Sunday, March 12, 2017


In the 1980's a former Episcopal Priest, married with several children and grandchildren was ordained a Catholic priest by then Bishop Raymond W. Lessard of the Diocese of Savannah. The ordination took place at the Church of the Most Holy Trinity. Fr. Munn then was allowed bi-ritual faculties to begin a small Greek Catholic (Byzantine) Parish in Augusta named St. Ignatius of Antioch.

In June of 1991 I became pastor of The Church of the Most Holy Trinity in Augusta and Fr. Munn was my part-time parochial vicar for the entire period of my pastorate there until I became pastor of St. Joseph Church in Macon in 2004.

The Augusta community embraced Fr. Munn and he never denigrated the celibate priesthood and often said married clergy domesticate the clergy. He saw a married priesthood as an exception. There was another married priest who arrived in Augusta and now there are two more, one a former Episcopal bishop.

Keep in mind that the Church of the East that as returned to full communion with the Pope and thus no longer in schism has a married priesthood because they are from Eastern Orthodoxy which always has had a married priesthood. But one must be married before becoming a priest and bishops of the east must be celibate normally selected from their monastic tradition.

What Pope Francis is suggesting today in terms of married men becoming priests is no more radical than Pope Pius XII allowing married Lutheran ministers to become priests during His Holiness reign or Pope St. John Paul II allowing for the pastoral provision which opened the door to Anglicans/Episcopalian priests to be ordained. And it is certainly no more radical that Pope Benedict establishing the Anglican Ordinariate with its own liturgy which allowed their married priests to enter the full communion of the Catholic Church and be ordained Catholic priests.

And what is even more radical about Pope Pius XII precedent which opened the door to Pope St. John Paul II and Pope Benedict is that these Protestant clergy are not actually ordained priests nor are their even confirmed. All that is recognized is their "Protestant" Baptism and the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony. They must make their First Confession, be Confirmed, make their First Holy Communion and then be validly ordained a deacon and then a priest in the Catholic Church.

So what Pope Pius XII initiated was allowing married men who are Protestants and have only received the Sacrament of Baptism and Holy Matrimony the call to become Roman Catholic Priests. Should fully initiated Catholics who are married be allowed the same call?

Here is Fr. Munn's obituary:

Featured obituary: Rev. Father Daniel M. Munn
Munn, 'at heart, was a pastor'
By Virginia Norton| Staff Writer
Saturday, July 01, 2006
The Very Rev. Father Daniel M. Munn, the founding pastor of St. Ignatius of Antioch Melkite-Greek Catholic Church, died of an apparent heart attack Thursday at St. Joseph Hospital, where he had been the director of pastoral care from 1984 until 2000. He was 71.

Daniel Munn: Pastor died Thursday at 71. He joined the Catholic Church in 1981 and became a priest in 1982.
A former Episcopalian priest, he joined the Catholic Church in 1981 and became a priest at Catholic Church of the Most Holy Trinity in 1982. He served as parochial vicar there until his death.

He was one of the first married men to be ordained in the Catholic (Latin rite) Church, said the Rev. Miguel de Peralta, a priest at St. Ignatius, who is now director of pastoral care at the hospital.
The Very Rev. Munn was ordained with permission from the Vatican after Catholic bishops asked that clergy from other Christian traditions be accepted for ordination. He taught at the Medical College of Georgia and Aquinas High School and was an instructor in the deacon formation program for the Melkites. His title, the Very Rev. Father, signified that he was an archpriest in the Melkite Church, the highest title a married priest can receive.

The Melkites are among the Catholic Church's Eastern rites. Their liturgy is similar to that of Eastern Orthodox churches, but the Melkites, unlike Eastern Orthodox churches that broke with Rome in 1054, recognize the authority of the Roman pope.

"There was never a man more generous and loving than Father Daniel," the Rev. de Peralta said. "Even with his academic degrees and intellectual powers and church awards, he was a man who, at heart, was a pastor."
The Very Rev. Munn's degrees included a doctor of ministry degree, with a major in theology, from Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Ga. He also had studied psychology at the C.G. Jung Institute in Zurich, Switzerland.

He held several posts at MCG between 1966 and 1984, including chaplain, pastoral consultant in family medicine and director of MCG's program in human sexuality.

