From Archbishop E. Milingo: "Advent Jesus is born in us to remain in us"

My fellow married priests and Bishops.
Advent Jesus is born in us to remain in us.
Learning from a married woman: from ST. Elizabeth Ann Seton: 1774: new York.
The presence of God in us.
She was married for nine years when her husband died, leaving her with five children. What spiritually sustained her was the awareness of the presence of god in her.
 Let us see how she puts it. “how happy should we be,” she says, “ if every morning our eyes were open to this truth- the invisible presence of God – if we saw by faith, within and without us the three persons of the adorable trinity with their divine attributes! What would be the dangers and events of his life to us in his presence to whom earth and hell are subjected?”
 This is the simple truth. Jesus is born for us, and born to live in us. More than that he simplified his life by becoming our food and drink in the sacrament of the Eucharist. More than that we should be asking too much. A simple truth which we should easily extend, when we speak of the birth of Jesus, that is born in us any time we receive him in the blessed sacrament of the Eucharist.
 One day, at the consecration, I said the consecration of the host with my full awareness of my personhood. As I raised the Eucharist, bringing it down, there cause a distraction. I went on to consecrate the wine. The usual bowing of my head at the pronouncing: ”this is the cup of my blood“ did not happen. Then I knew that the wine was not consecrated. So I began again.” When supper was ended he took the cup. Again he gave you thanks and praise, gave the cup to his disciples and said: take this all of you and drink from it…. Then followed the words of the consecration of the wine. The presence of Jesus filled the chalice, and bent my head for adoration of the wine. The presence of Jesus filled the chalice, and bent my head for adoration. I don’t remember why I was distracted at such a short distance of the two consecrations. What I don’t know is that I clarify my intensions in the mass. I speak to Jesus. This conversation between the two consecrations way on that day over prolonged. Of course I had to ask pardon, though I was still in prayer. I learnt a big lesson. It is good as one raised the Host and the chalice to share with Jesus intimate conversations. But to repent the words of Jesus at the conversation a priest should truly become “alter Christus,” another Christ in a human form. But I got no blame from Jesus for my short moment of distraction. Because I reacted immediately when I noticed that the wine was not consecrated, and I knew the reason why it was not consecrated, a prolonged dialogue with Jesus in the host, who was still waiting for his other part: “the consecrated wine into his blood.”
 Coming back to our married woman Saint, Elizabeth Seton of New York, she is telling us how insensitive we are of God’s presence, particularly when we commit sin. “what most striking,” she says, “in this is that when we sin, we not only sin in the presence of god, but in god himself to offend and sin against him, turning the means of life: health, time, the powers of nature, and space to this horrid perversion and abuse against their almighty Giver.”
 The psalmist confirms what St. Elizabeth has previously said.” God shaped us and moulded us in our mother’s womb.” Then the fact:” He cannot leave us alone not even for a second.” Then the saying: “that God is closer to you, than you are to yourself.”
The fish cannot separate itself from water though the fish is not water. So is our dependence on God, without him we are nobodies.
 Merry Christmas and a prosperous happy New Year 2012

God Bless,
Yours Sincerely,

Archbishop E. Milingo

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Dissident Anglicans step closer to Rome


January 29, 2011

THE path to Rome detours by the Gold Coast for those disaffected Australian Anglicans planning to take up Pope Benedict’s offer to join the Catholic Church.
Up to 50 clergy and laity will gather for the first time nationally at St Stephen’s College at Coomera for three days from Tuesday to discuss the Australian Anglican ordinariate – the local framework which will allow them to keep their married clergy, liturgy and church structures within Catholicism.
The prominent Sydney barrister John McCarthy, QC, has been briefed to advise the main dissident group of conservatives, the breakaway Traditional Anglican Communion, on constitutional and legal issues arising from the historic move.
”Certainly the exercise has never been done before, not since the Reformation,” he said.
The world Traditional Anglican Communion Primate, Adelaide-based Archbishop John Hepworth, was confident the group’s assets, such as properties or trust funds, would not be forfeited once the ordinariate becomes official later this year. But he conceded in the case of assets owned by the mainstream Anglican communion it would be a question of ”goodwill”.
The national meeting comes after three married British bishops, similarly unhappy with the liberal direction of the Anglican Church – such as allowing women clergy – became the first to be ordained as Catholic priests within a British ordinariate, at Westminster Cathedral earlier this month.
The re-ordination of four Australian Traditional Anglican Communion bishops, a retired Anglican bishop, a Japanese bishop and 24 Anglican priests is expected to be finalised by June 12.
The Primate of the Anglican Church of Australia, Dr Phillip Aspinall, said the Australian ordinariate would have little bearing on the mainstream church as ”most of those wishing to leave the Anglican Church [have] already done so”.
But Archbishop Hepworth, who first visited the Vatican 21 years ago seeking to bring a Reformation church back into communion with the Holy See, said it felt ”strange but good” that the long-sought-after arrangement was coming to pass.
Father Warren Wade from the parish of St Mary the Virgin, Sydney’s only Traditional Anglican Communion parish, which operates out of a rented church space in North Turramurra, said his paperwork for re-ordination was in.
”I think this is a tremendous thing and the Holy Father has been very generous in having an understanding of where we come from, to the point where we can keep so much of the tradition that we’ve gained over the last 500 years,” he said.
”All my parishioners – all 15 of them who come to Mass every Sunday – they’re all for it.”
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Might Pope Benedict consider married priests again?

Cathy Lynn Grossman, USA TODAY

Long before he became Pope Benedict XVI in 2005, a young priest named Joseph Ratzinger, shown here in a 1978 photo in Freiburg, Germany, joined other German priests in a 1970 letter to their bishops asking for a reconsideration of the tradition of priestly celibacy, a German newspaper says.

Should a shortage of Catholic priests prompt the Church to drop its tradition of celibate clergy?

Young Rev. Joseph Ratzinger, 35 years before he became Pope Benedict XVI in 2005, once thought the idea was worth an investigation. So did several other German priests, including two future cardinals, who signed a 1970 document calling for reconsideration of the concept.

The German newspaper Die Sueddeutsche reported on the letter Friday, according to The Catholic Herald UK. The Herald’s story says the memo to German bishops in 1970 “was drawn up in the face of a shortage of priests.”

The Herald says the German story pointed out,

If there weren’t enough priests, the document said, then the “Church quite simply has a responsibility to take up certain modifications”.

That debate is far from over, of course.

U.S Catholics have long said they favor an end to celibacy requirements. In a USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup poll in 2005 the majority (63%) favored married priests.

Germany faces a serious lack of priests right now.

And many supporters of a married priesthood have drawn fresh energy from Benedict’s open invitation to traditionalist Anglican clergy — who may marry — to move to the Catholic Church.

Nonsense, said William Oddie, a former editor of The Catholic Herald UK, last year as media covered the pope’s visit to England and a BBC poll found more voices calling for an end to celibacy. Oddie pointed out:

This is a matter of discipline, and not of doctrine; and it is normative and not universal. There are, for example, several hundred married priests in this country who are ordained ex-Anglican clergymen. I know several, and they are dedicated and effective. But they are exceptional; and I do not believe their existence indicates in any way that we should, or that it is likely that we will, abandon a practice that is still one of the jewels in our crown.

