Tag Archive: falling in love with a priest


In or out of the community?

 

We are all born in families. Although it’s hard to define exactly what a family is, we all know the good times. Maybe we don’t remember all the details of a family feast but we simply remember that we had joy and fun in those moments. We felt one as a team. The family is a micro society. The Catholic Church belongs to a macro society. But it’s still based on the same principles. We all remember the good times when we were celebrating in the Catholic church.

We became grown ups in faith. We started to question some practices or beliefs……trouble started brewing. Just by asking what others accept unconditionally put us as non-believers. Others started to go away in our presence. Others reported us to higher authorities. We felt that we simply couldn’t connect with the people who gave us our faith! Maybe they will never feel or appreciate our walk of faith. We felt as if our home did not exist any more.

Imagine if the one who is disagreeing with the teaching of the church is a priest! There will be some people who will say that they are completely scandalised! (lost faith). Others see a ray of hope that maybe the priests of tomorrow will be different.

There are people who try to minimise the damage by saying that the priest needs a lot of prayers and support. What these people don’t realise though, that it’s not simply the problem of one priest. Many faithful people are asking the same questions. Shall we deal with these questions or shall we just label that one single priest?

We always believe in the community. All the gospel points to a community based church. We cannot undone what the gospel has built. Yet, there is always an uncomfortable question: when does the community kill my faith? We are not extremists. We are not in favour of the community no matter what! We believe that the community has to take care of the individual and the individual has to contribute towards the community. Yet in real life there are moments when some individuals look deeply into some issues and propose some practical solutions. The community has political games too. Some ideas are promoted or are lost not because of the idea in itself but rather to some sinister lobbying or other political games.

This kills the community spirit. In fact from that day onwards, some individuals may look elsewhere to continue living their beliefs. This is the case of the married priests. Although most of the world will look into the romance story, the married priest is one who looks differently into what we are supposed to believe and live (in a religious sense). In some cases, he has decided to marry his parishioner or friend, because they agree on many principles, contrary to most of the remaining parishioners. This closeness brings them to marriage and of leaving the community.

Others, because of various reasons, may still prefer to remain in the parish and try to convert the others to their thinking. In most cases, the priest will be misunderstood and none of the conservative type of parishioners will change their mind. The good priest will feel all alone and in the area of the lost team.

We feel that the married priest or other priests who have left officially the church should start their own communities. This is because the Catholic Church is inclined to keep all the old ways alive. Hence it’s so difficult to have a real update on what we should really believe in and how can we live our faith in today’s world.

There are countless stories about priests who were successful in this kind of journey. They have been successful in bringing back to faith many people who were classified as ‘non-believers’. Others have approached God and saw him in a completely different way. One needs simply to google such stories.

Many have put their hopes in Pope Francis. Although we wish to have high hopes in his charismatic way of working with people, yet we still feel that the church is far away from a good update of its ways of reaching God. There have been so many changes in life, and the way humanity deals with them, that we strongly think that we need more than just one good Pope to bring about the much needed change.

We firmly believe that once a priest is always a priest. All the priests who left active priesthood are still priests because the ordination (like baptism and the confirmation), cannot be undone. Hence the question if they are still priests is meaningless.

These priests (wrongly referred to as ‘ex-priests’), have to answer the call from several parts of the world, from baptised people in order to help them in their walk of faith. Such a priest cannot refuse to offer his services (as stated in the law of the church – please refer to 21 laws which justify the use of married priests).

 

History of Married Popes

Talking to people about married priesthood, makes us realise that most of the people have been brainwashed for a very long time. The way some people look at us, give us the impression that we are either crazy people or else they treat us as if we are great manipulators. They suspect that we are playing around. Something must be wrong in our heads!!! Well with the help of the internet everybody can check the facts. There is no need to buy expensive books which are written in a very difficult language. Our readers can check for themselves who has been taking the people for a ride! Today we are presenting  some FACTS: Popes who had children, either legally or illegally.

There were early Church leaders who were married. We are indebted to Dr. Fulliga for his research work. Well done!

He identified 7 Popes who were married. They were St. Peter the Apostle; St. Felix III (483 – 492 who had 2 children); St. Hormidas (514 – 523, who had a son); St. Silverus (536 – 537, who had a daughter); Clement IV (1265 – 1268, who had 2 daughters) and Felix V (1439-1449, who had a son).

Then, he listed 11 Popes who were sons of other Popes and other clergy.

They were St. Damascus I (366-348); St. Innocent I (401-417); Boniface (418-422); St. Felix (483-492); Anastacius II (496-498); St. Agapitus I (535-536); St. Silverus (536-537); Deusdedit (882-884); Boniface VI (896-896); John XI (931-935); John XV (989-996).

Then, he listed at least 6 Popes who had illegitimate children after 1139. The date is very material because it was in 1139 that celibacy was reiterated in the Second Lateran Council. The 6 Popes were in office from 1484 to 1585.

They were Innocent VIII (1484-1492); Alexander VI (1492-1503) A unique Pope indeed. This Pope needs a whole library full of books to study all his deeds……!!!; Julius Paul III (1503-1513); Paul III (1534-1549); Pius IV (1559-1565); and Gregory XIII (1572-1585).

