Brazilian Bishop Kräutler: Poll the World’s Bishops on Ordination Admission Requirements

Bishop Erwin Kräutler of the Diocese of Xingu, the geographically largest diocese in Brazil, has called for a poll of all the world’s Catholic bishops on the question of who may be ordained. Kräutler states that the issues raised in the Austrian Pastor’s Initiative concern not merely Europe, but the entire Church. Kräutler is originally from Austria. In his Brazilian diocese there are 30 priests for 900 communities with 600,000 people.

In an interview in a Salzburg newspaper yesterday he said, “The question arises whether people don’t have a right to the celebration of Mass on Sundays. I say: Yes, they have a right. In the spirit of the Council, the Church must come up with a plan. I will certainly not say what, but I do say that we must begin to discuss this seriously… The question cannot be brushed aside any more, but presently everything is at a standstill.”

Bishop Kräutler does not consider a gathering of bishops in Rome to be the appropriate means. He thinks it would make more sense to poll all the bishops of the entire world. “What is your opinion, what do you think of this, what do your people say? Talk to the priests, the religious, the laity. Have a meeting and formulate your opinion.”

The bishop believes that the “pulse of the universal Church” should be taken, and taken seriously. “We believe that the Spirit of God is with all of us, not just with one person.” He advocates forming some sort of committee after the polling, “with the Pope and under the Pope,” which would see whether there is need for a new council or some other representative plenary assembly.

Bishop Kräutler spoke also about younger priests in Brazil today. “There are young priests who are very pious and contemplative, but at the same time are so at the service of their people that I truly rejoice in them.” But there are others “who are happy to represent the institution.” They are happy “because their status is emphasized so strongly in the new movements.” He added, “But the others who come from liberation theology, these the people truly esteem. That is the difference.”

100 comments

    1. The vocation crisis is very severe throughout Brazil, I’m told, quite apart from the question you raise about one bishop.
      awr

    2. Just the question I meant to ask.

      Vocations in Brazil are, as Fr. Ruff rightly notes, in generally dismal shape. Nonetheless, Bishop Kräutler has been the ordinary of his diocese for 31 years. Unlike many of his conferes, it’s going to be difficult for him to pin any blame for the situation on his predecessors. I do have to wonder how relaxing the discipline of celibacy – assuming that would win his global “poll” – would help the situation in Xingu. Brazil only has about 1200 permanent deacons, only a handful of whom are in Xingu.

      If there’s an indictment of leadership here, however, it’s likely to extend well beyond the Bishop of Xingu.

      1. Sorry, Richard. Having worked in the Petain region of Guatemala – area roughly the size of Rhode Island – with one part time bishop; and less than 6 priests trying to serve hundreds of parishes (some require 2-3 day horseback ride to access).

        It is not an issue of the bishop failing to attract candidates – it is, rather, the society in which the church finds itself. For example, the indigenous tribes place great value on having a family; being married, etc. Celibacy is foreign to their culture and mindset. The best of each generation, thus, are attracted to married life even when they want to serve the church. So, you can often have many trained volunteers who are very dedicated; lead communities of faith and Sunday services (since the priest can only get there once every three months).

        They really have no issue with the sacrament of holy orders – their issue is with a church discipline, celibacy, which may or may not have much to do with the ministry of priesthood.

        This is what the bishop is talking about.

      2. Postscript: I also wonder just how many Guatamelans in Petain (or elsewhere) would be willing- or indeed able – to increase their tithing to support not only Father but also Father’s family, especially if Father’s family is quite large.

        That’s just one notable challenge that comes with a married priesthood, as Protestant ministers can tell you. The advantages, in the end, may end up outweighing disadvantages such as that. But I’m concerned that too many people here seem to treat dispensing with celibacy as a vocations magic bullet. It’s not. It has advantages, and it has disadvantages. And every married Catholic priest I know and have spoken with on the subject – and I am speaking here of those ordained in eastern rites, or under the Pastroral provision, or the ordinariate – feel the same way. They are grateful to be Catholic priests, but it is a great struggle for them, and a challenge for their parishes.

        But perhaps they’re not representative.

    3. Come on, John. This guy has been a bishop since 1980, has 900 parish communities and 30 priests. Work it out.

  1. My guess is that no matter the number of priests the number of Mass goers would be about what it is today. The problem is not the priest shortage but lack of faith among us. The Bishop has a personal problem which he would like to solve by ordaining unsuitable candidates.

    Diocese where the faith is stronger the number of candidates for the priesthood is always better.

    1. Bishop Kräutler says they are only able to have Mass 3 or 4 times a year in some places – you really don’t think that’s reducing the number of Mass-goers??

      In the US there are at least twice as many Catholics but only 1/3 the ordinations of 50 years ago. Proportionately that is 1/6 as many ordinations per laity numbers. In a few dioceses they have a few more ordinations, but I don’t know of any diocese that consistently has 6 times as many vocations (proportionately) as elsewhere – which is what success would like like, in terms of just holding our own compared to 50 years ago.

      Sorry, but the numbers just don’t add up for the claim your trying to make, and the manner in which you’re trying to dismiss the questions.

      awr

      1. Hello Fr. Ruff,

        There’s no question that it must have an impact on mass-going. It is hard to have mass-goers if there is no mass for them to go to. The bishop has highlighted a grave problem, whether we agree with him or not on his diagnosis or proposed solutions.

        As for the vocations rate 50 years ago: There is an inevitable snark that can be made about what happened fifty years ago, and it’s a snark you will hear from traditionalists (I will save them the trouble). Clearly, vocations have declined in the developing world for a number of reasons, some having much to do with changes to society and the economy at large. And some of those 1962 ordinands apparently did not have legitimate vocations, given how many left to marry over the next 10-15 years.

        Yet to blame it all on societal developments also seems like an easy cop-out for progressives, a refusal to even consider if the paradigm of vocations, seminary formation, and parish life that most have favored – and generally have been able to promote, for the most part (women’s ordination aside) at the diocesan and parish level in the decades after the Council in most of the West. We *can* certainly identify cases of large discrepancies in vocations rates sufficient to at least raise the question. In Saginaw, for example, Ken Untener only ordained four men in ten years, and left only four seminarians behind when he passed away. His successor, Robert Carlson, had increased the rate by five-fold within a little over a year – and steadily increased in subsequent years. Now I’m not necessarily a fan of Archbishop Carlson, but it’s fair to ask why Carlson had so much more success than Untener.

        There is, in short, enough data available now to suggest that more traditional (if not Traditionalist) models of priesthood and formation do deliver significantly high numbers of vocations, if not at the level that occurred in 1962. The attitude of these men is open to discussion; but their numbers are not.

      2. It is a well-established fact that the principal two reasons why men do not proceed to the priesthood in our time are (i) clerical celibacy, (ii) papal infallibility. For every man who survives the seminary system and gets ordained, there are at least 10 more who don’t survive or who don’t even try, for the reasons cited, and probably many more.

