Archive for category Celibacy
In surprise, Benedict openly defends clerical celibacy as Francis considers married priests / National Catholic Reporter
“Although the volume is yet to be seen in full, it appears to signify something as yet unexperienced in the two millennia history of the Catholic Church: a retired pope openly weighing in on something currently under consideration by his successor, the reigning pontiff.” (National Catholic Reporter)
Retired Pope Benedict XVI has coauthored a new book defending the Catholic Church’s practice of a celibate priesthood, in a shocking move that comes as Pope Francis is considering the possibility of allowing older, married men to be ordained as priests in the Amazon region.
“According to excerpts from the volume released Jan. 12 by the conservative French outlet Le Figaro, the ex-pontiff says he could not remain silent on the issue as Francis is contemplating the move, which was requested by the bishops from the nine-nation Amazon region at October’s Vatican synod gathering.
“The book is co-written with Cardinal Robert Sarah, the head of the Vatican’s liturgy office. It is to be released in France Jan. 15 and carries the title Des profondeurs de nos cœurs (‘From the Depths of Our Hearts’).
“Although the volume is yet to be seen in full, it appears to signify something as yet unexperienced in the two millennia history of the Catholic Church: a retired pope openly weighing in on something currently under consideration by his successor, the reigning pontiff.
“One noted theologian reached shortly after the release of the excerpts called Benedict’s decision to write on the issue a ‘serious breach.'”
By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …
Married priests: Groups call on U.K. church to have national, courageous conversation / National Catholic Reporter
“Chris McDonnell, secretary of the Movement for Married Clergy, says the current model of Catholic priesthood, where the priest does everything, is unsustainable.” Over the years, Voice of the Faithful has often called for married priests, e.g., “A Petition to the American Bishops for the Ordination to the Priesthood of Married Catholic Men in the United States.”
“The ordination of married men to the priesthood ‘needs to be explored openly within the church in England and Wales at national and diocesan levels,’ the retired bishop of Portsmouth, England, has said.
“Speaking to NCR, Bishop Crispian Hollis said he was ‘increasingly aware’ of the pressure which priests are under due to the shortage of priests. He believes the issue of ordaining married men should not be left to ‘conversations within parishes and among the lay faithful.’
“His comments were made as new figures released by the National Office for Vocations in England and Wales showed a drop in the number of men entering formation for the diocesan priesthood. Director of the office, Benedictine Fr. Christopher Jamison, described the fall as ‘disappointing.'”
By Sarah Mac Donald, National Catholic Reporter — Read more … — Also of note, “Priests’ group accuses bishops of refusing to support pope’s openness to reform”
It is time for the Catholic bishops to stop hoping for an increase in vocations to the celibate priesthood and to acknowledge that the church needs married priests to serve the people of God. We cannot have a Catholic Church without sacraments, and a priest is needed for the Eucharist, confession, and anointing.
“At the Last Supper, Jesus said, ‘Do this in memory of me,’ not ‘have a celibate priesthood.’ The need for the Eucharist trumps having a celibate priesthood.
“For at least 50 years, the Catholic Church in the United States has seen a drop in the number of priests. According to CARA reports, in 1970, there were 59,192 priests in the U.S.; by 2016, there were only 37,192. Meanwhile, the number of Catholics increased to 74.2 million from 51 million. That means the people/priest ratio grew from 861 Catholics per priest in 1970 to 1,995 per priest in 2016. These numbers include all priests both religious and diocesan, as well as retired priests. When the priests currently over 65 years of age die, these numbers will be even worse.”
By Thomas Reese, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …
The numbers are becoming alarming – too many Catholics for too few priests in many parts of the world. As 2017 begins, Catholic Church watchers are again stressing how the Church must find a way to minister to the faithful with so few priests and how one possible solution could be to relax priestly celibacy.
Two examples suffice to show the situation’s urgency, too few priests to ensure proper ministry, especially availability of the Eucharist:
- Brazil has 140 million Catholics and only 18,000 priests, one priest for every 7,800 Catholics
- The United States has 80 million Catholics and only 37,500 priests for its 17,233 parishes – already 3,499 parishes have no priest in residence despite numerous parish closures in the past decade.
In 2013, the Voice of the Faithful movement, which supports a married priesthood, stated, “Every Catholic understands the need for spiritual nourishment, especially for the regular reception of the Body and Blood of Christ in the Eucharist … We also understand the responsibility of the bishops and priests to make the Eucharist available to the faithful.”
