Thursday, October 06, 2005


Thanks to the Fair Amy for sending this along.... Apparently, the story about Ratzinger asking the bishops of New York about their "views on returning to the tradition of a married clergy" is patently false.

National Catholic Reporter editor Tom Roberts writes

Quite a few of you have written or called me to ask why the paper has not run a story about a report that Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict, raised the issue of married priests in his most recent ad limina meeting with New York bishops.

NCR Vatican correspondent John L. Allen Jr. looked into the story and found out that the conversation between Ratzinger and some U.S. bishops never occurred.

Accounts of the alleged exchange have circulated on the Internet for weeks and were published in a recent newsletter of Call to Action, a progressive Catholic reform group in the United States.

The Call to Action publication attributed the report to Tom Fox, former publisher of NCR. Fox later retracted the story when he learned his source had heard the story secondhand.

Bishop Matthew Clark of Rochester, N.Y., cited in the report, told NCR Sept. 7 that the exchange did not happen, either with then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger or with John Paul II.

“I have no recollection of it at all,” Clark said. “I think I would remember it if it had happened. That question simply did not come up.”

Bishop Howard Hubbard of Albany, N.Y., who was also on the ad limina visit, confirmed Clark’s account. “It simply didn’t happen,” Hubbard told NCR Sept. 6.

Hmm. Well, think of it this way: as one cardinal said during the interregnum, if optional celibacy ever came, it wouldn't be because of the activists of the Global North....



Blogger Ephraem said...

Ah! What we in Oz call a furphy!

6/10/05 06:11  
Blogger Jon said...

Magna est veritas, et praevalet.

6/10/05 07:11  
Blogger BeatiImmaculati said...

Or as Jon so often says of himself and his opinions:

Ego sum Via, Veritas et Vita!

6/10/05 08:28  
Blogger DomFriar said...

I had assumed as much. In 1982, Cardinal Ratzinger assembled his Theologische Prinzipienlehre which was translated and published by Ignatius Press in 1987 under the title Principles of Catholic Theology. This collection includes a previously unpublish essay "The Community's 'Right' to the Eucharist" in which he takes up this exact question (ordaining married men to provide the Eucharist).

His conclusion is that the slogan means more than meets the eye---that the modern understanding of "community" is not used by Vatican II and that even though the entire Church is manifested in the Eucharist this does not meant that a community can provide for itself because a priori the Eucharist is a gift from the Lord. The Ordained Priesthood (represented fully by the bishop) is the manifestation that the local congregation has not provided for itself: the bishop and his priests represent the universal Church in the local congregation.

A solution to the priesthood shortage cannot come from the "top down" (i.e. changing the requirements for admission to the priesthood) since this would be a human organizational attempt to provide for what the Spirit only can. Ratzinger questions if in those places where the Church is unable to generate vocations to the priesthood or to inspire people to make a radical and celibate committment to the kingdom of God, if we can question whether or not the Eucharist itself is taken seriously or if it is being efficacious. It's the same line of though that connects the solidity of marriage with the call to virginity. Where one fails, the other does as well.

He took up this argument again in 2002 in a new collection of essays which was published by Ignatius Press in 2005 entitled _The Pilgrim Fellowship of Faith: The Church as Communion_. When speaking of ecclesial movements, he insists that the Latin tradition of celibacy has been the way the Latin Church has linked priesthood with charism since celibacy is obviously a personal charism of the Holy Spirit.

He writes, "The demand for separating the two [priesthood and celibacy] ultimately rests on the idea that priesthood ought to be regarded, not as a charismatic, but--for the sake of the institution and its needs--purely an office that can be assigned by the institution itself.... In that case, however, the Church as a whole is being understood as a merely human organization, and the security you are aiming for does not bring the results it is supposed to achieve."

6/10/05 10:09  
Blogger Ben said...

The Cardinal also never would have used the phrase "a return to the tradition of a married clergy". Because there is no such tradition. There is a tradition of a celibate priesthood. Matter of fact, the deaconate was a celibate office as well. The east gave this up long ago and I guess now you can say they have a tradition of a married clergy because it has been a long time since they gave up the former.

6/10/05 14:34  
Blogger Jimmy Mac said...

Ben,my boy: read your history. There was a long tradition of married clergy before celibacy was imposed. Why do you think celibacy was instituted? One of the big reasons was to prevent the passing down of church property from father (Father) to son (sometimes Father, as well.)

6/10/05 16:04  
Blogger Ben said...

Don't just read the history you want to read Jimmy Mac. Married men in the early church were required to discontinue living with their wives when they became ordained. Eventually, seminarians were only chosen from the unmarried. Of course there were always problems and coruptions due to the fact that it was possible to be a priest and married (even though against church law). And you get the father to son problem you mentioned. So throughout the centuries the church had to contiuously reiterate it's stance on celibacy for the clergy. Just because the church deals with certain problems in certain times of history does not mean the church at that time is just coming up with the idea. To say the church imposed celibacy on the entire clergy because a few were doing wrong makes no sense. What about the Bishops.. did they have a "tradition of being married" also? When was it opposed on them? My stance is that Celibacy is of Apostolic origin.

6/10/05 17:10  

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