Married Priests: Up for Discussion!

 Under Francis’ papacy, there have been increasing signs that the question of married priests could come under serious discussion.  Now, Pope Francis has said it himself,  publicly.

Francia, La Repubblica

Priest celibacy not a dogma – pope

Pope Francis on Monday said he believed that Roman Catholic priests should be celibate but the rule was not an unchangeable dogma, and “the door is always open” to change.Francis made similar comments when he was archbishop of Buenos Aires but his remarks to reporters on a plane returning from a Middle East trip were the first he has made since becoming pope.“Celibacy is not a dogma,” he said in answer to a question about whether the Catholic Church could some day allow priests to marry as they can in some other Christian Churches.“It is a rule of life that I appreciate very much and I think it is a gift for the Church but since it is not a dogma, the door is always open,” he said.The Church teaches that a priest should dedicate himself totally to his vocation, essentially taking the Church as his spouse, in order to help fulfil its mission.However while priestly celibacy is a tradition going back around 1 000 years, it is not considered dogma, or an unchangeable piece of Church teaching.

-via  Independent On- Line News 

There are already married priests in the Catholic Church – thousands of them. In the Catholic churches of the Eastern Rite (that’s affiliated to Rome, not the Orthodox church), the celibacy rule does not apply. Priests from other denominations that have converted to Rome, either individually or as part of the formerly Anglican Ordinariate, are accepted as married priests if already married. In Catholic teaching, it’s said “Once a priest, always a priest”, so the thousands who have “left” the priesthood to marry, remain priests – but are simply not allowed to practice their ministry. (Some do anyway, as freelance marriage officers, or officiating at funeral chapels).

At a time when the Catholic Church is crying out for priests, and appealing regularly for “vocations” to the priesthood, it’s ridiculous that there are so many people trained, experienced and willing to do the job – but are rejected because of a nonsensical out of date rule.

Under Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI, even discussion of marriage for priests was strongly discouraged – and discussion of women priests explicitly said to be prohibited. Let serious consideration and frank discussions begin (and let them include the place of women in the diaconate and priesthood, and gay priests).


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Re-evangelising the Church.

When I first read of Pope Benedict’s hopes of re-evangelising the West, my immediate response was that the first priority should be to re-evangelise the Church.

Paul Kane at Newsday seems to agree – and believes that Pope Francis is just the man to do it:

Three bold moves Catholic church needs – Paul Kane – Newsday

With three bold reforms, Pope Francis can reinvigorate the billion-strong Catholic tradition, spur a renaissance in church attitudes, bring redemption for past failings, and give hope to the many poor and ordinary people of our world.

While predecessor popes sought to circle the wagons in defense, evangelize and convert the rest of the world, since becoming head of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis has sought instead to “convert the church.” The last 50 years have seen the priorities and conduct of the Catholic Church become muddled. The church has had an abundance of leaders, but a deficit of real leadership. But in 2013, the extraordinary happened, Jorge Bergoglio became Pope Francis.

A rare man and gifted leader, who lives the message of Jesus.

 – full report at  Newsday (emphasis added).

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“The Best Interests of the Children” – of Priests?

In vocally opposing both gay marriage and gay adoption, the Church regularly claims to be defending “the best interests of the children”. In practice, this argument completely disregards the best interests of real children – those hundreds of thousands, probably millions, around the world who are already being raised by gay or lesbian parents.

There’s another group of children the church studiously ignores: those of its own priests.

I’ve previously noted how the insistence on compulsory clerical celibacy amounts to a form of abuse against the wives and partners of the very many priests who for one reason or another cannot, or do not, live in compliance with the rules. A priest in Germany, asking the Vatican to release him from his vow of celibacy while allowing him to continue in priestly ministry, raised another point. Allowing him to continue openly with his existing sexual relationship, possibly in marriage, would be obviously in the best interests of his daughter:


“I tried to walk the road of celibacy again, but since 2007 I have realised more and more that I am just not up to it,” he wrote. “I have known for some years now that the oath I took after just two and a half years of seminary training was too rushed, and did not reflect the constitution of my character.”

Although he has no marriage plans, the request was “above all to allow me to go into a marital partnership into which my daughter can be integrated as part of a family” (emphasis added).

 –  full report at Independent



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Pope sex abuse panel highlights accountability – World – The Boston Globe

One of the few serious criticisms against Pope Francis is that he has not done enough to address the problems of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. In fact, step by step, there is progress.