        As far as those dioceses where there seems to be a plethora of vocations are concerned — have you actually seen the guys going through the system? Many of them are to differing extents weird, and that is being charitable. Frankly, the Church doesn’t need priests that badly. The ones who are normal, healthy individuals are few and far between. They are nuggets to cherish, but they are the exception rather than the rule.

        The question that the Brazilian Bishop is bravely asking is whether we can continue to throw away large quantities of men who would be wonderful pastors, just for the sake of a manmade regulation which is under 900 years old — rather less than half the lifetime of the Church.

      3. re: Richard Malcolm on June 5, 2012 – 1:15 pm

        The “traditionalist” optimistic appraisal of pre-conciliar seminary training isn’t necessarily objective. I suspect that many priests left the priesthood in the immediate post-conciliar period because of the totalizing nature of seminary training. Earlier seminary models, which stressed entry into the seminary system from a very early age, shielded seminarians from necessary interpersonal development. Some of the priests who remained in ministry struggled with malformed sexual identities to the point of child sexual abuse. Pathological sexuality might have resulted from a clerical formation which lacked healthy emotional outlets.

        I’ve learned from my hardcore “traditionalist” days that a traditionalist yearning for an idealized era of seminary formation is in fact another manifestation of the “priestly pedestal”. The pedestal is just a shield some of the laity have erected in order to ignore the emotional fragility of their priests. In this light the current Vatican scapegoating of gay seminarians and gay priests strikes me as just another refusal of healthy seminarian emotional growth. I know of more than one EF dedicated priest who has suffered because he deeply dreads the possibility of ostracization should his congregation find out that he’s gay. Every one of these priests have kept their vow of celibacy. What sickens me is the reality that many parishioners who love their priest would turn on him even if he were to make his feelings known.

        It’s no wonder that many young Catholic men, regardless of sexual orientation or temperament, refuse to consider seminary. I, for one, have no time for an institution designed to destroy emotional growth rather than bolster men with the necessary skills for chastity.

      4. Hello Paul,

        “It is a well-established fact that the principal two reasons why men do not proceed to the priesthood in our time are (i) clerical celibacy, (ii) papal infallibility.”

        In that case, you’re going to have re-establish it for us. “Papal infallibility?” Really? Was the century of vigorous vocations after Pastor Aeternus just a case of delayed impact?

        The permanent diaconate would seem to be a measure of how a relaxation of celibacy might appeal. The U.S. – the country with far and away the most deacons – has a little over 13,000 deacons. If those men all became priests, that would surely help, but still wouldn’t take us all the way back to 1962 rates. Not even close.

        And that’s assuming that all of them would *want* to be priests. Most of the ones I know have no interest in doing so. Being a deacon takes them away from their families enough as it is.

        In Latin America, the number of permanent deacons is, of course, negligible.

        “For every man who survives the seminary system and gets ordained, there are at least 10 more who don’t survive or who don’t even try, for the reasons cited, and probably many more.”

        How many were turned away in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s because of the dominance of gay seminarians and staff, or – to take the case of Untener – because they refused to agree with the progressive stands of the bishop and rector on issues like women’s ordination? I am even brought to mind of Bishop Eldon Curtiss’s famous comment that the priest shortage is often “artificial and contrived.”

        Look; celibacy is a discipline, not a dogma. It’s open to change in a way that the male-only priesthood is not. I don’t doubt that it would help us in certain respects (more numbers, greater relational ability with married couples). But it comes with costs, too. We have to honest n weighing both. Dispensing with celibacy is not a vocations magic bullet.

      5. “As far as those dioceses where there seems to be a plethora of vocations are concerned — have you actually seen the guys going through the system? Many of them are to differing extents weird, and that is being charitable.”

        Really?

        Which dioceses do you have in mind, Paul? My contacts with seminarians from a number of dioceses have shown them all to be sensible, “normal” men with their heads screwed on properly. Have I just been lucky?

        While I’d agree that celibacy does exclude many men from the priesthood, I can’t say that I’ve ever heard a faithful Catholic citing infallibility as a problem: having a problem with papal infallibility sounds more like a reason to leave the Church altogether than to leave the seminary.

        From the accounts that I’ve heard, we loose more potential priests for failing to accept the infallibility of Schillebeekx than we do for failing to accept the infallibility of BXVI.

      6. Sorry, Paul – responded above before seeing your excellent comment.

        From a former formation director – wholeheartedly agree with your comments about current candidates. Not only have academic standards been lowered but also the screening process is nowhere near stringent enough. There are more and more “delayed” vocations (that was the phrase we used in the 1980s) that raises a whole host of questions. We do not have enough experience of this 21st century conservative cohort to draw conclusions yet. But…..Pray for the US church over the next 20 years. As my daughter says (who you met) – “it will not be a pretty picture!”

      7. Jordan – excellent summary. May I add from my experience – this story is not just pre-Vatican II; these same psychological patterns were and are issues post Vatican II. Most minor seminaries were closed between 1980-2000 with a few exceptions (usually the papal orders which should tell you something). In addition, probably in that same period roghly 50% of college seminaries moved to being on or by a catholic university for their academic setting. Part of this movement were for the reasons you outlined.

      8. Hello Jordan,

        I agree: Seminary formation before the Council often left something to be desired. I wonder how many traditionalists are aware of what it was like.

        Of course, what replaced it was often even worse…

      9. Jordan,

        You said: “I, for one, have no time for an institution designed to destroy emotional growth rather than bolster men with the necessary skills for chastity.”

        Have you looked at the instructions given to seminaries in Pastores Dabo Vobis and the Program for Priestly Formation. Have you visited seminaries that have been largely successful in implementing the directives in both documents? It makes a huge difference in the formation of the candidates that are in the seminaries, and helps to ensure their emotional growth as well as growth in all of the other areas of formation.

        The pre-conciliar model is largely dead, and even as a traditionalist-leaning seminarian, I certainly will not mourn its loss.

        Seminaries today are quite different from what they were fifty years ago, thirty years ago, or even ten years ago, and that difference is for the better in terms of the men who are being ordained.

      10. Clarence Goodwright on June 5, 2012 – 11:11 pm

        I’m actually not clergy material for diverse reasons. So perhaps my writings are sour grapes and hyperbolic (I am never given to hyperbole, ever). That hasn’t stopped people from spontaneously suggesting that I apply. I have received particular encouragement from Christians of other traditions and persons of other faiths, for some reason I don’t understand right now.

        You’re right Clarence. Seminaries have made a turn for the better with regards to seminarian formation and socialization. It’s also important to remember that the institutional Church isn’t going to bend to one layman’s gripes. I’d rather that the Church evaluate candidates on a “sexuality-blind” model which focuses on overall psychological fitness. I’m certainly more than open to learning and working alongside married men. I’m also not afraid at all to say that some of the best homilies I’ve heard have been from an Anglican priest who happens to be a woman. I suspect the last will particularly kerfuffle at least one seminary rector. If I’m not willing to move with the Church’s current take on certain subjects, then I probably wouldn’t make a good employee.

