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....