You must be a Christian

First and foremost, we expect our clergy (like the Apostles) to be followers of Jesus. Non-Christians, no matter how learned or eloquent, need not apply. We expect our clergy not only to believe in Jesus as the living Son of God, but also to have acted upon that belief by giving their lives to Christ. That means a conscious effort to walk in the footsteps of Jesus, adopting his attitudes and (inasmuch as possible) following his example.  All of us fall into sin occasionally, but those who are habitual, unrepentant, public sinners are not suited for ordination.  Needless to say, those who are pedophiles or abusers are unacceptable.  This Church is a pedophile-free zone, and we intend it to stay that way.  Likewise we will not ordain those who are blatantly promiscuous, regardless of their sexual orientation.  Similarly, those who are dishonest will not be accepted.  There have been too many charlatans in too many churches parading as men of the cloth.  To be ordained is to be set apart to serve.   This means following the example of Jesus as he washed the feet of the disciples at the last supper.  It means at least trying to follow him in all things.

 

This in turn requires that one be as familiar as possible with the One we are to emulate. This requires familiarity with the Scriptures, especially the Gospels. Applicants should have gone beyond just reading the Gospels to a deep and prayerful study of them, absorbing the words of Christ and reflecting on their application to our lives and the lives of those to whom we minister. Whether this was done in a seminary setting, or through other means is immaterial (although interaction with others studying the same passages can be extremely valuable). What’s important is that our clergy have an insight into the mind of God through familiarity with the words and actions of Jesus.

 

You must be Catholic

Secondly, since we are a Catholic Church, applicants should be “catholic” Christians. That means that in addition to the common Christian beliefs contained in (for example) the Nicene Creed, applicants should have an appreciation for the Apostolic Succession, should believe that the seven sacraments are a means used by God to impart grace, and should believe in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. (Note that this does NOT require acceptance of the legalistic formulations in the relatively recent Roman Catholic doctrine of transsubstantiation.) Since one of the primary duties of Catholic clergy is the administration of the sacraments, there’s no sense becoming a Catholic priest if one does not believe that sacraments can really “do” anything. Likewise, why become a priest if one believes that it doesn’t make any difference and that it doesn’t empower one to make Christ present for his people at the Mass? Likewise, it would be hypocritical to seek the sacrament of Holy Orders if one believes that this act cannot confer grace nor empower or change one.

You must be Called

The third requirement is that this Catholic Christian person has received and accepted a call to the ordained ministry. There are many wonderful ways for Catholic Christians to serve God’s people in “unordained ministry.” This includes teaching, volunteering at soup kitchens, counseling, even preaching. While opportunities for preaching are greatly expanded by ordination, they exist for others as well. A desire to preach, by itself, should not be considered a good reason for ordination beyond the Diaconate. The office of deacon is valued highly in the Church. It predates the Christian priesthood and should in no way be considered subordinate or inferior. It is different. Those who feel they are being called to ministry must at some point decide if they are being called to ministry as a priest, a deacon, or a layperson. Just because some churches require you to be a priest in order to do almost anything in the church doesn’t mean we have to follow that same practice … and we don’t. Being a counselor, for example, requires lots of education, training, and experience. But it doesn’t require Holy Orders.

The call to ordained ministry as a priest or bishop is essentially a call to administer the sacraments and to evangelize. “Go therefore and make disciples of those in all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Unless one has a desire to celebrate Mass for God’s people, she or he should not seek the priesthood.