13 January 2016

Married priests?

The Universal Church, Eastern and Western, discerns a particularly close linkage between celibacy and sacerdotium. That is why Bishops, in whom resides the plenitudo Sacerdotii, are everywhere celibate.

But the same does not apply with as much force to presbyters. If in the earliest centuries presbyters were required to be celibate, then we must remember that the Church develops her practice and her doctrine and that, therefore, the existence of a largely married presbyterate in the Oriental sui iuris Churches must be deemed to have developed non sine nutu Sancti Spiritus.

And the subject I am thinking about is the ordination of married men. It most certainly is not the idea of allowing priests to marry. Here, again, the consensus of East and West and of the millennia would be strongly against it. An 'amnesty' for those who "left the priesthood to get married" ought never to be on the cards. Them, least of all!

The practice, which began under Pius XII, of admitting convert Lutheran and Anglican married clergy to the presbyterate, is, and always has been, a special case.

All those points are not what I wish at this moment to discuss (Do you hear me?) I itemise them simply in order to clear the ground so that I can get down, undistracted, to today's Great Matter. So here goes:

I think that the admission of  married men to the Latin Rite priesthood is, at this particular moment and given the present situation within the Latin Church, to be strongly resisted.

Briefly, two reasons.

(1) Clerical celibacy is ultimately a matter of discipline; it has been derogated from; therefore it can be derogated from. On the other hand, the restriction of the Sacrament of Order to viri is a matter of dogma; the church nullam facultatem habet to ordain women. The two matters are totally different. But there are people who either do not understand this distinction or who conveniently and dishonestly pretend not to understand it. Admitting married viri probati  to Holy Orders would, by the ignorant and the deceitful, be described and distorted and publicised as simply a preliminary for the 'next step'.
(2) Ordination of such viri probati would, culturally, strongly emphasise the restriction of Holy Order to males, and thus place it under the very fiercest campaigning pressures. Particularly where a nun or a lay woman had de facto been running a Christian community, the sudden arrival of a newly ordained married (male) priest to take over would in fact hammer home the 'exclusion' of women in a particularly personal and vivid and visible way. There are parts of Ireland where the introduction of a married permanent (male) diaconate has, in just these last few years, been fiercely resisted - and actually prevented - by feminist and heterodox pressures. Think about it!

Be in no doubt: the call for Married Priests is but a surrogate and a tactical preliminary for the real battle: the struggle for the admission of women to Holy Order.

Women Priests; and Abortion; and Dissolution of the bonds between Sexuality, Matrimony and Fertility; are the unholy and inglorious Triad with which the Enemy at this particular historical moment plots the de radicibus destruction of the whole state of Christ's Church militant here in Earth. People who can't see that are a major part of the problem.

Believe me, I know. I've spent most of my life as an Anglican; and we refugees from Old Mother Damnable know exactly how these things are managed. The tools include Gradualism (give people time to get used to the idea: if you spring things on them too abruptly they might discover that they have principles). And Dialogue ("We just want our voices, our experiences to be heard; why can't we all just talk?"). 

At the heart of it is getting the whole jigsaw complete except for just that one last piece ... which now so easily and so naturally slips into its allotted slot.


John F H H said...

Believe me, I know. I've spent most of my life as an Anglican; and we refugees from Old Mother Damnable know exactly how these things are managed. The tools include Gradualism (give people time to get used to the idea: if you spring things on them too abruptly they might discover that they have principles). And Dialogue ("We just want our voices, our experiences to be heard; why can't we all just talk?").

Reading this immediately brought to mind C.S.Lewis's Screwtape Letters. Perhaps this should be mandatory reading for all, or at least all seminarians.
And this passage quoted in the Telegraph's extract from the Holy Father's new book, The Name of God is Mercy, (and, contra the Telegraph writers,the 'corrupt man' is not those in the Vatican and the Curia,but whosoever the cap fits) makes me wonder if the Holy Father has read Screwtape.

