Posts Tagged celibacy

Catholic Church in Australia links celibacy to abuse /

The Catholic Church in Australia on Friday said that obligatory celibacy may have contributed to priests abusing children, and recommended that clergy should be given ‘psychosexual’ training.

“In a landmark report, an Australian Catholic Church body dealing with the legacy of child sex abuse added that some church institutions and their leaders turned a blind eye to what was going on for years.

“‘Obligatory celibacy may also have contributed to abuse in some circumstances,’ the Truth, Justice and Healing Council said.”

By — Click here to read the rest of this story.

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An Open Letter from the People of God to U.S. Bishops

Bishop Sash & CrossVoice of the Faithful® encourages interested Catholics to join with FutureChurch supporters and ask U.S. bishops to open a dialogue “about restoring our early traditions of married and celibate priests and male and female deacons.”

In an open letter to U.S. bishops, FutureChurch urges bishops “to discern the needs of all the people of God and to listen to Pope Francis’ call for courage in realizing reforms that will bring new vitality to Eucharistic communities.”

You can join this effort by clicking here to send your bishop a copy of the letter.

We need to shout loudly for our bishops to hear our Spirit-filled voices and help us change the Church.

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Group of Catholics and Orthodox Officials Endorses Marriage for Some Priests / the New York Times

In a step that is sure to fuel the debate over mandatory celibacy, a high-level group of Catholic and Orthodox officials is calling on the Vatican to allow married men to serve as Eastern Catholic priests in North America.

“The request carries significant weight because it comes from the North American Orthodox-Catholic Theological Consultation, whose Catholic members are appointed by the conferences of bishops in the United States and Canada. The Catholic delegation was headed by Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin of Indianapolis, who worked for several years as a high-level Vatican official.”

By Michael Paulson, The New York Times — Click here to read the rest of this story.

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Bishops Need to Be Couragious, Listen to the People — Discussing a Roman Catholic, Married Priesthood / National Catholic Reporter

Many Catholics will find hope in the conversation between Brazilian Bishop Erwin Kräutler and Pope Francis in which they discussed the ordination of married men as a serious and positive possibility.

“For the first time in a very long time, the idea of a Roman Catholic married priesthood is a topic that can be discussed and is being discussed inside the Francis administration. Pietro Parolin, recently made a cardinal, was clear about this in media interviews shortly after the pope named him secretary of state last summer. Celibacy ‘is not a church dogma and it can be discussed because it is a church tradition,’ Parolin said. Even as archbishop in Argentina, then-Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio was open to the idea, saying celibacy for priests ‘is a matter of discipline, not of faith. It can change.'”

Click here to read the rest of this editorial by National Catholic Reporter.

Click here to see the Voice of the Faithful® webpage “Crisis in the Priesthood: Conversations about Celibacy,” which contains links to the history of celibacy in the Roman Catholic Church, VOTF position papers on celibacy and its effects, and action steps toward optional celibacy for Catholic priests.

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Roman Catholic Bishops from England and Wales Call for Church to Allow Priests to Marry / The Independent

Roman Catholic bishops have called for the Church to take the historic step of allowing priests to be married amid growing signs of liberal reform under Pope Francis.

“The controversial issue is set to be raised at the next Bishops’ Conference after three bishops in England and Wales spoke out in favour of relaxing the centuries-old ban. Their comments follow signals from the Pontiff recently that he could be open to change on the issue and criticism of Britain’s most senior Catholic leaders for refusing to release the findings of a survey of their views on sexual ethics.”

By Jonathan Brown, The Independent — Click here to read the rest of this story.

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Pope Francis — Married Men Could Be Ordained Priests If World Bishops Agree on It / The Tablet

A bishop who met with Pope Francis in a rare private audience on 4 April has said in an interview that the two men discussed the issue of the ordination of “proven” married men – viri probati – in a serious and positive way.

“Bishop Erwin Kräutler, Bishop of Xingu in the Brazilian rainforest, spoke to the Pope about Francis’ forthcoming encyclical on the environment, and the treatment of indigenous peoples but the desperate shortage of priests in the bishop’s huge diocese came up in the conversation. According to an interview the Austrian-born bishop gave to the daily Salzburger Nachrichten on 5 April, the Pope was open-minded about finding solutions to the problem, saying that bishops’ conferences could have a decisive role.”

By Christa Pongratz-Lippitt, The Tablet — Click here to read the rest of this story.

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Sex and the Single Priest / The New York Times

“Much of the social agenda that church reformers like the Hydars (Sister Mary Robert and Fr. John Hydar, now married) advocate — full ordination of women, full equality for gays, an end to the widely ignored prohibition on birth control — is so entangled in past papal proclamations and historical precedents that I doubt Francis will take the issues on. An apostolic exhortation the pope released last week was a heartfelt appeal for inclusiveness — but on the Vatican’s familiar terms. There is one issue, however, where the internal politics, while difficult, are less difficult, where the case for reform is pressing, and where there are hints that Francis may be inclined to change. That is priestly celibacy.” By Bill Keller, Op-Ed Columnist, The New York Times — Click here to read the rest of Keller’s commentary.

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As Pope Meets Curia, New Secretary of State Makes Waves / John Thavis Blog

As Pope Francis presided over a meeting of Roman Curia department heads today (Sept. 10), his new pick for Secretary of State was making news on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. Archbishop Pietro Parolin, in an interview with the Venezuelan newspaper El Universal, said among other things that the church’s tradition of priestly celibacy was not dogma and was therefore open to discussion. And he said that while the church was not a democracy, it needs to reflect the democratic spirit of the times and adopt a collegial way of governing. Neither statement is exactly groundbreaking, but the fact that the new secretary of state feels free to make them says a lot about the current atmosphere in the Vatican.” By John Thavis, journalist, author and speaker specializing in Vatican affairs.

