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Messori: Married priests no remedy for “vocations crisis”
Catholic News Agency ^ | Jan 18, 2007 | Vittorio Messori (via CNA)

Posted on 01/20/2007 3:43:16 PM PST by GCC Catholic

Madrid, Jan 18, 2007 / 02:11 pm (CNA).- The renowned Italian journalist Vittorio Messori published an article recently in which he blasted one of the most popular myths of the day: that married priests would solve the “crisis of vocations.”

Reprinted by the Spanish daily “La Razon,” Messori’s article notes, “The Protestant, Orthodox and Jewish communities are all undergoing similar ‘crisis of vocations’, if not greater, than that of the Catholic Church, despite the fact that their pastors, priests and rabbis can marry.”

“Marriage, therefore, would not be the remedy for the shortage of priests,” Messori continued. “Nor would it be the remedy for the sexual disorders in certain religious environments, beginning with pedophilia. Most of all because pedophilia manifests homosexual impulses (boys are more often victims than girls) and having a wife would therefore not be an adequate solution. And moreover, as the statistics confirm, because the vast majority of abuse takes place in the home, between parents and children and uncles and nephews, this would not be remedy for such situations.”

Messori underscores in his article that “sexual continence” is not some imposition by the Church, but rather the result of a free choice that has its origins in the early Church and that has been practiced for centuries both in the West and the East. It is not a dogma, he noted, but rather “an aspect of Tradition that should be treated with the reverence due to that which is considered to be of apostolic times.”

“In the early Church, the vast majority of the clergy was made up of older men who assumed holy orders, left behind their wives, who gave their consent, and entrusted their families to the community. From that moment they were called to live in perfect continence, no longer living at home but rather in church buildings,” Messori asserted, citing a study by Cardinal Alfons Stickler, the former Vatican librarian and archivist.

Cardinal Stickler’s research proved that priestly celibacy was never considered a novelty and that it has always been an indisputable part of early Church tradition, and it demolishes the theory that “clerical celibacy can only be traced back to 1139, to the Second Lateran Council.”

“And what of the Eastern Churches, where only monks and bishops are obliged to embrace celibacy, while priests and deacons can marry, as long as it is the first and only marriage and takes place before ordination?” Messori asked. “All of the documents show that for many centuries, the abstinence practiced in the West was discussed in those communities and the exceptions that are cited today are actually based on fraudulent sources.”

Messori explained that “only in 691, at the Council of Trullano, was the practice of today’s Orthodox established. But there was an explicit capitulation: the Church in the East did not have the hierarchal organization of the West and it lacked means for repressing abuses, which were increasingly more numerous. And not only that: subject to the Byzantine emperor, the Church in the East gave in to politicians who claimed that a clergy ‘with family’ was more easily controlled. The attempt was made to salvage the principle, imposing sexual continence at least during the period in which priests were exercising their ministry and saying Mass, while aspiring to chastity for bishops and monks. No doubt it was a forced situation, not ideal at all, as many complained and as many still complain about in the East. It’s curious that some today consider that to be desirable for the West also.”


TOPICS: Catholic; Ministry/Outreach; Orthodox Christian; Religion & Culture
KEYWORDS: catholic; celibacy; vocations; vocationscrisis
I've heard things to this effect other places before, but this is the first time that I've read it anywhere. The only shame is that most Catholics don't realize this trend. The solution is not trying to mold the priesthood in the Catholic Church to make it more popular, but rather to foster a culture of vocations.
1 posted on 01/20/2007 3:43:16 PM PST by GCC Catholic
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To: GCC Catholic

I would think that allowing married men to serve as parish priests (i.e. they cannot rise to the rank of Bishop) would be preferable to the increasing trend of having layity serve at the altar and/or distribute the Eucharist.