 O Malley and Collins

VATICAN CITY — Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston said Saturday that Pope Francis’ sexual abuse advisory board will develop ‘‘clear and effective’’ protocols to hold bishops and other church authorities accountable if they fail to report suspected abuse or protect children from pedophile priests.Victims groups have long criticized the Vatican for refusing to sanction any bishop or superior who covered up for priests who raped and molested children. They have listed accountability as one of the key issues facing Francis and a key test for his new advisory board.Francis announced the creation of the commission last December and named its members in March after coming under initial criticism for having ignored the sex abuse issue. The commission’s eight members — four of whom are women — met for the first time last week at the pope’s Vatican hotel to discuss the scope of their work and future members.Briefing reporters Saturday, O’Malley said current church laws could hold bishops accountable if they fail to do their jobs to protect children. But he said those laws hadn’t been sufficient to date and new protocols were needed.‘‘Obviously our concern is to make sure that there are clear and effective protocols to deal with the situations where superiors of the church have not fulfilled their obligations to protect children,’’ O’Malley said.That could include an effort toward creating an ‘‘open process’’ that ‘‘would hold people accountable for their responsibility to protect children,’’ he said.The panel also will make recommendations to the pope on ways to better educate the clergy about child abuse and its consequences.

via Pope sex abuse panel highlights accountability – World – The Boston Globe.

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“Simple faith”: Pagola, on Jesus’ Presentation in the Temple (Luke 2:22-40)

by José Antonio Pagola, at Buenas Noticias, February 2, 2014

(English translation at Iglesia Discalza by Rebel Girl)

The story of Jesus’ birth is puzzling. According to Luke, Jesus was born in a village where there was no place to receive him. The shepherds had to look all over Bethlehem for him until they found him in a secluded spot, lying in a manger, with no witnesses but his parents. Apparently, Luke felt the need to construct a second story in which the child would be rescued from anonymity to be publicly presented. What more appropriate place than the Temple in Jerusalem for Jesus to be solemnly welcomed as the Messiah sent by God to His people?But again, Luke’s account would be disconcerting. When the parents approach the Temple with the child, the chief priests and other religious leaders don’t come out to meet them. Within a few years, they will be the ones who will deliver him up to be crucified. Jesus is not welcome in that religion sure of itself and neglectful of the suffering of the poor.Nor do the teachers of the Law who preach their “human traditions” in the courts of that Temple, come to receive him. Years later, they will reject Jesus for healing the sick, breaking the Sabbath law. Jesus is not welcome in religious doctrines and traditions that don’t help one to live a more dignified and healthy life.Those who welcome Jesus and recognize him as Messenger of God are two old people of simple faith and open hearts who have lived a long life waiting for God’s salvation. Their names seem to suggest that they are symbolic characters. The old man is named Simeon “The Lord has heard”, the old woman is called Anna “Gift”. They represent so many people of simple faith who, in every people and time, place their trust in God.The two belong to the healthiest environments of Israel. They are known as the “Group of the Poor of Yahweh.” They are people who have nothing but their faith in God. They don’t think about their fortunes or their well-being. They only expect of God the “consolation” their people need, the “liberation” they’ve been looking for for generations, the “light” that illuminates the darkness in which the peoples of the earth are living. Now they feel their hopes are fulfilled in Jesus.This simple faith that awaits ultimate salvation from God is the faith of the majority. A little cultivated faith, that almost always takes shape in awkward and distracted prayers, that is formulated in unorthodox expressions, that awakens especially in difficult times of trouble. A faith that God has no problem understanding and accepting.

via Iglesia Descalza: Simple faith.

Red February: Pope to hold meeting with cardinals, create new ones

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — In late February, Pope Francis will be seeing red and a lot of it as he meets with the College of Cardinals and creates new members.

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, told reporters Dec. 5 that the international Council of Cardinals advising the pope on the reform of the Roman Curia and church governance decided to extend by a day their next meeting. It will be Feb. 17-19.

The spokesman also announced that Pope Francis would hold a consistory or consultation with the entire College of Cardinals Feb. 20-21 at the Vatican.

The meeting will precede the celebration of the Feb. 22 feast of the Chair of St. Peter, which is when Pope Francis will create new cardinals. The pope and the newly expanded College of Cardinals will concelebrate Mass Feb. 23.

– continue reading at Catholic News Service 

Pope, cardinal council begin work on reorganizing Roman Curia

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis and the eight members of his international Council of Cardinals have begun their discussions on specific ways to reorganize the Roman Curia with the aim of “a renewal that will truly be a service to the universal church,” the Vatican spokesman said.

On the second day of the council’s Dec. 3-5 meeting, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, the spokesman, said the cardinals planned to discuss the work of each congregation and, hopefully, each pontifical council. They had begun, he said, with the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments.

Father Lombardi had told reporters Dec. 3, “They have to start somewhere,” but declined to provide more information about why the congregation responsible for liturgy was the first to be examined.

Spanish media have reported that Cardinal Antonio Canizares Llovera, congregation prefect, will conclude his five-year appointment Dec. 9 and could be named the next archbishop of Madrid.

The Vatican spokesman continued to insist journalists and other observers should not expect changes to the curia to be announced quickly because Pope Francis and the Council of Cardinals were committed to a complete overhaul of Vatican structures “in light of the expectations expressed by the College of Cardinals before the conclave” that elected Pope Francis in March.

– continue reading at Catholic News Service

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