A married father of two has taken vows as a Catholic priest -- and is staying married to his Carmelite nun wife. Image: Flickr / juglar del zipa / CC-BY-SA

In Germany, a married couple is making headlines. The husband recently took vows as a Catholic priest, and his wife is a Catholic nun. The still-married couple required papal dispensation for their new life paths.

Harm and Edeltraut Klueting take vows

When they were first married in 1977, Harm and Edeltraut Kluting were Lutherans. The couple had two children and served the Lutheran church as clerics. The couple converted to Catholicism after their children were grown. In 2004, Edeltraut received papal dispensation to take vows as a Carmelite nun and remain married to Harm. This week, Harm also received dispensation and took vows as a Catholic priest. The couple is remaining married while serving in their respective church posts.

Married Catholic priests not entirely unusual

The mental image usually invoked by the phrase “Catholic priest” is usually a single, celibate individual serving the church. A ruling by Pope Piux XII in 1950 allowed married priests of other Christian denominations to convert to the Catholic religion, stay married and become Catholic priests. Estimates are that between 5 percent and 10 percent of Catholic priests, especially in Eastern Bloc countries, are married and serving as priests with the full knowledge and approval of the church.

The question of priestly celibacy

A long-standing requirement of the Catholic church has been that priests and nuns remain celibate and unmarried, but the church makes exceptions as long as married couples get a pope dispensation. The declining number of men and women taking vows has raised questions about this from inside and outside the Catholic church. Last year, the Catholic church started a new conversion program intended to help Anglican priests and bishops convert to the Roman Catholic religion. There are certain Catholic sects that allow married priests and female priests, but the mainstream Roman Catholic church has not indicated it is ready to consider the possibility.


The Star: http://www.thestar.com/printarticle/942850

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