  2. Why shouldn’t all the bishops have a voice? If the Spirit of God is truly at work, we should not be afraid of the answer we get……..whether it is to maintain the current system or find ourselves challenged to set a new system in place. The voice of the church is not one man, regardless of how holy that man may be. In fact, I believe the voice of the church is not even all the combined bishops….it is the voice of every baptized person.

    1. That is simply bad ecclesiology. Jesus Christ possesses all authority on heaven and on earth. He delegates the ability to exercise authority in His name through various charisms of office.

  3. Thanks, Fr. Ruff. A serious call for informed discussion and wide input. Let’s hope we don’t see another “Bishop Morris” in this pastoral cry.

    (BTW – the VatiLeaks revealed private correspondence in which B16 stated that in his one meeting with Morris on the celibacy issue, he concluded that Morris was very pastoral but not very well grounded theologically. How he arrived at that conclusion after one meeting is concerning as is the subsequent decision to remove him from his diocese)

    1. “Among other things, Benedict writes that Morris’s “theological formation … is not adequate for his office,” citing his views on women’s ordination and the possibility of Anglican ministers leading Catholic liturgies.”

      You don’t have to read much written by “Bishop Bill” to get the clear idea where his mind is headed: his speculations about Anglicans or “Uniting Church” ministers leading Catholic liturgies should be enough to demonstrate the point.

      1. First – my comment made no mention of “women’s ordination and the possibility of Anglican ministers leading Catholic liturgies.”

        You obviously know little about the Bishop Morris affair (that is exactly what it was and is). Documentation for his removal was based upon an Advent pamphlet from the bishop that talked about his diocese’s future; the state or lack of priests; and the demands that this would place upon his people. In that pamphlet the bishop mentioned a desire to broaden a church discussion on priesthood that might include married men, women, etc. He reached nor stated any type of conclusions. Do you realize that his diocese, Twowoomba, is the size of Italy and he was trying to respond to the needs with fewer priests than you would find in a mid-size Italian diocese. Subsequent “gossip” planted false accusations, etc. The bishop’s natural rights were violated but a pope can do whatever he wants. (whether just or unjust) Chaput was the appointed investigator whose report has never been made public. Will be interesting to see if Chaput’s current abilities to lead his archdiocese will be better than what Morris did for years in Twowoomba. Closing parishes and schools was not a realistic option for Morris – thank God. He was trying to respond to real sacramental needs.

        To expand on the VatiLeaks – at that same interview, B16 came out and stated that Morris decided to step down. Morris flatly denied this and B16 corrected his statement, blaming it upon his poor understanding of Morris’ Australian. This makes his “theological conclusion about Morris’ even more tendentious since he now admits that he had difficulty with understanding all of the discussion, inflections, etc. So, again, how did he reach that conclusion after one brief meeting?

        Thanks but never wanted to be a Bishop (agree with Greeley that the this current crop of bishops will go down in history as the most mediocre in US church history) and your bias is also clear from your response above to Paul Inwood on current seminarians. No, not surprised that you have only met what you described – what else could you believe or state. Appears that Paul and I have touched a nerve – so, let’s get back to the original post. Do you have anything substantial to say about the Brazilian bishop beyond your “cheap” shots?

      2. Bill

        I agree that your comment made no mention of W.O. Or the use of Anglican ministers, but the reports of (i) Bishop Morris’s statements about the shortages of priests and (ii) his meeting with the Holy Father DO make mention of both those items. Sure, Bishop Morris did not conclude that Anglican/Uniting Church ministers could lead Catholic liturgies, but the fact that he even suggested it is enough to suggest that his mind is emphatically not in the same place as that of the magisterium.

        Now pull in your horns, put aside the ad hominems and actually make the attempt to argue your case.

      3. Again – you started the ad hominems and don’t even have the common decency to admit, much less apologize. I do try to “argue” my case and do supply documentation – where is yours by the way? Do you read PrayTell often enough to notice that, if anything, I over document which probably drives some to distraction (JP? Fr. Ruff? who knows). You really do only make snide and rude comments.

        If mentioning opening up to discussion things such as married priests, Anglicans (thought we were doing that now?), women is considered “dissent” by a bishop or priest – geez, can think of hundreds who should follow in Morris’s footsteps? and to do so in a private meeting with the pope – if you can’t be honest in that setting, what is catholic morality, leadership, and the truth all about? The statements made by Morris are public record ( – http://www.associationofcatholicpriests.ie/2011/10/response-of-bishop-william-morris-to-the-australian-bishops-statement/) what the pope and Chaput and his advisors/Australian conference of bishops said and did is not on the public record. You are making up things about Morris while assuming what others may or may not have said. Were you there? Here from the Australian publication, Eureka Street: http://www.eurekastreet.com.au/article.aspx?aeid=30632

        Again, any drill down on Morris only leaves one shaking his head in terms of both Vatican and Australian bishops – but, then what do you expect from Pell.

      4. Well, Bill, if you would care to point out where I have made a statement ad hominem against you, or any other person on this thread, I shall be entirely happy to give an apology. Unless you thought that by using Bishop Morris’s nickname in the popular press (“Bishop Bill”) I was referring to you? http://m.thechronicle.com.au/story/2012/04/27/bishop-bill-busy-retirement/

        My source for the account of the meeting between Bishop Morris and the Holy Father is here: http://www.cathnews.com/article.aspx?aeid=31667

      5. Okay – yes, took Bishop Bill as directed to me, sorry.

        Will just have to agree to disagree. Still don’t see how the pope could arrive at the decision he did especially if he met the bishop once and had language difficulties – how do you reach the conclusion he did about Morris’s theological understandings (again, what Morris said/printed/explained was skewed and misreported by some).

        :

      6. ” – the possibility of Anglican ministers leading Catholic liturgies -”

        Possibility? What do you think the Orneryariate is?

      7. Jimmy

        The priests of the Ordinariate are ordained priests of the Catholic Church: they are not members of another ecclesial community.

    2. “BTW – the VatiLeaks revealed private correspondence in which B16 stated that in his one meeting with Morris on the celibacy issue, he concluded that Morris was very pastoral but not very well grounded theologically. How he arrived at that conclusion after one meeting is concerning as is the subsequent decision to remove him from his diocese”

      Bill, from my reading of the letter quoted in Nuzzi’s book, it would appear that the Pope reached the conclusion prior to the meeting. He wrote “Siamo convinti che la sua formazione dottrinale non e’ adeguata per questo ufficio ed era la nostra intenzione di spiegargli le ragioni di questa nostra convinzione.”

      1. We will never know but let’s agree on that. So, how did he arrive at that conclusion – based upon second and third hand reports? (we now know that those reports were biased, inaccurate at times, and came from certains ideologies).

        Would you want to be judged before you had even met your “judge”?

        Strange way to deal with a fellow christian and minister of the gospel. It starts to feel like catholic version of the “Star Chamber” or a kangaroo court.

    1. Well, he’s 73, and has been in the same diocese for 31 years. It was highly unlikely that he was going to be considered for any promotions. And I’m sure he knows that.

