Bishop Kräutler: Pope Francis Asks for Suggestions to Change Mandatory Celibacy

Bishop Erwin Kräutler of Xingu, Brazil, originally from Austria, suggested in an interview in Die Presse on Thursday that there could be significant steps coming in the question of mandatory celibacy. This could be on a regional basis for places such as Latin America.

90% of all communities in the Amazon have no Sunday celebration of the Eucharist. 70% have Mass two or three times a year – otherwise a Liturgy of the Word is held. Kräutler’s diocese has 800 communities and 27 priests – “That says it all,” he comments.

Asked how the admission requirements for priestly ministry might be loosened, Kräutler said, “There are various possibilities. Celibacy should not have to be required for there to be a celebration of the Eucharist… One suggestion would be that we decouple celibacy from the Eucharistic celebration. That the celebration of the Eucharist is made dependent upon a celibate priest – I do not go along with this.”

“People have a right [to the Eucharist],” Kräutler said. “It is not a privilege.”

Asked if this means the rules have to change, the bishop replied, “Certainly, and I have also told the pope this. The pope is very open. He won’t have a recipe for immediate change. But the pope said to me in exact words: the bishops, the regional bishops’ conferences, should make brave, courageous suggestions.”

Bishop Kräutler told of his private audience with Pope Francis the beginning of April of this year. He has reported on the meeting to the Brazilian bishops’ conference. “Most likely a commission will be founded which will take up the ball and discuss, how can we help the pope? He called for proposals from us, this is his desire.”

As to whether Francis would implement such reforms, Kräutler said, “I hope so. Previously this process was not allowed. Benedict XVI said that we should pray for priestly vocations. With this pope, it is different. He wants to put a process into motion. This is the new thing. There are doors opening.”

Bishop Kräutler was asked about Francis having said that the door to women’s ordination is closed. “As long as the door is there…” he said wryly. “The door is not bricked shut. But I don’t believe women’s ordination will come under this pope.” He believes that the door should be opened – “But I don’t wish to act prematurely on this.”

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38 comments

  1. Bishop Erwin Kräutler: This could be on a regional basis for places such as Latin America.

    The Roman Church is not McDonald’s. Dispensations to ordain married men is not like trying out a new value meal in select test markets. I don’t think that test marketing optional celibacy will work. Either the Roman Rite throughout the world ordains married men to the secular presbyterate, or secular Roman priests remain celibate.

    Many before me have said this, but I’d like to repeat it: we must not only admit married men to the priesthood, but we must also bring back the category of priest simplex. Men who do not have the time for a seminary education or who are not inclined towards studies could be given a one year, one day a week practical education in ministry. These priests would receive no philosophical training, no Latin and Greek, brief exegetical training, and no training in the hearing of confession. These priests would celebrate Mass, baptisms, weddings and the like, but would be required to preach from a homilary (perhaps issued by the national episcopal conference?). A celibate priest would from time to time arrive to hear confessions, especially during Lent.

    The Greek church survived Ottoman occupation by ordaining priests simplex and relying on traveling mendicant monks for confession. This way, a town always had Divine Liturgy, even if their priest was illiterate and only knew to sing the liturgy by ear.

    People in the situation Bishop Kräutler describes do not need a newly-coined professor from the Gregorian. They need men who will give them the supersubstantial sacrament even if some are not called to be preachers or confessors. If some men are indeed called to be preachers and confessors, they could take the extra time to learn these skills and then receive faculties to preach and absolve.

  2. As a laicized married priest, part of me would like to see a change in the discipline, but we should never think that a married priesthood would solve every problem. It could in fact bring more problems of its own.

    A celibate priest never has to consider what his wife might think about what he is saying. He never has to worry about what his kids may do.

    I believe that there will be a married priesthood in the Latin rite, probably within my lifetime, but it may not be the cure all that some may think it will be.

  3. I think the cure we’re looking for is accessibility to the Eucharist. How a priest handles a wife and children are the business of a mature family man. Not a pampered little monster, so to speak.