By way of footnote, Alexander VI was the father of Cesare and Lucrezia Borgia and many others. Alexander VI’s reign was scandalously marked by libertinism and nepotism that Julius II reportedly forbade under pain of excommunication any mention of Alexander VI and any Borgia.

Dr. Fulliga summarises his thoughts in four main points:

* Mandatory clerical celibacy reduces the Roman Catholic sacraments from seven to six as no one can receive both ordination and matrimony.

* Mandatory celibacy for Catholic clergy would mean the continuing decrease in the number of priests and the increasing number of sexual scandals as is going on now.

* The Catholic Church allows matrimony for clergy of the Eastern rite although married clergy cannot become bishops.

* Why does the Roman Catholic Church allow married Protestant clergy who convert to Roman Catholicism to become priests while denying the same privilege to its own clergy?

Now please when talking to church people, make sure you present these facts. Show them that you already did your research work and that you  don’t accept any BS. Facts cannot be altered. You are on the right side. Nobody has brainwashed you. You are looking at some facts throughout history.

One final question: why did they hide this information for such a long time?

 

Not all married priests or other priests involved in a relationship can come forward and be public about it. Sometimes we take it for granted that we enjoy full rights in all parts of the world. Well, although we are living in the year 2014 it doesn’t mean that everybody accepts a married priest in the Catholic Church, especially in some European countries. In a way it is understood. After so many years of brain washing, now people in the church view a friendship of a priest with a woman as sinful or wrong. But that should not be the attitude of the Church which is based on the gospel and the early lives of the apostles.

Notwithstanding some negative attitudes, there is some hope. The young people of today, although unfortunately they are not experts of theology nor of the bible, feel that there is nothing wrong with having married priests. Discussing the issue with some young people (not all of them though), they see a married priest as one who is in a better position to understand their life and its challenges. Other older people, like many people of their age, are the ones who understand best the situation. Notwithstanding some prejudices, the older people are the best people to see for advice.

But today let’s focus on the couple: the priest and his wife. Do they have an easy life? We’ve been telling many couples, that although we are all in favour of married priesthood, they should prepare themselves for some challenging times. Some of the wives have to bear the grunt or the criticism of the parish people where sometimes she is viewed as the one who took away their priest…..others call her by some strong names such as a b……..Others have suffered consequences on their professional lives. Some of them had to change town or city.

The big problem is where to live. In most cases the priests depend entirely either on their family or their new spouse. Some family members would shun their so called ‘ex-priest’ because they find themselves under the spotlight. It’s very difficult to convince them that there is no ex-priest as once a priest is always a priest!

The priest himself has suffered consequences because after all that training and experience, most probably he is not allowed to work in a parish, even though parishes are dying out because of lack of priests!! It’s shameful that it treats them in this way. The priest in most cases needs to find a full time job. We try to give a professional advice on what kind of job he might be able to do, although we don’t know the requirements and working conditions of his country.

On the other hand, it is an advantage because he can start his own community and start accepting people who were left out of the ‘normal Catholic community’. In that sense the priest would start seeing things from the point of view of these people. It could be the initiation of a new spiritual journey for the married priest. Obviously not all priests would like to continue working as a priest. In most cases they abandon their priestly work forever. We cannot force anybody but we just pray and talk to these priests to show them that their work is badly needed, especially as the number of priests is dwindling down.

On the other hand, now that he cannot ask for money as was his normal way of doing things in the church, now he has to find a full time job. Normally it has nothing to do with the church, unfortunately. Most priests though, do not know how to put into writing their experience in the parish to manage other similar jobs, albeit in a different working environment. They need professional help in order to re-write their CVs.

But what is the first step to do after taking the decision to marry his love of his life? Our opinion is that the couple needs first and foremost to settle down as a couple. Like any other couple, romance or dreaming is one thing, living together is another thing. How is the priest as a husband (not exactly the same one she saw preaching and being available to the others…..)? The same goes for the priest. It’s one thing to see an attractive woman, dressed to kill and it’s another thing to wake up with her and seeing her without any make-up! One day or another they are going to have some conflicts as any other normal couple after all. But the way they manage their conflicts is very important. It could be the end or maturation of their relationship.

Living with a woman 24/7 is surely a new experience for the priest. His wife needs to adapt her mind and will to live full time with her dream – man and priest. They need to start sharing all things between them, the good and the bad days. Some priests who have lived their whole life giving orders or having the last say may find themselves in difficulties in order to admit that they are wrong or that they need the advice of somebody. On another level, they cannot expect their wife to fulfil all his needs, as was the custom in the parish.

Being a priest is not a part-time job. A man who has chosen to become a priest did so because of number of reasons. Some priests might have second thoughts on leaving the parish. The guilt feeling might become so strong that it makes his life miserable. This is the reason why always ask the priest to distinguish between a moment of crisis and a new life decision. A moment of crisis could be resolved without making any big changes. A new life decision would always involved turning one’s life to a different direction.

Sadly some priests need a new direction in life, but because of social pressure, they may decide to go back to the parish with some fundamental questions unresolved! In other words they go back just because they are afraid of gossip and judgemental people.

As this is your website, we would like to receive your comments and/or questions about this subject. Please don’t hesitate to make this website full of your opinions and what you really think about it.

