With proven experience, the Patriarch of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church doubts that the access of married men to the priesthood can be a remedy for the dramatic lack of priests in the West or elsewhere in the world.
While preparing the next synod on the Amazon, Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk spoke at the end of another synod, that of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (UGCC), of which he is the primate. This assembly was held in Rome from September 2-10, 2019.
Asked about the question of priestly and religious vocations, the high prelate warned: “there can be no easy answers to difficult questions,” the drying up of vocations remains “a challenge for everyone.”
While the progressives, especially in Germany, push for priestly ordination of viri probati, i.e. of mature men having already founded a family, the head of the UGCC puts the debate back into its true place: “the priesthood remains a vocation: a vocation can neither increase nor decrease because we would be married or we would remain single; to be a priest is not a job, but a way of offering one’s life for the good of the Church,” says Shevchuk.
For the Patriarch, there is no doubt: “The Lord says: ‘You have not chosen me: but I have chosen you” (Jn 15:16). We are convinced that Christ calls many men to the priesthood, but there exist numerous and diverse obstacles that men put before this call,” he explains.
The Ukrainian primate states that the Eastern discipline which allows the access of married men to the priesthood has not changed the crisis of vocations: “In Ukraine, thanks to God, we have many vocations...But elsewhere, the Church does not draw any benefit from the ordination of married men, for example in Canada and the United States. Although it is possible to live the priesthood in the state of marriage [according to Eastern practice – Editor’s note], this does not promote the increase of vocations to the priesthood. This is our experience,” concludes the UGCC's Patriarch.