2 posted on 01/20/2007 3:50:59 PM PST by FormerLib (Sacrificing our land and our blood cannot buy protection from jihad.-Bishop Artemije of Kosovo)
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To: FormerLib

Dear FormerLib,

At least in the United States, it's a dramatic oversimplification to say that there is a vocations crisis. On average, the ratio of baptized Catholics in the United States to American Catholic priests is about 1400:1. If the typical Catholic family comprises three persons, that's not quite 500 Catholic families to each priest.

However, these ratios vary widely from diocese to diocese.

In the Archdiocese of Washington, there are about 500 Catholics to each Catholic priest.

But in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, it's more like 3,500 to 1, and getting worse each year.

The Diocese of Orange, CA is over 4200 to 1.

Vocations to the priesthood don't seem all too problematic in dioceses that are relatively orthodox in teaching and practice. You don't see too many threads about clown Masses in the Archdiocese of Washington. Vocations here are going pretty well.

You may have seen some threads related to the abuses rampant in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Although they have eight times as many Catholics as the Archdiocese of Washington, they ordain less than half the number of priests each year.

Thus, it doesn't appear that the fix is ordaining married men, but rather, is continuing to work to make our dioceses more faithful to Catholic Faith.


sitetest


3 posted on 01/20/2007 4:08:36 PM PST by sitetest (If Roe is not overturned, no unborn child will ever be protected in law.)
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To: GCC Catholic; FormerLib
GCC, why do you suppose that the author of this piece feels compelled to go to such lengths in a pathetic attempt to show that the practice of married clergy in the East wasn't what what it demonstrably was? Frankly, it is disingenuous at best to say:

"“In the early Church, the vast majority of the clergy was made up of older men who assumed holy orders, left behind their wives, who gave their consent, and entrusted their families to the community. From that moment they were called to live in perfect continence, no longer living at home but rather in church buildings,""

Yeah, as unordained monastics, GCC, not as priests.

And what does this mean:

"“All of the documents show that for many centuries, the abstinence practiced in the West was discussed in those communities and the exceptions that are cited today are actually based on fraudulent sources.”"

Are we supposed to glean from this that the Eastern practice of married clergy was deficient because we sat around and talked about the Western practice of celibacy in some areas, particularly around Rome?

The final paragraph of the article is such a marvelous example of the Roman mindset which some of us, myself included, keep forgetting in our enthusiasm for ecumenical rapprochement with the Latin Church. I'm glad of the reminder!

Bottom line, your discipline of clerical celibacy is your discipline. It rises or falls on its own merits. Attempts to dismiss it by pointing to the East or bolster it by attacking the East are offensive. One would think that the Vatican would have to good grace to leave us out of its internal squabbles.
4 posted on 01/20/2007 4:12:29 PM PST by Kolokotronis (Christ is Risen, and you, o death, are annihilated!)
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To: GCC Catholic; FormerLib; Lady In Blue; Salvation; narses; SMEDLEYBUTLER; redhead; ...

Nasrallah Peter Cardinal Sfeir
Patriarch of Antioch and all the East

Speaking to the 11th General Synod Fathers, gathered for their eighth meeting - October 2005

Vatican City, Oct. 07, 2005 (CNA) - The Cardinal defended the practice of the celibate priesthood and discussed the beauty of the tradition, calling it the "most precious jewel in the treasury of the Catholic Church."

While pointing out that "the Maronite Church admits married priests" and that "half of our diocesan priests are married", the Cardinal Patriarch said that "it must be recognized that if admitting married men resolves one problem, it creates others just as serious."

"A married priest", he said, "has the duty to look after his wife and family, ensuring his children receive a good education and overseeing their entry into society. ... Another difficulty facing a married priest arises if he does not enjoy a good relationship with his parishioners; his bishop cannot transfer him because of the difficulty of transferring his whole family.

He noted that "married priests have perpetuated the faith among people whose difficult lives they shared, and without them this faith would no longer exist."

