Vogels gives an account of his crusade for married priests.
Growing up in 1940s Germany, Vogels felt called to the Catholic priesthood. Soon after entering, however, he chafed under the realities of the celibate life. Rather than accept the Church’s mandate for clergy, Vogels took the lead from Eastern churches, local practices and the Bible itself to advocate for priests’ right to marry. Citing 1 Corinthians 9:5, he wrote and spoke extensively against mandatory celibacy, and he went so far as to marry a woman to force the Church to, in his words, “restor[e] the truly ‘Catholic,’ i.e., the all-encompassing fullness in the real sense of the word.” In his view, the right for priests to marry goes beyond marriage alone, all the way up to the Church’s relationship with God. Translated from the German, the prose is a little stilted and disjointed at times, and the course of events can sometimes be hard to follow. Despite this, Vogels’ intense study of and passion for his faith shines through, and the reader can keenly feel his torment as he is compelled to alternately give up his calling or give up romantic human connections. Rather than falling in love and then deciding to marry, Vogels' feelings for his partner and eventual marriage flow naturally from his political and religious commitment, contrary to the more relatable but suspect motivations of Catholic writers such as Thomas Merton. Though this can seem somewhat cold, the reader can see that Vogels is motivated not out of simple self-interest but from a place of faith and exegetical rigor. Of particular interest are the conspicuously slow, equivocal machinations of the Vatican that have reached strategic heights in relation to the sex abuse scandals going on today. The slowly growing movement of married priests is virtually unheard of, and Vogels’ book gives the reader an inside look at the struggles of this little-known population.
An unusual, compelling read.