In a letter to seminarians last year, Benedict defended the “great and pure” mission of a celibate priesthood.

Still, the pope would hardly be the first person to change his mind with age and experience. The Church in 2011 will not reconsider its core timeless teachings such as an all-male priesthood.

But in the 21st century, can it re-address allowing priests to be married like St. Peter, the original pope?

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German Catholic officials call for married priests

BERLIN – Several prominent Roman Catholic politicians have urged German bishops to lobby their countryman Pope Benedict for a change in Church policy to ordain married men in response to a worsening shortage of priests.

The group, including the speaker of parliament and a cabinet member, backed up its call by quoting a 1970 essay by the present pope where he predicts the Church “will know new forms of ministry and ordain upstanding (lay) Christians as priests.”

The German bishops estimate that two-thirds of all Catholic parishes in the country will not have their own priest by 2020. As in other countries, bishops have been merging parishes to have the dwindling clergy minister to ever larger areas.

Pope Benedict has firmly ruled out any reform of priestly celibacy, despite calls from some bishops to consider a change.

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"Infallibility" and Equality in Catholicism

by Christine Schenk csj

I have been asked to respond to an article which appeared in the New York Times a week ago stating that Cardinal Ratzinger of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith had interpreted the teaching on the non-ordination of women as “infallible.” I have consulted with several theologians and as nearly as I can understand, this appears to be somewhat of an overstatement. Cardinal Ratzinger’s statement seeks to place the teaching about the non-ordination of women within the “deposit of faith” rather than as part of Church discipline which many theologians have maintained. Fr. Richard McCormick of Notre Dame, speaking on NPR’s “All Things Considered,” says many theologians believe that the Vatican has failed to show any evidence that this teaching on women in the priesthood has been handed on as part of the deposit of faith over the centuries. “Many of us believe there has not been such a teaching because they weren’t conscious of gender for those periods of time the way we are today.” The statement reiterates that the teaching is definitive and part of the ordinary magisterium. I will leave the arguments about the levels of authority to others more versed than I in this regard. Suffice it to say that the “clarification” stunned many respected theologians insofar as it appeared to be trying to extend an infallibility claim more broadly than heretofore experienced in the family of Catholicism. Until now, infallibility was seen to be exercised only in ecumenical councils, by the Pope formally teaching “ex cathedra,” and by all of the Bishops of the world in union with the Pope. In all of these.. “the assent of the Church can never be lacking to such definitions on account of the same Holy Spirit’s influence through which Christ’s whole flock is maintained in the unity of the faith and makes progress in it” (Lumen Gentium 25).

Some facts:

1. Ratzinger’s statement was issued on the eve of the presentation of 1.8 million signatures from German Catholics asking that ordination be opened to married people and women, that sexuality be celebrated as a gift, that the laity participate in the selection of bishops and that married people be consulted and included in teachings about sexual morality. The German media interpreted Ratzinger’s statement as a “preemptive strike” to the press conference announcing the signatures.

2. Over the summer, Austrian Catholics collected over 500,000 signatures attached to the same petition. Austrian Bishops permitted the petitions to be distributed in their parishes.

3. Also over the summer, Archbishop Maurice Couture of Quebec promised to take the results of a clergy-laity synod asking to reopen the question of women’s ordination to Rome.

4. In November of 1995, (a month before the Vatican’s statement was issued) a Czechslovakian woman, Ludmilla Javorova confirmed that she had been ordained to the priesthood in the early 1970s by Bishop Felix Davidek in the clandestine Czech Catholic Church during the communist era. She acted as vicar general to the Bishop and stated that she and several other women were ordained to serve the needs of imprisoned women, particularly women religious who had no access to the Mass or the sacraments. Until now Javarov was reluctant to make her priesthood public because she saw it as strictly confined to an emergency situation. This decision however so disturbed her peace of mind that she decided to reveal the details. She claims to know the names and addresses of other ordained women who now live in Slovakia. She told the British weekly The Tablet (11/11/95) that she had explained all the circumstances of her ordination to Pope John Paul II in a letter, but had not received a reply.

5. 43% of all parishes worldwide have no priest at all according to figures found in the 1988 Vatican directory. More women are functioning in ministerial roles than ever before. In fact according to CatholicTrends…1,068 of the world’s parishes are entrusted to nuns and 1,614 to lay people (in contrast to 1978 when 464 were entrusted to nuns and 458 to lay leaders, both men and women.)

6.Three years ago 140 U.S. dioceses (out of a total of 17l) reported that the ban on women¹s ordination was the issue sparking the most controversy at local hearings leading up to the planned women’s pastoral. In 1993, 110 U.S. Bishops voted successfully against the draft pastoral letter containing the ordination ban. In June of 1995 12 U.S. Bishops, with the tacit support of many others, objected to the Vatican’s publishing of a 1994 statement against the ordination of women “without any prior discussion and consultation with our (NCCB) conference.” Lastly, Cardinal Ratzinger communicated the present statement to the head of the NCCB three hours after the close of their four-day meeting November 13-16, with no advance warning and no opportunity for the Bishops to discuss it among themselves and provide input or reaction. The present statement was not sent individually to every bishop, contrary to the customary procedures for such important matters.

7. In mid October 1995, the Canon Law Society of America issued the results of a three year study which showed no canonical obstacles to the ordination of women to the permanent diaconate.

8. At least three polls by Gallup, Time-Life and others have shown that U.S. Catholics also favor the ordination of women by 61-67% depending on which poll is being cited. A recent Irish poll also showed a majority of Catholics in favor of opening ordination.

9. In 1976 the Vatican’s own Pontifical Biblical Commission found nothing in Scripture which would prohibit the ordination of women.

10.On July 10, Pope John Paul issued a letter of apology to women for sexism in the Church, even while reiterating the teaching about the non-ordination of women. He also wrote: “As far as personal rights are concerned, there is an urgent need to achieve real equality in every area: equal pay for equal work, protection for working mothers, fairness in career advancements, equality of spouses with regard to family rights and the recognition of everything that is part of the rights and dutues of a citizen in a democratic state…..This is a matter of justice but also of necessity. Women will increasingly play a part in the solution of the serius problems of the future.”

Some conclusions and some questions:

* It appears that the Vatican is being deluged with faithful Catholic people who, far from having “doubts” about the teaching on the non-ordination of women, are in fact actively in favor of ordaining them.
* Could this issue have more to do with Church politics than with theology? Given the fact that there is a Eucharistic famine all over the world because of the priest shortage, wouldn’t it make more sense for our leadership to be thinking about who they can include in the priesthood rather than who they want to leave out?
* Presuming that Catholics must accept the non-ordination of women, what will the all male church heirarchy do to actively implement women’s equality (which they are always so careful to say they support) in the church? Where are the women Cardinals? How may qualified women participate in the selection of the next Pope? What dioceses will be open for qualified women to govern, much as the medieval abbesses functioned as Bishops?
* Vatican officials delight in saying that women are “different but equal.” Unfortunately,only men have defined this kind of “equality.” Women have been forbidden to join the conversation, and when they do try to offer a different theological perspective based on recent biblical scholarship, efforts are made to brand them as heretics. “Equality” seems to mean that male Catholics are equally entitled to make the rules and female Catholics are equally entitled to obey them.
* Somehow, I can¹t believe that this was what Jesus had in mind when he commissioned Magdalen to go and tell her fellow apostles that He had, indeed, risen from the dead.