 

The priest who is in crisis

 

 

 

 

We were brought up in a society where the priest used to be one of the pillars of society. We see him in our greatest moments in our life: baptism; confirmation; marriage; funeral; reconciliation etc….We speak to him whenever we have doubts, sins, worries, difficulties etc…Indirectly we expect him to be a man for all seasons.

Yet the million dollar question is: is the priest that strong? What makes a priest become frail, weak or fragile?

One thing which is obvious is that we expect too much from one person. In reality, the priest studies about philosophy (it’s about thinking in an abstract manner) and theology (study about God). Most of his studies are done in theoretical manner. In real life, everything is different. It’s one thing to study about God and it’s another thing when one has doubts about God. So although he is fully qualified to speak about some issues, he has never lived these issues in his intimate life. This should bring about a radical change in the priests’ training scheme. Is it ok to ordain priests who are so young? Is it ok to ordain priests who have never ventured out of their nest? Is it ok to have priests coming from the so called ‘good families’?

Let’s forget all about his studies. Let’s assume for once that he is fully qualified for the job. The priest is expected to deal with relationships challenges; he is expected to lead a community of believers of various ages and cultures; he is expected be a good manager… and the list goes on. How many things do parishioners expect their priest to do? On the other hand, one of the most urgent needs in today’s parishes is that most probably he is expected to live all alone. So while he leads other people, he himself might be facing a mountain of challenges which might be of faith; existential or relationship ones. In most cases he does not have a person of trust with whom he can talk to. This leads to frustration and boredom.

Ironically, he finds himself talking to a woman and most of the time, without knowing it, he might be starting a relationship. In many cases, the woman herself is surprised to find a man who is available to talk to a woman about his feelings, thinking etc…This in itself is an attraction for some woman as they hate men who just talk about sex or other tedious or insipid subjects.

Some married priests have experienced this kind of introduction, although we remind our readers that we can never generalise as there are different kinds of relationship initiation for married priests.

The advantage of the married priests is that without forgetting or turning aside the training they received in the seminary (training grounds for future priests), they are experiencing a normal family life where experience enriches their philosophical and theological training. The fact that they are leading a family life is giving them enough training how to manage and preach the gospel in the life of today. It’s not easy to talk about the young people when his own teenagers are sitting in the first row!!! When he is talking about relationships or marriage, his wife is part of the congregation too!! He cannot tell lies or just speak beautiful words. If he is not capable of leading his family than all his congregation would see it. On the other hand leading a family gives him energy and talents to guide the larger community (parish).

 

 

 

 

We are happy enjoying the show……..that’s what most people comment when asked for their comments at the cinema or the theatre. We are in a comfortable zone so why bother? Are we happy to be passive in our life? Do we wish to take the driver’s seat and give our life a different direction? Let’s copy the example of the brave 26 women in Italy and speak out in front of others….

We have received many emails from all over the world with hundreds of unique stories….they all have different colours and shades. Some with a happy ending and some with a tragic one but they are all beautiful as they show the beauty of trying to live a life to the full by indulging or listening to human emotions. One of the most requested pleas is ‘please just keep it between the two of us’. Don’t publish it. Let’s make it clear: we are never going to publish something against the person’s wish. We tend to value trust more than any other value. The value of trust from our readers remains number one for us. Yet we humbly appeal to all: let’s look at the big picture. How can we persuade others of married priesthood if we continue to keep our stories in the dark? We know that besides these 26 there are many more intimate and loving relationships with priests. If they are just 26 women they can easily be classified as heretics or something similar….yet if the number runs into thousands, then it’s not just a number.

To reach a compromise with those living these love stories we offer to change the details in some cases so as to protect both the priest and his lover. We can take out some personal details or comments. Yet, in the long run, history won’t change unless we take an active role. Coming out we realise it’s not easy. Nobody likes to put his/her relationships under the spotlight. Yet there is no other way to convince the mainstream Catholic people unless they know how many priests are involved. Let’s show them how much a priest improves spiritually and offers true counselling to other married couples since he fell in love with somebody. Let’s show them that such an intimate relationship is not a hindrance to his pastoral work but rather he feels enhanced and encouraged. His wife helps him understand the femmine way of humanity. The celibate priest can only imagine and dream about women. The married priest lives with one 24/7. Most probably he has children too. So he is a true father again 24/7. If he preaches to the teens of today, most probably he has his own son or daughter who listens to his homilies……he has to preach the truth in front of his congregation as they can easily gauge his success with his own children!!

Let’s start speaking about married priesthood to other people. Some people may be gifted to speak on TV or radio. Let’s put married priesthood on the agenda or on the discussion table. Let’s take away any prejudices against married priesthood. Let’s speak about the lack of priests in many parts of the world. Let’s speak about the need of the eucharist every Sunday, not once a year!

Speaking as an editor of this blog I can testify that whenever we publish a true story of love between a woman and a priest, readers run into hundreds. People do read such stories. They ask questions. They feel encouraged that they are not alone. One of our readers wrote that she was crying when she discovered that her story was not the only one on earth! Others are happy of finding a website which discusses such relationships.

People cannot compare between married priesthood and celibate priests unless they experience both paths of spirituality. We always tend to compare with past history in the Catholic Church. Now one of the biggest advantages of the Second Vatican Council was to listen to the signs of the times. Common people see a great value in married priesthood nowadays. There are so many surveys which prove that the people are ready for such a change in the church. It’s a practical sign that the Holy Spirit is blowing. How long can we keep our minds or ears shut? Better, who can stop the Holy Spirit from bringing the necessary changes?

