This move by the Vatican to woo unhappy Anglicans by letting Anglican priests join the Catholic clergy even if married is just another sign of the Church's private recognition of how empty some of its traditions have become.

What message exactly are we to take from this move? Celibacy is absolutely crucial to the clerical calling--except when it's not. Heck, if I were a godly young Catholic looking to join the priesthood but put off by that whole no-sex business, I'd switch to Anglicanism for however many years it took me to earn my collar and snag me a hot wife, then jump back to the mother church and enjoy the best of all worlds.

Cynical? Sure. But no more so than what the Church is doing.

Not that this is the most pathetic dodge the Church engages in. For my money, that would be its absurd approach to divorce/annulments. As I may have mentioned before, I once had to fill out some annulment-related forms for an old friend who was not Catholic but who was marrying into a staunch Catholic clan. Both she and the groom had been married before. Neither had divorced under any circumstances you'd think would constitute grounds for annulment. Certainly in the case of my friend, there had been no physical or emotional mistreatment, infidelity, sexual malfunction, criminal behavior, substance abuse, or extenuating circumstances of any other kind. My friend and her husband simply discovered fairly quickly that they were poorly suited for life together.

But the Church being like it is, my friend couldn't fully bind herself to a good Catholic family without officially nullifying her first trip down the aisle. And so I found myself answering questions about her state of mind prior to her first marriage, whether she fully grasped the permanence of the institution, whether she was influenced by this, that, or the other. For nearly every question, I wound up writing some variation on the theme: She was young, she's not Catholic, and I doubt she gave it much thought. It was an utterly ridiculous exercise, and the only spiritual conviction it stirred in me was that the Vatican should abandon any pretense that it's annulment policy is any more meaningful than getting a garden-variety divorce. 

Which I guess will come in handy if any of its new Anglican recruits decide they want to throw over their wives.