Skip to comments.Vatican Says Celibacy Rule Nonnegotiable
Posted on 06/28/2003 2:21:40 PM PDT by Canticle_of_Deborah
VATICAN CITY The Vatican reaffirmed celibacy for priests Saturday, rejecting arguments that the Roman Catholic Church (search) could resolve the "crisis" of decreasing numbers of clergy by opening the priesthood to married men.
Instead, the Vatican (search) said, current priests should dedicate themselves to attracting more candidates by better explaining the priesthood to lay Catholics and encouraging families and children to consider religious vocations.
The reaffirmation was contained in a wide-ranging document issued Saturday as the final conclusions to a meeting, or synod, of European bishops held in 1999. Pope John Paul (search) II held back on issuing the final document until now, because he wanted the timing to be right in Europe, Vatican officials said Saturday.
In fact, one of the major thrusts of the document is a reiteration of Christianity's heritage in Europe, and an exhortation by the pope that European leaders drafting the first EU constitution make reference to the role Christianity has played in shaping the continent.
Earlier this month, EU negotiators finalized a draft of the constitution that made no reference to God or Christianity, despite lobbying from the Vatican. Opponents argued such a reference could undermine the secular nature of the bloc.
Italy, which takes over the EU presidency starting Tuesday, has said it plans to reopen the debate over including the reference when governments begin a final review of the text in October.
"This is a constitution that does not yet exist," Cardinal Jan Schotte, head of the synod, told a press conference launching the document. "For me, nothing is definite."
Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Birmingham, England, a secretary of the synod, said omitting a mention of Christianity was "unworthy" of the constitution's authors because "no presentation of Europe can be honest if it fails to recognize the part already played, and still played, by Christianity in the shaping of Europe."
The document touched on a host of other issues, including a call for Europe to be more welcoming to immigrants, for the Catholic Church in Europe to engage in a "profound and perceptive" dialogue with Islam and Judaism, and for the "full participation" of women in the life of the church.
Schotte said that didn't mean women could at present be heads of Vatican congregations, since that would require they be ordained. The Vatican reserves the priesthood for men.
The document acknowledged there were fewer and fewer men signing up for the priesthood, but said removing the celibacy requirement wasn't the answer.
"A revision of the present discipline in this regard would not help to resolve the crisis of vocations to the priesthood being felt in many parts of Europe," the document said. "A commitment to the service of the Gospel of hope also demands that the Church make every effort to propose celibacy in its full biblical, theological and spiritual richness."
There has been a steep decline in the ratio of Catholics to priests worldwide over the past 20 years. In 1978, there were 1,797 Catholics for every priest. In 2001, the number was 2,619, according to Vatican statistics cited by Catholic News Service.
The Vatican gives no evidence, of course, hoping that by fiat its declaration reflects reality.
It may or may not be true that married priests would relieve the shortage of priests, but the Vatican will never know, since it refuses to discuss the issue, or even commission a study of it.
"A commitment to the service of the Gospel of hope also demands that the Church make every effort to propose celibacy in its full biblical, theological and spiritual richness."
The only thing Catholics see in a celibate priesthood is a predominance of homosexuals. One thing's for sure: a married priesthood may or may not bring more men into the priesthood, but it will bring heterosexual men into the priesthood, which might be a good place to begin discussing celibacy in its full biblical and spiritual richness for those who choose to accept it.
Catholics also see married Protestants being accepted into the priesthood, and many are scratching their heads trying to understand why married life-long Catholic men aren't deserving of the priesthood, too.
I've noticed the Vatican seems to issue one of these "celibacy forever" documents on a yearly basis, almost as if it is trying to convince itself that, yep, we're right on this one.
On a second reading of the article, I'm wondering if the Vatican's statements are nothing but the usual boilerplate on celibacy. The timing of this document and its major theme seems to be a slap at the EU for not highlighting the role of Christianity in its constitution.
And once more you cave in.Just curious,exactly what will it take for you to take a stand in favour of the Catholic Church,and her proclamations?
I stand in favor of the Catholic Church, and her doctrinal proclamations. Celibacy is neither doctrine nor universal discipline, anymore, with the Anglican dispensation.
What's your point?
Maybe the Vatican learned its lesson about the futility of commissioning studies after the Birth Control Commission?
If the Church were to backed down here,then I suspect the flood gates would be open to even more drastic changes,yes?
It's not causal, certainly.
There's no reason why a Church of 62 million members is served by an ever-dwindling number of priests. The Church ought to find out why.
The Vatican, however, is not interested, and asks us to "pray" for more priests.
How many Catholic parents do you think are actively encouraging their young male children to consider the priesthood, with what has happened over the last 18 months, and continues to happen?
This is John Paul II's decision. He's a stubborn Pole, who can reach out to the Orthodox, to Protestants, hell, to Muslims, AND he can welcome Protestant ministers into the Catholic priesthood at an ever-increasing clip.
But, he cannot let the thought cross his mind that married Catholic men could be called to the priesthood.
I think it's because he knows that the whole celibacy canard could collapse, in a heap. So, better to continue the begging and pleading than to actually get at the root causes, to listen to local bishops, and to face the facts honestly.
Yes. Maybe the Vatican shouldn't put doctrine to the whims of a commission.
A discipline like celibacy,however, is ripe for a study. Why are men in the West not responding to calls to the priesthood, whereas men in Latin America, Africa, and Asia seem to be?
Let Andrew Greeley run it. He did a sociological study in the 70s, which the bishops ignored.
And Greeley would be perfect, since he's all for maintaining the discipline of celibacy.
Yes. The Vatican fears that the Roman Catholic priesthood would tilt toward a majority of married priests, over time.
And the guys for whom marriage is no longer a possibility grit their teeth over that.
You're not going to agree with my answers, but what the heck...
Because they are surrounded by a culture of dissent to a much greater degree than the Latin American, African and Asian clergy. Because many, if not most, Western seminaries are essentially homosexual bawdyhouses. Because lay psychologists are rejecting candidates that show any tendency to actually be Catholic.
Etc., etc., etc.
Not many parents encourage their sons to enter the priesthood because: 1. They probably only have one son; and 2. They want grandchildren; and 3. a "good" job in the secular world, after and expensive college education is or can be financially rewarding; and 4. more importantly, imo, about 30% of Catholics attend Mass on Sunday. That leaves about 70% of Catholics not even encouraging their kids to attend Mass except maybe on Easter or Christmas, never mind encouraging them to enter the priesthood.
I was just at a cookout with five other Catholic families. Four of us have two kids each and one has one kid. My kids and I are the only ones who attend Mass at least once a week. Two attend sporadically and two families never attend at all.
The past eighteen months have no bearing on any of our religious habits... they were the same before and they are the same now. But now there is a handy excuse not to attend.
If Africa, and Asia priests evangelized here would you have a problem with that? If the west can't get it done,then let it be done by any means available.
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