We are still surprised that the news of married priesthood (that we published in the last post) did not reach mainstream Catholics. Many news journalists ignored this kind of news. We are still hopeful though that the people of God are interested in having married priests. This is our main point. It’s not something that we wish to promote but rather we are being the ones who are publishing what other people utter in small groups or gatherings of few people. In other words we are being the voice of those who are afraid to say so in public. There are many surveys worldwide which amply show that people are all in favour of married priesthood.

Many priests are in favour of married priesthood too but like many baptised people are afraid to handle this hot potato in public! There is a certain kind of strange fear. This kind of fear is won by more people speaking, discussing and asking for married priesthood. This is one of our main goals of the website. We have met many people who were unaware of such situation in the church.

Catholics all over the world have to understand that with the power of the internet, we have to put up more places where other people hear what we have to say. We can use social media in order to get our message across. We can use several types of communication but obviously we have to be strong and persistent. No change comes easy. We have to convince and make ourselves heard in many parts of the Catholic World. It’s not a pie in the sky. We, that is all baptised people, have to work hard for it.

In our opinion, married priesthood is not just to have more priests but rather to bring about a new vision in the church: the point of view of a priest who is living in the ‘world’ and facing the same challenges as many other common people. This is not discussed in most of the articles which are written in favour of married priests.

We are doing our own survey on the teaching of the Catholic church. Please answer truthfully. Here is the link : http://tinyurl.com/n3vszo3

[If it doesn't take you to the link just copy it and place it in a new tab in your browser]

Here is now an article of our friend Alex Walker who writes in The Tablet.
A married priesthood would right many wrongs
12 April 2014 by Alex Walker

Pope Francis has indicated he is open to the possibility of allowing married priests, but as The Tablet reported a few weeks ago, he says it is up to individual bishops’ conferences to reach a consensus on the issue first and then petition Rome.

Francis made these startling comments to Bishop Erwin Kräutler, a visiting Austrian bishop who works deep in the Amazonian rainforest and has 300 deacons and only 27 priests for Brazil’s largest diocese, Xingu, where many Catholics can only receive the Eucharist a couple of times a year.

Coming from South America, Pope Francis will understand more than most about the need for priests and the nurturing of faith through the celebration of the Eucharist because there are many dioceses there in the same situation as Bishop Kräutler’s.

If the celibacy rule were lifted, a large number of the 300 deacons in Xingu could consider priesthood and therefore have the ability to preside at the Eucharist and the other Sacraments.

In England and Wales there are 2,282 secular priests and 788 deacons. Some of these deacons will have a calling to priesthood. Although the Church won’t release the figures, the support group Advent estimates that in the last 50 years as many as 10,000 priests in England and Wales have left ordained ministry in order to marry.

Some have argued that a drought of vocations to the priesthood is because of a lack of faith on the part of the faithful; we do not need to change the rule concerning celibacy, rather we need to increase the faith of Catholics so they hear the call of Jesus to serve him in the priesthood.

Others argue, and I would be one, that there is no shortage of candidates for the priesthood, but there is a shortage of celibate candidates for the priesthood.

The Church’s insistence on a celibate priesthood is starving the vast majority of Catholics today. Jesus’ imperative of “Feed my Lambs, feed my sheep” is being frustrated for the sake of the discipline of a celibate clergy.

There are priests like myself who when leaving the priesthood to marry went through the long and painful process of applying for dispensation from clerical celibacy. Others refused to put themselves through the ignominy of the process and simply married in a register office.

The terms of the dispensation stipulate that we cannot even serve the Church by preaching, distribute Communion, teach in higher education or hold any kind of pastoral office, and we have to keep away from places where we were known as priests. Some priests would consider returning to active service if their rescript of dispensation from clerical celibacy were rescinded .

The Catholic Church in England and Wales, via the establishment of the Ordinariate, has proved that a married Catholic priesthood is not only possible and acceptable to the vast majority of Catholics but brings with it an additional dimension to the priesthood.

Now that Pope Francis appears to be giving greater authority to bishops’ conferences they need to be brave in finding a solution, in consultation with their dioceses, to the shortage of priests and offering Pope Francis and the Church a way forward. It has been staring them in the face and requires courage and belief that a married priesthood working alongside celibate priests will not bring the Church to its knees but could enrich it.

Alex Walker is the director of Advent, a support group for men and women and their partners who have left the active ministry or religious life.

http://www.thetablet.co.uk/blogs/1/351/a-married-priesthood-would-right-many-wrongs

The pope has truly started an incredible wind of change in the Catholic Church. Is it because he is a pastor who mingles with the common people ? We might never know. What we know for sure is that the word impossible is not to be found in his dictionary!! For many many people this issue is more relevant than married priesthood. Yet if priests are not married, can they put forward the issue of divorce? We stronly believe that married priests bring forward many more issues which are still under the carpet of the Catholic Church.

In the second article that we are publishing, we are stating black on white that the bible is NOT so clear on divorce. Please ignore many homilies done by priests who are not well versed in the bible. Many of the priests are simply brainwashed and they are repeating what they’ve heard in the seminary. Very few of them did profound biblical studies!!! Please note tha the second article was published BEFORE the pope commented about divorced persons.