Where does this leave us?

We must continue to struggle for women¹s equality in the family of Cathlicism.

To my brothers-in-Christ, apparently so fearful of change, I say..Be not afraid! With Paul the apostle, we Catholic women acknowledge that we too, have the Spirit of God who leads us into all Truth.

And to my sisters-in-Christ I say…Be of good cheer! Jesus is indeed risen, and that resurrection power to transform sexist structures, and convert even the hardest of hearts will not fail us!

We must witness to the Jesus of Scripture whose behavior in favor of women’s equality so scandalized the patriarchy of his times that they sought to smear his reputation and discredit him, much as the patriarchy of our times seeks to discredit Catholic female theologians today.

We must witness to the Jesus who was also rejected by the leaders of his religious tradition yet instead of abandoning it with hatred, sowed sweet seeds for the transformation of hearts and the salvation of a people.

We must witness to the Jesus who prayed for his persecutors even in the midst of crucifixion, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”

In these difficult times, to be faithful Catholic women and men, we must make this prayer of Jesus our own even as we struggle for that equality into which we have been baptized: “For there is no longer Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male and female..for all are one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:28).


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Optional Celibacy Survey Results

Optional Celibacy Survey Results

Survey results by diocese of priests responding to the question:
Do you favor an open discussion of the mandatory celibacy rule for diocesan priests? (for more detailed results and available comments from priests click on each diocese).
Diocese Priests Responding Yes No Unsure
Albany 69 of 243 [28%] 62% 35% 3%
Baltimore 93 of 238 [39%] 65% 32% 3%
Belleville 55 of 159 [35%] 71% 25% 4%
Boston 321 of 1524 [21%] 66% 28% 5%
Buffalo 162 of 550 [29%] 66% 23% 11%
Cincinnati 174 of 542 [32%] 67% 29% 4%
Cleveland 114 of 500 [23%] 64% 32% 4%
Columbus 83 of 238 [35%] 60% 36% 4%
Covington 34 of 93 [37%] 53% 47% 0%
Detroit 160 of 768 [21%] 70% 24% 2%
Denver 78 of 292 [27%] 58% 37% 5%
Dubuque 101 of 222 [45%] 56% 40% 4%
El Paso 29 of 104 [28%] 72% 17% 10%

Fort Wayne-South Bend 28 of 109 [26%] 36% 64% 0%
Fort Worth 40 of 109 [36%] 60% 30% 10%
Fresno 34 of 114 [30%] 56% 41% 3%
Gallup 15 of 85 [18%] 60% 40% 0%
Gaylord 15 of 78 [19%] 67% 27% 7%
Grand Rapids 30 of 135 [22%] 61% 35% 0%
Green Bay 106 of 329 [32%] 77% 21% 2%
Harrisburg 19 of 91 [21%] 32% 63% 5%
Indianapolis 51 of 166 [31%] 84% 16% 0%
Kalamazoo 16 of 69 [23%] 38% 50% 13%
LaCrosse 93 of 223 [42%] 55% 42% 3%
Lansing 49 of 185 [26%] 68% 26% 4%
Las Cruces 24 of 75 [32%] 76% 12% 8%
Las Vegas 23 of 77 [30%] 87% 13% 0%
Los Angeles 121 of 965 [13%] 70% 23% 4%
Madison 81 of 162 [50%] 62% 30% 7%
Marquette 13 of 101 [13%] 50% 31% 0%
Monterey 42 of 134 [31%] 57% 40% 2%
Oakland 126 of 301 [42%] 84% 13% 2%
Oklahoma City 46 of 121 [38%] 57% 39% 4%
Orange 40 of 164 [24%] 68% 25% 8%
Paterson, NJ 77 of 299 [26%] 74% 23% 3%
Philadelphia 128 of 900 [14%] 47% 50% 3%
Phoenix 100 of 304 [33%] 77% 19% 4%
Providence 123 of 400 [31%] 51% 46% 2%
Pueblo 26 of 84 [31%] 69% 23% 8%
Raleigh 44 of 155 [ 29%] 79% 16% 5%
Rochester 102 of 294 [35%] 69% 22% 10%
Sacramento 66 of 215 [31%] 73% 24% 3%
Saginaw 29 of 120 [24%] 77% 16% 0%
San Bernardino 62 of 258 [24%] 75% 17% 6%
San Diego 71 of 329 [22%] 73% 24% 3%
San Francisco 104 of 319 [33%] 68% 26% 6%
San Jose 66 of 184 [36%] 70% 23% 8%
Santa Fe 75 of 203 [37%] 68% 31% 1%
Seattle 68 of 290 [23%] 79% 16% 4%
Steubenville 30 of 57 [53%] 57% 40% 3%
Stockton 23 of 72 [32%] 48% 48% 4%
Superior 50 of 89 [56%] 67% 33% 2%
Syracuse 132 of 312 [42%] 73% 20% 6%
Toledo 78 of 210 [37%] 77% 22% 1%
Tucson 64 of 193 [33%] 70% 27% 3%
Venice 51 of 164 [31%] 73% 18% 10%

source: FutureChurch

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A Brief History of Celibacy in the Catholic Church

First Century
Peter, the first pope, and the apostles that Jesus chose were, for the most part, married men. The New Testament implies that women presided at eucharistic meals in the early church.

Second and Third Century
Age of Gnosticism: light and spirit are good, darkness and material things are evil. A person cannot be married and be perfect. However, most priests were married.

Fourth Century
306-Council of Elvira, Spain, decree #43: a priest who sleeps with his wife the night before Mass will lose his job.
325-Council of Nicea: decreed that after ordination a priest could not marry. Proclaimed the Nicene Creed.
352-Council of Laodicea: women are not to be ordained. This suggests that before this time there was ordination of women.
385-Pope Siricius left his wife in order to become pope. Decreed that priests may no longer sleep with their wives.

Fifth Century
401-St. Augustine wrote, “Nothing is so powerful in drawing the spirit of a man downwards as the caresses of a woman.”

Sixth Century
567-2nd Council of Tours: any cleric found in bed with his wife would be excommunicated for a year and reduced to the lay state.
580-Pope Pelagius II: his policy was not to bother married priests as long as they did not hand over church property to wives or children.
590-604-Pope Gregory “the Great” said that all sexual desire is sinful in itself (meaning that sexual desire is intrinsically evil?).

Seventh Century
France: documents show that the majority of priest were married.

Eighth Century
St. Boniface reported to the pope that in Germany almost no bishop or priest was celibate.

Ninth Century
836-Council of Aix-la-Chapelle openly admitted that abortions and infanticide took place in convents and monasteries to cover up activities of uncelibate clerics.
St. Ulrich, a holy bishop, argued from scripture and common sense that the only way to purify the church from the worst excesses of celibacy was to permit priests to marry.