Read Thavis’ entire article by clicking here.

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Mandatory Celibacy: Time to Discuss Its Flaws

By Edward J. Greenan, Ph.D., Voice of the Faithful® Trustee

Christianity and the Roman Catholic Church, in particular, are in crisis. For the past 30 years theologians, ecclesiologists, sociologists and historians have documented this crisis—one with great peril for the established Church but also, as in any crisis, one with potential for decisions and new choices.

I see those opportunities as a challenge for the laity, to address the rifts that divide the People of God from our ordained leadership. More, I see opportunities for lay people to lead in a situation that demands our voices be heard. The time is long past to examine the flaws in our ministerial social fabric. If our ordained hierarchical leadership cannot or will not address the centuries-long rift separating the baptized People of God, then the non-ordained baptized must step forward as Vatican II, in Lumen Gentium, challenged us to do.

It is not pleasant to call our leaders to account. But the Church institution that seeks to nourish us spiritually is failing in its responsibility, and a primary cause of its failure is the negative aspects of clericalism—a mindset that elevates celibate males to a “ruling caste” status, thus creating an elitist barrier to unity, dividing the faithful in the Body of Christ from those who would minister.

Mandatory or compulsory celibacy feeds this clerical mindset. As Catholics we have heard centuries of pious exhortations and homilies that insist, “virginal men devote their time more fully to the service of God.” But celibacy too frequently is a promise not kept, a hollow promise that has instead contributed to centuries of injustice. Likewise, celibacy based on the concept that a life fully pleasing to God can only be lived by closing off the secular world has contributed to centuries of demeaning lay people and smothering the message of Christ.

Do I seek to denigrate the sincere celibacy of many over history? Never! For some brothers and sisters, celibacy is both a healthy and a positive choice. But many young men answer the call to a celibate life without fully grasping its demands. Then, as loneliness pervades their daily lives and reality sets in, many seek outlets to help them cope—and secrecy to hide their choices.

Our Church cloaks these lapses with a self-serving justification that nurtures the clergy caste and forbids official discussion even while today’s research into theology, psychology, history and social theory brings into focus the questionable contribution of mandatory celibacy to an effective ministry.

The Benedictines provide a concise summary of the problems with mandatory celibacy:

Clerical celibacy is called into question for various reasons: it is not intrinsic to priest-hood; it is not essentially more perfect than married love; its historical origins are suspect, coming from a neo-Platonic view of sexuality and Old Testament ideas of ritual purity; there is evidence that its observation has always been problematic, at least for a significant minority, leading to the adage si non caste, tamen caute (“if unchaste, be discreet”); celibacy, being a charism, cannot be imposed; it can, and again for a significant number does, lead to a stunted affective life and immaturity in relationships. The most significant argument against a law of celibacy, however, is the assertion that because of it the Christian people are in places being seriously deprived of the Eucharist.”—from “Celibacy of the Clergy,” Ecclesia (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1996)

A most incisive and insightful comment from this analysis is the questioning of the hierarchy’s framing of celibacy as a “charism.” A charism is a free gift of the Almighty; it cannot be imposed upon a human being. When a man is called to the ordained ministry, who is able to decide if he has the charism? If it is the bishop, bishops from the earliest centuries have sadly failed in their discernment of those who sought ordination because the history of celibacy does not offer evidence of mature and total dedication to the celibate life.

Celibacy must be optional. The individual must decide for himself what path keeps him closest to Christ. Mandatory celibacy is an outright injustice to the People of God. Individuals should have the right to choose whether to marry or not marry, regardless of their ministry.

Celibacy also tends to breed misogyny, a side effect that Catholicism has unofficially propagated throughout its history, despite its frequent claims to the contrary. Mandatory celibacy has become a steel band that binds together injustice toward women, clericalism, and the closing of ministry to married men.

It was not always so. Marriage anchored the early Church leadership and community. The earliest apostles, steeped in the Torah, understood that “it is not good for the human being to be alone.” Moreover, for them marriage was not simply a resource for stable sexual partnership, it also was universally valued as the path for reaching individual and social fulfillment. It is crucial that we re-teach the People of God that being wed is not a second-class spiritual status in the Church.

Elitism has been rampant for most of the Church’s history. Vatican II, however, made it clear that we are all the Church. The Council strongly affirmed the spiritual equality of all the People of God, both lay and ordained, and attempted to counter this elitism. We can continue this effort by returning to optional celibacy for our ministers. Optional celibacy will rebuild a healthy ministry, a balanced ministry, and a leadership anchored in the reality of the human condition.

Visit Voice of the Faithful’s website homepage and, under the heading “Mandatory Celibacy Should Not Limit the Priesthood,” find links to a VOTF’s paper A Brief History of Celibacy and VOTF’s Action Plan for 2013, Crisis in the Priesthood: Conversations about Celibacy, which contains links to other resources that can be used to help change the Church’s rules on mandatory celibacy.

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Could Priestly Celibacy Change under New Pope?

In Praise of Priestly Marriage

Growing up in New England around a community of former priests who considered themselves in exile from the Roman Catholic Church, author Peter Manseau often heard of a mythical-sounding place where ecclesiastic strictures like celibacy were more flexible than they were in parishes closer to home: South America.” By Peter Manseau, Op-Ed Contributor, The New York Times

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