Enjoy your reading once again with some incredible stories and thinking……!!!!

Pope Francis has phoned an Argentine woman who is married to a divorced man to tell her she can take Communion – something that most priests do not allow following the Catholic teaching.

According to The Telegraph, Jacqui Lisbona wrote a letter to the Bishop of Rome and the leader of the worldwide Catholic Church, saying her local priest had declined to give her Communion, because she was married to a man who was previously divorced.

Lisbona and her previously divorced husband had a civil wedding ceremony, because they are not allowed to be married in church.

“[The local priest] told me that every time I went home, I was going back to living in sin,” Lisbona wrote in the letter.

In her letter, Lisbona, who has two teenage daughters with her current husband of 19 years, expressed her apprehension that if she received Communion from a priest who is not familiar with her marriage background she would be violating the Catholic Church teaching.

Pope Francis phoned the letter sender at her home in the central region of Santa Fe on Easter Monday, April 21.

The Pope reportedly told Lisbona: “a divorcee who takes communion is not doing anything wrong.”

“There are some priests who are more papist than the Pope,” Pope Francis reportedly said in response to the priest who denied giving Lisbona a Communion.

Scripture’s not so clear on divorce

The debate about whether those in so-called “irregular marriages” should be readmitted to Holy Communion is a hot topic. People, including some of the cardinals, are weighing in on all sides and if we are not careful, it could become a singularly unedifying spectacle. We would do well to heed Paul’s warning about the dangers of forming factions (1 Corinthians 11:18) when we come to the Eucharist. My own involvement with the discussion dates back to the early 1990s when I produced a report for the Marriage and Family Life Committee of the Bishops’ Conference, before going on to complete my PhD at Heythrop College on the question of pastoral care in this field.

I am greatly encouraged that Pope Francis has invited the whole Church to prepare for and contribute to the synod in the autumn. Surely this requires that we listen to one another in charity and try to discern what the Lord wants? The fact that Cardinal Walter Kasper was invited to address the College of Cardinals at the recent consistory is significant, because he has long advocated that we ask ourselves whether the present discipline is a true reflection of what the Gospel envisages. Using scriptural quotations out of context to back up established positions – technically called proof-texting – is one of the pitfalls that awaits anyone who enters into theological dialogue, and that’s why I sincerely hope that eminent Scripture scholars play a significant role at the synod in October.

When I was undertaking my research I met those who condemned the bishops of England and Wales for inviting me to undertake the work, arguing that the Scriptures and the Church’s unbroken tradition were unambiguous.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Certainly, Matthew (5:32 and 19:3-9), Mark (10:1-12), Luke (16:18) and Paul (1 Corinthians 7:10-16), all make it clear that Jesus clearly taught that divorce was not part of the Father’s plan. However, in Mark 10 and in Matthew 19, the teaching is a response to the Pharisees’ challenge over the fact that Moses allowed divorce, so Jesus is offering guidance relating to all marriages of all time, not just what later came to be defined as Christian marriage.

It is worth noting this because much of the debate and some of the uncertainty comes from the so-called “exception clauses”. They occur in both of the references in Matthew and in Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians. Matthew’s Greek word, porneia, is variously translated in English as “fornication”, “adultery” or even “unchastity”, but there is no agreement among the scholars as to the particular group of people for whom Matthew is seeking to interpret Jesus’ teaching.

On the other hand there is no doubt at all about the situation Paul has in mind when writing to the Corinthians: those for whom the conversion to Christianity of one of the partners is the cause of an irreparable breakdown. It came to be know as the Pauline Privilege and was ultimately extended to embrace any marriage in which one of the partners was not a baptised Christian (this is now known as the Petrine Privilege).

Therefore in practice the Church has found and can find ways of dissolving any marriage bond which is not between two baptised people – in other words the majority of marriage bonds in human history.

Add to this the Church’s willingness to adopt Roman jurisprudence and annul even supposedly indissoluble sacramental bonds when there is deemed to be sufficient evidence to suggest that there was something defective in the consent of the couple – and you have an added complication in trying to present to the wider world an uncompromising position on the consequences of marital breakdown.

Many Catholics are dismayed and confused by the Church’s teaching and pastoral practice and in some cases they feel abandoned by the Church and therefore rejected by Christ. How does this square with the fact that throughout his public ministry Jesus sought out and dined with all the wrong people, especially those who had been rejected by the religious leaders of his day? The teaching Church has much to ponder at the forthcoming synod. I hope and pray that the Holy Spirit will enable us reverently to listen to one another and discern a way forward.

Fr Timothy J Buckley is a Redemptorist and parish priest of Our Lady of the Annunciation (Bishop Eton) and St Mary’s, Woolton, Liverpool. An edited version of Fr Buckley’s thesis – What binds marriage? Roman Catholic theology in practice – is available here. He has recently sent a copy to Pope Francis.

