis that took place in the late 20th century.

The actions of the small number of priests who abused children, as well as the decisions of some bishops to transfer those priests and rely on psychological treatments instead of criminal prosecution, have caused great harm to innocent lives and great scandal to the Church. But these sinful acts do not prove that celibacy is sinful or that it was a motivating factor in the recent clerical abuse scandal.

Excerpt from Chapter 7, “The Priesthood” (pp. 153-57) in the recently released book, The Case for Catholicism: Answers to Classic and Contemporary Protestant Objections, by Trent Horn (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2017). www.ignatius.com

 

TRENT HORN, a convert to Catholicism, earned a bachelor’s degree in history at Arizona State University, then a master’s degree in theology at Franciscan University of Steubenville. He is a regular guest on the popular radio program “Catholic Answers LIVE,” and nationwide lecturer on the Catholic faith. Additionally he is author of Answering Atheism, Persuasive Pro-Life, and Hard Sayings.

Valor of priests ministering in the military

June 21 marked the ninth anniversary of Father Timothy Vakoc’s death. He is the only priest severely wounded by a road-side bomb in Iraq who later died as a result of his service. I will never forget my visit to him a year before he died. Even though speech was a challenge, he communicated his passion for the ministry which ultimately ended his earthly pilgrimage.

Historically, several Catholic military chaplains are well-known for their heroic deeds in times of war. All of the chaplains who received the Medal of Honor in the 20th century were Catholic priests. Their names might easily spring to mind. They gave so much of themselves for those they served.

However, what about the priest in his “ordinary” daily ministry? How does he give life as he meets the spiritual and human needs of the men and women in uniform? The role is challenging in today’s culture and the demands on his time are many.

Most Catholic priests who serve the military today fall into two categories. Either they are military chaplains (active duty, reserve, or National Guard) or they are civilians who meet the demands of a contracted or GS position. In either case, they are expected to meet all of the needs of the Catholics at their installation or on their ship. In that sense, you might liken them to your parish priest: attentive to sacramental needs, available to offer counsel, an asset to the religious education program, and ever ready to respond to those key moments in our lives –birth, sickness, sacraments, and death.

In the military the priests are also the “subject experts” for any question related to the Catholic faith. They are assisted in this role by the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA (AMS), the personal archdiocese at the service of men and women in uniform, of patients in the medical centers of the Department of Veterans Affairs, of any Catholic who works for the federal government outside of the U.S. borders, and of the families of these populations. The AMS assures the minimum expectations for ministry to Catholics, publishes a priests’ handbook, and responds to questions, problems, and opportunities that arise.

Those priests in uniform, however, are also officers in their respective branches of service. In that role they also provide for the needs of all those who seek their assistance. While they do not lead worship for non-Catholics, they might have to assure that spiritual needs are met, i.e., find someone who can fulfill the role required, order the items needed for the celebration of Passover, secure space for the Muslim community to pray, and so forth.

Most Catholic priests in the Armed Forces are not married (there are a few former Anglican and Episcopalian priests and Lutheran ministers who have families). There is a tendency to give them duty on holidays, so that the other chaplains can spend those days with their families. Catholic priests in the military often struggle to have a day off. They sacrifice to serve those who serve our country.

The U.S. has been at war now for almost two decades. However, military service involves less than 1 percent of the population. We might not often think of those demands which are the daily tasks of the priests who serve the military. You and I enjoy the freedoms that the military protects. They are vigilant so that we can be tranquil. These priests minister to those who make sacrifices for us. They offer the life-giving sacraments to those who put their lives on the line for our freedoms. In the case of a Father Vakoc they even sacrifice life itself so as to give life.

THE MOST REVEREND TIMOTHY P. BROGLIO has served as Archbishop for the Military Services, USA, since 2008. He is a veteran of the Holy See’s diplomatic corps and holds a doctorate in canon law. As a member of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Archbishop Broglio is currently chairman of the Committee on International Justice and Peace.

Meet the Chaplain: Fr. Gordon Kalil – Napa Valley Chapter

Father Gordon Kalil was a retired fashion executive in his mid-30s trying to find himself in the Bay Area. One day, he walked into St. Dominic’s Church in San Francisco. That visit prompted a conversion that would lead the driven businessman to be ordained a Dominican priest, and later become a priest for the Diocese of Santa Rosa.

Today, Fr. Kalil, 75, uses his business background to good effect as pastor of St. Helena Church and as the chaplain for Legatus’ Napa Valley Chapter. He spoke with Legatus magazine staff writer Brian Fraga.