    The other alternative–even more of a shocker–is to permit lay people to preside at the Eucharist. Now that suggestion uncouples from two millennia of history, does it not?

  4. This discussion is growing in a way that was not possible a few years ago when it was considered as an “off the agenda” item by Rome and because of that so many bishops’ conferences haven’t dared touch the issue.
    The letters page of the Tablet (19th April) carried this letter under my signature.

    “The report in the Tablet (April 12th 2014) that “Ordination of married men is back on the agenda” is significant on two counts.

    First of all it recognises the un-opened gift of the Council given to us in Lumen Gentium, that of Collegiality. The courage of the local bishops is called upon to seek honest solutions within the context of the local need. It is reflective of the recent comment by Cardinal Karl Lehmann when he said that “We need to be more courageous in dialogue within the Church. We complain that Rome is over-powerful but the reason why Rome is so strong is because we are too weak.” That was a significant remark.

    Secondly, it brings back into the public arena the necessity to consider the ordination of married men to the priesthood. We can no longer continue ignoring communities who are deprived of the Eucharist when there is a solution in our hands to meet their need.

    Courageous conversations are indeed required”.

    Of course acceptance of a married priesthood won’t solve all our problems but it will go a long way to recognising that marriage and priesthood are not mutually exclusive.

    This discussion must continue at a local level, collegiality must be active within our Christian communities, Rome must be encouraged to follow the expression of concern felt by so many.

    Chris McDonnell
    Secretary: Movement for Married Clergy UK

    1. @crystal watson – comment #12:
      Crystal, you raise an important point.
      Cardinal Christoph Schönborn of Vienna has said that celibacy isn’t a direct cause of sex abuse, but there seem to be correlations and associations we should face up to.
      Or maybe you’re referring not to the perpetrators, but to the church authorities who weren’t always vigilant enough in part because they do not have children themselves. Again, not a direct cause, but there certainly could be correlations and associations.
      awr

      1. @Anthony Ruff, OSB – comment #7:

        Fr Anthony,

        My understanding, from various studies, is that abusers go where the opportunities are.

        Therefore, for example, you will find many more abusers percentage wise as teachers, police, councilers, priests etc then say lawyers, accountants, oil rig workers etc.

        Therefore, to the extent Priests are over represented, I think we would need to look at factors such as the levels of trust and deference which was formerly provided to priests (i.e. which gave them more opportunties than others).

        The truly horrible suggestion from this line of thought is that a number of men presented themselves for the priesthood for the very reason it provided them access to vulnerable children.

      2. @Scott Smith – comment #14:
        Not exactly – using the John Jay Study, you arrive at roughly 7% average among US priests as abusers. And this percentage has an asterisk – we know that only 50% of all abuse is reported…so, that is a very conservative conclusion.
        Mr. Smith – abuse exists in every part of society – there is as much or more abuse in families than in the catholic church. But, that being said, the catholic church does have a higher percentage of abusers compared to other denominations (based upon any number of variables, studies, etc.)
        Why? experts have posited a number of reasons – clericalism, mandated celibacy that creates men who are emotionally and sexually immature; lack of female input/involvement, etc.
        So, the catholic church and the priesthood does provide abusers an *opportunity*. Psychological studies of priest candidates do show co-relatiive with candidates who are attracted to the priesthood because they think it will provide them stability, an escape, a refuge, a place with structure because they psychologically are struggling with their own sexual identity.
        All of that being said, studies have shown that certain seminaries did a poor job of formation, of psych testing, of making hard decisions and thus certain time periods (e.g. classes) and seminaries indicate that an ordination class (at a specific year) has had abuser rates of 15-20%.
        (two of the most egregious examples are St. John’s in Boston, Kenrick in STL, and St. John’s in Camarillo, CA for the LA archdiocese (compare their rates to Chicago or NYC diocese). Some abbeys are also examples of a high rate of abusers within their community.