Kevin Murrell, an Augusta psychiatrist, was a resident at MCG when he met the Very Rev. Munn. Their friendship spanned 25 years.

"It is a great gift to have an honest friend. I always knew I would get his best and most honest answer and probably an unbiased one, too," he said.

The priest had a dramatic side and a rich voice to match. He was named Best Actor by the Augusta Players in 1980 for his portrayal of King Henry II in the company's staging of The Lion in Winter.

A vigil will be held at 6 p.m. Sunday, followed by a rosary at 8 p.m. at Holy Trinity, 720 Telfair St. Bishop J. Kevin Boland of Savannah, Ga., will celebrate a Mass at 12:15 p.m. Monday at the church.

The Rev. de Peralta will hold a funeral service at 6 p.m. at St. Ignatius, 1003 Merry St. Burial will be at 10 a.m. Wednesday at Westover Memorial Park.

The Very Rev. Munn is survived by his wife, Jan Gay Munn, daughters Susan M. Venable, Rebeccah M. Grady and her husband Michael, and Erin M. Williams and her husband Frank, all of Augusta; and a son, Dr. David H. Munn, of Augusta; and 12 grandchildren.

I ponder, you react!


Gene said...

It isn't a violation of any doctrine, and it probably wouldn't be that big a deal...EXCEPT...given the VAT II atmosphere and the destruction of Catholic identity and traditional Catholic practices everywhere, this will just be seen as another step in the direction of protestantizing the Catholic Church and continuing its decline. Bergoglio knows this and will use this to further destroy the Church.

Joseph Johnson said...

More priests means some relief and assistance for the current, mostly celibate, clergy. This should result in priests having more time to take on things that they (based on workload) have heretofore not seen fit to do---such as offering Mass in the Extraordinary Form---even in less populous areas.

Anonymous said...

Married clergy is not, in any way, a move to the destruction of Catholic identity or toward protestantizing the Catholic Church.

Married clergy have existed from the beginning of the Church and will, I suspect, be around at the Parousia.

The "atmosphere" of the pro-celibacy crowd stinks of self-serving false notions about what the identity of the Church is, and what it is not.

Celibate clergy is no more a part of our identity than purple vestments in Lent or ringing bells at the elevations.

TJM said...

It may also help restore more virility and common sense to the clergy. The western Church had married clergy until 1139.

Rood Screen said...

Jesus was celibate, and married apostles lived in perpetual continence, as have all virtuous priests and bishops ever since. If a man decides that the priesthood is worth pursuing, then he should also see that the priesthood is worth giving up everything else. We don't need "conditional priests", willing to serve at the altar only if they can share a bed!

Why does everyone want to water down Catholic discipline at the very moment when we need to toughen up?

John Nolan said...


Priests did take wives in the early Middle Ages, but by the time of the Gregorian reform movement (late 11th century) it was seen as an abuse. Nicaea (AD 325) enjoined celibacy on the clergy but the Eastern Church only partially adopted it.

One of the best-known parish priests in Oxford, John Saward, who translated Ratzinger's 'Spirit of the Liturgy' into English, whose church is an exemplar of sound liturgical practice, and who has a professorship in the USA, happens to be married since he was formerly an Anglican priest.

The idea of ordaining viri probati to perform the essential priestly functions is not such a bad one. They would be university educated and, one hopes, Latin-literate. They would be retired and while married would have no family commitments. They could support themselves and would have no ambition for preferment, so would not disadvantage younger celibate clergy.

Come to think of it, I myself would tick all the boxes!

Anonymous said...

I understand the present study or discussion to concern only the possibility of mature married men being ordained as priests. The possibility of allowing already ordained priests to subsequently marry--which I understand is not allowed in the Eastern churches--would be a quite different matter, and a more serious departure from tradition.

Adam Michael said...

I disagree with anonymous. I think a celibate priesthood is part of the identity of the Latin Church, just as I believe are purple Lenten vestments (except on Laetare Sunday) and sanctus bells. Many times those who deny the importance of our traditions cannot explain of what our identity does consist. Sometimes they define our identity in an abstract way, focusing only on our doctrine. However, normal people don't find their identity in a book or can subsist on doctrine alone. Our identity is expressed in what we see, hear, smell, and do, as befits sentient humanity. Alternately, they may define our identity in certain principled actions like performing corporal works of mercy. However, there is nothing uniquely Catholic about feeding the hungry or caring for the sick, no matter how vital these actions are for our service of God and growth in authentic charity.

