Rev. John C. De Celles

Parochial Vicar

St. Michael Catholic Church

7401 St. Michael’s Lane

Annandale Virginia   22003

Telephone: (703) 256-7822


September 27, 2003

Most Reverend Wilton D. Gregory
Bishop of Belleville

President, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops          
3211 4th St. N.E.
Washington, D.C. 20017-119
Your Excellency:


Please find enclosed a letter supporting the Church’s requirement of celibacy for ordination to the priesthood in the Latin Church. This letter is sent from 90 priests of the Diocese of Arlington, whose names you will find at the bottom of the letter.


This letter represents the decision of 90 diocesan priests that it would be prudent and useful to the Church to declare our support for mandatory celibacy in this particular manner at this particular time. It in no way represents a vote by the priests of the Arlington Diocese—the gifts of Christ and the venerable traditions of the Church do not require our approval for legitimacy.


We pray that our support will be helpful to you and your brother bishops in defending this divine gift, and will assist the faithful who are so often confused by the discordant voices among the clergy.


May God continue to bless the good work you do for Christ’s Church.


In Christ,




Fr. John C. De Celles




September 27, 2003

Most Reverend Wilton D. Gregory
President, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
3211 4th St. N.E.
Washington, D.C. 20017-1194

Your Excellency:

It saddens us to learn that brother priests from the Archdiocese of Milwaukee have publicly called for an end to mandatory celibacy for priestly ordination. In response to their letter we, the undersigned priests of the Diocese of Arlington, declare our support for this discipline, which we joyfully promised at ordination.

They hope that permitting the ordination of married men will generate more vocations. Common sense and historical experience indicate, however, that reducing the demands of the priesthood will not increase vocations, because lessening sacrifice never inspires men to offer their lives to Christ. In times of crisis, the wisdom and instinct of the Church have always been to respond with greater sacrifice, not less. What will inspire more vocations is celibacy lived well, not celibacy set aside.

The theological and pastoral reasons for mandatory celibacy in the Latin Church are well known, set forth in the documents of Vatican II, the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the writings of our current Holy Father. The celibate priest participates in Christ’s spousal love for the Church, bears witness to the Kingdom of Heaven, and serves Christ and the Church with an undivided heart.

We desire that you and your brother bishops know of our devotion to this source and sign of pastoral charity, and our desire that it remain mandatory for priestly ordination. Further, we believe that continued discussion of this issue only confuses the faithful and deprives the Church of the clarity needed to inspire vocations.

Finally, we wholeheartedly commend you for your treatment of this matter in you letter dated September 3. May God bless you in your important work for Christ and His Church.


Sincerely in Christ,


Rev. Msgr. Thomas P. Scannell

Rev. Julius J. Cilinski

Rev. Msgr. John T. Cilinski

Rev. Msgr. Frank J. Hendrick

Rev. Joseph J. Loftus

Rev. William F. Ruehl

Rev. Frank J. Ready

Rev. Salvator L. Ciullo

Rev. Philip S. Majka

Rev. Franklyn M. McAfee

Rev. Gerald Weymes

Rev. Robert E. Avella

Rev. Mark A. Pilon

Rev. Jerome W. Fasano

Rev. Christopher M. Buckner

Rev. Richard Dair

Rev. James R. Gould

Rev. James C. Bruse

Rev. Robert J. Rippy

Rev. William P. Saunders

Rev. Daniel S. Spychala

Rev. Paul L. Dudzinski

Rev. John D. Kelly

Rev. Lee W. Gross

Rev. John C. Cregan

Rev. Jerome R. Daly

Rev. Paul F. deLadurantaye

Rev. Charles W. Merkle

Rev. Christopher J. Mould

Rev. David P. Meng

Rev. Denis M. Donahue

Rev. Francis J. Peffley

Rev. Jerry J. Pokorsky

Rev. James S. Barkett

Rev. Michael R. Duesterhaus

Rev. Edward C. Hathaway

Rev. John J. Riley,

Rev. John H. Melmer

Rev. Daniel J. Maher

Rev. Daniel L. Mode

Rev. Thomas P. Vander Woude

Rev. William J. Ettner

Rev. Dennis W. Kleinmann

Rev. Michael T. Orlowsky

Rev. Donald J. Planty

Rev. Michael G. Taylor

Rev. Lawrence M. Violette

Rev. Alexander R. Drummond

Rev. Richard M. Guest

Rev. Vincent P. Bork

Rev. Ronald S. Escalante

Rev. Paul M. Eversole

Rev. Daniel N. Gee

Rev. Michael C. Kelly

Rev. Mark E. Moretti

Rev. Richard A. Mullins

Rev. Terrence R. Staples

Rev. Joseph J. Clark

Rev. John C. De Celles

Rev. Ronald J. Gripshover,Jr.

Rev. Christopher D. Murphy

Rev. Paul D. Scalia

Rev. Terry W. Specht

Rev. Stefan P. Starzynski

Rev. Jerry A. Wooton

Rev. John A. Ziegler

Rev. Matthew H. Zuberbueler

Rev. Francis deRosa

Rev. John P. Mosiman

Rev. James C. Hudgins

Rev. Christopher J. Pollard

Rev. Brian G. Bashista

Rev. Terry A. Cramer

Rev. Michael J. Dobbins

Rev. John F. Heisler

Rev. Kevin J. Beres

Rev. Paul M. Grankauskas

Rev. Stephen Holmes

Rev. John M. O’Donohue

Rev. Richard T. Carr

Rev. Frederick H. Edlefsen

Rev. Stephen F. McGraw

Rev. Edward E. Perez

Rev. James M. Poumade

Rev. Brian G. Belli

Rev. Geronimo A. Magat

Rev. Keith M. O'Hare

Rev. Michael D. Weston

Rev. Edward R. Horkan

Rev. Mark Mullaney