Can Polish Priest Marry or Have a Wife?

When talking about Polish priests, I need to explain that I am discussing here only Catholic priests. As statistics say, there are almost 33 million Catholic believers in Poland. Bear in mind that the population of Poland is 39 million. So, if you asked a random person on the street if a Polish priest had a wife, I’m sure 99% of them would say „no”.It is not true, though. Few people are aware that there are rules in the Catholic church that allow priests to have wives and children.

There are around 100,000 Catholic priests in the world who are married. The majority of them have already entered this service with a wife. What they actually did, they changed their „specialisation” by being Protestant pastors in the past. There has been no requirement for such a man to abandon his family for some time. Protestant pastors, as we all know, can have wives and children. Once they transition to the Catholic faith, they may keep the family. The same rules apply in Poland as they are universal principles. The price that such a priest needs to pay for having a family is that he never becomes anyone more than a curate.

So, What Exactly Is Celibacy?

I just open the encyclical and I find all sorts of interesting things. For example, celibacy is an „established discipline”.It does not come from religious tradition by any means, but is a matter of practice developed by the Church. In other words, these are the rules invented by humans.

As I said, celibacy is mandatory in the Roman Catholic Church only. This is where there is no choice, as in the Protestant and Orthodox Churches. In fact, it is not prohibited in advance that one can be a priest and have a wife and family. There are exceptions in the Roman Catholic Church as well.

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Not many people know that celibacy is not a dogma or rule assigned by the Roman Catholic Church. I would say it is a kind of discipline enforced by the church administration. The fact that a Roman Catholic priest in Poland is not allowed to have sex is because he should be totally devoted to Christ. More importantly, sexual abstinence is imposed by the fact that the Catholic religion allows having sex with the wife only (in a marriage).

Why to Ordain Converted Priests?

In theory, a Catholic priest may have a wife when he converts from another church and becomes a Catholic priest. So how come the church allows these people to become Catholic priests? Doesn’t it break their own rule of celibacy? How come the church allows us to have unnecessary discussion? Wouldn’t it be easier to forbid such conversions? Don’t we have enough native Catholic priests?

Let’s start with the last question. They’re moving to the Catholic Church? Great. Why should they be ordained, especially if it comes with the complications of celibacy?

It’s about keeping the centuries-old liturgical, spiritual, and pastoral heritage in which they have grown up, as well as their service to a specific group of the faithful. This is especially true for Anglican pastors who convert to the Catholic Church within the framework of so-called „personal ordinaries”.Dioceses without territory are made up of faithful who have frequently converted along with their pastors.

But above all, it’s about the church’s unwillingness to stand between God and the man who could actually hear God’s call to this special service. Nothing allows us to deny it.

How Does Marriage Work in Other Churches?

The other church where it is possible to have a wife is the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church. Despite the fact that the Western Church retains many traditions from the Eastern Churches, they remain in unity with the Holy See. One of the Eastern elements that these churches have retained is that they have their own laws and have a tradition governing celibacy. Thus, a Greek Catholic priest can have a wife. However, he must have one before he is ordained a priest. After ordination, marriage is no longer possible. However, such a priest cannot re-marry. Even if he becomes a widower. He cannot be promoted and become a bishop either. Women that are about to become a priest’s wives need to complete special courses. This training is meant to clarify to the woman what her husband’s obligation will be and who she will become.

So, if There is a Wife

The priest’s wife is also obligated to remain obedient to the bishop. It can be difficult, especially when the bishop decides to transfer her husband to another parish. The woman must also be aware of possible financial difficulties, especially if the transfer involves a move from a large parish to a smaller community. The believers are obliged to support the priest, but not his wife. This is why the wife often takes on a professional job in addition to her duties at the parish.

It can also be difficult when a priest’s wife dies young and the couple has young children. Such a priest cannot remarry. In addition to his regular duties, which often include teaching at school, he must take care of the children. When a priest dies, his wife, along with the children, must leave the parish. It is also difficult when a priest’s marriage breaks up. The priest then has to leave for a monastery.

In the Polish Catholic Church, a Priest and His Family

The Polish Catholic Church does not require celibacy (it is different from the Roman Catholic Church). Father Tadeusz is a member of this church, and as such, he is the proud father of 18-year-old Simon and 10-year-old Marysia. Katarzyna’s beloved husband as well. His parish in Krzykawa-Malobadz near Olkusz, where he is a priest, counts nearly 800 believers.

Private archive of the Priest Tadeusz, source: Parish / TVN

When Tadeusz was young, he already knew that in the future he wanted to become a priest. After high school, he began studies at the seminary in Tarnow. After that, Tadeusz moved to his first parish in Barcia, near Nowy-Sącz. He met his future wife, and that’s how it all began. Today, they are a happy family living with their two children. On top of his regular duties, Tadeusz also teaches at a school. His wife, Katarzyna, owns a florist shop in the village. As priest Tadeusz said in the interview for the local newspaper, as a family they spend a lot of time talking about faith. His older son, Szymaon, often helps the priest to prepare sermons and writes for the local parish newspaper.

In Poland, a man in a coloratura is still associated exclusively with a Roman Catholic priest. Although Tadeusz admits that he has never experienced unpleasant situations in his life when he and his family walked down the street in a foreign city, a few funny stories have stuck in his memory though.