"On the other hand," he said, "celibacy is the most precious jewel in the treasury of the Catholic Church,"

Lamenting a culture which is all but outright opposed to purity, the Cardinal asked: "How can [celibacy] be conserved in an atmosphere laden with eroticism? Newspapers, Internet, billboards, shows, everything appears shameless and constantly offends the virtue of chastity."

Suggesting that their are no easy solutions to the problem of priest shortages in the Church--an oft brought up point during the Synod--he noted that, "Of course a priest, once ordained, can no longer get married. Sending priests to countries where they are lacking, taking them from a country that has many, is not the ideal solution if one bears in mind the question of tradition, customs and mentality. The problem remains."

To this I would add that it is the policy of the Patriarch NOT to assign married priests to parishes in the diaspora. To appreciate this decision, you need to understand that the Maronite Catholic Church is now spread to every continent around the world. There are large communities of Maronites in the US, South America, Mexico and Australia. ALL of the priests serving in these parishes have taken vows of celbacy.


5 posted on 01/20/2007 4:20:34 PM PST by NYer (Apart from the cross, there is no other ladder by which we may get to Heaven. St. Rose of Lima)
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To: Kolokotronis

Be that as it may, Pope Gregory VII and other popes before him pushed celibacy because otherwise the clergy would have formed another feudal caste. As it was, Bishops often behaved like barons. With a married priesthood, church holdings would have fallen into the hands of yet one more set of noble families. As it way, many bishoprics fell into the hands of "nephews." One of the great problems of the French Church in the 18th Century was that almost all the bishops came from noble families, leaving little room at the top for priests from the lower orders.


6 posted on 01/20/2007 6:18:26 PM PST by RobbyS ( CHIRHO)
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To: GCC Catholic; Princip. Conservative; trisham; stfassisi; guppas; goteasier; Cailleach; Nevernow; ...
+

Freep-mail me to get on or off my pro-life and Catholic Ping List:

Add me / Remove me

Please ping me to all note-worthy threads on Pro-Life or Catholic threads.

7 posted on 01/20/2007 6:19:48 PM PST by narses (St Thomas says "lex injusta non obligat.")
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To: Kolokotronis
I apologize if Messori's explanations of the practices in the Eastern Church are deficient or inaccurate; being offensive was not my intent. I posted this piece for discussion. I certainly can't explain Messori's overemphasis on the East.

Remember that in the Latin Church, most of those pushing for married priests as the norm also have other modernist/liberal tendencies. I posted this more as affirmation that allowing married clergy isn't the end-all-be-all solution as many Catholics think.

So far as that last paragraph goes, those are facts that either are true or they aren't. If they aren't, then please help me (and others) to eschew that "Roman mindset."

Again, I'm still learning, and I didn't mean to offend via the post.

8 posted on 01/20/2007 6:24:23 PM PST by GCC Catholic
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To: RobbyS

RS, I've heard that reason for pushing celibacy before and have no reason to doubt it at all. I also have no reason to question the Latin Church's discipline. I doubt many, if any, Orthodox Christians question Rome's absolute right to set such disciplines for its particular church. So far as I know, Rome doesn't seek to impose that discipline on churches in communion with it in their own territories, let alone on Orthodoxy if a reunion ever occurs. I do question the reasoning of the author of this article and find his abuse of historic Orthopraxis offensive.


9 posted on 01/20/2007 6:27:21 PM PST by Kolokotronis (Christ is Risen, and you, o death, are annihilated!)
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To: GCC Catholic

"Again, I'm still learning, and I didn't mean to offend via the post."

You posting this article was not in the least offensive, I assure you. Messori's comments are. Don't worry about! :)


10 posted on 01/20/2007 6:29:52 PM PST by Kolokotronis (Christ is Risen, and you, o death, are annihilated!)
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To: Kolokotronis

It is also true that our church also had the tradtion of maintaining a distance between itself and imperial authority. One of the consequences of the Reformation. was an acceleration of the a weakening of the papacy that had begun began at the turn of the 14th Century, was a radical caesaropapism. I don't think that even in the Russian Church were the clergy so beholden to the crown as they were in England. On the other hand., western understanding of eastern Christianity is quite limited. Even under the most powerful Byzantine emperors, the clergy acted with great independence, so that they could resist strongly the iconoclasm of Leo the Isaurian.