In Brazil, leading Catholic theologian Leonardo Boff is suggesting that married priests who have left ministry, like himself, be allowed to return and that the Brazilian bishops have asked Pope Francis specifically for this. For those who might easily dismiss his suggestion, the National Catholic Reporter recently pointed out that Francis has long thought about a married priesthood. Then Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, archbishop of Buenos Aires said the celibate priesthood is a “matter of church law and tradition, not doctrine, and “it is a matter of discipline, not of faith. It can change.”
In the United States, Mary Pat Fox, VOTF president, said that VOTF’s 2013 petition to U.S. bishops asked them “to request a pastoral provision from the Pope that would allow them to accept married Catholic men for ordination.” According to VOTF’s petition, the same procedures would be used as “in the pastoral provisions that have allowed married Episcopalian, Anglican and other Protestant clergy to be ordained in the Roman Catholic Church.”
Either one of these solutions surrounding priestly celibacy could help alleviate the Catholic priest shortage. As VOTF’s 2013 petition concluded, “Certainly in every diocese there are mature married men, with children or even grandchildren, who possess a deep Eucharistic spirituality and might consider ordination in order to provide the Eucharist to the faithful.”
Voice of the Faithful®: Voice of the Faithful® is a worldwide movement of faithful Roman Catholics working to support survivors of clergy sexual abuse, support priests of integrity and increase the laity’s role in the governance and guidance of the Church. More information is at www.votf.org. Contact: Nick Ingala, email@example.com, (781) 559-3360
Pope Francis may soon fulfill the Brazilian bishops’ special request to allow married priests to resume their priestly ministry, liberation theologian Leonardo Boff said in a Dec. 25 interview in the German daily Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger.
“‘The Brazilian bishops, especially the pope’s close friend Cardinal Claudio Hummes, have expressly requested Pope Francis to enable married priests in Brazil to return to their pastoral ministry,’ Boff said. ‘I have recently heard that the pope wants to fulfill this request — as an experimental, preliminary phase for the moment confined to Brazil.’
“With its 140 million Catholics, Brazil needs at least 100,000 priests but it only has 1,800, which is a ‘catastrophe,’ Boff said …”
By Christa Pongratz-Lippitt, National Catholic Reporter — Click here to read the rest of this story.
In response to acute priest shortages around the world, Pope Francis may well decide that his next Synod of Bishops should focus on ministry—including the question of whether married men could be ordained to celebrate the sacraments, in effect creating a parallel priesthood.
After the bruising but fruitful experience of the synod on the family, one thing is clear: Francis has created an instrument of discernment that is capable of wrestling with big issues in the contemporary Church.
“The reformed synod – a global consultation, followed by two assemblies separated by a year, concluding in a major papal teaching document that resets pastoral strategy for the next generation – means that big topics can no longer be kicked into the long grass on the basis that they are just too big to deal with.
“If a vast topic such as the Church’s preparation for marriage and its handling of divorcés can be discussed, it means other burning issues can be too. And top of that list are questions about ministry: access to the sacraments, the role of women and lay people, as well as the role of deacons.
“Some are saying that pastoral ministries will the topic for the next synod, likely to be scheduled for 2018-19.
‘No one doubts the question is an urgent one. More than half of the Catholic Church’s communities worldwide have no resident priest.”
By Austen Ivereigh, Cruxnow.com — Click here to read the rest of this story.
Ordination of married men would cause other major changes within the church / National Catholic Reporter
The question of the theology of ordination to the priesthood just isn’t going to go away.
“First, in a meeting with Italian priests in Rome in February, the pope, they tell us, said that he is going to put the topic of the ordination of married men ‘into his diary.’ Meaning on his list of subjects to be — what? Addressed? Discussed? Opened to consideration? Promised? The possibilities are tantalizing.
“In countries where some Catholic communities never see a priest more than once a year, the implications of a new and developing clergy — a married clergy as well as a celibate clergy — conjure up images of a church choosing to be vital and viable again.
“In the United States itself, as well as in far off rural outposts, parishes are closing at a great rate. In fact, the very superstructure of the church of the ’50s — its community-building impact, its services and ministries, its vibrant witness — is dimming. People drive miles to go to Mass now or don’t go at all. They volunteer in civic agencies now rather than in parish ministries because there are few or no church projects impactful enough to demand their commitment. Instead, the church, where there is one, has become a private devotion.
“But if Pope Francis takes the question of married men seriously, that could, for a change, lead to real change.”
By Joan Chittister, National Catholic Reporter — Click here to read the rest of this column.