      1. Let’s face it. He has been there as long as he has because it is most likely not considered to be a “plumb posting” that will advance one’s career to the next level of prettier dress and fancier hat. Maybe the leavening he has experienced over that time of career disappointment has opened his eyes the pastoral rather than careerist part of being a bishop.

  4. The good bishop would like a more democratic process in the Church. Very well. This has been tried in the Episcopal Church and in other protestant denominations. How well is that going? Bless his heart.

    1. One good reason for more democracy, or collegiality, is because it is what the Second Vatican Council called for, and because it belongs to the nature of the church to be collegial.

      I’m surprised you bring up the Episcopal and other Protestant (not all Episcopalians consider themselves Protestant, btw) denominations. It’s not clear to me that their more democratic polity is working better or worse than the Catholic model of absolute monarchy. In fact, in the US the denomination most in favor of gay marriage is… Roman Catholic. Our divisions are fully as great as the others. Their democratic polity makes brings it more into the open to be dealt with, and sometimes it causes splits. We have splits just as large, but not as many of them are formal schisms.
      awr

      1. In fact, in the US the denomination most in favor of gay marriage is… Roman Catholic.

        What? More than the UCC? More in favor than the Unitarians? Than the Episcopalians? I’ve seen some surveys that get something like this result by lumping together all white evangelicals and white mainline Christians, but that’s hardly equivalent to what you’ve written here.

      2. If you or anyone has data by denomination, I’d be interesting in seeing it. I share your surprise that RCC is higher than Episcopal or UCC, so it’d be interesting to know.
        awr

      3. If you or anyone has data by denomination, I’d be interesting in seeing it. I share your surprise that RCC is higher than Episcopal or UCC, so it’d be interesting to know.

        So the “in fact” statement is based on?

      4. There has’t been much polling on this question that looks at denominational breakdowns. Nothing recent enough I’d care to use.

        I have to think, however, that the number of Unitarian Universalists or UCC members opposed to gay marriage is quite small. Episcopalians, given the number of splits and schisms of late, are more of a moving target.

      5. Whether it is anecdotal or documented evidence that more Catholics support same sex marriage points to the reason why we shouldn’t allow a more democratic process in the Catholic Church to change moral teachings and natural law which the Anglican Communion and the Liberal main line protestant churches are doing because of a democratic process they follow. In fact, in this regard the democratic process becomes a form of corrupting the moral teachings of Christ found in Sacred Scripture, Tradition and natural law. I would fully expect a democratic process in the Catholic Church similar to the ones used in the Episcopal Church, Presbyterian Church and others to endorse same sex marriage. I wouldn’t expect a more authoritative hierarchy that basis its teaching on Scripture, Tradition and natural law, such as the Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Churches to do so. But of course expanding the call to the priesthood to proven married men is not in the same category and should be discussed by the bishops and seriously considered for the good of the Church.

      6. To Alan (6/5/21 3:53)
        You see it as corrupting but JH Newman saw it as “infallible”
        http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/newman-faithful.asp
        Concerning the laity:

        *”Gregory of Valencia, who brought out the force of this consensus of the faithful, says that ‘as far as possible, account must be taken of the consensus of the faithful in definitions of faith,”
        ** “For inasmuch as they comprise the Church, by assistance of the Holy Spirit they so preserve divine revelations in their purity and integrity that they cannot all go astray … I contend only this: If a consensus of the faithful is established in some disputed matter of religion, the Pope may and should rely upon it as the judgment of the infallible Church. (Such consensus is usually verified either from some practice of worship adopted universally among Christians, or by general scandal and offense caused by some opinion.)]

      7. Our divisions – do we deem the unevangelized or uncatechized to be schismatics who’ve rejected the faith? I’m not certain that we can presume that those who are uninformed in their faith have also rejected it. I also think religious communities or denominations that have officially endoresed same sex marriage are undoubtedly more open to it than the Roman Church which has rejected it.

  5. Bishop Kräutler doesn’t, from this account, seem at all like a shepherd concerned about his career. I know nothing about him, but I have much sympathy for the intent, content and theology of his “cry.”

  6. Fr Wilfrid Harrington OP:
    Close to the opening of Vatican II: Bernard Haring being interviewed on radio. Already, in some areas, Christian communities were without Eucharist because no priest was available. Haring was asked what he thought of the situation. His reply was direct and uncompromising: ‘The people of God have a God-given right to the Eucharist. On the basis of human law, to deprive the People of God of the Eucharist is, objectively, gravely sinful.’ The interviewer, obviously taken aback, repeated the question. Haring firmly repeated his answer. Because of the repetition, I recall his words with total clarity and they have stuck with me. The ‘human law’ involved is, of course, the mandatory requirement of celibacy – more precisely the requirement of maleness and celibacy. Increasingly, today, Christian communities are bereft of the Eucharist. It is true that mandatory celibacy is not the only reason for an acute shortage of priests – but it is a serious factor. The basic need is for a change of emphasis. In Paul’s time, and after, the Lord’s Supper was truly a community celebration; the emphasis was firmly on the community. Later, and very much so today, the focus has shifted to the presider at the Eucharist. This is so much the case that, in the Roman church, where there is not a male celibate celebrant (unless one had, formerly, been a married Anglican priest!) there can be no Eucharist. A fundamental Christian right is being infringed. We must return to this right of the community to the Eucharist, as at the beginning of the Church, as witnessed, emphatically, by Paul. We must not continue to look exclusively to the presider at the Eucharist. Otherwise, the present state of deprivation will persist and worsen. In our current grave and unacceptable situation, pious exhortation to Eucharistic devotion rings hollow without our taking active steps to ensure that the community’s right to the Eucharist is fully honored.

  7. A couple of comments:

    One huge problem with this kind of democratization is that it very often risks taking “Universal Church” in a purely synchronic manner, and then supposes that the Spirit moves according to a majority. The Universal Church, however, is not exclusively a description of a world-wide snap-shot of the Church at any given moment. Rather it is the Church throughout time and space. Polling may be a pastorally wise thing to do to get a sense of ‘where we’re at’, but the results of such a poll would then have to be reflected on in light of Tradition (and traditions). A majority opinion of the faithful is not by virtue of being a majority opinion the voice of the Spirit. The call for greater democratization is the same kind of ecclesial fideism as the monarchical sort, only rather than the pope and the magisterium telling us everything we need to know, now the Majority will speak for God. Both kinds of complacency ought to be avoided.

    I’m not claiming any authority on knowing the minds of seminarians or would-be seminarians, but might I suggest that some don’t join because they’re perceived as being ‘weird’ for even considering the priesthood? By their parents, their friends, by those who dislike this crop of seminarians including some of their own pastors?

    1. The call for greater democratization is the same kind of ecclesial fideism as the monarchical sort, only rather than the pope and the magisterium telling us everything we need to know, now the Majority will speak for God. Both kinds of complacency ought to be avoided.
      ————————————-
      Are majoritarianism and monarchicalism the only choices here? The east has a tradition of the synod acting as local forum for for giving focus to via collegiality. An exchange of ideas through dialogue in achieving consensus.