    2. @crystal watson – comment #12:
      I suspect there is more correlation here than many celibacy apologists suspect. Having a sound marriage is a mark of maturity, as is having a healthy religious community. Face it: diocesan clergy enjoy neither, except in rare instances. It’s more than coming home to a spouse and asking for an independent assessment of some creepy colleague. It’s more than the liberation of sex. It’s about gaining experience with intimacy and having another person’s input on discerning good interpersonal behavior.

      I think the diocesan priesthood would be significantly improved if clergy had to share an apartment, even in twos and threes.

      I suspect we have the beginnings of sufficient maturity to have a serious discernment in the upper hierarchy now. Thank goodness.

  5. Hi Fr. Ruff,

    Yes, I was thinking of what Fr. Geoffrey Robinson has said about sex abuse and how stuff like clericism and celibacy contribute to it … http://www.abc.net.au/religion/articles/2012/11/13/3632146.htm …. here’s a bit of what he wrote –

    “[…] I am not suggesting that the preference for celibacy is the sole or even predominant cause of abuse, but I believe it has made a significant contribution, both directly and indirectly. It has certainly been a major contributor to the other massive problem the church has not yet begun to face: the sexual abuse of adult females.

    Actually, celibacy itself is not the problem, but obligatory celibacy. A celibacy that is freely embraced out of a passionate love for God and people is not unhealthy. But a celibacy that, sometime after ordination or final profession, becomes unwanted, unaccepted and unassimilated, is both unhealthy and dangerous, for it is a celibacy without love. It then contributes to unhealthy psychology (such as depression), unhealthy ideas (like misogyny) and unhealthy living environment (like loneliness) …”

  6. While some Latin American bishops have raised the possibility of ordaining ‘viri probati’ to the priesthood their episcopal colleagues in Indonesia have been vigorously advocating this in Rome, sans cesse, for around forty years.

    What a defeat for the Gospel that the Latin Church’s Canon Law, customs and traditions are proving once again a major obstruction to the Mission entrusted to the disciples by Jesus Christ himself.

  7. Having worked in a Catholic diocese and now at a Catholic school, I feel compelled to address Crystal’s comments. We know that in the U.S., fewer than 1% of priests are abusers. We also know that this number is the same if not lower than clergy in other denominations, and probably lower than the general population. This is an old article (2010) put out by newsweek about rates of abuse in the Catholic church compared to other denominations :http://www.newsweek.com/priests-commit-no-more-abuse-other-males-70625. Sadly, the rates of abuse are similar within families, and many children are abused by a family member. Let’s also not forget that in some cases, especially in the abuse crisis in Ireland, nuns were also abusing.

    That’s not a case against married clergy, mind you. Just that married clergy won’t solve the issue of abuse.

    1. @Clarey McInerny – comment #12:
      Do we really know what the numbers are??

      The big study by the US bishops indicated that 4% of US priests had been accused of abuse. But the standard for a credible accusation probably varies widely. In some cases the church officials may have, on legal advise, accepted the allegation and made modest compensation, though they doubted the accusation’s veracity. On the other hand, there must be many cases of abuse that were never reported. Some have asked whether older generations of Catholics especially are unlikely to report abuse out of (misplaced) deference to clergy.

      I have the impression that since this study we now know that the rate of abuse of minors by US priests is either higher or lower than 4%! It probably is higher, but we don’t know by how much.

      awr

    2. @Clarey McInerny – comment #12:
      The data from insurance companies is important for purposes of comparison. They do indeed keep track, and projecting risk is their business. The final point made in the article, concerning the sheer size of the Catholic church compared to other Christian communities, is also relevant. Thanks for this article, Clarey.

  8. About the CSM data from insurance companies used by the Newsweek article, I don’t find the conclusion that Protestant Churches abuse as much or more than the Catholic Church to be compelling, because …

    The article (http://www.csmonitor.com/2002/0405/p01s01-ussc.html) states that Protestants who are abused are more likely to report the abuse than are Catholic who have been abused, and the data gathered by the insurance company depends on the self reporting of the various Churches (we know from many sources that the Catholic Church cannot be trusted to report all allegations of sex abuse … cover ups), plus a greater number of Protestant Churches were surveyed by the insurance companies than Catholic Churches.

