Skip to comments.Vatican asks bishops to create ministry roles for priests who left to marry (Catholic Caucus)
Posted on 10/08/2011 2:09:08 PM PDT by NYer
Facing a growing shortage of priests, the Roman Catholic Church is turning to former priests who left their callings to get married.
While the “dispensed” priests won’t be allowed to take confessions or celebrate mass — they will be asked to serve as teachers and lay workers in such roles as helping serve communion to the congregation, roles already filled by lay members of local congregations.
“The Vatican has appealed to diocesan bishops to encourage priests who have left ministry in order to get married to play a more active role in parish life,” reports Catholic Herald magazine, which reports that Cardinal Ivan Dias, the Prefect for the Evangelization of Peoples in Rome, has written a letter giving more discretionary power to bishops for involving a dispensed cleric in parish life:
The letter, dated February 2, 2011, was sent to a priest who had written to the congregation on behalf of an Australian missionary society that is seeking a relaxation of the prohibitions on dispensed clergy.
Cardinal Dias wrote of his confidence that the Vaticans reforms would enable dispensed priests to lead a more active life in the Church as committed Catholics under their bishops guidance.
In the past, former priests were prohibited from celebrating mass, delivering homilies (sermons), administering communion, teaching or working in seminaries. They were also restricted on how much teaching on the faith they could do in Catholic schools and universities.
The cardinals letter means that the enforcement of half of those prohibitions now come under the discretion of the local bishop.
Is this a move in the direction of allowing married ex-priests to return to the priesthood? Married Episcopal Church ministers who switch to the Catholic Church are now allowed to serve in the full capacity as priests — and remain married.
In February, a Lutheran preacher and married father of two was ordained as a Catholic priest. Harm Klueting, 61, a professor of theology at universities in Cologne and Switzerland, also ordained as a Lutheran minister is now serving as a Catholic priest. His wife has become a nun in the Carmelite order — and neither was required to take the traditional vows of celibacy nor chastity.
“The Vatican has tried repeatedly in recent years to avoid giving any credence to speculation, especially in North America, that the church may have to end mandatory celibacy in order to remedy the growing shortage of priests,” reported John Dart in the Los Angeles Times.
Pope John Paul II, he noted, made it clear that a married priesthood and celibacy were not on the agenda. Pope Benedict is even more strict.
However, the topic continues to be discussed.
Care to weigh in on the issue.
if they’re not successors to St. Pete, then they can teach catechism.
That's probably not all that popular in Latin America (among that crowd of priests and bishops who've always had their women friends).
No doubt this generates rumors.
That is nuts. Give a teaching role to a bunch of traitors who broke their vows and violated their faith? And for what? They would only be doing something that informed laymen could do perfectly well.
The real crunch of the priest shortage is the absense of enough priests to say Mass and administer the Sacraments.
Lay Deacons or trained laymen are unable to fill that gap. But they are unable to say Mass or do Confessions. But they want to bring in rogue priests to teach the faith?
This plan is backwards in more ways than one.
And there will continue to be a priest shortage until they finally broom out the dissidents and heretics in positions of power and finish cleaning up the seminaries.
It would be a lot easier just to drop the celibacy rule and let Priests get married.
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Two things here: First, their marriage, being valid, is until death. And second, Edeltraut Kleuting, Fr. Kleutings wife, is a Third Order Carmelite, not a Carmelite nun. Third Order Carmelites are LAY people who live in the spirit of the order they associate with. In the case of the Carmelites, they seek to live a life of constant prayer and service. They do this within their state of life, so a married woman will continue to live as a married woman.
Thank you. I was wondering about that nun part.
Now, the question is, since the Scripture says for us to live the life assigned to us, are these folks who were Episcopal and Lutheran ministers really coming into the priesthood due to a calling or is this a back door way to force the celibacy issue?
I wouldn’t let them near a Catechism or a teaching role with any discretion—but if they want to demonstrate faithfully doing public penance and reparation for sins, both their own and others, their certainly is a need. They also might lead the Rosary before Mass. I’d even be willing to let them serve as sub-deacons, if they are suitable—that would be a good thing to leave to the disceretion of the bishop. :)
Does the Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples have that authority, or has he simply issued a recommendation for the specific issue in Australia?
On the bigger question, I'm not equipped to opine on the potential utility of former priests. I've met only one, that I know of, and he was a new-age flake who would not, in my opinion, have been much use to Catholics.
The potential for scandal seems significant, however. Better discernment of vocations (both clerical and married) and better formation in the demands of the vocation is what is called for, not less emphasis on the importance of one's vows in either state.