“Corruption is the sin which, rather than being recognised as such and rendering us humble, is elevated to a system; it becomes a mental habit, a way of living. We no longer feel the need for forgiveness and mercy, but we justify ourselves and our behaviours.
Jesus says to his disciples: even if your brother offends you seven times a day, and seven times a day he returns to you to ask for forgiveness, forgive him. The repentant sinner, who sins again and again because of his weakness, will find forgiveness if he acknowledges his need for mercy. The corrupt man is the one who sins but does not repent, who sins and pretends to be Christian, and it is this double life that is scandalous.
The corrupt man does not know humility, he does not consider himself in need of help, he leads a double life. We must not accept the state of corruption as if it were just another sin. Even though corruption is often identified with sin, in fact they are two distinct realities, albeit interconnected.
Sin, especially if repeated, can lead to corruption, not quantitatively—in the sense that a certain number of sins makes a person corrupt—but rather qualitatively: habits are formed that limit one’s capacity for love and create a false sense of self-sufficiency.
The corrupt man tires of asking for forgiveness and ends up believing that he doesn’t need to ask for it any more. We don’t become corrupt people overnight. It is a long, slippery slope that cannot be identified simply as a series of sins. One may be a great sinner and never fall into corruption if hearts feel their own weakness. That small opening allows the strength of God to enter.
When a sinner recognises himself as such, he admits in some way that what he was attached to, or clings to, is false. The corrupt man hides what he considers his true treasure, but which really makes him a slave and masks his vice with good manners, always managing to keep up appearances.”

ChrisB said...

The maneuver for priestesses as a major objective for the "year-of-mercy" is being not-so-subtly laid out in my local contemporary "katholic-community."

The "community," run by the lefwing Marianist order from Dayton, Ohio in the USA, is a major "spirit-of-V2" operation. Constant marketing of the Pope F brand, and constant reminders from the pastor that women are excluded in the Catholic Church, and constant experiments with the Mass. Every Mass now ends with the new "liturgical" suffix: "be merciful, as your father in heaven is merciful."

Eugenie Roth said...

Thank you for this Statement!
God bless you!

Anonymous said...

What is the most striking, most convincing argument against women "ordinations" to holy orders, to be used in the upcoming discussion? We have to prevent not only women "ordinations" to the priesthood, but also to the diaconate, because that is the door opener for the latter. This is the "Marschroute", told me a North German auxiliar Bishop openly, who attended even the Lutheran service of an "Ordination" of the female "Bischoefin" of that denomination in the area of his diocese, and could not understand why I see any problem in his taking part in that ceremony.

Dan said...

I must take issue with you Fr. Hunwicke. There is a rather long tradition of married priests in the first millennium of the Church. AS it is now, there is a strong homosexual presence among the bishops and priests due to the celibacy requirement. Why else do you think one seldom, and in my case never, hears homilies on sexual purity-- and the strange inaction by our bishops against pro-abortion politicians, as well as the persecution of holy priests, as in the case of the priest who refused communion to that Lesbian at the funeral? In addition, there is no tradition of women priests, so there is no grounds, other than subjective feelings, to promote that cause.

August said...

I have seen this sort of thing discussed in many places, and I think it is an unfortunately side effect of the political struggle in which we find ourselves- it is also wrong. The bishops need to be able to ordain married men according to the needs of their diocese. It doesn't matter what the left will do. Constraining ourselves in the hopes that they will not strike is pointless. They will keep doing what they are doing- and they would prefer to use the Vatican to do it. It this is, as it should be, a return of authority to the bishop, then it will also weaken the progressives tremendously. They would prefer to use the Vatican to implement their plans globally.

Victor said...

Hear, hear!
Thank you for your clarity in this matter, dear Father.

Anonymous said...

"I've spent most of my life as an Anglican; and we refugees from Old Mother Damnable know exactly how these things are managed." And I'm sure this is precisely why certain parties resisted and obstructed welcoming those refugees in from the war zone in the first place.