  9. I think Jordan’s comment concerning the category of priest simplex, makes a great deal of sense, especially when you take a look at where this diocese is located. Priests, married or otherwise, are not going to flock to that part of the world. Why have we never discussed, to the best of my knowledge, this kind of a priesthood. I think we should.

    Earle

    1. @Earle Luscombe – comment #17:
      The thought of reviving the “priest simplex” option has several problems as I see it. First of all, the time spent in educating for the priesthood is more than academic study. It’s formation, prayer, apprenticeship, mentoring and growth time. Compare the people who have had a one-year course for a Master’s Degree in Pastoral Studies to those who have had three years of seminary, and you absolutely see the difference. Ordaining a lot of “Mass priests” with a minimum training means setting loose the very real possibility of synchretism and the conflicts that arise from inadequate formation.

      Also, people need the Word of God preached in a vital manner, not read from a homilary. Everything we know about evangelization argues that reading from a homilary is not the answer. Besides, all the rest of the week this priest is speaking and pastoring not only in the pulpit but in daily situations where his presentation of the faith is going to matter. If his formation has been inadequate…

      Second, it creates a ranking system in the priesthood itself, which is a bad thing for two reasons. First, how will people know the difference? To most of the people we are talking about serving, a priest is a priest. Many even have trouble distinguishing between a deacon and a priest if a deacon serves in a mission station. Who is going to teach them? Second, the fraternity among priests is damaged by ranking them according to their training and powers.

      Finally, if the reason why men were not going into the priesthood was because they “did not have time for study” then reducing the time spent in seminary might make sense. But this is manifestly not the case. It’s the promise of celibacy that is the deterrent. The married men in the permanant diaconate find time for study in priest-poor areas of Latin America. In Mexico, for instance, there were so many deacons, the bishop of one diocese (sorry, I forget which one) clamped down on them. They did not have to reduce the formation and study time to get all those deacons. They had to allow them to be married.

      1. @Rita Ferrone – comment #22:

        Thank you, Rita, for the comments. In particular I agree that celibacy is the primary reason that holds men back from pursuing vocations. This is true both in the developing world and in the developed world. Yet, there are established seminary systems in developed countries. This might not be true in developing countries, and in particular developing countries with chronic clergy shortages.

        I agree with Fr. Jack (at #25) that an intensive residential seminary experience might not be always appropriate today given that many men are already college educated. What should be done when men are called forth who are not well educated? What can be done in the compressed time period necessary to ordain men in regions where few priests now minister? Perhaps ordaining Mass priests is not equitable and even damaging to the priestly fraternity. Still, for those who only have the opportunity to attend Mass three times a year, a Mass each Sunday, even with a canned homily, is better than sacramentally starving most of the year.

        Perhaps a new apostolate comprised of clergy, religious, and laity could specialize in seminary education in places where “formal” seminary education is not available. In essence, the apostolate would be a mobile seminary which would travel about rural dioceses. While local men are in formation, clergy of the apostolate could provide the sacraments. All the while, the apostolate would cooperate with local clergy to both understand the culture and respect inculturation. The fear here perhaps is that the apostolate would fall into a postcolonial patronization. And yet, wouldn’t a mobile seminary make more sense than a brick-and-mortar seminary?

        Eh, I’ve always thought that if I were to be a priest, I would request to be simplex. I’d be better off in the chantry. Not all men are pastorally capable.

      2. @Jordan Zarembo – comment #26:
        Thanks, Jordan, for these comments.

        I especially like the suggestion of a mobile seminary. I could agree with that. I also have no problem with evolving patterns corresponding to needs. I could imagine a missionary seminary model that travels, and has a flexible time frame for the completion of study (as many distance-learning programs do today). We do need to get beyond the monastic-style separation or regimentation currently reigning in many seminaries as the “only” model.