      There is little evidence of a top down process of arriving at the foundations of the Church’s faith existing in the ante-Nicean Church. The whole process is painfully gradual and local endeavors gradually extending to larger provincial gatherings, or through epistles exchanged between the bishops.

      By the time of Nicea, the bishops gathered to vote on propositions they had already agreed to through a process of achieving consensus via efforts of these local synods and regional councils throughout the third and fourth centuries. There we have the “magisterium” in the making. Not a model of the papal boardroom of close advisors drawing up enemies lists of distant bishops expressing ideas the pope would rather not hear.

      The idea of polling the bishops is just one of a number of methods whereby bishops achieve consensus. It isn’t exactly the best, but it is a tried and true way of communicating. A great council in Rome under the presidency of Pope Benedict is fine for bringing the discussion to a fruitful conclusion and receiving his ideas as part of the process, but that’s simply the culmination of the process and not the essence of it.

      The present “Benedictine” model for governing the Church is hopelessly anachronistic and closeted from the rest of the Church except through close cronies and “apostolic visitors”. Let’s get real here. This may have worked in the Carolingian empire. Today, it belongs in a museum…

    2. Dunstan – while there’s little chance you’ll see this since this whole post seems to have died out 3 days ago – I agree. The two I’ve set up in contrast are by no means the only options (as I tried to indicate by saying both sides are to be avoided). I get a tone of disagreement from your post?
      The East does have an important synodal model of governance and dialogue that should be taken much more seriously in the West. Of course, it has shown itself to be full of problems as well (like when the Moscow PAtriarchate refuses to acknowledge the autocepholousy of another Orthodox Church b/c historically it was under Moscow).

      I would disagree with your sense of what occurred at Nicaea as “a vote on propositions they had already agreed upon thru a process of achieving consensus…” From recent historical study (like Ayres’ Nicaea and Its Legacy), it is apparent that Nicaea was far from 1) the culmination of a process of growing consensus; and 2) seen as such in the 4th century. It appears instead that Nicaea became the point of consensus over the course of the 4th century. Figures like Athanasius had to work to get a range of non-Arian positions (homoiousian, homoian) to agree on the homoousian.
      I don’t know if councils can be so easily called the end of a process or even if there is an essence to the process.
      I certainly don’t deny polling bishops, or polling laity, or priests, or religious, either. I just don’t see it as a cure-all, policy directing move as more liberally inclined Catholics seem to suggest. (Neither is a Papal boardroom, as more the conservative inclined assume). Nor was I calling for a council. At all.
      I’m not sure if “anachronistic” is the best designation for Benedict’s governance. Poor, perhaps, but I don’t think the contemporaneity of the style is a good measure of ‘good’ or bad because there are so many ways to run an organization these days. Whatever it is. it certainly isn’t Carolingian. The pope in the 9th c. didn’t…

  8. And some of those 1962 ordinands apparently did not have legitimate vocations, given how many left to marry over the next 10-15 years.

    How many of these ordinands had (and have!) very legitimate vocations both to Marriage and to Holy Orders! If they read the writing on the wall and chose happy marriages over unhappy priesthoods in an increasingly dysfunctional institution, who can blame them!

    I don’t think you can estimate the number of potential married priests based on the current number of deacons. At one extreme, some have suggested that offering the office of deacon to married men is a way of co-opting their support for the institution. Regardless, there is a lot more wrong with the way we treat priests today than simply the imposition of mandatory celibacy. I suspect anyone who has paid attention can tell a horror story or two about how a priest was treated by the diocese. It is a brave man indeed, who is willing to vow obedience to a bishop today!
    Again, other models of priesthood need to be considered. Whatever happened to the concept of the worker-priest?

  9. @Paul I., I’d love to have Dr. Paul Ford weigh in before I’d generalize the extent of “weirdness” displayed evidently by seminarians he knows and teaches over many years. I have only encountered seminarians at CMAA colloquia over 6 six years and those guys, to a man (sorry), demonstrated surety, piety and true humanity. But, of course, Lotsa folk might assign CMAA to the weird bin right up front! I digress.

    this kind of democratization is that it very often risks taking “Universal Church” in a purely synchronic manner, and then supposes that the Spirit moves according to a majority.

    I know this may seem “weird” coming from me, but doesn’t that quote basically describe a conclave? And there was great rejoicing in Kim’s house!

    1. The conclave is an interesting example of voting in the Church. However, it surely doesn’t claim to be the vote of the universal church, but the cardinals (not even the bishops as a college) choosing the Bishop of Rome in a drastic modification of ancient custom where the selection of the Pope was done by a group of Roman citizens (I’m sure the historians can help me on the details). The vote is for the universal Church but not by it in any sense.
      I think the closest the Church comes to democratization is when bishops vote in council. But there, I think, the quantitative dimension is only understood in light of the qualitative dimension of the bishops’ charism.

      To be clear, I’m not against instances of voting at all. I’m just against imagining that the ‘people of God’ (as a majority) are the source of revelation and the hierarchs are nothing but our (the majority’s) delegates to govern as we (the majority) sees fit – or else. I’m likewise against imagining that the magisterium is the source of revelation and the laity are nothing but passive receptacles of their wisdom.

    2. I’ve been in seminary work for twenty-five years but can speak only from my experience at my seminary. To me there has been only an increase in quality. The screening of prospective seminarians is intense: credit checks, criminal background checks, psychological examinations, references, the whole works, repeated again a year before ordination. If the man is thought weird, we usually don’t even get to interview him; the dioceses eliminate them. The year-long internship also gives the local church a chance to take the measure of the man. There are still many second career seminarians but our average age is going down again.

      1. To both Pauls, with utmost respect,
        The wondrous and mysterious “thing” that is catholic is that one doesn’t have to really choose between impeccable sources offering their “takes” on “their empirical analysis” that must terminate in a conclusion, which then presumes a consequence.
        We all need to step back from our prejudices and preconceptions and allow as how God (AM) will be God..
        How is this not obvious to such colleagues more learned than I could ever hope to be?

      2. Thanks, Paul – but your experience is St. John’s only. And, to be fair, after the LA archdiocese sexual abuse settlements and continued issues, what would you expect.

        That settlement clearly showed that there were some ordination classes at St. John’s in the 60-70’s in which the confirmed clerical abusers approached 15% in some years. One would hope that policies, screenings, etc. were implemented to address this.

        There are so many diverse issues around this question – how many candidates at St. John’s are foreign or 1st generation? how many come from non-catholic backgrounds? how many arrive with weak academic backgrounds? have you seen a shift in terms of “traditionalist” candidates compared to 10 years ago? what challenges do your formation directors face today – would some of what Paul Inwood or Jordan state resonate with them?

        As you well know, no matter how well you screen – what happens five or ten years after ordination is a different story.

