As discussion over the en masse conversions of Anglican priests and parishes continues to swirl (and the media continues to misrepresent, intentionally or unintentionally, the significance of the influx of married priests), a recent op-ed by Fr. Scott Hurd, the Vicar General of the new Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, stands out as a rebuff to those who want to enroll the incoming clergy in a battle over the future of priestly celibacy. Fr. Hurd writes that:
None of us, to my knowledge, want to be “poster boys” for a new paradigm of priesthood. Instead, we wished to be obedient, and wanted an opportunity to serve. We’re deeply grateful for the opportunity we’ve been given.
In our day, debates about celibacy swirl in Catholic circles. This ancient and biblical discipline has both its defenders and critics. Speaking for myself, I feel uncomfortable when circumstances like mine are used to further an argument or make a point. I’m simply honored to serve the Lord I love while being blessed with a family I love.
Of course, it would be difficult for Fr. Hurd to publicly say anything more, but why should he? Understanding that his primary role is pastoral, he offers something generally lacking in these kinds of arguments: the perspective of someone actually affected by the changes.
Fr. Hurd’s unease with the politicization of his role should be a reminder that Church politics and reform are quite unlike those of the secular realm. Questions of how to reconcile a grand tradition to the circumstances of the moment (and how best, when necessary, to alter that tradition) should arise naturally, over a period of time, and out of a genuinely felt need; never as the result of an ideological itch.