      3. @Rita Ferrone – comment #22:

        It’s the promise of celibacy that is the deterrent.

        True, but there is another one too. Statistics and experience of vocations teams show that the two principal reasons why seminarians do not make it to ordination are (a) clerical celibacy, and (b) papal infallibility.

        Jack Feehily (#25):

        I know for a fact that there are a significant number of men already serving as married deacons who are more than ready to respond to the call to priestly ministry.

        Yes, but it would be a mistake to assume that all married deacons would make good priests.

        In my experience there are two kinds of married deacons: (i) those who would in fact make good priests, (ii) “prêtres manqués”, who became deacons precisely because they did not have what it takes (and I am not talking about celibacy) to be ordained as priests. Tbe latter are incapable of preaching effectively, move around the sanctuary like Nellie the Elephant, and, while well-meaning, are actually rather less suitable for priesthood than a significant proportion of lay people, female as well as male, with theology degrees, who are already exercising different kinds of ministry in the Church.

        I think simply looking to married deacons as a solution to the shortage of Eucharist is a mistake.

        Apologies for being so blunt!

      4. @Paul Inwood – comment #30:
        Actually, there is a third type of married deacon: those who preach effectively, move gracefully around the sanctuary, but are unsuitable for the priesthood because God has in fact called them to the diaconate and not the prebyterate.

        We need to avoid the idea that the real calling is priesthood and every deacon who is not an utter disaster would make a good priest.

      5. @Paul Inwood – comment #30:
        Agree, Paul – need to start with the time limited mandated celibacy requirement. If that changes, what happens? Rather than continue a practice that the eastern and our Protestant/Evangelical brothers and sisters do not share.

      6. @Paul Inwood – comment #30:

        “prêtres manqués”

        Paul – Fritz’s response is exactly right.

        FWIW, I have known a fair number of married deacons who were, earlier in life, in seminary. In virtually every case I am thinking of, these men left the seminary because they discerned that they weren’t called to the priesthood, whether because of mandatory celibacy or some other factor(s). And in every case I’m thinking of, these seminary years were before the renewed diaconate was instituted (the 1970s in the US in the pioneering dioceses; later in other dioceses).

        Like a lot of young adults, they were searching and seeking. They tried the seminary because they discerned that they were called to serve God’s people in some way, at a time when almost nobody had even imagined the possibility of a permanent diaconate. Realizing that the priesthood wasn’t right for them, these men then discerned that the way to serve was via marriage and parenthood. Still later in life, now that the diaconate was a possibility, these men discerned a call to serve in this way.

        So it goes in faith journeys.

      7. @Rita Ferrone – comment #22:
        Would like to insert some other thoughts. Would start with the idea that priests are called from a community to serve. IMO, this is the central focus from which we start our consideration of priesthood.
        Add to that the cultural and collegial initiatives from VII and you arrive at a different experience and different models. For example:
        – let the actual need for a Eucharistic community drive who, how, and when you ordain. Thus, in a diocese of Brazil that has 500,000 catholics and only 27 priests, the concept of viri probati that are adequately trained might work very well.
        OTOH, in the western, 1st nation world (as Rita has well said), the episcopal conferences need well trained priests – this would require a seminary system (and would advocate for seminary centers of excellence that integrate diocesan field placements and internships). (a continuing issue is that some bishops and some seminaries continue to produce mediocre and problem priest candidates – why repeat that lived experience given what we know? And the risk of a tiered system is very real and has existed before in various forms – you see it now with married priests; very few dioceses appoint them as *pastors* – rather, they are parish *administrators*)
        Think about the current decisions that set up priests to be *circuit riders* and thus they touch a community only during sacraments (this is the sacramental service station model that studies have shown works against building up a Eucharistic community and is difficult for a priest to do. It also separates the sacraments from an identified pastoral leader of the community and makes the sacramental priest that can lead to *magical* thinking, etc.
        We also need to allow the actual pastoral needs of a Eucharistic community to drive these decisions (rather than the old Tridentine ontological change model).
        What I am suggesting is that the Eucharistic needs vary by region, culture, etc. It makes no sense in a first world, educated community to insert unprepared and poorly educated priests – we already complain about priests who deliver poor homilies; lack leadership and even management skills when dealing with a 3,000 family parish.
        There already exist *mobile* seminaries in various parts of the world; there also exist regional seminaries that educate over the course of 3-4 years and include internships back in the home diocese.
        In some ways, it is sad that VII developed and defined *baptism*; *laity*; even bishops but then lost energy when it got to a consideration of the priesthood (wonder if Paul VI’s restriction on mandated celibacy stopped this discussion?)

