9 February 2015

"Salvete atque valete"

Connoisseurs of really quality blogs will be delighted to know that Salvete atque valete has woken up after a quiet patch. And with a vengeance!! It's the Patrimony, you know!

The subject it deals with, in the first Post of its Resurrection Life, is important and won't go away: the centrality of the Priest's Wife and Family to the ethos of what we Anglicans built up in our centuries of isolation from Catholic Unity. Clerical Marriage, as we have known it, is not a rather pathetic Lesser Good than the normative Celibacy of Latin Christianity; some sort of concession to weakness. It is in itself a demanding and sacrificial model of sacerdotal life; a beautiful flower which the Lord tended in our part of the garden when the connecting gateway to the other parts of the garden was bricked up.

I suspect that few of us would want the tradition we have inherited to be used as, or in some way become, an engine for the demolition of the Western norm. In this sexually obsessed world, there has never been a greater need for the bright light of Celibacy as a Sign that Sex is not inevitable; not dominant.
And we must not over-romanticise the Married Priesthood. Somebody once sent me a page or two of the American Clergy List, which detailed the matrimonial history of PECUSA clergy ... and how very common divorce seemed to be; often, multiple divorce. Nor does a permission for clerical marriage guarantee that there will be no sexual hanky panky. On the contrary: priests' wives themselves are not ring-fenced from the snares of the World, the Flesh, and the Devil! And husbands, even clerical ones, can do wicked things in frustration because of problems in their marriages. We all need to be very careful indeed, and not clutch at facile 'solutions'.



Don Camillo SSC said...

It is good to see Fr Allan's blog. He got me into SSC many years ago, in Swindon. I have just put the following response to his piece on clerical marriage:
A very well-argued piece, Father. I like to call the Anglican style the “domestic” pattern of priesthood, as opposed to the “monastic”. Both are valuable. It is unfortunate that, in its desire for a celibate clergy, the Latin Church does not say, “Let’s see who has a vocation to celibacy, and then look for priestly vocations from among this group,” but, “Let’s look for priestly vocations- ah, that means you must have a vocation to celibacy too.” It doesn’t follow, and has led to some sad and unnecessary defections from the priesthood.

Mick Jagger Gathers No Mosque said...

Dear Father. This claim The Pope recalled that celibacy was adopted 900 years after the death of Jesus is not only ahistorical it is antihistorical and the cure for this ecclesiastical error is easily correctable;

Fr Christian Cochini "The Origins of Priestly Celibacy."

Matthew Celestine said...

See a response to Cochini's arguments from an Eastern Catholic perspective:

East to West: Clerical Celibacy

Tristan said...

Following on from the commendation of Fr Conchini's work, there is also this piece by Roman Cholij (now of St Edmund's Hall, Cambridge):



ps - Could I trouble our learned host, and ask his opinion on the modern (?) Anglican tradition of more than one bishop laying hands to make a Deacon and ordain a Priest?

Say, for instance, the diocesan, the suffragan/area bishop, and 'old Uncle Bob, retired Bishop of Barchester' who wanted to lay hands when his nephew was being ordained. Are they just being pious, or do they each convey orders?

Tristan said...


My apologies, I forgot to mention that this issue has recently been raised in an RC context, which I why I suddenly thought about it in the Anglican context:



ps - And it appears Roman Cholij is of St Edmund's *College* Cambridge.

Fr John Hunwicke said...

Only the Bishop should lay hands on a deacon. This is very old and important principle. In the corporate imposition of hands by the Presbyterium, any bishops who participate in addition to the ordaining Bishop are doing so qua presbyters, not episcopally.

I have a personal view that all the participating presbyters are ministers of the Sacrament, doing WITH their Bishop what they could NOT validly do on their own.

Don Camillo SSC said...

A very attractive view, Father.

Mick Jagger Gathers No Mosque said...

Brother Boniface has written a worthy review of Fr Cochini's study with a very interesting internal link.


Perhaps he plans to write about the question of marriage in the east...

Anonymous said...

Dear Father,

re. you write that in the corporate imposition of hands by the Presbyterium, any bishops who participate in addition to the ordaining Bishop are doing so qua presbyters, not episcopally, and that according to your personal view all the participating presbyters are ministers of the sacrament, doing WITH their bishop what they could NOT validly do on their own.

Does this mean also, that an Ordination of Presbyters which is invalid due to a deficit of the ordaining person - the Canon laws mention several reasons for such invalidity - cannot be "repaired" by the impositions of hands of other attending clergy, even if this clergy does not have any deficits reg. their faculties, including validly ordained bishops who participate "qua presbyters"?

Fr John Hunwicke said...

The participation of another bishop would not repair an invalid ordination unless he had said the form (i.e. the Prayer of Ordination)as well as imposing hands. Traditionally, validity is only assumed when an adequate minister has employed adequate Form and Matter. There would also be question of intention. If the additional prelate thought he was only conferring a blessing, this would, in my view, be a dubiously adequate intention.

Anonymous said...

Then, Father, not only all Lutheran ordinations are to be regarded utterly void, even if prelates of the Utrecht line participated the imposition of hands, but also 'ordinations' attempted by women even when assisted by validly ordained prelates if the latter would not also employ adequate form and matter.