I was reading an article in America Magazine on what to look for in a partner to share the administrative burdens of a pastor. The opening part of the article describes the daily issues and duties that face priests and pastors. Indeed, it is daunting. Read the description.
To be pastor for a typical Catholic parish these days is to attempt the impossible, for the pastor’s role has grown too large. It includes pastoral duties (preaching, counseling, presiding at liturgies, administrating sacraments, visiting parishioners), managing human resources (staff direction, performance reviews, coordinating meetings, public relations) and administration (finances, buildings, decision making, long-range planning), to name but a few. …. A pastor who wants to be present to the people may instead find himself rushing from one commitment to another, falling behind in answering e-mail messages and returning phone calls, arriving at presentations unprepared and lacking adequate time and energy to manage conflicts or handle crises. It is not a recipe that leads to success or to a sense of accomplishment. Managing the staff, overseeing finances, directing lay leadership—these are too much for one individual to do, especially when added to the pastoral work required of and central to the pastor’s role.
Even without some of the administrative burden of a pastor, priests are pretty much in the same situation. What became very clear to me when reading this is that the priesthood is truly a vocation. Then I thought about what my wife and I do on a daily basis. There are many parallels with the priesthood. Married folk with children often find themselves overburdened with the duties of employment, finances, soccer, baseball, dance class, homework, quality time with the kids, rushing from one commitment to another all while trying to be present to each other. All this while trying to nourish each other in life, love, and faith amid all the chaos. Truly daunting, truly a vocation.
After contemplating this for a little while it became very clear for me that any priest who thinks that priests should be married, does not remotely understand that marriage is a vocation. They could not possibly understand what it really takes to live out that vocation. I am offended by their disrespect of my vocation.
I suspect that most of the priests who advocate for a married priesthood must be in academia. They likely teach two classes a week and complain about office hours that they routinely miss anyway. Only then could a priest think that they could possibly have enough time for a second vocation. But in reality, there is no such thing as a second vocation. You are robbing Peter to pay Paul. A vocation is a calling to a life of service whether priesthood or marriage. If you think you have time for a second vocation, your are likely doing a lousy job at your first vocation.
“No one can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other.” (Matt. 6.24). I suspect that many priestly advocates for a married priesthood already despise the one as they long for the other.