No, our uniquely Catholic identity is found in the traditions that have grown up under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit through the ages of the Church. To dismiss these identifying markers of our patrimony is to become a purveyor of a disincarnate Faith and/or a Faith that carries no resemblance to the Faith of our fathers and disregards the Holy Spirit's presence in our history. Besides, this disregard of our heritage is a psychological and sociological disaster since humans crave common traditions and continuity between generations.

Rob 54667 said...

My question is- is there a clergy shortage in the Orthodox and protestant denominations that allow for married ministers? Are they overflowing with ministers? If not, what makes you think allowing married men to be priests will suddenly and magically end the priest shortage?

Second, if we have pastors with families, who is going to pay for the children's braces, Christmas presents, first car, college education? That's all going to come directly from us via the collection plate. The dioceses certainly won't flip the bill.

TJM said...

John Nolan,

You would make guys like Kavanaugh very nervous. A well educated and orthodox priest like you would push him over the edge!

Rood Screen said...

Adam Michael,

Very well said. Thank you. And, there is no shortage of young men willing to give their lives to the priesthood, if only we would encourage them and stop dismissing the desirability of clerical celibacy. Have we no more faith?

Anonymous said...

"married apostles lived in perpetual continence" Source?

Tradition and tradition are two different things. The color of vestments and the use of bells, while traditional, is not Traditional. That which is not Traditional cannot be part of the identity of the Church since these things can and do and have changed.

It is more than a bit of a stretch, I think, to say that vestment colors and the use of bells have been accomplished under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

Adam Michael said...

Historically, the Church has not strongly emphasized the difference between "Tradition" and "tradition." Yes, technically, the Church can change her traditions. However, the Church has never sought to make this division clearly at all times. The main people who tend to become concerned with this division are those who want to replace the traditions of their forefathers with new traditions that they prefer. And this movement of replacement is often joined with confusion, loss of faith, and general blandness throughout the Church. It is better to stick with the traditions that nurture faith, not with their replacements that often do the opposite.

"It is more than a bit of a stretch, I think, to say that vestment colors and the use of bells have been accomplished under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit."

I have often wished the same uncertainty of the Holy Spirit's action would be admitted by the supporters of the reforms that replaced the traditions of the Latin Rite with modern innovations.

Adam Michael said...

"That which is not Traditional cannot be part of the identity of the Church since these things can and do and have changed."

I am not sure this is fully correct. I think we have to make a distinction between the eternal identity of the Church, which is limited to the essentials of the Church's faith, and the temporal, every-day identity of the Church, which encompasses the totality of her life on the earth. This is analogous to the identity of the Church as the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ. Just as Christ is fully divine and fully human, the Church as His Mystical Body, has an identity that is divine (her Tradition) and human (her traditions). And just as Christ's human nature was without sin, the Church's traditions can never be viewed as sinful (cf: Council of Trent, Session 22, Canon 7). I believe this understanding of the relationship between Holy Tradition and the Church's venerable traditions explains the Church's historically conservative attitude toward reformist and renovationist movements.

rcg said...

FrAJM the men you discuss in your OP are exceptional and, therefore, very few in number even compared to celebate priests. I don't think this would help at all. The anecdotal push is that the Traditional groups have a higher proportion of priestly candidates. It seems that the answer would be to encourage those groups rather than supress or threaten them. A few years ago the talk in our diocese was the number of young priests coming from economically under developed countries, e.g. India. As a matter of fact, the parish geographically closest to me has two such priests and they manage at least two parishes.

Православный физик said...

As one of a few easterns that occasionally comment here, I'll say what I always say elsewhere, just because the east does it doesn't mean the west should copy it. While I do think it'd open possibilities to those that might have been torn between two vocations...allowed married clergy in of itself won't solve anything. My eparchy is blessed to have more priests than parishes, but I do.nit think it's true of all eparchies. The Roman Liturgy is more suited for a celibate clergy at least to dome degree theologically. It sI think the add age of just because one can do it doesn't mean one should applies perfectly for the Roman church extending ability for married people to be ordained in the Roman church.