This kind of news is truly incredible. I cannot hide my excitement and joy. I’m updating the blog on a Friday instead of the usual Sunday as I cannot wait till Sunday to break the news to all our loyal readers.  There were many people who had lost faith in the Catholic Church. Others who accused us of alienating the people with our married priest concept. Others classified our work as totally heretical. Others shared out thoughts but were very sceptical about ever reaching our goal. Well it seems that what was considered heretical or totally not Catholic, the Pope had the courage to say yes. He is a true pastor who knows the needs of the church. We cannot let many communities without celebrating the Eucharist. It’s a great challenge for the Church. Obviously we are still waiting for the official go ahead from the Vatican but we are full of hope that it will happen soon. This is the wind of change which nobody can stop. These are the signs of the times which we always wrote about. It is the Holy Spirit who is blowing and calling the church for changes.  Let’s pray more in the coming months!

We are publishing the full article as published on the internet by Christa Pongratz-Lippitt

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.

“I told him that as bishop of Brazil’s largest diocese with 800 church communities and 700,000 faithful I only had 27 priests, which means that our communities can only celebrate the Eucharist twice or three times a year at the most,” Bishop Kräutler said. “The Pope explained that he could not take everything in hand personally from Rome. We local bishops, who are best acquainted with the needs of our faithful, should be corajudos, that is ‘courageous’ in Spanish, and make concrete suggestions,” he explained. A bishop should not act alone, the Pope told Kräutler. He indicated that “regional and national bishops’ conferences should seek and find consensus on reform and we should then bring up our suggestions for reform in Rome,” Kräutler said.

Asked whether he had raised the question of ordaining married men at the audience, Bishop Kräutler replied: “The ordination of viri probati, that is of proven married men who could be ordained to the priesthood, came up when we were discussing the plight of our communities. The Pope himself told me about a diocese in Mexico in which each community had a deacon but many had no priest. There were 300 deacons there who naturally could not celebrate the Eucharist. The question was how things could continue in such a situation.

“It was up to the bishops to make suggestions, the Pope said again.”

Bishop Kräutler was then asked whether it now depended on bishops’ conferences, as to whether church reforms proceeded or not. “Yes,” he replied. “After my personal discussion with the Pope I am absolutely convinced of this.”

Last September the Vatican Secretary of State, then-Archbishop Pietro Parolin – who was then Apostolic Nuncio to Venezuela – answered a question put to him by El Universal newspaper by stating that priestly celibacy “is not part of church dogma and the issue is open to discussion because it is an ecclesiastical tradition”. “Modifications can be made, but these must always favour unity and God’s will,” he said. “God speaks to us in many different ways. We need to pay attention to this voice that points us towards causes and solutions, for example the clergy shortage.”

In 2006 Brazilian Cardinal Claudio Hummes issued a clarification in the Holy See Bollettino reiterating his support of church teaching and tradition just hours after telling a Sao Paolo newspaper: “Celibacy is a discipline, not a dogma of the Church … Certainly, the majority of the apostles were married. In this modern age, the Church must observe these things, it has to advance with history.”

The topic of ordaining “viri probati” was raised with a question mark over it in a speech by Cardinal Angelo Scola of Venice, at the October 2005 Synod on the Eucharist – the first synod of Pope Benedict XVI.

“To confront the issue of the shortage of priests, some … have put forward the request to ordain married faithful of proven faith and virtue, the so-called viri probati,” he said. Cardinal Scola, who read his speech in Latin in the presence of Pope Benedict, did not say which bishops from which countries had suggested discussing the ordination of older married men.

Above: Lay Catholics have become familiar with the sight of married priests who were formerly in the Anglican or Lutheran Churches, or who minister in international dioceses of Eastern Rite Churches such as the Maronite Church. (From The Tablet at http://www.thetablet.co.uk/news/659/0/pope-says-married-men-could-be-ordained-priests-if-world-s-bishops-agree-on-it-)

 

Although most of our readers did not study theology (study about God), the argument of married priest cannot be discussed properly without any knowledge of theology. It is this kind of theology which people may quote for or against married priesthood. Today we are presenting a short history of the arguments in favour or against. We hope to be of help to our readers in order to understand the argument for married priesthood better.

By Richard R. Gaillardetz

It is very difficult to have a productive conversation about the possibility of a married priesthood in the Roman Catholic Church. For some Catholics, any discussion of a change in the church’s current discipline constitutes either an attack on the priesthood itself or a capitulation to a secular culture that cannot appreciate the spiritual gifts that a celibate priesthood offers the church. Some Catholics support a married priesthood as a way to argue against priestly celibacy, which they regard as an antiquated discipline that is anti sex and at least indirectly responsible for the clerical sex-abuse crisis. Still others will argue for a married priesthood as a necessary pastoral response to the shortage of priests: the people of God, they say, have a right to the Eucharist, and that right trumps any spiritual or pastoral value in a celibate priesthood. Frequently, advocates of a married priesthood will point out that ecumenical accommodations have already been made for married Protestant ministers who convert to Catholicism, but those cases remain the exceptions to the rule. What is needed today is a constructive argument for a married priesthood in the Latin Church that is neither a pastoral/ecumenical accommodation nor a repudiation of priestly celibacy.

Any discussion of the relationship between celibacy and priesthood needs to distinguish between three different “logics” that have governed the practice of committed celibacy in the tradition. We find the first logic in the words of Jesus commending those who freely become “eunuchs for the kingdom” (Matthew 19). We might speak of this as celibacy’s prophetic witness to the values of the reign of God. According to this logic, one chooses a life of committed celibacy and renounces the sexual intimacy and companionship of marriage in order to enter into the paschal mystery in a distinctive way and give public witness to its transformative power.