      3. I am willing to step forward and be blunt; many Catholics today ( I’m not saying most, just saying many) find young priests of a traditionalist bent to be weird. Things may work out well if such men find themselves in a parish willing to go along with whatever “Father says”. But as Bishop Molino has discovered, assigning such men to parishes such as St. Mary’s, Plattesville, is a recipe for trouble.
        As near as I can tell, St. Mary’s was hardly a hotbed of radicals. This situation bodes ill for the future of the Church in America. While we may learn of the more spectacular situations, will anyone ever know how many Catholics take a good look at these priests and choose to walk out the door?

      4. Hello Brigid,

        I am willing to step forward and be blunt: I, and pretty much all young Catholics I know, find young priests of the sort that I think you’re talking about to be balanced and solid – a real improvement on the sort you would see 20 or 30 years ago, as Paul Ford notes. I know you’re referring to what *others* think, but I can’t help but feel that your sweeping statement is quite unfair – and, really, inaccurate.

        I think we need to define “traditionalist.” I don’t think that even the priests of Society of Jesus Christ the Priest that Bishop Morlino is employing really qualify (though they clearly have traditional leanings). Nearly all young priests and seminarians today *are* considerably more conservative and traditional in their theological stamp, their liturgical proclivities, and their devotional life, and I don’t doubt that some older Catholics used to a rather different breed of priests may find this a little jarring. Perhaps it’s worth asking – I mean *really asking, and not just looking for evidence for the prosecutor or the pathologist – why most of the young men drawn to the priesthood today, in growing numbers, have such an orientation.

        Your experience may simply be different. But if you haven’t already, I would urge you to get to know more of these young men before making such a judgment. Just as I would say to more traditional sorts to hold back from judging priests of a “certain age” as similarly weird, treacly, or heterodox without getting to know them first.

      5. re: Brigid Rauch on June 6, 2012 – 8:24 am

        Brigid has a very good point. I love the EF. But if I were a new priest at a parish, I would do whatever the congregation is accustomed to or is comfortable with, so long as it’s rubrically permissible. I might introduce an EF at some later time after I settle in, but not as soon as the luggage’s unpacked. I’d never schedule the EF at a time when most people attend Mass, however. Many (especially me!) forget that Mass isn’t a classroom for theology but also a place for people to seek solace, healing, and rest after a long week. Familiarity might have little value for some, but is quite important for others.

        The EF is not the issue in Platteville. Nor is a love for the EF or the charism of the Society of Jesus Christ the Priest in itself problematic. The The conflict resides in the pastoral clumsiness (for lack of a better phrase) of the new pastor and his associates. I’m sure that if the pastor kept most of the Masses liturgically similar to his predecessor but introduced one ROTR or EF Mass a year later, we never would’ve heard about Platteville. We’ve heard of Platteville because the highest good — salvation of souls — has been subordinated to the desires of priests.

  10. Ordaining married men is of a wholly different category than the fantasy of “women’s ordination.”

    I think it is highly likely that the Latin Rite inside Africa will obtain an exemption from the discipline of celibacy sometime this century.

      1. Priestesses are about as clear a sign of the loss of the marks of the church as you can get.

  11. A long discussion by J.H. Neuman concerning laity and and concensus of the faithful http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/newman-faithful.asp

    I particularly like this passage concerning the laity:

    *”Gregory of Valencia, who brought out the force of this consensus of the faithful, says that ‘as far as possible, account must be taken of the consensus of the faithful in definitions of faith,”
    ** “For inasmuch as they comprise the Church, by assistance of the Holy Spirit they so preserve divine revelations in their purity and integrity that they cannot all go astray … I contend only this: If a consensus of the faithful is established in some disputed matter of religion, the Pope may and should rely upon it as the judgment of the infallible Church. (Such consensus is usually verified either from some practice of worship adopted universally among Christians, or by general scandal and offense caused by some opinion.)]
    Hmmmm, very interesting.

  12. From my review of American Religion: Contemporary Trends by Mark Chaves
    Hardcover: 160 pages Publisher: Princeton University Press (August 28, 2011)

    The softening of denominational identity may be related to a decline of interest in clerical vocations and of confidence in religious leaders. Chaves reports that ten in a thousand college freshmen expected to become clergy in the 1960s; that has declined to three in a thousand. Vocations have declined among the most academically talented. Chaves finds that between 1973 and 2008 the number of people having great confidence in religious leaders declined from 35% to 25%.

    http://www.praytellblog.com/index.php/2011/11/10/american-religion-and-church-attendance-softening-fudging/

    Besides a decline of interest in clerical vocations (probably because there is so much else to choose from) and a possible decline in the prestige of the clerical vocation, I recall that at least one (perhaps more) study of seminarians across denominations has expressed concern that too many people today are attracted to the ministry in order to solve their own personal problems, and come to seminary with little understanding of their denomination’s heritage or the requirements of ministry.

    I suspect that Catholics are experiencing problems that are widely shared across denominations.

    Having taken courses at the local seminary here, none of the relatively few seminarians whom I met seemed particularly unusual in either a positive or negative way. All were pretty ordinary and kept busy by the demands of their courses; I was pleased by the quality of the courses offered by the woman religious. The seminarians did not seem to be as bright as a lot of the men and women in master’s level programs at John Carroll and the University of Notre Dame, but I do not think the diocese was keeping “unqualified” material. Obviously many men and women in master’s degree programs would make good clergy if we changed requirements.

    1. Jack – not sure if this has any bearing but my next door neighbor is a semi-retired Methodist minister. He was complaining last week about a new policy in their region – anyone who previsouly studied and became a minister was guaranteed a church parish. Now, given the increased number of candidates and new ministers, they no longer promise any position. So, they have now been faced with increased “new” ministers and no available Methodist parish positions. The same has been happening in other mainstream denominations but not the Catholic Church.
      Another factor we saw in historical reviews was the impact on vocations that the 1930s depression played and then, subsequently WWII. Seminary/church offered a safe and secure financial place and position guaranteed for life. So, there are also financial motives.

      1. Bill, my cousin is an episcopal deacon. His average sized church has 6 priests and one deacon. We Catholics have 3 priests for our 6 churches. They are active and growing, we are shrinking. What’s wrong w/ this picture?

      2. Hello Kim,

        What the Episcopal Church is running out of is laypeople, not priests. Presiding Bishop Schori’s diocese (Nevada) has an average Sunday attendance of…a couple thousand. I can think of some big Catholic parishes that pull in more than that between all their Sunday obligation masses.

        Between 2006 and 2010 the ECUSA lost 300 parishes and 200,000 members, just by official statistics (the reality is conceded by some in the know to be much worse). So there are far fewer parishes to spread their ministers around to (yes, there have been Catholic parish closings, but that’s offset by new parishes in the Sunbelt, and the ECUA has far fewer parishes to begin with). At the current rate of decline, the ECUSA will cease to exist in 26 years.

        And it’s not nearly as difficult or long to get through the process required to be an Episcopal priest as it is for us.

      3. The obvious solution to both problems at once is for Episcopalian ministers to become Roman Catholic priests.

      4. Hello Claire,

        Well, we’re getting about thirty of them in the U.S. this summer through the ordinariate ordinations.

