Friday, July 29, 2005

End of the Innocence?

Traditional Catholic Reflections & Reports ponders the state of mandatory celibacy.... Stephen writes:
I think [the end is near]. It is a matter of time. But while it is something we pray for and expect, it is not in any way a matter of dissent or rebellion on our part. God forbid. And it will only strengthen the higher calling of a more freely chosen celibacy from whose holy ranks the bishops will be drawn, as in the east.

I hope it is sooner than later, so that we can widen the pool of good candidates to guarantee our churches the Eucharist and other sacraments in the difficult and challenging days to come. For a long time now, married priest-converts from other denominations have been allowed into Catholic priesthood. Allowing married candidates who present themselves for seminary and priesthood is something we must reconsider, whether 'in economia' or along other theological lines.

This is worth a discussion.

For my part, I concur with the discipline in place -- the twin demands of priesthood and family are too great, and one inevitably has to give -- but if someone voices the right argument (not "Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene"), I'm open to a rethinking.

Let's get talkin', people. Contributions from worthy permoids are especially welcome.



Blogger Fred said...

I'd like to see the average parish pay a living wage for one or two priests with wives and kids . . .

29/7/05 22:33  
Blogger Ian said...

Just about every protestant deomination allows married clergy. That doesn't seem to have fixed their problems. Look somewhere else for a solution - this isn't it.

30/7/05 00:12  
Blogger CDE said...

This is a topic I'm pretty passionate about, so it deserves more than a soundbyte in a comments box. I'll probably dedicate a post on my site to it soon.

I did create several posts about it in December of 2003, at which time my home diocese was given a lot of attention after nearly 25% of the priests signed a letter asking that the Church begin considering a married priesthood in the West. I'm simply including a link to the month of December here. The posts in question appear between December 10 and 14... there was some good discussion in the comments boxes too.

While I would certainly submit to the Church if she decided to open priesthood in the West to married men, I really think that it's the wrong pastoral decision at this moment in the Church, that it would betray (and foster) a lack of faith, and that it would confirm in us our worst instincts about what life in the Church ought to look like.

I think the discussion has, in general, not been radical enough, in the sense of going to the roots of the question of what virginity means and what its value is in the life of the Church. It seems like a situation in which we are ready to relax a discipline without understanding what the discipline means first, which, arguably, is a mode of operation that has not served us very well in the last 30 years. I'm always troubled by the interpretation of the Council that sees in it a spirit of compromise and relaxation. I would argue that the Council's true spirit of aggiornamento has nothing to do with relaxation, but rather with ever more fervent efforts at a true evangelization, which never involves watering down the witness, but of making it superabundant according to the modes of expression that are most effective in a given time and culture.

So does clerical celibacy provide an evangelical witness that has meaning and value for our age? or not? I think the question has to be answered. Our pastoral practice has to mean something, not simply be a pragmatic response to a supposed crisis. Let's understand the values of the discipline before we decide it's time to take away the mandate for it... and maybe in the process we will discover that the discipline in its current form is the best way of expressing the evangelical witness intended by a virginal life.

This is the point Cantalamessa makes in his fine book entitled Virginity: A Positive Approach to Celibacy for the Sake of the Kingdom of Heaven.

Okay, enough for now. Thanks, Rocco, for raising the topic.

30/7/05 08:25  
Blogger Darwin said...

I don't normally find myself favorably quoting Andrew Greeley, but I think he had a pretty solid point when he wrote that if vocations are sparse a lot of it is because the majority of priests make very, very little effort to recruit any. If every priest was expected to report monthly to his bishop on what he'd done in order to encourage vocations (and if the bishop actually read and followed up on all the reports) we'd have a lot more vocations. I mean, how often do you hear a good, "This is why I became a priest" or "This is what it means to be a priest" sermon? I think I've heard all of two in the last ten years of weekly mass attendence.

Similarly, if we allowed married clergy but didn't institute such recruitment measures, we'd still have a shortage. From what I gather the inability to recruit male priests of any description was one of the things that encourage the Episcopalians to start ordaining women. And ordaining women has mainly just attracted 40-50+ women who look on being a priest as a second job after primary career and children.

30/7/05 22:39  
Blogger Disgusted in DC said...

Just wait until priest daughter up and gets herself pregnant, priest son joins the high school gay-straight alliance, or priest wife is admitted to the Betty Ford Clinic or a padded cell. One can imagine all the sanctimonious condemnation and bile directed at the priest by bigoted and unempathetic parishioners because the antics of the priest's family.

For this, and lots of other reasons, I don't see much good coming out of dropping the mostly mandatory celibacy requirements.

2/8/05 18:37  

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