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.
All true. And, since we would expect such a married priest and his wife to be true to Catholic teaching, the parish could expect a large family to support.
Freakin’ unbelieveable. I’ll just stay with my faith and forget the excuse for a church.
“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.”
Cicero, you are so very correct! I’m certainly no expert. I do think, though, that the best way to obtain proper priests in a needed volume is to ensure that seminaries are orthodox, traditional, and that those who teach at said seminaries are themselves orthodox and traditional in both demeanor and teaching. Make sure, as much as possible, of the discerned vocation, screen those seeming unsuited. If it’s working for the more traditional orders and societies (and it does seem to be), then fewer liberal, neo-modernist seminaries should equal a greater amount of solid, orthodox priests. No?
I reckon the title is going to get a lot of responses.
Freegards, thanks for all the pings.
Makes one wonder if you'd beat feet if you heard the sound of gunfire too.
Alberto Cutie comes to mind. This is probably not a good idea, at least for the USA.
First of all, this is a private letter sent to an individual. It is not a magesterial or juridic statement of the Holy See.
Second of all, this is a letter sent by the Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, not the Prefect of the Congregation of the Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments (the proper dicastery to issue such a statement of policy in this area) (note: up to 1988, the CDF dealt with it. Many of the documents pertaining to the subject are still from the CDF).
Third, read what the Herald actually reported the letter as saying: 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 other words, no controversy, nothing new, but yet the Herald is reporting it as such? WTF?
For those who don't know, the process of dispensing priests is a fairly standard process, although not broadcast that well.
Canon 290 §3 states: A cleric, nevertheless, loses the clerical state…by rescript of the Apostolic See which grants it to deacons only for grave causes and to presbyters only for most grave causes.
The rescript of laicization is boilerplate. It reads as follows (recripts after 1988 would be from the CDWDS):
Rescript of Laicization
Prot. N. ___________________
Father __________________, a priest of the (Arch) Diocese of _____________________, has petitioned a dispensation from priestly celibacy.
His Holiness, Pope John Paul II, after having received a report on the case from the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on (date, month, year), has granted the request but with the following provisions:
1. The rescript has its effect from the moment of notification made to the petitioner by the competent ecclesiastical authority, and inseparably includes a dispensation from priestly celibacy and, at the same time, loss of the clerical state. The petitioner never has the right to separate those two elements, that is, to accept the first and refuse the second. If the petitioner is a religious, the rescript also contains a dispensation from the vows. Further, the said rescript carries with it, insofar as it is necessary, absolution from censures, not excepting the excommunication which may have been incurred because of a marriage attempted by the parties; it also includes legitimation of offspring.
2. Let notice of the grant of dispensation be recorded in the baptismal register of the petitioners parish.
3. With regard to the celebration of a canonical marriage, the norms set down in the Code of Canon Law must be applied. The Ordinary, however, should take care that the matter be discreetly handled without pomp or external display.
4. The ecclesiastical authority to whom it belongs to communicate the rescript to the petitioner should earnestly exhort him to take part in the life of the People of God in a manner consonant with his new mode of living, to give edification, and thus to show himself a most loving son of the Church. However, at the same time, he should be informed of the following points:
a) the dispensed priest automatically loses the rights proper to the clerical state as well as ecclesiastical dignities and offices; he is no longer bound by the other obligations connected with the clerical state;
b) he remains excluded from the exercise of the sacred ministry, with the exception of those functions mentioned in canons 882 and 892, §2, and, as a result, he may not give a homily. Moreover, he may not function as extraordinary minister in the distribution of Holy Communion nor may he discharge any directive office in the pastoral field;
c) similarly, he may not discharge any function in seminaries or equivalent institutions. In other institutions of higher studies which are in any way whatever dependent upon ecclesiastical authority, he may not exercise the functions of director, or office of teaching;
d) however, in those institutions of higher studies which are not dependent upon ecclesiastical authority, he may not teach any discipline which is properly theological or closely connected with the same;
e) on the other hand, in institutions of lower studies, which are dependent upon ecclesiastical authority, he may not exercise the function of director or the office of teaching unless the Ordinary, in keeping with his prudent judgment and provided that there is no scandal, shall have decided to decree otherwise as far as the office of teaching is concerned.
5. As a rule, the priest who has been dispensed from priestly celibacy, and, all the more so, a priest who has married, ought to stay away from places where his previous status is known. Nevertheless, the Ordinary of the place where the petitioner is staying, after he has listened, insofar as it may be necessary, to the Ordinary of incardination or the major religious superior, will be able to dispense from that clause attached to the rescript, if it is foreseen that the presence of the petitioner will not beget scandal.
6. Lastly, some work of piety or charity should be imposed on him. At an opportune time, however, a brief report should be made to the sacred Congregation on his performance, and, finally, if there should be any wonderment on the part of the faithful, let a prudent explanation be provided.
All things to the contrary notwithstanding.
From the offices of the S. C. for the Doctrine of the Faith, on the (date, month, year).
While there are a lot of very common sense restrictions, you will also note that there is a whole bunch that is not excluded.
And I think that this is the point of Cardinal Dias' letter (at least as far as it was reported). And something that utterly escaped Beliefnet and, shockingly, the Herald.
Exactly. The conservative orders of nuns are expanding at a great rate, with more applicants than they can handle. The old liberal orders of nuns have mostly disintegrated, and with some orders none are left but a few old nuns in nursing homes with no younger sisters to care for them.