      5. Richard, even if they are shrinking they have many more candidates for the priesthood than we do. That was my original point. They have plenty we only have a dearth of candidates. See what Bill states above.
        What is different about their process… maybe optional celibacy and shorter seminary training as you indicate is the answer. That would certainly help in S. America where the Evangelicals have been eroding away at Catholicism.

      6. Hello Kim,

        “Richard, even if they are shrinking they have many more candidates for the priesthood than we do.”

        Actually, they don’t.

        According to the ECUSA Blue Book, at the beginning of 2011, the Episcopal Church had 18,006 clergy, with 6,113 priests and bishops employed in the Church. As Stephen Ayres of the UCUSA notes, “As the average age of active priests is 56, and the number of ordinands does not appear to be increasing, we can expect the pool of active priests to continue to shrink . . . the statistical trends seem to indicate that the number of clergy available to work is shrinking faster than the number of clergy jobs.” Link: http://stephentayres.com/2012/05/16/church-statistics-on-the-changing-clergy-job-market/

        To the extent that their situation is not as critical in some areas, the rapid shrinkage in the number of parishes in the ECUSA seems to play a role.

        Becoming an Episcopal priest takes about three years of seminary to obtain the M.Div, followed by at least six months as a transitional deacon, which obviously is about half the time required to go through our seminaries. Certainly a much shorter formation process would help. But at a time when the demand is for *more* rigorous screening and formation of potential ordinands, I think it unlikely you would find much support for cutting that down in a significant way.

        Which is not to say that the seminary process couldn’t be improved, of course. I’m just saying that, appearances to the contrary, the grass is not greener on the Episcopal side of the fence.

      7. Hello Richard,
        But you cannot look at just the raw numbers, you have to look at the # of priests per parishoners. Despite some shrinkage in their ranks(ECUSA) any effect upon an already over abundant supply of priest is minimal. Whereas in the RC church we are bleeding to death.

        For the Catholic Church in the US it is
        1 priest/1500 parishoners.

        For the Episcopal Church USA it is
        1 priest /350 parishoners.

        There are just more priests/candidates for the
        Episcopal Church than what we Catholics have.
        One has to seriously ask why? Is it just that the Episcopal church is more appealing?

    2. I am less interested in the candidate’s brain than his heart. We need theologians, but on the parish level we need people to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable!

  13. Charles knows that I like conclaves

    Well, Kim, I did very much enjoy the account of the last one. But I filtered it through the lens of George Weigel’s book. So, I suspect we’re back to square one!:-)

    1. Charles, not the likes of “I’m more Catholic than the Pope” Weigel, please not him.
      It has been reported that Weigel’s wife (Joan) lectured JPII to which the Blessed One replied “well, I’m Catholic too” then turned his back on her and walked off. Ugh, the Weigels.

      I prefer to filter it through the lens of J.H. Newman: “…if a consensus of the faithful is established in some disputed matter of religion, the Pope may and should rely upon it as the judgment of the infallible Church.”
      So, in my most humble opinion( 🙂 ) what the good bishop in Brazil is attempting to accomplish is a small step toward what Newman believed.

  14. What do you suppose it is that prevents bishops who dearly want to stop closing parishes from asking for an open discussion about possible solutions that will increase the number of potential candidates for ordination? They all know that there are mature married men– including many who are presently deacons–who would make good and faithful priests. I believe it’s because they were selected upon the condition of not bringing the subject up. How can the ideal of preferring celibate candidates possibly be more important than providing viable parish communities with priests? Rahner was right. It’s a sin.

    The phobia of even having a discussion strikes me as irrational.

  15. My friend Paul Ford mentions The screening of prospective seminarians is intense: credit checks, criminal background checks, psychological examinations, references, the whole works, repeated again a year before ordination.

    The things that has been striking me recently is that, even with all the deep and rigorous psychological testing, etc, in place today, we are still getting guys coming through the system with severe emotional and sexual problems, some of which exhibit themselves soon after ordination. And it is also interesting to me that lay people often pick up on these problems during pastoral placements, etc, but their views are frequently ignored. There is, of course, a temptation for diocesan vocations directors to play the numbers game….

    When I see the huge numbers of good men who have left in the past, but who would still be ready to serve, and the large numbers of men who are not even considering priesthood when they would be brilliant pastoral servants of their communities, it looks very much like criminal wastage. I see healthy, balanced men, both gay and straight, whose empathetic gifts the Church badly needs, but who do not think the Church wants their gifts. And I see seriously screwed-up seminarians who are nothing less than time-bombs waiting to happen down the road. And in case this sounds like misogyny, I also see numerous women pastoral assistants, catechists, etc, who also exhibit the gifts necessary to be excellent pastors, but who know very clearly that the Church is not interested in utilising their talents and aptitudes.

    1. I see healthy, balanced men, both gay and straight, whose empathetic gifts the Church badly needs, but who do not think the Church wants their gifts.

      Is the prime purpose of the priesthood to be empathetic? (Should “empathetic” be read as pastoral?) Or is it also ministerial and sacrificial, to be in persona Christi Capitis (CCC 1548-51)?

      I also see numerous women pastoral assistants, catechists, etc, who also exhibit the gifts necessary to be excellent pastors, but who know very clearly that the Church is not interested in utilising their talents and aptitudes.

      It is not that the Church is uninterested, it is that the Church has no authority to ordain women (CCC 1577; Ordinatio Sacerdotalis). In any case, is the Church really uninterested in utilising the gifts individual women may have just because She says She lacks the authority to consecrate them priests? Some women (and men) may feel that way, but feelings are complicated and are not always the best guide to what the truth in any given situation really is.

      Perhaps 1 Cor. 12 is pertinent here. And perhaps we, both “right” and “left”, need to stop trying to clericalise everyone, and figure out authentically Catholic models of lay ministry – with the aid of documents such as Vatican II’s Apostolicam Actuositatem and Bl. John Paul II’s Christifideles Laici, for example.

      1. Lay ministers do fine and noble work, but how do you ensure access to the Eucharist without more priests?

        In addition, I’d like to see a study of how lay ministers are treated. I have seen a priest drive all the lay ministers out of his parish, then without a trace of irony attempt to recruit people to invest their time in becoming lay ministers! It’s a pale reflection of how many priests have been and are being treated, and it is an example of what has to change!

      2. Lay ministers do fine and noble work, but how do you ensure access to the Eucharist without more priests?

        Some Christians (Catholics included) do not think priests are necessary for the Eucharist.

      3. Lay ministers do fine and noble work, but how do you ensure access to the Eucharist without more priests?

        Well, you don’t.

        But the answer to this problem does not lie in readmitting men who left their vocation, or in lobbying for women to be admitted to Holy Orders as if it’s a political policy that can be changed, or in attempting to clericalise lay ministers.

        (Neither, indeed, does it lie in abolishing mandatory celibacy or papal infallibility, or labelling nearly all “conservative” seminarians/new priests as “weird”, as Mr Inwood does above.)

