Patrick J. McCloskey, a project director at the Center for Catholic School Effectiveness at Loyola University Chicago, co-wrote a piece in The New York Times proposing solutions or as he calls it “salvation” to the difficulties facing Catholic schools. Chief among them is advocating a married priesthood but he declares the celibacy requirement “institutional suicide.”
One solution is at hand. In the late 1960s, the Vatican allowed men to be ordained as deacons, who are clergy with many but not all the powers of a priest. Today there are almost 17,000 in the United States, about the same number as active diocesan priests. Over the next decade, the diaconate will continue to grow, while the number of ordained priests is projected to decline to 12,500 by 2035.
Many deacons have valuable professional, managerial and entrepreneurial expertise that could revitalize parochial education. If they were given additional powers to perform sacraments and run parishes, a married priesthood would become a fait accompli. Celibacy should be a sacrifice offered freely, not an excuse for institutional suicide.
The Center for Catholic School Effectiveness, according to the University’s website, states that its mission is “to respond to the need that elementary and secondary Catholic schools have for high quality, research-based professional development in the context of Catholic identity and mission.”
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