What was it about St. Dominic’s Church that led to your conversion?

First of all, it’s one of the most beautiful churches. I walked in, and they had a shrine to St. Jude, and the statue was identical to the one we had in my small hometown Catholic church in Indiana. It just overwhelmed me in that moment and I started to sob. Then I moved over to the side chapel in front of the Blessed Mother, and it was the same image we had in that same church in Indiana. It really was like returning home.

Why had you been away from the Church?

When I was 18 and a student at Indiana University, I just couldn’t find the answers in the Church so I left. It just didn’t make sense to me. During my time in New York City, where I was for about 14 to 15 years, I felt this emptiness. It came at a time when I was just getting tired of the fashion industry. It just seemed so hollow for me. I had wanted to be a priest when I was about 9 or 10, but our pastor in Indiana said I didn’t have any intelligence, and he also said that my family didn’t have enough money. In those days, sponsorship for the seminary was usually from the family.

Did that experience with your pastor discourage you?

It did, but then I was also raised to believe that the pastor knows best.

Do you ever miss living and working in Manhattan?

No, I don’t miss that sense of “go, go, go” and the bustle and hustle. The pedestrian traffic is reflective of the mood in the town, which is you have to go where you’re going rapidly, and if you stop, you die. I don’t miss that, though I do miss the incredible walking town that it is, and of course the arts.

Does your business background inform your priestly ministry today?

Absolutely. First of all, from the perspective of knowing about people who are in business, knowing a bit of what drives them because I was very driven and competitive. Also, I think that my counseling of people comes from an orientation of knowing the temptations, which are all around someone who is striving to be successful, and there are many temptations, even beyond what we would consider the norm for anybody living in the secular world.

What do you do as a Legatus chaplain?

I’m available to the members for counseling, confession, spiritual direction, as any priest would be. Also, I think in part my history, having been in the business profession, helps. Now, I’m not saying that’s a requirement, but it has certainly helped. The foundation of Legatus is certainly an appeal to people in business, and it helps to be relatable to them because ‘I’ve been there and done that’ so to speak.

What has struck you the most about being a priest and Legatus chaplain?

I’m continually humbled by the strength and the power of the laity; their faith, their witness to the faith, and their willingness to serve the Church and its ministries. When we went through our founding as a chapter, I looked out at the members and realized every one of them was involved in a charity, not just for the Church but for the world at large. It’s a joy in my priesthood to see the laity committed to being servants of Christ in the world.

Why can’t priests get married?

Very few men and women entering religious life grumble about spending the rest of their lives unmarried. They don’t have a low opinion of marriage. In fact, they have a universally higher opinion of it than married people do.

They freely embrace celibacy because they want to devote their complete energies to God and to the service of his Church. They follow St. Paul’s own example by making this sacrifice. Paul recommended celibacy for those called to that vocation, without deprecating marriage in any way (1 Cor 7:8). As our world tends to give less and less value to marriage — the divorce and “living together” statistics are revealing — a counterthrust is coming from, of all places, the ranks of the unmarried religious, whether priests, sisters or brothers.

There is another fact about celibacy that surprises even many Catholics: It has not been a rule for all Catholic priests. In the Eastern Rites, married men can be ordained. This has been the custom from early times. Once ordained, though, an unmarried priest may not marry; a married priest, if widowed, may not remarry.

In the West, the rule has been different. In the very beginning, some priests and bishops were taken from the ranks of the married. But celibacy was soon preferred, and eventually it became mandatory. The change in the rule did not imply a change of doctrine. In recent years, we have seen a few married Latin Rite priests. Some have been Lutheran or Episcopal ministers who were married at the time of their conversion to Catholicism.

Despite what some critics may say, marriage is not evil in the eyes of the Church. It’s the Catholic Church that claims Christ raised marriage to a sacrament! Moreover, neither celibacy nor marriage is forced on anyone. It’s true that Catholic priests in the West may not be married, but no one is obliged to become a priest. Marriage is not forbidden to them as human beings, but as priests. Therefore, a Catholic man is free to choose the celibate priesthood, the married life or even the single life, which is also celibate.

Karl Keating is the founder of Catholic Answers. This column is reprinted with permission from his book “What Catholics Really Believe — Setting the Record Straight: 52 Answers to Common Misconceptions about the Catholic Faith,” pages 130-135 (Ignatius Press, San Francisco 1995).