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Married Catholic Priest Ordained via Little-Known Exception

( [email protected] ) May 09, 2007 04:29 AM EDT

CAMARILLO, Calif. (AP) - The Rev. Bill Lowe was ordained as the first married priest in the Los Angeles Roman Catholic Archdiocese.

Lowe, who retired after 32 years as an Episcopal priest in Newton, Mass., was ordained Sunday by Cardinal Roger Mahony by way of a little-known pastoral provision allowing married clergy who have left the Episcopal Church to enter Catholic priesthood. The celibacy requirement is waived.

More than 70 men have used the 27-year-old provision to become Catholic priests in the United States. Church officials said Lowe was the first member of the Los Angeles Catholic Archdiocese to be so ordained, and Mahony said the action should be viewed as an exception, not an indication the church is looking to bring in more married priests.

Lowe, 68, has been married 44 years to his wife, Linda. The couple, who have lived in Camarillo for four years, have three adult children and five grandchildren.

More than 700 people were on hand to witness the father become a father at Padre Serra Parish in Camarillo.

"We don't know what God has in store for us, but we're up for the adventure," Lowe said of his calling to the priesthood.

Attention on the priest and his marriage was expected to fade as Lowe goes about the day-to-day work of being an associate pastor at Padre Serra and ministering to people's needs.

"I think it's a 10-day wonder we're looking at as far as the focus being on Linda," said the Rev. Jarlath Dolan, senior pastor at Padre Serra Parish. "And if the focus is on Linda, I can't think of a better person to handle it."

Dolan cautioned that the ordination was not an opened gate but an exception made possible because of the pastoral provision. But neither he nor Mahony excluded the possibility that the church may someday change its requirement and allow more married priests.

"The jury is certainly out on that one," Dolan said. "I think one day the church will see it. It may well be after our lifetime."

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