Eleventh Century
1045- Benedict IX dispensed himself from celibacy and resigned in order to marry.
1074-Pope Gregory VII said anyone to be ordained must first pledge celibacy: ‘priests [must] first escape from the clutches of their wives.’
1095-Pope Urban II had priests’ wives sold into slavery, children were abandoned.

Twelfth Century
1123-Pope Calistus II: First Lateran Council decreed that clerical marriages were invalid.
1139-Pope Innocent II: Second Lateran Council confirmed the previous council’s decree.

Fourteenth Century
Bishop Pelagio complains that women are still ordained and hearing confessions.

Fifteenth Century
Transition; 50% of priests are married and accepted by the people.

Sixteenth Century
1545-63-Council of Trent states that celibacy and virginity are superior to marriage.
1517-Martin Luther.
1530-Henry VIII.

Seventeenth Century
Inquisition. Galileo. Newton.

Eighteenth Century
1776-American Declaration of Independence.
1789-French Revolution.

Nineteenth Century
1847-Marx, Communist Manifesto.
1869-First Vatican Council; infallibility of pope.

Twentieth Century
1930-Pope Pius XI: sex can be good and holy.
1951-Pope Pius XII: married Lutheran pastor ordained catholic priest in Germany.
1962-Pope John XXIII: Vatican Council II; vernacular; marriage is equal to virginity.
1966-Pope Paul VI: celibacy dispensations.
1970s-Ludmilla Javorova and several other Czech women ordained to serve needs of women imprisoned by Communists.
1978-Pope John Paul II: puts a freeze on dispensations.
1983-New Canon Law.
1980-Married Anglican/Episcopal pastors are ordained as catholic priests in the U.S.; also in Canada and England in 1994.

Popes who were married

St. Peter, Apostle
St. Felix III 483-492 (2 children)
St. Hormidas 514-523 (1 son)
St. Silverus (Antonia) 536-537
Hadrian II 867-872 (1 daughter)
Clement IV 1265-1268 (2 daughters)
Felix V 1439-1449 (1 son)

Popes who were the sons of other popes, other clergy
Name of Pope Papacy Son of
St. Damascus I 366-348 St. Lorenzo, priest
St. Innocent I 401-417 Anastasius I
Boniface 418-422 son of a priest
St. Felix 483-492 son of a priest
Anastasius II 496-498 son of a priest
St. Agapitus I 535-536
Gordiaous, priest
St. Silverus 536-537 St. Homidas, pope
Deusdedit 882-884 son of a priest
Boniface VI 896-896 Hadrian, bishop
John XI 931-935 Pope Sergius III
John XV 989-996 Leo, priest

Popes who had illegitimate children after 1139
Innocent VIII 1484-1492 several children
Alexander VI 1492-1503 several children
Julius 1503-1513 3 daughters
Paul III 1534-1549 3 sons, 1 daughter
Pius IV 1559-1565 3 sons
Gregory XIII 1572-1585 1 son

History sources:
Oxford Dictionary of Popes; H.C. Lea History of Sacerdotal Celibacy in the Christian Church 1957; E. Schillebeeckx The Church with a Human Face 1985; J. McSorley Outline History of the Church by Centuries 1957; F.A.Foy (Ed.) 1990 Catholic Almanac 1989; D.L. Carmody The Double Cross – Ordination, Abortion and Catholic Feminism 1986; P.K. Jewtt The Ordination of Women 1980; A.F. Ide God’s Girls – Ordination of Women in the Early Christian & Gnostic Churches 1986; E. Schüssler Fiorenza In Memory of Her 1984; P. DeRosa Vicars of Christ 1988.

Myths and Facts

Myth: All priests take a vow of celibacy.
Fact: Most priests do not take a vow. It is a promise made before the bishop.

Myth: Celibacy is not the reason for the vocation shortage.
Fact: A 1983 survey of Protestant churches shows a surplus of clergy; the Catholic church alone has a shortage.

Myth: Clerical celibacy has been the norm since the Second Lateran Council in 1139.
Fact: Priests and even popes still continued to marry and have children for several hundred years after that date. In fact, the Eastern Catholic Church still has married priests.

In the Latin Church, one may be a married priest if:

* one is a Protestant pastor first; or
* if one is a life-long Catholic but promises never again to have sexual relations with one’s wife.

Myth: The vocation shortage is due to materialism and lack of faith.
Fact: Research (1985 Lilly endowment): “there is no evidence to support loss of faith for less vocations…youth volunteer and campus ministry is rising.”

We believe that priests should be allowed to marry and that
women have an equal right to have their call to ordination
tested along with male candidates.
We believe celibacy is a gift of the Spirit, as is the call to marriage
and the single life. Gifts cannot be mandated, so it is from a deep respect for the gift of celibacy that we request that it be made optional and not forced upon those who do not feel called in this way.

originally developed by Corpus Canada
revision jointly sponsored by Call To Action and FutureChurch

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What’s the deal about legally married priests?