This logic is not anti sex: those who freely choose this way of life can also give witness to the liberating power of authentic sexuality, in part by resisting the contemporary tendency to reduce sexuality to sexual acts. This kind of prophetic witness invites all Christians to consider anew their own call to exercise the virtue of chastity, whatever the particular circumstances of their lives. A crucial characteristic of this logic is the presumption that the person considering a celibate way of life actually possesses a charisma for celibacy. For those who recognize that charisma in their lives, celibacy can be both demanding and fruitful. Without such a charisma, however, celibacy can become a sterile burden. Prophetic celibacy first emerged in the witness of hermits and monks and continued to flourish in later forms of consecrated life. It has no intrinsic connection with the ministerial priesthood.

A second logic for celibacy, characterized by a concern for both moral and ritual purity, appears with particular force in the fourth and fifth centuries. Before examining this logic, we should recall a basic distinction: sexual continence refers to abstinence from sexual relations, whereas celibacy refers to forgoing marriage (and of course presumes sexual continence as well). The logic of purity sees the sexual continence of the clergy not as a freely embraced charisma but as a canonical obligation intended to preserve the purity of the priest in view of his holy office. When it became difficult to ascertain whether married priests were observing sexual continence before celebrating the Eucharist, bishops and regional synods began calling not just for priestly continence but also for priestly celibacy.

The logic of purity is constructed around a selective appropriation of the norms governing the Levitical priesthood, as presented in the Old Testament. This logic treats sexual activity as a form of ritual defilement. It also draws on ancient Stoic suspicions of human sexuality. Sex, even in marriage, is viewed largely as a concession to natural appetites and to the necessity of procreation. Partly as a consequence of this second logic, sexual continence and eventually celibacy would become a canonical obligation for priests in the Latin Church.

Finally, there is a third logic for celibacy, what we might call the logic of ministerial freedom. This logic sees celibacy as providing a greater freedom for Gospel service because the minister is not preoccupied with familial obligations. (A fourth logic emerged in the early Middle Ages as a way of protecting church property from the inheritance claims of the clergy’s offspring, but this logic lacks a properly theological foundation and so will not be considered here.) Note that the logic of ministerial freedom, like the logic of prophetic witness, assumes the presence of a charisma, without which celibacy will be experienced only as a burden, not as a gift.

As long as celibacy was intended to preserve ritual purity, it made sense for it to be a canonical obligation for all priests. According to the logic of purity, the point of forbidding priests to marry was just to prevent them from engaging in sexual activity, which was judged to be incompatible with their cultic function. Since the Second Vatican Council, however, this logic has been largely abandoned (for good reasons). So we are left with the logics of prophetic witness and ministerial service. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church,

All the ordained ministers of the Latin Church, with the exception of permanent deacons, are normally chosen from among men of faith who live a celibate life and who intend to remain celibate “for the sake of the kingdom of heaven.” Called to consecrate themselves with undivided heart to the Lord and to “the affairs of the Lord, they give themselves entirely to God and to men [and women]. Celibacy is a sign of this new life to the service of which the church’s minister is consecrated; accepted with a joyous heart celibacy radiantly proclaims the Reign of God. (1579)

But this leaves us with a difficulty. As Heinz Vogels argues in Celibacy: Gift or Law [2] (1993), a celibate life lived as prophetic witness and in genuine freedom for gospel service cannot be mandated by canonical obligation; it can emerge only as the free recognition and embrace of a particular charisma.

A better understanding of celibacy’s proper role in the church would require a better theology of vocation—one that properly distinguished between various ministries on the one hand and various forms of holiness on the other. Despite some helpful developments in its theology of vocation, the Second Vatican Council continued to draw on the traditional view of Christian vocation, configured around three alternative “states of life”: marriage, priesthood, and religious life. However, an alternative framework presents itself in the middle four chapters of

Lumen Gentium [3]. Chapters 3 (on the hierarchy) and 4 (on the laity) explore how the church is constituted by its different charisms and ministries. Chapters 5 and 6 are concerned with the call to holiness—the former with the perfection of charity to which all Christians are called, and the latter with the public witness to holiness offered by consecrated religious. What we see embedded in the order of these four chapters is not the traditional “three states” schema, but the outlines of a new schema constructed along two axes. The first is ministerial: Am I called to serve the church through the charisms I have received from baptism or through ordination? The second axis has to do with holiness and forms of Christian discipleship: Am I called to pursue that Christian holiness proper to all disciples of Jesus, or am I called to give a public witness to the demands of discipleship and the values of the reign of God through a form of public vowed life? This framework has the merit of unhinging the ministerial priesthood from any necessary relationship with either celibacy or marriage, since the call to priestly ministry would be realized along one axis, and the call to the single life, marriage, or committed celibacy along the second axis.

Some male religious communities have preserved this distinction by insisting that those seeking entrance into their community focus on their embrace of its charisma and apostolate before they explore the quite separate question of whether they are called to priestly ministry. The process for those entering the diocesan priesthood should be adapted along the same lines, so as to leave room for the possibility that a candidate for priestly ministry may not have a charisma for celibacy [4]. The lack of that charisma should not be thought to invalidate a vocation to the priesthood.