I have known some ex-priests who left precisely because the faith seemed to fall apart after Vatican II, and they were living in heterodox dioceses or were members of religious orders that went crazy after Vatican II.
Incidentally, we’re talking about men who were validly dispensed, not somebody who ran off with the church organist.
Many of them are extremely orthodox and that was why they left. I think they only want to come back now because we have a firmly orthodox pope, and they finally feel there is hope. Maybe they should have stuck it out, but anybody who lived through the 70s will know how horrible things became for orthodox Catholics during that time. And I’m sure it was much worse for orthodox priests.
Over a hundred years ago, I believe the church had an elaborate “gray area hierarchy” between clergy and the religious orders, and the laity.
This was a structural concept and a good one. For example, an artist could take one of these positions if he was planning a series of artwork or music devoted to the church, which provided him direction, something like commissions, access, and other support that would be difficult for lay persons to get. In exchange, it was his promise that he would deliver a “religiously satisfying” product that was inoffensive and serious.
Today, I can imagine any number of such positions, from caregivers to infirm and elderly clergy, to administrative personnel with access to confidential information. Once again creating a broader gray area between clergy and laity, as a comfortable way for laity to give broader participation.
I read somewhere that many of the seminarians who entered during VCII were assured that the council would approve married priests and entered under those conditions. When that did not materialize, they left and married.
The Eastern Catholic Churches enjoy a married priesthood but, as the Patriarch of the Maronite Church noted at a Vatican meeting, married priests present other problems.
VATICAN CITY: Cardinal Nasrallah Butros Sfeir warned the Synod of Bishops in Rome on Friday that allowing Roman Catholic priests to marry might resolve the priest shortage but would create new and "equally serious" problems. Married priests have to divert their attention away from their parishes to their wives and children, Sfeir explained, adding that a priest with a family is more difficult to move to a different parish.
Sfeir called celibacy "the precious jewel in the treasure of the Catholic Church" and asked for prayers so the Church can find an "adequate solution" to the priest shortage.
Eastern rite churches follow many Orthodox Christian rituals but are loyal to the Pope. Unlike Roman Catholics, their priests do not have to be celibate, and Sfeir said half of the priests in his diocese are married. In fact, he recounted, "Many Western priests write to us to ask to be incardinated (attached) in a diocese of the Eastern Church with the aim of marrying."
The issue of the priest shortage has dominated the October 2-23 meeting of the world's bishops. A handful of bishops have specifically raised the celibacy issue, but many have suggested instead that the church redistribute the priests it has, moving churchmen from countries where there is a surplus to countries in need.
The Maronite Church does not send married priest outside of Lebanon. Our pastor is celibate, and a monk! He takes his vows very seriously. Last Sunday, he took time towards the end of the mass, to repeat those vows, on his knees, before the Book of the Gospels placed on the altar, and before the entire congregation.
These vocations are flourishing and will hopefully be able to assist the bishop in areas of need.
However, as you have pointed out, they are unable to say Mass, hear confessions, or administer the Sacrament of the Sick.
His brother in law was a priest (alas, a total Leftwingtard).
If that were true then the 21 of the 22 Churches sui juris in the Church which already ordain, as a norm, married men, wouldn't have a shortage of Priests.
Priests have never been allowed to lawfully contract marriage and remain Priests. While married men were indeed ordained, they were required to adopt the discipline of lex continentiae and forego a conjugal life.
Your specious, at best, solution comports so well with the teaching of Christ and is indicative of your lack of understanding of the ministerial Priesthood of the ordained.
"Then Jesus said to His disciples: If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me." Matthew 16:24
Catholics are already notoriously cheap in supporting single Priests. Where do you propose that the money is going to come from to support a married Priest and his family? What if the Priest's wife throws in the towel and wants a divorce? What if she has an affair? What if he has an affair?
Your "easier" solution is no solution whatsoever.
A vow is not optional.
Priests and nuns shouldn’t throw in the towel because the environment doesn’t suit them. God had them there for a purpose, they wussed out.
You'd have to ask them what their motives are. However, ordination isn't automatic for any of these men. Not every married former protestant minister who converts and applies for ordination is accepted and in the grand scheme of things there have been relatively few since Blessed John Paul II issued his pastoral provision back in 1980.
One detail that you are most likely unaware of is that these converts who are seeking ordination must agree, prior to being ordained, to adopt the discipline of celibacy for the remainder of their life if their spouse precedes them in death. No agreement, no ordination.
It probably sounds good on paper, but my sixth sense is telling me this is probably not a good idea, especially in the area of teaching.