11 posted on 01/20/2007 6:50:07 PM PST by RobbyS ( CHIRHO)
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12 posted on 01/20/2007 8:14:02 PM PST by A.A. Cunningham
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To: GCC Catholic
Remember that in the Latin Church, most of those pushing for married priests as the norm also have other modernist/liberal tendencies. I posted this more as affirmation that allowing married clergy isn't the end-all-be-all solution as many Catholics think.

**************

Amen. The religious life is one of contemplation, among other pursuits. It's difficult to imagine that as a married man or woman.

13 posted on 01/20/2007 8:38:33 PM PST by trisham (Zen is not easy. It takes effort to attain nothingness. And then what do you have? Bupkis.)
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To: sitetest
...that's not quite 500 Catholic families to each priest.

Holy smoke!

You have to realize that we Orthodox Christians are used to numbers far less that half that per priest. We have priests tending parishes of less that 100 people in some cases.

14 posted on 01/20/2007 8:40:30 PM PST by FormerLib (Sacrificing our land and our blood cannot buy protection from jihad.-Bishop Artemije of Kosovo)
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To: FormerLib

Dear FormerLib,

"You have to realize that we Orthodox Christians are used to numbers far less that half that per priest. We have priests tending parishes of less that 100 people in some cases."

I'm referencing the overall baptized Catholics in a diocese. Even in a diocese that averages 500 families per priest, regrettably, we don't see 100% of Catholics involved actively in parish life. Unfortunately, it's probably closer to about a third, and in some dioceses, even less.

I used baptized Catholics only to illustrate the dramatic differences between dioceses.


sitetest


15 posted on 01/20/2007 8:59:47 PM PST by sitetest (If Roe is not overturned, no unborn child will ever be protected in law.)
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To: sitetest

And I was referencing the baptised Orthodox Christians in a parish. Regretably, we also do not see 100% participation of baptised in parish life.

The contrast in numbers remains valid.


16 posted on 01/20/2007 10:19:11 PM PST by FormerLib (Sacrificing our land and our blood cannot buy protection from jihad.-Bishop Artemije of Kosovo)
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To: GCC Catholic

Compliments to you for your gracious attitude.

It's refreshing .

And thanks for posting this article. It's very helpful in presenting the Latin rite discipline of celibacy. It also points out the need to encourage vocations. I am convinced that the vocations are there, as God will always provide them. They only need to be fostered, encouraged and supported.


17 posted on 01/20/2007 10:54:22 PM PST by Running On Empty
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To: trisham

What they are proposing is a professionalization of the priesthood. There is a difference between a calling and a profession, because the latter focuses on
earning a livehood with service secondary. The second reading today, I corninthians 12, is about the different gifts that members of the Church enjoy. We need to reflect on that.


18 posted on 01/20/2007 11:17:22 PM PST by RobbyS ( CHIRHO)
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To: Running On Empty

There is something heroic about the celibate priesthood. I am reminded of the movie, "The Keys of the Kingdom," with Gregory Peck. The contrast between his life and that of the American missionary couple is striking. because as much as they have given, he has given even more. John Wesley who devoted his life to spreading ding the Gospel to the common people of England, was married and a poor husband, because he was always away.


19 posted on 01/20/2007 11:24:18 PM PST by RobbyS ( CHIRHO)
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To: RobbyS

Exactly! I wish I could have defined it so clearly.


20 posted on 01/21/2007 5:23:18 AM PST by trisham (Zen is not easy. It takes effort to attain nothingness. And then what do you have? Bupkis.)
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To: FormerLib

Dear FormerLib,

Then it seems that Orthodox parishes can be very, very small.