Recently, I’ve heard of cases in Ohio and Texas where Anglican parishes have become Catholic parishes and Anglican priests, who are married, are allowed to become Catholic priests. I didn’t know one could receive a dispensation from celibacy. So my question is, what’s the deal? How can a married Anglican priest become a Roman Catholic priest and remain married? Is he required to obtain a special dispensation? From whom does he receive the dispensation?—A reader.
Since the mid-1970s, the Episcopalian Church in the United States has faced some serious internal turmoil. In 1976, women were ordained as priests, and more recently women have been ordained as bishops. In 1979, the Episcopalian Church revised the using contemporary language as well as adding various liturgical options. Both of these incidents have caused heated debate and even schism. Now there is growing momentum for the celebration of homosexual marriages and the ordination of practicing homosexuals. Please note that I am simply citing events and neither being nosey about another Church’s affairs nor relishing in their problems, especially when we Catholics have enough of our own.
These issues, and probably others as well, prompted some Episcopalian clergy and laity to consider entering the Roman Catholic Church. Most of these individuals would have viewed themselves as “Anglo-Catholic” or “High-Episcopalian,” meaning that their beliefs and liturgical practices were very much “Roman” with the major contention being over the authority of the Holy Father. For example, when I was studying at St. Charles Seminary in Philadelphia, St. Clement’s Episcopal Church advertised having Masses, Confessions, Benediction and Vespers; to attend one of their services was—I hate to say it—at least aesthetically more “Catholic” and reverential than some of the Catholic parishes I have visited.
Nevertheless, various requests about possible admission into the Catholic Church were made to Catholic bishops in the United States, who in turn contacted the Holy Father. In response, Pope John Paul II, through the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, issued a clear although brief statement in June 1980.
First, the Holy See admitted allowing a “pastoral provision,” which would provide “a common identity reflecting certain elements of their own heritage.” Here an entire Episcopalian congregation could enter the Catholic Church and be allowed to remain a parish and use an Anglican-style Catholic Mass with either the traditional language of Archbishop Cranmer’s or the modern English version.
Second, individual members of the Episcopal Church could enter into the Catholic Church on their own initiative. As in accord with the “Decree on Ecumenism” of the Second Vatican Council, this action could be seen as a “reconciliation of those individuals who wish for full Catholic communion.”
Finally, concerning married Episcopalian clergy becoming Catholic priests, “the Holy See has specified that this exception to the rule of celibacy is granted in favor of these individual persons, and should not be understood as implying any change in the Church’s conviction of the value of priestly celibacy, which will remain the rule for future candidates for the priesthood from this group.”
In other words, an ordained Episcopalian minister would make a profession of Faith and be received into the Catholic Church, and thereupon receive the Sacrament of Confirmation. He would then take appropriate courses which would enable him to minister as a Catholic priest.
After proper examination by his Catholic bishop and with the permission of the Holy Father, he would be then ordained first as a Catholic transitional deacon and then as a priest. If the former Episcopalian minister were single at the time of his ordination as a Catholic deacon and then priest, he would indeed take the vow of celibacy. If the married former Episcopalian minister were ordained as a Catholic deacon and then priest, he would be exempt by a special favor from the Holy Father of making the promise of celibacy; however, if he later became a widower, then he would be bound to a celibate lifestyle and could not remarry. In the future, if a lay member of one of these reunited parishes wanted to become a Catholic priest, he would be required to take the promise of celibacy.
The promise of celibacy is waived as a favor to those married clergy, given their particular circumstances and their desire to unite with the Catholic Church. However, the Holy Father has repeatedly affirmed the discipline of celibacy on Roman Catholic clergy of the Latin Rite. (Outside the United States, the Eastern Rites do not require the promise of celibacy except for bishops.)
Pope Paul VI in his encyclical, “Sacerdotalis Caelibatus” (1967) reflected that celibacy is an identification with Christ, who Himself was celibate; an act of sacrificial love whereby a priest gives of himself totally to the service of God and His Church; and a sign of the coming Kingdom of God, where Our Lord said, “In the resurrection, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven” (Mt 22:30).
Here is a good example of the Pastoral Provision in action: Recently, St. Mary the Virgin Episcopal Church in Arlington, Texas, under the pastorship of Father Allan Hawkins became St. Mary the Virgin Catholic Church, with the entire congregation, and Father Hawkins himself, becoming full members of the Catholic Church.
After much agonizing, the entire parish voted to petition Catholic Bishop Joseph P. Delaney about such a possibility in June 1991. The congregation and Father Hawkins were received; now after three years, Father Hawkins has been ordained as a Catholic priest and serves his parish as he did for 14 years as an Episcopalian minister. Father Hawkins noted, “The common journey through trials and difficulties strengthened us. Like the people of Israel crossing the desert, we have at last arrived at our true home; and we have been allowed to bring with us the most valued elements of our common heritage.”
This article appeared in the September 1, 1994 issue of “The Arlington Catholic Herald.” Courtesy of the “Arlington Catholic Herald” diocesan newspaper of the Arlington (VA) diocese.

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Unity in diversity

The promulgation of Anglicanorum Coetibus on the 9th November2009 poses a question to Married Priests – a glimmer of hope or a retrograde step?

1. The European Federation is a union of groupings of Roman Catholic married priests from Belgium, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Austria and the United Kingdom. Hence there is a variety of cultures and social contexts. There are also links with other Federations of Roman Catholic married priests. In no way can there be a unanimous point of view on every minute theological detail or, indeed, on all matters of praxis and strategy. The history of the movement evidences a long period of reflection, tensions and often passionately held differences. Out of that the following voice of unity emerges, much of which is at odds with the contents of Anglicanorum Coetibus. In addition to uniting support groups for Roman Catholic married priests and their families, when confronted with the ever growing crisis of the dearth of ‘male, celibate, clerical’ candidates for the office of priesthood, the federation speaks out strongly against the obligatory law of celibacy and, positively, focuses on the community base which should be the nursery for supplying candidates for priestly office. It wishes to shift the emphasis from a focus on one particular type of ministry to a re-examination of the plurality of baptism based ministries in the service of the people of God. On the principle that justice cannot be divided, their reflections on the Gospel principles of truth and justice have led them to take aboard all forms of discrimination both in society and especially internally in the church. Discrimination against the laity and, in particular, against women is to the fore.
2. It might be thought that Rome’s response to the petition of groups of Anglicans to be received “into full Catholic communion individually as well as corporately” and the setting up of “personal ordinariates” for those who wish to enter in a corporate manner, following the reception of other Anglican married priests over the past number of years, might suggest a glimmer of hope at least as a gradual move to change the obligatory law of celibacy. A close reading of this brief document Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus suggests rather that this is a retrograde step on so many fronts: the obligatory law of celibacy, ecumenical endeavours, the attempts to move to a more collegial, transparent and democratic exercise of pastoral office in the church.

3. The document has a simple structure: the occasion (par.1). ecclesiological principles (par 2-4) and the regulation of the pastoral ordinariates (a further three pages of the document, excluding footnotes). Granted the legal character of the document, that may be as expected, but, nonetheless, the emphasis is rather ominous.

4. Reaction to the document has been varied – ‘proselytising’, ‘unecumenical’, ‘welcoming’, ‘pastoral’. Since the invitation is a response to a petition it may very well be that a charge like proselytising is beside the point. However, what is not said is important also. It is never mentioned that the petitioners are from a traditional wing of the Anglican Church (if we may be allowed to use that language) who find themselves at odds with what might be termed the more liberalising tendencies in the Anglican Communion. Individuals or groups for that matter, making an option for change on positive grounds is one thing – moving over, not as a move towards, but as flight from is another matter. The opening words of the Constitution attributes that petition to the movement of the Holy Spirit: “In recent times the Holy Spirit has moved groups of Anglicans to petition repeatedly…” These words seem to jar with the Gospel of John 3:8: “The wind blows where it wills; you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone who is born from the Spirit”. This play on the Greek word ‘pneuma’ (wind/spirit) at least raises the question, ‘Could that same Spirit be animating those Anglican groups who are endeavouring to grow in dialogue, not only with their past tradition, but with their contemporary situation in a very different social and cultural context?’ Rome seems to be attributing to the voice of the Spirit what it actually wants to hear and one remembers the attempts to bring into unity similar ’right wing’ groups in the Roman church, such as the Lefebvre group, Pius the X liturgical groups and others. What are the criteria for discernment? Again what is not said is interesting. In a document which amply cross references Vatican II no mention is made of the primacy of conscience. That might make us think of such groupings in the Roman Catholic Church as The European Federation of Married Priests, We are Church and many other networks, which have remained loyal members of the Church and are fighting their corner, pushing for dialogue and openness over against a very traditionalist church institution.