        I think if we (particularly we in the West) can start to articulate authentic models of lay ministry in our parishes, that can ultimately only help priestly vocations. We are all different members of one body, and if we each of us humbly submit to Christ and His Church – cleric and lay alike – I am sure God will give us the grace to be that part of His Church that He intends each of us to be.

        There is little point whinging, as Mr Inwood seems to, about the Church not using or wanting to use people’s gifts purely because She does not admit them to Holy Orders. The lives of the saints bear witness to the falsity of such a notion!

  16. As someone who entered the seminary in the earluy 1960s, was ordained to the presbyterate in 1970, and served as a priest for fifteen years before marriage in the mid-1980s, I’d like to throw in a few thoughts. The large number of priests available to the Church in the United States (and, I suspect in other countries) through the 1950s and 1960s were as much a result of the horror of World War II and of the baby boom as of any strong piety. Thomas Merton, I believe, commented on how the number of Cistercians grew dramatically as men returned from World War II (and Korea) and sought a way to make sense of what they had seen and done. But later, as the baby boom numbers began to fall off, so did the number of vocations to the monastery and to the priesthood as well. In my years of ordained ministry, I watched as many fine men left priesthood primarily to be married–this was one of the reasons why I wound up in a position of authority in my diocese quickly after ordination. Seminary formation, in my experience, failed miserably to prepare candidates for the kind of priesthood that we would face; they were too slow to adapt to changing culture in and outside the Church. I would say that there are many reasons why the number of priests has declined so dramatically, and trying to pin blame exclusively on one or another of these factors will not help us find a solution to what is a very complex problem. Finally, I see nothing wrong with asking the world’s bishops for their thoughts, experience, and suggestions. It might help us work toward a solution.

    1. Gordon states: “…were as much a result of the horror of World War II and of the baby boom as of any strong piety”.
      Oh, faux pas, Gordon. Everything was just fine back then in the 1950’s, don’t you know that Vatican II is to blame for everything? 🙂

    2. I have been blessed to know a fine priest who entered the seminary after what he saw in Europe during and after WWII. Of all the reasons to enter the priesthood, seeking to “make sense of what they’d seen and done” isn’t a bad one at all.

      As for the baby boom – I believe you’re off by several decades – those born in the 50’s and 60’s wouldn’t have been available as priests until at least , say, 1970!

      I think that most priests were prepared for the cultural changes outside the Church. What they weren’t prepared for was a Church hierarchy determined to restore the Good Old Days!

  17. Perhaps it’s worth asking – I mean *really asking, and not just looking for evidence for the prosecutor or the pathologist – why most of the young men drawn to the priesthood today, in growing numbers, have such an orientation.

    ( I apologize for not knowing how to put this reply directly below your question)

    I counter with this question: why would any person who is not in lock step with the vision of the Church that is coming out of Rome today consider for two minutes becoming a priest in such an institution? Paul Inwood on June 6, 2012 – 12:14 am expressed this very succinctly.

    Watching a process in which the highest qualification for a bishop seems to be his ability to be a yes man, watching the knives coming out in the Vatican, watching a conservative hierarchy self select for an ever more conservative clergy, the phrase “augering in ” comes to mind.

    1. Brigid: “..the phrase “augering in ” comes to mind”.

      I think “screwed” is more appropriate word.

  18. Matthew Hazell:

    It is not that the Church is uninterested, it is that the Church has no authority to ordain women (CCC 1577; Ordinatio Sacerdotalis). In any case, is the Church really uninterested in utilising the gifts individual women may have just because She says She lacks the authority to consecrate them priests? Some women (and men) may feel that way, but feelings are complicated and are not always the best guide to what the truth in any given situation really is.

    I have just this moment opened a journal and seen a theological comment asking “Does the Church have the authority not to ordain women as priests?”

    Discuss.

    1. Well, the answer is yes. The Church has the authority not to ordain any person She considers and discerns unsuitable for Holy Orders, male or female. Ordination may be a rite, but it is certainly not a right. 🙂

      Shifting the negative particle around in the sentence may seem like a clever, witty thing for a theological journal to do, but it strikes me as just one more poststructuralist/deconstructive nail in the coffin of what currently passes for “theological” “scholarship” in certain circles.

      1. Jesus did not call any black people to be priests. Imagine if that had been used as a reason for denying the priesthood to all black people for two thousand years. Would that really give the Church the authority to continue to refuse ordination to black people? While no individual black person has a right to ordination, it would be a sin against justice for the Church to refuse to ordain someone just because of his race.

    2. Paul asks “Discuss”

      Here’s my take. Funny, scripture states what the church binds on earth is bound in heaven, loosed on earth, loosed in heaven. This gives the church unlimited authority. In other words the church can “loose” when a person would otherwise be damned by Christ and his laws and vice versa. In other words the church has the authority to reverse the normal order of things.
      So this business about not having the authority to do something comes across as rather shallow in my opinion. The church has no problem “binding” when it wants to, even innocent individuals and when it knows it’s wrong but does so anyhow. Just look at the “Cadaver Synod” as an example of binding/loosing then binding again, even an exhumed dead pope!
      The point, in my opinion, if the church has the power to bind and loose and intervene contrary to the judgment of Christ then it has unlimited authority to do as it pleases including ordaining women as long as it doesn’t specifically contradicts what Christ taught and said. That’s my opinion.

  19. Bill said

    http://www.praytellblog.com/index.php/2012/06/05/brazilian-bishop-krautler-poll-the-worlds-bishops-on-ordination-admission-requirements/#comment-265151

    Jack – not sure if this has any bearing but my next door neighbor is a semi-retired Methodist minister. He was complaining last week about a new policy in their region – anyone who previously studied and became a minister was guaranteed a church parish. Now, given the increased number of candidates and new ministers, they no longer promise any position. So, they have now been faced with increased “new” ministers and no available Methodist parish positions. The same has been happening in other mainstream denominations but not the Catholic Church.

    The Catholic church is not the only church closing smaller congregations; there is a general trend toward larger congregations for economic reasons. That can mean fewer positions.

    In Chaves data on congregations there was a “minister shortage” in denominations such as the Methodists. Yes, they had enough ministers per congregation, but no one wanted to go to the rural or inner city congregations. Some of these may be closing. Maybe the “guarantee of a parish” meant a parish that a minister would want, and they are not “guaranteeing” because they found ministers were just going off to non-congregational jobs rather than taking undesirable jobs.

    The size of many parishes that are being closed could easily support a married priest if the congregation was giving at the rate that many Protestant congregations give. We Catholics have learned that because of economies of scale we don’t have to give as large a percentage of income as other denominations. We also are not supporting a wife and children.

    If we encouraged the entrepreneurship found in some Protestant congregations we might bring some paying Catholics back.

    So there are many factors in denominational comparisons.

  20. What does the good bishop think: that this church is a democracy? When the Vaticanes want the opinion of bishops they will very carefully select known toadies who will say whatever they are expected to say.

  21. Some of the best news in the Church these days come from Austria and Germany. Some of the bishops there are refreshingly liberal and give me hope. The above news make me giggle as I imagine traditionalists squirming…
    🙂

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