The Voice of the Faithful in a new attempt to stay relevant is now “launching” a new push to allow priests to marry. I’m not sure how this new push differs from the old push but let’s just say they’re pushing. Pushing so hard that a liberal media organization has trumpeted their efforts. You never could’ve seen that coming, right?
It would seem the group sent a letter to Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley of Boston and it’s posted on their website. Here’s a part of the letter:
“For many young men, the requirement of celibacy is a major obstacle preventing them from responding to a call to the priesthood. We have seen a 60 % drop in vocations in the past forty years, adding considerably to the workload stress of an already overburdened and aging priesthood. Solutions that have been proffered, such as recruiting non-native priests from poor countries, substituting communion services for Mass, lowering standards for admission to seminaries, parish closures, and priests pastoring multiple parishes, fail to address the long-term systemic issues that are at the root of the problem. Additionally, we point to what many believe are other consequences of the discipline of mandatory celibacy, such as a clerical environment in which many diocesan priests feel unsupported by their bishops, are distanced from their brother priests, maintain few close personal friendships, and look forward to retirement, only to find it a time of illness and loneliness.”
The group was very shocked and surprised to discover that Cardinal O’ Malley wrote back. They should probably not have been shocked that Cardinal O’ Malley didn’t agree with them. He wrote:
“Cardinal Sean is very pleased that there has been a significant increase in the enrollment at St. John’s Seminary in the past two years as candidates for the Archdiocese of Boston and neighboring dioceses have begun the program of discernment and priestly formation. We pray that with the help of God more men will generously respond to the Lord’s call to service as priests and that our Catholic community will encourage and support them in their vocations.”
This, of course, takes away their central argument but nonetheless VOF has sent more letters. I doubt they’ll get another response but I bet they’ll keep trying.
November 2, 2008 at 1:25 am
VOTF has been more or less irrelevant, since practically the year of 2002 in which they started. While not a literal front group for Call To Action, some of the organization’s major players are the same. There was a time when some “conservative” Catholics thought this was the only way to call attention to the problem of clerical sexual abuse. That illusion died very quickly. Since the keynote speaker at their first national convention was once president of a “sex-ed” organization that approved of “consensual” sex between adults and adolescents, their credibility outside their own pseudo-intellectual circles has been very much in doubt. Generally an ill-catechized and disingenuous lot, they hang on in the form of local affiliates, and a national organization in search of new windmills to tilt. Obviously they think they’ve found one.
November 2, 2008 at 3:36 am
While I am not familiar with the group, the Idea of a married priesthood is not entirely out of the question. It is on a different level than say attempting female ordination.
While I don’t see that changing anytime soon, the fact remains that there are Married Men in the Catholic church (East and West) that have been ordained to the priesthood.
So while its not a matter of dogma, changing the current practice will be a challenge.
November 2, 2008 at 3:42 am
If there is going to be a conversation, there needs to be a distinction between priests marrying (which neither the Orthodox Church nor the Catholic Church has ever sanctioned), and ordaining married men (which both the Orthodox and Catholics have allowed under varied circumstances). It should also be said that, for much of its history, married men who became priests had to separate from their wives (who often joined the order of deaconess), or to at least refrain from relations the night before offering sacrifice (which is why the Orthodox have no tradition of “daily mass”).
Of course, you won’t find those distinctions in anything VOTF has to say. So how are they equipped to speak with any competence on the subject in the first place?
November 2, 2008 at 4:43 am
Adding fuel to the irrelevance of VOTF fire: VOTF says that the celibacy requirement is what keeps young men from considering the priesthood as a vocation, but a survey done a few years ago said that for 90% of them the #1 deterrent was family disapproval and the celibacy thing was actually 5th or 6th drown on the list. I don’t know the name of the survey offhand but I can look it up when I get back to work on Monday.
November 2, 2008 at 12:38 pm
Of course, you won’t find those distinctions in anything VOTF has to say.
No, of course not. While only peripherally familiar with VOF, I can safely surmise a married priesthood is not their only agenda item.