5. Before moving to the ecclesiological principles it is worth noting how

language can be a great revealer or betrayer. The personal ordinariates are for those who are entering into full communion with the Catholic Church. The Anglicans would certainly already see themselves as catholic, as a branch of the universal Catholic Church – the root meaning of the word catholic being universal. An editorial in the Tablet of 14th. November 2009 claims that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faithhas failed to grasp what Anglo-Catholicism is all about: its main aim was to reassertthe Catholic credentials of the Church of England as the ‘ancient Catholic Church of these lands, identical to the medieval English Church’. What then is the goal of the invitation? The document’s insistence on Rome’s mandate to guarantee the unity of the episcopate and to preside over and safeguard the universal communion of all the churches and its characterising every division among the baptised as a wound would suggest that what they are offering is full communion with the Roman Catholic Church. In dealing with ecclesiological principles, to say that the single church of Christ “subsists in the Catholic Church governed by the successor of Peter and his bishops” seems lacking in a certain sense of history and is a curious way of thinking incarnationally. Certainly, the church, analogous to the mystery of the Word incarnate, as the document claims, is not only a spiritual invisible communion but also visible. However, the Word was incarnate, not in a generic essentialist human being, but in a 1st century male Jewish man. That incarnationalist way of thinking, of dealing with the paradox of the transcendence and immanence of the divine, underpins much of our scriptures all the way from Genesis 1, the entrance of God into our space/time continuum in relationship with God’s creatures. That encourages us not to see that 1st century incarnation as a one off, unique event, important though that was. Much less should we see the subsistence of the universal church in one institution which pays lip service to the elements of truth found outside its borders. Just as internally the insights of Vatican II about collegiality and subsidiarity have been largely ignored and bishops and bishops conferences are treated as, and act as, in feudal service to Rome, thus ignoring the variety of social and cultural contexts into which spiritual realities must be incarnated, so these personal ordinariates are in danger of entering into fiefdom to the Roman Pontiff and curia. The lack of discussion, before the promulgation of the Apostolic Constitution, with either the Anglican Communion or the appropriate local Catholic bishops bears this out. Once again we see Ultramontanism in conflict with Vatican 11’s focus on collegiality. The response of the English bishops in obediently setting up a commission to manage what had already been decided without consultation says a lot. One letter writer to the Tablet concludes that “nothing less than a collective demonstration of Episcopal moral testosterone is required, but I will not be holding my breath”. According to Nicholas Lash (Tablet of14th November 2009)a major structural innovation in Roman Catholicism has been introduced without consulting the bishops of the Catholic Church. This is major structural innovation and comparison with the so called ‘Uniate’ churches will not do. Each of these latter is primarily a church, with its own identity, history and character. The proposed ‘ordinariates’, whatever that term is supposed to mean, are not churches but groups of disaffected members of the Anglican Communion.

6. There is also damage to ecumenical relationships. Why, for example, was all of this matter placed in the hands of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, in which Joseph Ratzinger served for 23 years, and not handled by the Pontifical Commission for promoting Christian Unity? It looks very much like a pre-Vatican 11 approach to evangelisation, i.e. ‘Return to Rome’, rather than working to overcome theological differences, as was evidenced in the tireless work of the joint commissions which produced the ARCIC documents.

7. The regulations which are based on such unecumenical and undemocratic principles are not surprising. There are a great many unanswered questions in these scant regulations. The following are the trenchant points:
1. Each ordinariate is juridically comparable to a diocese, though without geographical boundaries, but what is the extent of such and how would it work? Though it is entrusted to the pastoral care of an ordinary appointed by the Roman Pontiff we are left wondering if this is the appropriate local bishop. All falls under the shadow of Rome. Their expression of faith is that of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. If such Anglicans had come over individually, as was possible, following the traditional route of the Rite of Christian Initiation a much less elaborate and simple formula of doctrinal assent was all that would have been required. Government is subjected to the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith and other dicasteries of the Roman curia. A look at Rome’s history of parachuting in compliant ‘yes men’ bishops and its ignoring of Vatican II’s focus on collegiality suggests that little independence would remain.
2. Certainly such ordinariates can maintain their own liturgical traditions. For how long under such strict controls and in an institution where everything liturgical right down to having girls as altar servers has to be referred to Rome and where there is current unrest about the imposition of a new form of Eucharistic text in Latinised English?
3. The Constitution was published in English and Italian – the Latin text is not yet forthcoming. The discussion of the ‘potestas’ of the ordinariate (‘Power’ in the English translation) seems more concerned with authority than with power and that potestas is to be exercised in the name of the Roman Pontiff.
4. In spite of the Anglican tradition of a house of the laity as part of governance the only governing body mentioned is to consist of at least six priests. There is no mention of the laity and would that be possible if they are held to all the obligations of the Code of Canon law? In that code all lay councils are advisory only. Standard practice in most of the Church of England is that the laity has a deliberative voice and bishops are elected by clergy and laity.
5. “Those who ministered as Anglican deacons, priests or bishops may be accepted by the Ordinary as candidates for Holy Orders in the Catholic Church”. That is, they do not come over as ordained priests in their communities but only as candidates. Anglican orders are still being treated as invalid. Bishops who are married may be ordained as priests but, in spite of some peculiar honorary arrangements will not be able to function as bishops. Those who are married are subject to the norms established by Pope Paul VI. The Ordinary, presumably the appointed pastoral ordinary, will admit only celibate men to the order of presbyter and married priests will be admitted on a case by case basis according to norms established by the Holy See. That does not bode well when one considers the history of discrimination against the exercise of their ministry by married priests in the Uniate Churches when they are outside their own territories. One writer refers to it as ‘clericalised version’ of Anglicanism. Whereas the ‘clergy family’ is an important part of the Anglican patrimony the aim seems to be to produce a celibate clergy within an Anglican form Catholicism.

8. The simple answer to the original question in the title of this reflection would seem to be in the negative. There is little of hope in the document or in the way in which it was launched which would raise our expectations about ecumenism, about the abolition of the obligatory law of celibacy, about the cessation of discrimination, especially against women, or about the moves to a more decentralised, democratic and responsible exercise of the pastoral ministry in the church of Rome. In addition, a systems approach to change in any institution demands that one thinks through the intended and unintended consequences of that change on the institution in all its parts. Is it too cynical to think that Rome is using a systems approach and sees clearly the effects of the entry of such large numbers of disaffected traditionalists from the Anglican Communion into what are in reality dioceses without geographical boundaries? Rome is well aware that there are many voices within its own borders which are in favour of women priests, and even bishops, and who are not at all happy with Rome’s stance on the question of homosexuality. Is Rome drafting in support for its own entrenched positions?

J. Mulrooney/ M. Hyland. July 2010

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Married Priest & Church Law

by Father Delmar S. Smolinski, JCL, SWL



A state of emergency occurs in the Church when there is a threat against the continuation or the essential activities of the Church. At this time in the history of the Catholic Church, a shortage and unavailability of celibate priests has caused emergency situations regarding the Christian faithful’s constitutive (Baptismal) “right to be assisted by their Pastors from the spiritual riches of the Church, especially by the word of God and the Sacraments” (Can. 213). A reversal of this shortage of celibate priests and its consequent emergency situations is quite unlikely for the future. In fact, most studies and prognoses of the vocational picture for the celibate priesthood (including those sponsored by the U.S. National Conference of Catholic Bishops) indicate that the crisis will only grow worse in the years ahead, resulting in increasingly fewer opportunities for Christ’s faithful to celebrate the Sacraments, as well as fewer and older celibate priests to serve increasingly larger numbers of the faithful. The merging or closing of parishes generally is not an acceptable answer to the crisis from the viewpoint of local faith communities. Accordingly, such pastoral emergencies call for the emergency kinds of sacramental administration that are permitted by the Code of Canon Law, such as In cases of “danger of death” (Can. 976 and Can. 883:3), “necessity or genuine spiritual advantage” (Can. 844:2), “reasonable cause” (Can. 1003:2), “grave inconvenience” (Can. 1116 and Can. 1323:4), and “just reason” (Can. 1335). Perhaps unknown to some, the Christian faithful do not need further permission to act in order to fulfill their pastoral needs in emergencies. Empowerment to act lies within the emergency Canons themselves, which flow from what must always be the supreme law of the Church: the salvation of souls (Can. 1752).