Same in the men’s religious orders. The Jesuits are going to the dogs, as they continue to elect dissident, traitorous leaders. There are still some good ones, but they are aging rapidly. In contrast, the few conservative orders also have many applicants.
A number of American seminaries had problems like gay leadership, so everyone but gays was thrown out, and especially any candidates who were orthodox. The results were obvious.
Things are better now. But a lot of university theology departments, in fact most of them, need to be cleaned out. And a lot of seminaries need to be cleaned out. And a lot of diocesan catechetical directors need to be cleaned out. Because they are all sabotaging their students.
So what will it gain to bring back gangs of dissident priests? Nothing at all, especially if they are not allowed to hear confessions or say Mass, to relieve the real priest shortage. And I agree that they should not be allowed to, because they would merely undermine the Church worse than they did earlier. What could be worse than invalid confessions or invalid masses, or sermons leading people into sin?
I do not understand how someone leaves the priesthood and remains in the Catholic Church. I realize that we are all sinners and we do very serious things that are against God's laws and that our confessor can forgive them.
I do not understand how we can trust a priest that has turned his back on the priesthood?
I am concerned with all the Catholics that have turned their backs on the Catholic Church and with Catholics that seem to be Catholic in name only “CINO”. I am concerned that many will not be invited to heaven, and I truly hope that they see the Light and return to Jesus as Lord and the Catholic Church.
Second name that comes to mind: Richard Sipe
For their sake, I try not to judge harshly, but my instinct is, "keep 'em away from any highly visible role," because I guess by that instinct I don't trust them. But I'm sure there's more to it all than I understand.
Could certainly be the fallout from the pressure being put on young people think "discern a calling." A sincere person can imagine/wish/hope/be persuaded that they're being called to something.
I also know a Sister -- a solemn and devout one -- who was not "invited" to renew her vows. So out she goes into the world, an "ex" nun -- would have no trouble trusting her.
sounds like one Cardinal in the office wrote one letter to one priest with his personal opinion.
And then that priest released the statement to the press...
another case of the Vatican bureaucrats working against the pope?
Priests have never been allowed to lawfully contract marriage and remain Priests.
You are wrong priests were at one time allowed to be married.
For the first 1200 years of the Churchs existence, priests, bishops and 39 popes were married. 3 Celibacy existed in the first century among hermits and monks, but it was considered an optional, alternative lifestyle. Medieval politics brought about the discipline of mandatory celibacy for priests.
Lets remember the words of Jesus: “You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church.” St. Peter, the pope who was closest to Jesus, was married. There are three references in the Gospel about St. Peters wife, his mother-in-law and his family. Based on Jewish law and custom, we can safely assume that all of the Apostles, except for young John, were married with families. 4
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.
Maybe it is you who lack understanding , and I am not so specious.
I didn’t see my post back to you so wanted to repeat it. I said I guess you will just have to continue wondering about it since I will not respond to that portion of your arrogant and insignificant post. The end!
There is nothing inherent that says that a deacon cannot eventually be allowed to say Mass. The order of Presbyter (commonly known as priests) can remain as was originally intended as an assistant to the Bishop in a certain location. All three levels of Holy Orders, Bishop, Presbyter and Deacon, could, with a fiat from the magisterium, say mass, hear confessions........
Just to be clear on this, Orthodox priests can only be married if they were married before they became ordained. If the priest’s wife dies or they get divorced, the priest is not allowed to remarry and remain an Orthodox priest.
1Ti 3:2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach;.......
1Ti 3:4 One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity;
1Ti 3:5 (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)
Tts 1:5 For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee:
Tts 1:6 If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly.
Tts 1:7 For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre;.....
This verse refers to bishops that were widowers. Paul is instructing that these widowers could not remarry. The verse also refers to those bishops who were currently married. They also could not remarry (in the Catholic Church's Eastern rite, priests are allowed to marry; celibacy is only a disciplinary rule for the clergy of the Roman rite). Therefore, this text has nothing to do with imposing a marriage requirement on becoming a bishop.
Where’s the Vatican letter or a document, I can’t find it.
This is a no go. Period.
Even though I saw the letter referred to was in February, I will contact the Cardinal (he retired in March btw).
In the very early Church, before presbyters, there were Bishops and Deacons. The deacon at that time was an assistant to the Bishop and his ministry was one of service. Acts of the Apostles describes the first process that established the diaconate.
As time passed, the office of deacon became a transitional office, that is, it became a step in the process of ordination to the presbyterate. It eventually disappeared except in its transitional aspect.
The office of the permanent deacon, that is, a deacon ordained to be a deacon and not as a transition to the presbyterate, was reestablished at the Second Vatican Council specifically as a office of service. It was not, nor has it ever been, considered to be a sacerdotal office.
So, no, permanent deacons cannot offer the Sacrifice of the Mass, the Sacrament of Reconciliation, or the Sacrament of the Sick. Nor are these sacraments reflective of what the diaconate was historically. They can currently baptize (as can anyone in an emergency) and witness marriages. The matrimonial witness is an interesting one since the Church views the ministers of the Sacrament to be the couple with all others serving only as witnesses. You will not see a change in the sacramental role of the permanent deacon and it could not be changed in the way that you have described.
Priests, on the other hand, could be allowed to marry if the Church was to see fit. Celibacy is a discipline and a great gift to those who have been given it although it has its challenges. Although THIS could be changed, you and I will never live to see it if it eventually happens.