If there are 100 MEMBERS (not families) in a parish, and two-thirds of those aren't active (often the regrettable situation in Catholic parishes), that means that there are priests who have a single parish for which to care comprising perhaps 35 active members?

That wouldn't be typical at all in the Catholic Church.

My own parish is far more typical, where there are perhaps 650 or 700 registered families, but where perhaps 200 families are active, with a single, full-time priest dedicated to our parish, assisted by one deacon. Our parish used to be larger, with over 1,000 families, and perhaps 300 or more active families, but then, we had two priests and two full-time deacons.


sitetest


21 posted on 01/21/2007 6:14:38 AM PST by sitetest (If Roe is not overturned, no unborn child will ever be protected in law.)
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To: sitetest
Then it seems that Orthodox parishes can be very, very small.

And that we have a lot more priests in comparison and no laity serving the Eucharist.

22 posted on 01/21/2007 6:51:11 AM PST by FormerLib (Sacrificing our land and our blood cannot buy protection from jihad.-Bishop Artemije of Kosovo)
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To: FormerLib

Dear FormerLib,

"And that we have a lot more priests in comparison and no laity serving the Eucharist."

It would be interesting to know, in the United States, how many folks are counted as Orthodox, how many are active, and how many priests there are.

Also, it would be interesting to know these statistics in the rest of the world at large. I remember looking a couple of years ago about Orthodoxy in the Republic of Georgia. There were around 600 priests, if I recall correctly, for several million nominally-Orthodox persons. But it seems that at least in that country, the ratio of active believers to the entire number of nominal believers is quite low.


sitetest


23 posted on 01/21/2007 9:31:09 AM PST by sitetest (If Roe is not overturned, no unborn child will ever be protected in law.)
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To: GCC Catholic
Yes, this is a bit off the topic but it's on purpose. We can talk about what is wrong with the Eastern Church and use it as an example of how the Western church shouldn't be all we would like, but it doesn't matter.

Married priests in my opinion are indeed a remedy for homosexual priest in the West. FAMILY, is the backbone of society and the Church should be encouraging this as it leads by example. Not only that marriage is a sacrament for a reason.

Also, I don't care about what happened centuries ago, I am seeing the world as it is today where homosexuality is far more prevalent and poised to make the church work a little harder in saving souls. So, it seems that most of the assumptions made here are based on the idea that the social climate is the same then and now. The Church must make adjustments that do not favor those who seek to diminish it's purpose.

Look, the fact of the matter is, Christianity is being slowly torn apart by Islamic forces pushing their way West. I can point to many parts of the globe, mainly in the East, where Christian places have become Islamic and all we can talk about is the Western Church vs the Eastern Church. Does it bother the Western Church that thousands of Orthodox churches have been destroyed in the last 10 years? It should!

Additionally, today there is a powerful hedonistic moral relativism sweeping across the globe. It's the worship of self, accomplishments, power, and wealth. This is what has taken the place of spiritual fulfillment, love and Christ. Again, adding to the work that the Church must do.

Marriage is under attack from all sides and I would strongly recommend Christianity to take that into consideration when leading the people to their salvation. A married man is not less pious because he is married. A single priest is no more pious because he is single. Both are however equal in their chances for salvation through Christ. However, the married priest certainly has more experience in raising children and has much more understanding of how to deal with todays challenges in relationship to the teachings of Christ than a single priest.
24 posted on 01/22/2007 6:33:45 AM PST by SQUID
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To: GCC Catholic; 2ndMostConservativeBrdMember; afraidfortherepublic; Alas; al_c; american colleen; ...


25 posted on 01/22/2007 5:07:09 PM PST by Coleus (Roe v. Wade and Endangered Species Act both passed in 1973, Murder Babies/save trees, birds, insects)
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To: GCC Catholic

Bump for later.


26 posted on 01/22/2007 5:23:31 PM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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