Can. 292, which is concerned with restricting the right of a priest to exercise the power of orders (i.e. to administer the sacraments) is a merely ecclesiastical law (a man-made disciplinary law) of the Roman Catholic Church. Can.1037, which requires the obligation of celibacy for priests, likewise is a merely ecclesiastical law. Such laws are of human origin and can be altered or eliminated by human initiative in view of the changing pastoral circumstances of Christ’s faithful. Can. 213 which expresses the right of the faithful to receive assistance from the sacred Pastors out of the spiritual goods of the Church, especially the word of God and the Sacraments, is of divine origin through Baptism in Jesus. Such a law is constitutive (essential) for the baptized and cannot be altered or eliminated by human initiative. It likewise is correct to say that fulfillment of such a law must not be neglected by those who serve as Pastors in the Church. Under the circumstances caused by a shortage of celibate priests, Can. 213 has priority over Cans. 292 and 1037. This is the reasoning and logic behind other canons which deal with the needs of Christ’s faithful in emergency situations, such as Can. 976 which allows a priest without faculties to hear confessions in danger of death, even with an approved priest present, or Can. 883:3 which allows any priest to administer Confirmation likewise in danger of death, or Can. 1003:2 which allows any priest to administer the Anointing of the Sick for a reasonable cause, or Can. 1116 which calls for the presence of another priest or deacon in a Marriage celebrated before witnesses only, when the presence of or access to an authorized minister is impossible without grave inconvenience. This is the reasoning and logic likewise behind Can. 844:2 which allows reception of Penance, Eucharist, and Anointing of the Sick from any validly ordained minister (not just those of the Orthodox Church, as some would interpret), whenever necessity requires or spiritual advantage suggests it. This is the reasoning and logic also behind Can. 1335 which allows Sacramental ministry even by a censured/suspended priest who may have married without formal ecclesiastical permission, whenever the faithful make such requests out of necessity or for any just cause. Finally, this is the reasoning and logic behind Can. 1323:4 whereby a person cannot be penalized when he/she has violated a merely ecclesiastical law or precept, who acted out of necessity or serious inconvenience in regard to matters that are not intrinsically evil or harmful to souls. Regarding Can. 843:1 which is about sacred ministers not being able to refuse the Sacraments to the faithful, it seems reasonable and logical that asking for the Sacraments from a validly ordained, married Roman Catholic priest, out of spiritual need, when no celibate priest is available, is a request that is as opportune/appropriate as can be. After all, the Sacraments are the Christ-instituted, sine qua non means for accomplishing the sanctification of humankind now (Can. 840), not in the afterlife. Some, from their canonical perspective, feel obliged to defend the status quo with a more restrictive and less generous interpretation of the above canons on pastoral needs in emergency situations. The problematic consequence of such a defense, however, is a failure to fulfill the demands of Can. 213 regarding the constitutive right of Christ’s faithful to the spiritual goods of the Church, especially the word of God and the Sacraments. From the laity’s perspective, it is like offering your car to a friend to get to the store for groceries, while simultaneously withholding the ignition key. Whether the authors of the 1983 Code of Canon Law realized the full implications of their product or not, utilization of the canons therein by the Christian faithful via married priests is certainly in keeping with Can. 1752 which states that the supreme law in the Church must always be the salvation of souls. Sometimes, perhaps especially in pastorally transitional times, we have to reply along with Peter and the Apostles: “Obedience to God (fulfillment of need for Sacraments) comes before obedience to men (singular method of ministry that is no longer effective) (Acts 5:29). We ought also to keep in mind this statement of Canon Law Professor Ladislas Orsy, SJ, of the Catholic University of America, when he addressed the Pontifical Oriental Institute in Rome in 1992: (Theologians) “must intuit and determine the values that the community needs to sustain its life and growth . . .The ecclesial vocation of canon lawyers is to be trustees of the values necessary for the life of the community, and to be administrators of the process by which the community can appropriate them.” The sensus fidelium, the actual, Spirit-led, pastoral experience of local Christian communities of faith is a true locus theologicus-canonicus, a genuine and indispensable source of learning theology and producing appropriate canon law.


Pope Paul Vl, on November 20, 1965, in an address to the Pontifical Commission for the revision of the Code of Canon Law stated that Canon Law must be accommodated to the new manner of thinking (novus habitue mentis) in accord with Vatican II, which stresses very much pastoral ministry. Canon Law must, therefore, consider the new needs of the people of God. The celibate priest shortage has created new needs among the Christian faithful – married priests are being asked by the Christian faithful to respond to their new needs. The preface of the Latin Edition of the 1983 Code of Canon Law states that “To foster the pastoral care of souls as much as possible, the new law, besides the virtue of Justice, is to take cognizance of charity, temperance, humanness. And moderation, whereby equity is to be pursued not only in the application of the laws by pastors of souls but also in the legislation itself. Hence unduly rigid norms are to be set aside and rather, recourse is to be taken to exhortations and persuasions where there is no need of a strict observance of the law on account of the public good and general ecclesiastical discipline.” Jesus’ word to John was, “Anyone who is not against us is with us.” (Mark 9:39). These principles and directives of Pope Paul Vl and the Code Preface are precisely what a growing number of married priests (Worldwide there are over 100,000 married priests, over 20,000 in the USA alone.) are following and implementing in their response to the pastoral-Sacramental needs of Christ’s faithful. This contemporary experience of Christ’s faithful is of no small significance, because throughout the history of the Catholic Church practice leads to custom and custom leads to law-a living law both generated and received by the faithful to realistically meet their spiritual needs. The signs of the times call for listening with open mind and heart to Bishop Lawrence Burke, SJ, of Nassau, Bahamas, who delivered a pertinent message to the 1990 World Synod of Bishops in Rome on the formation of priests: “Although it is easier to achieve unity through uniformity, the challenge facing the Church today is to achieve unity through legitimate diversity. The temptation to centralize and control must be avoided. We should learn from the history of the Church. The role of bishop and priest developed as the needs of the people of God changed. There have been different theologies and different models of priesthood throughout the centuries. At one time the emphasis may have been juridical, at another time it may have been cultic, at still another time it has been monastic or pastoral. Clearly, diversity and adaptation have been staple features in the history of the priesthood. Priesthood exists to serve the Church, not the other way around. We cannot be complacent with static notions of the priesthood while thousands of Catholics throughout the world are in need of evangelization and the sacraments. The Church should not just lament the incursion of the sects, but must herself take some responsibility for that incursion. Have not our fixed notions of the priesthood and of who should qualify as priests contributed to this undesirable situation? People are spiritually hungry, and where the Church fails to provide leaders and sustenance for the flock, the flock will seek nourishment wherever it finds it….”


