For others, I think, there is a sense that this is something they have thought is a direction the Church should head in," said Father John Lipscomb, a former Episcopalian bishop who entered the Catholic Church five years ago with his wife of 44 years.
"I think people see this as something very positive in the life of the Church," said Father Lipscomb, 62, the spiritual director of the Bethany Retreat Center in the Diocese of St. Petersburg, Fla.
is one of about 70 married Catholic priests in the United States.
, the son of a Baptist minister, said he
struggled with the direction that his
church had taken, and noted that one presiding bishop essentially denied the unique saving role of Jesus Christ.
"I realized I could no longer stay in the Episcopal Church," said Father Lipscomb, the former bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Southwest Florida.
"I had to find a place where I could live out my Christian faith with a degree of integrity," he
entered the Catholic Church with his
wife, Marcie, in December 2007 and was ordained a Catholic priest two years later.
"There is no question the children who live in the parsonage feel themselves living in a glass bowl," Father John Lipscomb
"Their parents, especially their father, are very much public people, but then again, I don't think in many ways it's any different from the dynamics of any children who have to cope with having parents in the public eye.
"I think oftentimes the children put a larger burden on themselves than what is actually being placed on them by others," Father Lipscomb
wife had also known of her
husband's interior struggles, and also eventually made the same decision and entered the Catholic Church with her
"My decision was a personal decision I had to make, without any sense that she
was going to make a similar decision," Father Lipscomb
"One day, she
shared with me that she
had prayerfully considered the same question, and that she
had to make the same decision, that the Lord was calling her
to the Catholic Church as well.
"In many ways, her
decision was my confirmation regarding the rightness of the decision," Father Lipscomb
Having sustained a marriage across four decades and raised two children, Father Lipscomb
said, are invaluable experiences he
can bring when counseling people.
"At the same time, I think many of the lessons we learn within the domestic church are also lessons we've learned within the larger Church," he
"I knew there were times where there were tensions within the family unit because his
work had to take precedence over things the family wanted to take part in," Father Lipscomb
noted that Jesus, in the Gospel of Matthew, talks about those who become like eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven.
"The Lord does call and equip many for the celibate life so that they can pursue the priestly ministry," Father Lipscomb
There were early concerns that married priests would encounter jealousy and resentment from their celibate counterparts, but Father Sullins and Father Lipscomb
said they have been treated generously by other priests.
"I feel, in fact, very grateful for the kindness and reception we've had both from the clergy and the laity in the diocese," Father Lipscomb
- who also recently became the parochial vicar at St. Timothy Parish
in Lutz, Fla. - said he
understands that allowing married priests will raise questions in the Church, especially given the shortage of priestly vocations, but he
believes the celibate priesthood will continue.
"I don't see [the provision] as making a radical change in the Holy See's understanding of celibacy as a norm for the life of the Church and for the life of the priest," Father Lipscomb