I’m sure they’d go after requirements of abstinence, the prohibition on contraception, and push for female priests, too.
I see how utterly insane our priests’ schedules are and I cannot imagine either of them having a wife or family.
Some of my pro-married, pro-women priesthood friends (none of whom are Catholic) simply say other ministers do it – why not priests? Well, how many evangelical churches offer daily services? How many of them confer the sacrament of reconciliation during the week? How many of them perform 4-5 weddings a weekend?
The reason seminary enrollment declined is because theologically liberal folk overwhelmed the seminaries and drove all but the hardiest, good, faithful men from the priesthood.
If you want an explanation to deflate those stupid “seminary enrollment is dropping” lines, read Goodbye, Good Men by Michael S. Rose.
Sad, infuriating, and frustrating…but it shows that the problem is NOT with those who are faithful to the teaching of the church, but those who wish to remake it in their own image.
November 2, 2008 at 1:16 pm
(1) I can’t imagine the kind of emotional energy it takes to bang one’s head against a wall again and again. Really, I wish I had that kind of sticking power. On the other hand, maybe not, since it seems pathological.
(2) My more substantive point is this. As a Protestant (for now), I can assure you that the right to marry does not guarantee a surfeit of ministers. There’s a shortage of ministers in many denominations, particularly the mainline denominations — ELCA, PCUSA, UMC, etc. The reason? Probably the same reason vocations have been down in the last generation in the Catholic Church: theological liberalism. People will die for Christ, but they won’t bother to get ordained for a question mark.
November 2, 2008 at 3:37 pm
We have seen a 60 % drop in vocations in the past forty years
Probably because, you know, celibacy was made mandatory 40 years ago, right? What’s that? It was mandatory before the drop? But that would imply it had to do with something other than celibacy. And that doesn’t fit my paradigm. At this point, our interlocutor spontaneously combusts.
November 2, 2008 at 9:35 pm
As a traditionalist, I have to admit that VOF are 100% correct on this question.
Compulsory celibacy is a result of neo-platonism, an error which has had the gravest negative consequences for the church, apart from the question of the purported law’s legality in the first place. Lateran II introduced it in order to spread purity, i.e., the error of cultic purity. No valid law can be grounded on the alleged impurity of the sexual act, a pagan notion contrary to the catholic faith.
But of course, such a truth won’t bother my average pious fellow-traditional, still stuck in the mire of the appalling, dreadful semi-Jansenist spirituality that flourished throughout the latin church from Trent to Vatican II (and still does in places like Econe, Winona, Goulburn, Scranton, Gricilliano, etc).
On such a basis, there will never be a genuine truth-based reform of the church, only a recapitulation of former errors. Such a situation will only lead eventually to another mass apostasy – resulting in the appearance of the antichrist.
Many, many more traditionalists need to read Dr Geoffrey Hull’s “The Banished Heart”, also “Celibacy: Gift or Law?” by Dr H-J Vogels.
November 2, 2008 at 9:47 pm
“Lateran II introduced it in order to spread purity…”
You really don’t know what you’re talking about. Celibacy was introduced to the priesthood in the earliest centuries of the Church, even for priests already married (see above). It was codified as early as the Council of Elvira in 308 — long before Lateran II.
Why would I want to read some stupid book that takes a completely skewed view of history at the offset?
November 2, 2008 at 10:07 pm
“As a traditionalist, I have to admit that VOF are 100% correct on this question.”
November 2, 2008 at 10:41 pm
You don’t know what you’re talking about.
Please demonstrate how a human legislators can require, by law, the possession of the freely-given grace.
I’ll be waiting a long time. The very idea is jurisprudential nonsense.
It’s idiotic (which is probably why you believe it) to think that God gives the grace of celibacy to all aspirants to the priesthood. Look the relevant dagmatic canon of the Council of Trent. You’ll observe that the Holy Ghost forced the bit about priests only having to ask God for the grace and he’d grant it without fail, outside of the anathema. What this means is that the law requiring celibacy is based on a false premise – and don’t give me your ridiculous fairy tale about the council of Elvira – a provincial council with no ecumencical authority.