Adam Michael said...

I liked Joe's comment that the Roman Liturgy is more suited for celibate clergy. I know that Orthodox priests refrain from marital relations on the eve of celebrating the Divine Liturgy. Would potential married Latin clergy do the same when adhering to the Latin tradition of daily Mass?

Anonymous said...

If the identity of the Church is found in, "...the temporal, every-day identity of the Church, which encompasses the totality of her life on the earth." then everything is part of our identity.

The plastic statue of Our Lady of La Vang placed, with great devotion, next to the tabernacle by Mrs. Nguyen... the rag-tag image of the Guardian Angels hung in the narthex by Mr. Caruthers in memory of his dog, Tripp... the thread-bare linens contributed at great personal cost 21 years ago my Mrs. Kelly.

The identity of the Latin Church does not include purple vestments in Lent, bells at the elevations, or a celibate clergy. These temporal realities come and go, change and change again.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

As Fr. Munn would say as with anyone in a Sacramental marriage, the sacramental marital act may be completed at any time except in the church's aisle!

Anonymous said...

Adam Michael: "Would potential married Latin clergy do the same when adhering to the Latin tradition of daily Mass?"

The highly respected canonist Edward Peters has published convincing arguments that canon law requires continence at all times for all ordained clergy. Including married permanent deacons.

A requirement of canon law that our bishops have universally ignored. Just as they have ignored the requirement of canon law that all priests be proficient in Latin.

Adam Michael said...

I think anonymous is confusing personal devotions that are sanctioned by the individual and/or the local parish priest and official practices that carry official sanction by the Church as a way to manifest her identity to the world. The former carry no ability to manifest or identify the Catholic Church since they are not universal (by their very nature they are private and highly localized), while the latter serve as the temporal identifying marks of the Catholic Church in the era in which are practiced. Combined with the eternal identity of the Church found in her heavenly doctrine, these temporal traditions (which, when initiated, normally endure throughout the Church's earthly sojourn) comprise the identity of the Catholic Church.

Anonymous said...

It basically boils down to one word: women.

Up here in Atlanta, we had two Episcopal priests (Thad Rudd and David Dye) who became Catholic in or about 1989 after the election of a woman bishop (Barbara Harris) in the Episcopal Church. Both (understandably) opposed woman bishops and both in due time were ordained as Catholic priests. Father Rudd was in the late 1980s rector (the Episcopal term for "pastor") at Atlanta' Church of our Saviour, the traditional "high church" parish in the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta, so it was not much of a leap for him to become Catholic. (He had grown up in northern Indiana, which is more a "high church" area in the Episcopal Church.) Father Dye was an associate at St. Martin in the Fields in Atlanta.

But it goes the other way too. In the 1980s, Catholic priest Jerry Hardy up here in Atlanta became an Episcopal priest (though I think he since has returned to the Catholic Church), and I believe down in Savannah, Liam Collins, former Catholic priest, is an associate at Christ Church, the mother Episcopal church in Georgia. I suspect both wanted to marry, so they left Rome.

So it comes down to women....

Adam Michael said...

I think that any permission for non-celibate Catholic married men to be ordained to the priesthood (even if initially limited) in the Latin Church would eventually be extended and slowly end Latin clerical celibacy, except for religious priests.

The current discipline of permitting the ordination of married formerly Protestant ministers looks more like the correction of an unintended mistake (Western Christian men who have a vocation and marry because they are not exposed to the discipline of the Latin Rite, to which they would belong if they were Catholic), rather than the affirmation of a positive choice toward a married priesthood in the Latin Church (e.g. the Anglican Ordinariates does not ordain married men who are not converts). However, any ordination to the priesthood of married men in the Latin Church, no matter how limited, would appear to be an affirmation of the positive good of the married priesthood, rather than an attempt to help converts pursue their vocation, despite the effects of their Protestant background.

rcg said...

I think Adam Michael is on to it. It seemes to me that the parishes who need permanent pastors would benefit from a program that would address what a parish should do as a Catholic community such as are outlined in Acts and various Epistles. This would include recruiting priests and working with the seminaries and diocese.

In other words the community will be stronger and able to support the priest they finally get rather than simply waiting for one to be delivered. This is how many, if not most, of the TLM communities have been founded the last few years.