  10. PS – the article I mentioned in an earlier comment is at ABC Religion & Ethics by Patrick Parkinson, a Professor of Law at the University of Sydney, and a specialist in family law and child protection. He states …

    “There are comparatively few allegations of child sexual abuse by ministers of religion in other churches. There are some, as there are in all other organizations involved in work with children and young people. With colleagues I have done a study of the prevalence of abuse in the Anglican Church across Australia. I have some knowledge also of what has happened in other churches. Reliable statistics are not available, but in my opinion, and based on the available data, there has been around six times as much child sexual abuse by clergy and religious in the Catholic Church as there is by ministers of religion in all the other churches in Australia combined – and I would regard that as a conservative figure.” – http://www.abc.net.au/religion/articles/2012/11/15/3633611.htm

    You can also listen to a news interview with him on the subject here – http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/religionandethicsreport/patrick-parkinson-on-the-catholic-sex-abuse-crisis/4371262

    You can read the transcript of his testimony … http://www.parliament.vic.gov.au/images/stories/committees/fcdc/inquiries/57th/Child_Abuse_Inquiry/Transcripts/Prof_Patrick_Parkinson_19-Oct-12.pdf … to Australia’s inquiry into sex abuse by religious and other organizations

  11. Ordaining only men willing to be celibate is certainly not a solution to the need not only to serve existing Eucharistic communities but to plant more of them. Opening the ranks of priestly ministry to married men will result in untold benefits and, no doubt, some problems. Shall problems that have not yet occurred deter us from taking steps to address the known problem of woefully inadequate numbers of priests? Those who look at this issue from an institutional perspective rail against it. Those whose viewpoint centers on the priorities of present parishes and the need for new ones see this as a no brainer.

  12. Jim Howard : A celibate priest never has to consider what his wife might think about what he is saying. He never has to worry about what his kids may do.

    While I agree that a married priesthood would raise a new set of challenges (particularly with regard to rethinking the seminary model of education), I would note that married deacons seem to negotiate the minefield of wives and children OK.

  13. Fritz Bauerschmidt :

    Jim Howard : A celibate priest never has to consider what his wife might think about what he is saying. He never has to worry about what his kids may do.

    While I agree that a married priesthood would raise a new set of challenges (particularly with regard to rethinking the seminary model of education), I would note that married deacons seem to negotiate the minefield of wives and children OK.

    As do all the rest of us, with varying degrees of success. It’s not asking too much for a priest to deal with such challenges. In my opinion, there are good arguments for a celibate priesthood. But the difficulties of integrating family life and professional life is not one of them.

  14. Even if the numbers are not exact, what psychiatry tells us about pedophilia is that it exists in every demographic of people. Even one report of abuse is too much! Ordaining married men will not solve the problem. There will always be people who abuse children, the Church cannot simply believe the problem is ever over. That’s why Safe Environment training takes place in every diocese in the country, and why children, educators, parents, and everyone involved in diocesan life is trained to spot and report abuse. Hopefully we all can learn a lesson from the Church’s mistakes in handling this in the past.

  15. If we had simplex priests, I’m curious as to how many permanent deacons would petition for it for themselves, since they already have some education, experience, etc.

    1. @Pat Barkey – comment #24:

      “If we had simplex priests, I’m curious as to how many permanent deacons would petition for it for themselves, since they already have some education, experience, etc.”