Sorry, but it’s impossible for me to avoid the impression that you’re an intellectual bankrupt, Alexander.
Then again, American catholicism started off with a notable intellectual bankrupt, Bishop John Carroll.
I suppose therefore I ought not to be surprised…
November 2, 2008 at 10:47 pm
I ddin’t realize they made a Catholic version of the post-modern essay generator.
Anyway, I bet if the Church drafted married men and restricted their choices to likes of Tom and Ed Peters, Jeff Miller, Jeff Culbreath, Phillip Blosser, et al, VOF would shut up real fast.
November 2, 2008 at 10:51 pm
“Celibacy was introduced to the priesthood in the earliest centuries of the Church, even for priests already married”
This statement evidences your woeful comprehension abilities – by definition married priests are not celibate. What you are talking about is, rather, perpetual continence. And I know the (invalid) legislation you’re relying upon here – a statement by Pope St Syricius in which he enjoins married priests and deacons to stop sleeping with their wives – describing the sexual act as “filthy coitus” – thus betraying his neo-platonic provenance. This view is incompatible with the catholic faith. Velid legislation cannot possibly be predicated upon it.
You need not only to be better informed, you need to cultivate the virtue of humility.
November 2, 2008 at 10:51 pm
The Church views sex as a good thing. Like all good things, it can be sacrificed for the sake of the kingdom. The priest who commits to celibacy, while not essential to Orders, does not give up his sexuality, but rather its genital expression, for the sake of the kingdom. This is consistent with statements made by Christ himself in the Gospel, and by the earliest apostolic writings.
Someone who’s an “intellectual bankrupt” would not realize, that in any debate, the onus of proof is not on the status quo, but on the innovator. Strictly speaking, I am not the one who has something to prove; you are.
I suspect I’ll be waiting a lot longer. If you cannot agree to such standard parameters, there really isn’t a basis for anything to talk about.
November 2, 2008 at 10:55 pm
“And I know the (invalid) legislation you’re relying upon here…”
Very well. Too bad you know nothing of burden of proof (see above), nor the distinction between the private opinion of even a pope, and an official pronouncement when speaking for the Church universal.
I don’t have to prove it’s valid; you have to prove it’s INvalid.
November 3, 2008 at 12:17 am
Burden of Proof (Latin, onus probandi) is the obligation to prove allegations which are presented in a legal action. The Latin maxim necessitas probandi incumbit ei qui agit explains the rule that “the necessity of proof lies with he who complains.” For example, a person has to prove that someone is guilty or not guilty (in a criminal case) or liable or not liable (in a civil case) depending on the allegations.
November 3, 2008 at 1:14 pm
This statement evidences your woeful comprehension abilities … you need to cultivate the virtue of humility.
In other words, “you idiot, humble thyself before my wisdom, and agree with me.” I’ve heard that before, somewhere… Oh yeah, my three year old speaking to my 1 year old.
November 3, 2008 at 3:02 pm
I am friends with many seminarians at St. Meinrad Seminary in Indiana and they tell me nothing of celibacy being something that turns them away. As a former seminarian I can personally attest that celibacy eased my discernment and did not complicate it.
Lastly, the enrollment at St. Meinrad increased by 50% between last academic year and this academic year.
I think the decrease in vocations is because of theological uncertainty stemming from the late 80’s and early 90’s.
November 3, 2008 at 5:09 pm
And let’s also simply overlook the fact that married men can hold the priesthood in the Eastern Catholic rite, an option for ANY Catholic man who happens to be married and find himself with a calling. This also knocks down another pillar in the argument from VOTF, but I don’t think they’ll stop until they finally “have it their way”.
bunch of loons.
November 3, 2008 at 9:10 pm
As a former seminarian I can personally attest that celibacy eased my discernment and did not complicate it.
Thanks for the counter-testimony. I’ve had a sneaking suspicion that some of the celibacy poo-pooing we see involves some projection.