George said...

I think those fundamental features which comprise the identity of the Catholic Church on earth would be those elements which are practiced and recognized to one degree or another throughout her ecclesiastical realm. The celibate male priesthood would be one of course ( The Anglican Ordinariate and Eastern Rite being the exceptions). The submission to the authority of the Pope would be another. Eucharistic Adoration would be another.
It is to be recognized that there are traditions and devotions which are uniquely part and parcel of individual parishes and dioceses around the world,and are therefor not universally common to the whole Church. In addition, there are those things which are of a purely temporal nature, instituted by the authority of the Church in her capacity to do so, which can be altered or done away with at her discretion. So you have those things which at certain times and places comprise the identity of the Church owing to her being a body comprised of human beings, and those things which will always be part of her identity as a Divinely ordained institution.

Anonymous said...

"The history is complicated, but well documented in studies such as Stefan Heid’s Celibacy in the Early Church. Yes, indeed, during the first millennium it was perfectly regular for married men to be ordained deacon or priest, but they had to separate from their wives beforehand. Technically not celibacy, but continence: sexual abstinence by formerly married men. They never pretended they had not been married. Their wives enjoyed status, and their children often followed them into the ministry. The sons, incidentally, could be ordained to minor orders before their teens, up to acolyte." - Fr. Jerome Bertram, "The Catholic Herald," 18 Aug 2016

The requirement that husbands and wives "separate" is a violation of the sanctity of marriage, denying to husband and wife that to which they have a natural right. It impedes one of the essential elements of marriage, that being the right the husband and wife have to each other's body and to the enjoyment thereof.

Gene said...

I was at a restaurant/bar with a friend once and there was a group of Priests at a table near us. They were obviously having a great time, laughing and joking with one another. I said to my friend, "Well, they are certainly happy." He replied, "That's because they don't have women living with them."

John Nolan said...


So what was practised in the early Church was 'a violation of the sanctity of marriage'? They would not have seen it as such, and you cannot project your 21st century opinion back over nearly two millennia.

Whether, and to what extent, married priests and deacons in the Latin rite should practise continence, is an issue which is still relevant and is indeed debated by canonists.

Anyway, I thought that we should be trying to emulate the Church of the Fathers. Or does this only apply to the liturgy?

TJM said...

John Nolan,


Rood Screen said...

John Nolan,

Well said. Further, married men determined to sleep with their wives may continue to do so, since no one is obliged to seek ordination.

Gene said...

Hey, just keep the celibacy rule on the books, let married Priests sleep with their wives, and write it off to "pastoral practice."

Rood Screen said...


That's exactly the kind of crap that would happen.

Adam Michael said...

I understand George's point, but I wouldn't limit the temporal identity of the Church to those elements that are universally practiced (even in the Latin Rite). I have noticed that even traditions like Eucharistic Adoration experienced a progressive development in Church History (e.g. public Eucharistic Exposition once required episcopal permission and perpetual adoration was not parochially practiced). I think that a more consistent definition of the temporal identity of the Church (in her different liturgical rites), is what has been officially approved/promulgated by the Church, not what is interpreted as universal, but was actually limited to one liturgical rite and developed substantially over time.

Adam Michael said...

I am not sure of the status of priestly continence in marriage and/or priestly celibacy in the early Church. I have seen good arguments on both sides of this issue. However, I don't think that affirmations of the need/right to have unrestricted marital intercourse by married priests is compatible with the ancient Church, in which even the laity were expected to refrain from marital intercourse before receiving Holy Communion. Also, the historic ban on priestly remarriage indicates the value of continence among ancient clergy. In fact, even the laity were discouraged from remarriage after the death of their first spouse. I think that these ancient practices point to a Christian emphasis on continence (even in marriage) that would place more value on lifelong priestly continence than our modern ideas regarding the need of continual exercise of the sacramental marital act.

Православный физик said...

Let me say this, I'd support relaxing the rule on celibacy for Roman clergy, if and only if, the celibate clergy are treated equally as the married clergy. (That is to say, the married clergy should be just as ready to move, as a celibate clergy). I have seen married clergy get preferable assignments to non-celibate clergy.

Anonymous said...

So afraid of the expression of sexual love between husband and wife.....