For much of the history of the Latin Church, priestly celibacy was defended according to the logic of purity: the priesthood was seen as essentially incompatible with the sexual intimacy of marriage. This logic depended on a rather harsh appraisal of the character of human sexuality. A much more positive theology of sexuality emerged in the twentieth century, offering the possibility of a new assessment of a married priesthood—one based on the recognition that Christian marriage is not an alternative to an ascetical life, but a form of it.

I have no wish to demonize secular culture; grace is at work there too. Yet we cannot ignore the force of consumerism, which turns goods into commodities and encourages an “upgrade mentality,” even with respect to human beings. This mentality can make lifelong commitment appear almost nonsensical. At the same time, our culture’s preoccupation with romance and passion can make the mundane marital practice of companionship appear boring, laborious, and ultimately unnecessary. Consider the myth of Mr. or Ms. Right—the naïve conviction that there is one “right person” out there for each of us. This is a myth often underwritten by an inadequate understanding of divine providence and the misguided Christian conviction that God has intended “one person and only one person” for each of us who feel called to marriage. This myth can make the inevitable pains and disappointments within a marriage appear as indications that one has chosen the wrong person (“I see now that my spouse was not the right one”).

Against this cultural backdrop, authentic Christian married life will inevitably be counter cultural and prophetic. The public profession of marriage vows engages Christian spouses in a prophetic form of renunciation, a free embrace of limits for the sake of Christian witness and mission. The vows of marriage bind a couple together “for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health.” The faithful companionship to which Christian marriage calls us retains a vital and necessary ascetical character. Moreover, we must resist reducing marital lovemaking to “the thing celibates don’t get to do”; it, too, participates in the prophetic witness of marriage. Conjugal love is not constituted by a mere “right to the body of one’s spouse” (ius in corpus). In its potential for intimacy and vulnerability, as well as delight, and in its humble openness to new life, it is a sign of contradiction in a culture that commodifies sex and depreciates fidelity.

Christian married couples, like faithful celibate priests and consecrated religious, give prophetic witness to eschatological values associated with the coming of God’s reign: chastity, radical forgiveness, vulnerability, fidelity, hospitality, generosity, and gratitude.

Were leaders in the Latin Church to recognize the prophetic witness of Christian married life, they might look at the possibility of a married priesthood with new eyes. They might see that marriage, like committed celibacy, is a concrete form of the universal call to holiness that can fruitfully support priestly ministry. They might come to see a married priesthood not as a reluctant pastoral or ecumenical accommodation but as a genuine gift to the entire church. They might recognize in a married priesthood a valuable complement to a celibate priesthood, a form of life well suited for both ministry and prophetic witness. And if a married priesthood helped challenge the misuse of priestly celibacy as a support for clerical elitism, well, that wouldn’t be so bad either.

Richard R. Gaillardetz is the Joseph Professor of Catholic Systematic Theology at Boston College.

His books include: Keys to the Council: Unlocking the Teaching of Vatican II (co-authored with Catherine Clifford, Liturgical Press, 2012), When the Magisterium Intervenes (editor, Liturgical Press, 2012), Ecclesiology for a Global Church: A People Called and Sent (Orbis, 2008) and The Church in the Making (Paulist, 2006

 

We are so happy that a bishop of the Catholic Church had the guts to call a spade a spade! Although many people are so happy with the election of Pope Francis, yet after one year no change in laws was noticed. Practically all pastors are observing the same old law which hinders people from approaching God. It’s not enough to have a smiling and charismatic Pope, as we have seen during the papacy of Pope John Paul II, but somebody like Pope John XXIII who DID change the laws of the church.

People are educated to observe laws as otherwise chaos would reign all over. Yet if the laws remain unchanged, what will happen? We can testify that people simply have already discarded the outdated law of prohibition of contraceptives. Now, there are more laws concerning marriage which have been abandoned by Catholics especially in the Western Part of the world. We’ll continue with people coming to church (sometimes) and professing to be Catholic, yet in their own personal and private lives they adhere to a different form of religion, which is diametrically opposed to the official one.

It has been preached by many priests that our religion is not for sale, nor do we need to listen to what the majority says! Yet Pope John XXIII used to listen to the sign of the times which in political language would be listening to what the people are saying!! How can we be sure that what people say and want is wrong? How can we close God in the building of the church? How can we be sure that God speaks to priests only?!

No organisation can go without the support of the people. If the church looses it’s image in the eyes of the people, then there won’t be any vocations…which means a slow but sure death. We are already facing a priest-less church in Western Europe. Now the fact of sexuality is pushing people to find God elsewhere. We are loosing some fine young blood just for the sake of keeping some laws made by men or culture!

Again we present married priesthood as another helping asset in the church nowadays. Priests who have their own teenagers do know something about the young people of today. They are in a better position to say what the young people are looking for especially when facing their congregation with their own family members. These priests do have to encounter loss of faith; non-acceptance of the Church; different ways of expressing faith; different approach to sexuality etc…..They cannot hide their family situation which puts them in the spotlight in their own parish. The parish priest cannot be a good speaker without being a witness to faith because all the community can see how is managing his own family! It’s surely another aid for the priest in order to live a life much closer to the gospel. Let’s all pray that the present Pope would permit married priests in order to present a contemporary church, nearer to the people and God.

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