In view of a shortage and unavailability of celibate clergy, the use of married priests to provide pastoral-Sacramental ministry to Christ’s faithful is a measure that is valid, lawful, and appropriate for our time. Perhaps just as important, the return of a married priesthood ministering to the faithful, side by side with a celibate priesthood, in the third millennium of Christianity, is a pastoral development and wholesome balancing whose time has come. St. Paul put it well: “As your co-workers we beg you not to receive the grace of God in vain. For God says, ‘In an acceptable time I have heard you, on a day of salvation I have helped you.’ Now is the acceptable time! Now is the day of salvation!”(2 Corinthians 6:1-2)

Father Delmar S. Smolinski, JCL, SWL
in rentaprists

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A Married Priesthood: Why Not?

By George Buddleighton

George Buddleighton is a family doctor in Ireland. This column originally appeared in somewhat different form in the November 2005 issue of the Irish Brandsma Review, and is reprinted with permission.

One of the more enduring aspects of the secular media and dinner-party dogmaticians is an inability to understand that there is a coherent reason for Catholic teachings. To a large extent this ignorance cannot be regarded as culpable, as Church authorities seem reluctant to explain the rationale behind authoritative teachings. One such teaching concerns the celibate priesthood and how it relates to the current vocations crisis. The need for such an explanation has become ever more acute in light of Pope Benedict XVI’s generous new apostolic constitution, Anglicanorum Coetibus, which has provisions to allow already married Anglican clergymen to be ordained as Catholic priests.

The basis for the celibate priesthood is not doctrinal but concerns the difficulty of fulfilling the duties of three intermingled disciplines — that of the married state, that of the priestly vocation, and finally that of the individual priest. Let’s examine these three aspects separately.

The concession permitted to groups such as doctors and clergymen that exempted them from jury service in Ireland was for most of the past century extended to married women, as it was felt that the rearing of a family was too important a task to be compromised by jury duty. In latter years, a group of human-rights activists identified this exemption as demeaning to women, completely misreading the intention of the legislators in an earlier — and, dare I say, more gracious — age. The same tendency is seen when the celibate priesthood is derided as demeaning of the married state. In reality the celibacy requirement is a recognition that the duties of marriage should not be compromised by the competing demands of the priesthood.

The Church has always taught that marriage is a noble vocation and that a married man’s primary duty is to his wife and family, and that this discipline must not be in competition with others. It is significant that the Greek Orthodox Church recently expressed concern about the fact that its priests cannot find wives, as marriage to a priest is not regarded as a good prospect!

On the discipline of the priestly vocation, one can only say that marriage would expose the priest to an extra burden in that his duty to family could only compromise his vow of obedience. Essentially, this is the difficulty of serving two masters. Moving to a new post on the orders of his superior would be immensely complicated if the interests of a family had to be considered, and the faithful would have the extra burden of contributing to the support of the family as well as of the priest himself.

Another consideration — one that I have rarely heard mentioned — is the fact that every individual priest becomes a priest in answer to God’s call. If we had a married priesthood, a priestly caste would develop, with young men following their fathers into the clergy.

Finally, there is the discipline of the individual person of the priest, a man who has made himself “a eunuch for the sake of the kingdom of heaven.” Again, difficulty understanding this concept reflects the shallowness of modern society, which cannot comprehend the concepts of commitment or vocation, and therefore cannot understand the traditional status given to the paterfamilias — that to be a father is to be a man. If a proper status is given to fatherhood, there is a certain degree of awe accorded to one who voluntarily rejects this status for the sake of something as important as the priesthood. Despite his faults, the priest, be he pope or the humblest curate, has given up a status and a comfort in life — his right by his masculinity — for the sake of his calling.

Advocates of a married priesthood often argue that such an innovation would eliminate cases of clerical pedophilia and also the perceived shortage of vocations. Both these problems they regard as caused by celibacy, and some have suggested that Pope Benedict’s recent welcome to Anglicans is an attempt at an end-run around these problems. But, in fact, they are more a consequence of modern society than something intrinsic to the Catholic Church.

With regard to the evil of pedophilia, the idea that marriage would cure it is bizarre, to say the least. This notion stems from the theories of Alfred Kinsey, who stated that “man is naturally pan-sexual and thus will attempt to indulge in sexual activity with whatever is available, regardless of age, sex or species.” This is relativism in extremis, defining a range of activities from conjugal love to bestiality and ephebophilia as a spectrum of “natural” behavior! It is not surprising that those who subscribe to this distortion would believe that marriage could be an alternative to such depravities.

If we examine the reported cases of clerical child abuse, we note that the majority are examples of ephebophilia — that is, predatory assaults on peri-pubertal boys — essentially an expression of power and violence, and hatred of the normal. The use of the term “clerical pedophilia” is really a cynical attempt to hide the frankly homosexual origin of this depravity. Popular culture accepts the “gay” lobby’s portrayal of sodomites as a gentle, persecuted minority, disguising how common it is for active homosexuals to seek out youngsters with the object of seducing them.

The modern distortion of defining homosexuality as a charming personality quirk has influenced some vocations directors and seminary rectors who, out of a misplaced compassion for those with homosexual tendencies, have been less than vigilant in following Vatican instructions to prevent the ordination of such candidates to the priesthood. The practice of homosexuality among God’s anointed is truly demonic, and it must be rooted out of seminaries and the priesthood.

Further consideration of the shortage of vocations reveals that, as well as the uncomfortable character of sexual orientation in some seminaries due to pronounced homosexual subcultures of the recent past, we are dealing with a further phenomenon, confined to the domain of Western liberalism. While historically there are more seminarians than ever worldwide, the Western world has simply lost the concept of vocation. In Ireland this trend can also be seen in the difficulty of getting teachers and doctors for isolated or deprived areas.

It is ironic that we have calls for clergy to adopt a second vocation — that of marriage — in societies that have completely undermined marriage itself; societies in which marriage vows have less legal veracity than standard employment contracts!

In short, the demand for a married clergy is a manifestation of the modernistic approach as applied to the Church, while the shortage of vocations and the sexual perversions of some clerics are further manifestations of the same modernistic tendencies as practiced in the Church. While some have hinted that Anglicanorum Coe­tibus has cracked open the door to consideration of a married Catholic priesthood, it will likely have the limited effect of a pastoral exception rather than revolutionizing the celibate nature of Catholic holy orders.

As for a more appropriate response to the “vocations crisis,” we were long ago given the formula for adequate numbers of suitable priests: Pray to the Lord of the harvest.

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Married Priests by Petrà Basilio

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The author, some years after publication of Priests married by the will of
God? Exploring a Church with two lungs, notes that the book enjoyed
various types of responses, in different parts of the world. Abroad or, in
any case, in other languages, there was no lack of shorter or longer
reviews in important journals. Both positive evaluation and words of
appreciation, together with some criticisms and observations. The Author
wishes to consider the latter for a moment, since they afford a chance to
undertake for exploration and perhaps arrive at a clearer expression of
his thesis’ contents. First the intervention by E. Apeciti is examined,
subsequently that of G. Greshake and Father G. Nedungatt. (in rivista di Teologia Morale)

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