      My guess is that not many deacons would petition on their own. But if a bishop was to reach out to a deacon and invite him to consider serving the church in this way (if the bishop was, quite literally, to call him), at least some deacons would give it serious consideration, out of a sense of obedience/duty/loyalty to the bishop.

      This may be a viable approach in the US, which is deacon-rich: there are something like 16,000 deacons in active ministry in the US. But most nations have very few deacons. Thus, I don’t suppose it would be a panacea for Bishop Kräutler to call his deacons to the priesthood.

      It might be worth noting, too, that permanent deacons in the US receive more formation than some of the suggestions made here for simplex priests – but still only a fraction of the seminary formation given to diocesan priests. Many deacons believe that their formation is not sufficient for the needs of their ministry (albeit they seem to couple this with a concurrent view that they have no time for more formation :-)).

  16. The issue of preparing men for priestly ministry needs to be revisited. The present system provides schooling in philosophy, theology, history, liturgy, and homiletics. How long do you suppose it has been since ordination has presumed a Masters in Divinity degree? I can assure you it is a relatively recent phenomenon and arose at a time when there were plenty of priests to do the teaching and when it was thought that candidates for priesthood needed to be corralled off by themselves in a monastic like setting. The married men who would likely be among the first to respond to a new discipline would include many men who are already well educated with degrees. Men who have been serving as deacons would already have had considerable training in the traditional disciplines. The question is shall we continue with the model–only extant since Vatican II–of a “professional” clergy with academic credentials or do we need to re-imagine what it takes to be an animator and servant leader of communities in which there are a variety of gifts in people who are ready to be collaborators in the mission of the church? I know for a fact that there are a significant number of men already serving as married deacons who are more than ready to respond to the call to priestly ministry. Sadly, there are many priests and bishops who look down their noses at married deacons. I pray that they will repent, wake up, and smell the roses. We are on the titanic and its already hit the iceberg. Lots of people are jumping overboard while others cling to life rafts.

  17. If you have only a one-year course of study, it will not even include liturgy. Currently, the number of seminaries offering liturgy each year is in the minority, even in the teacher-rich USA. In a one-year course, they’d be learning nothing but rubrics is my estimate.

    It’s fine to say servant-leaders don’t need traditional disciplines, but watch those who don’t get them — for instance, religious education volunteers. Good hearted, generous, yes. But limited until they get some education. They are helpless against the prevailing winds. Even their own sense of an “agenda” in the parish can drive their work into a ditch.

    It’s the ones with education who are equipped to be adaptable, perceptive, and discerning, and not just to fall into ideologies or fundamentalism.

    Fundamentalism is the great scourge of our religious landscape in every major faith tradition today. Let’s not assume Catholics are immune to the easy certitudes of fundamentalism. It’s education that protects us from falling into that quagmire.

  18. Paul, the best needn’t be the enemy of the good. There would be a discernment process that would easily be able to distinguish those with the gifts to be effective leaders from those who are less gifted. I am not proposing laying hands on everyone who has served as a married deacon. But they represent a pool of proven men. I don’t know about the UK, but we have a lot of great deacons on this side.

  19. I think this all adds up to a recognition that this is the time for people who care about this issue to speak up. Through priests’ associations, lay ministry associations and individual letters, people need to encourage these church leaders that mandatory celibacy needs to be discussed.

    Another simple issue is that diocesan priests, especially pastors, need to be supervised like other professionals. On site visits by vicars for clergy, utilizing positive but constructive review processes (and follow-up), are still necessary whether pastors are married or not. This happens in most other organizations and can be expected in a church with the Sacrament of Holy Orders.

    Fr. Michael Erwin

  20. I looked in vain for a response to Todd Flowerday’s tentative suggestion,
    ‘The other alternative–even more of a shocker–is to permit lay people to preside at the Eucharist…..’

    Who celebrates the Eucharist, an assembled community or an individual?

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