Gillineau said...

Dan, celibacy causes homosexuality? Crikey!

Also, marriage and priesthood and inheritance and divorce (and remarriage) in relation to contemporary legal matters (and the mores they support/ nourish/ develop) makes the idea of married priests practically impossible. One of course presumes such priests will live according to the teaching of the Church on matters familial..!

Let us hope and pray that co-pope Francis is open to, and accessible to, the Holy Ghost.

Dan said...

Gilleneau, I misspoke. The celibacy requirement has occasioned, not caused, a large number of homosexuals in the clergy. I hope you understand the difference. My bad.

Anonymous said...

Of today's first reading in the Roman Breviary, version of 1939:

Hilarius, in Aquitania nobili genere natus, doctrina et eloquentia excelluit. Qui primum in matrimonio quasi monachi vitam egit: deinde propter singulares virtutes Pictavorum episcopus creatur: quod munus episcopale sic gessit, ut a fidelibus summam laudem consequeretur.

August said...

I wonder what it is about conservative and/or traditionalists that invite this mindset of losing nobly. Is there anything really noble about losing, and why must we do it? Why must we bind ourselves, remove from our own hands some of our strongest weapons? Surely you know a married man in your parish who is faithful- surely you know he would make a good priest and not deviate from tradition?

But no, we cannot employ our remaining troops to battle, because of how it would look to the enemy. We must keep this appearance about ourselves, even as we die, rather than getting on with the job.

Anonymous said...

Right on, Father...as usual!

I spent my growing up years experiencing the married "priesthood" firsthand...my Dad was a Methodist minister. Now my Dad was the most honorable man I know, but watching him struggle with JUST EXACTLY THE KIND OF MAYHEM FATHER HUNWICKE REFERS TO caused me to cast about, realizing the depths of depravity the Methodist "Church" had stooped to. My Dad himself told me he would never become a Methodist minister if he had to do it all over again. Well, it took a while, after I received a theology Masters at a Wesleyan seminary...and then years of studying the various Protestant doctrinal positions but I led my wife and adult children {save one holdout who praise God is with her husband studying under the tutelage of a fine FSSP priest, to the Catholic Church.

My life experiences in the Protestant world put me solidly in agreement with Fr Hunwicke.

And it is obvious, folks, that it has all been going on for a long time. We can argue about whether V2 ITSELF was/is the problem but putting that aside, we can see for fact and certain the progression of modernism that has worked its way into and then spread thru the Church.

No question the married priesthood would be seen as a "step in the right direction" by modernists and an excuse to allow "broader sexual expression" {READ: "You heteros have your marrieds, it's only fair we homos get equal billing"...as well as the feminists who would be along shortly to demand "THEIR equal share"}.

Very well thought out, Father. You nailed it.

Don Camillo SSC said...

Dear Father, one irrefutable advantage of a married clergy is that our wives are never afraid to tell us when we are talking tosh.

Jacobi said...

The doctrine and understanding thereof on “viri probati” are clear, but the danger is real and growing

The weapons are Ignorance, Ambiguity, Gradualism and TV propaganda (using rather eloquent, nice lookers, as seen tonight, and of whom there appears to be no shortage).

Any resulting sect will not be within Catholicism!

The Modern Medievalist said...

My ghostly Father, this is a well-reasoned article, though I confess that, even after reading, I remain in that tiny camp of "traddies" who would also like to see an expansion of the married presbyterate. It's not one of my pet issues, but I believe as the Church continues to hemorrhage, we'll eventually have to adopt one of the following models:

1.) A priesthood composed of married men, many of whom will be forced to have secular occupations to support themselves independently, or;

2.) A priesthood composed of celibate priests in religious orders or societies, consolidated into a handful of large houses who fan out across the whole city every morning, or;

3.) A combination of the two, as in the Eastern Church, sort of.

Either way, the current norm of the celibate diocesan priest who lives on-site by himself (or with one other junior vicar to bully about) and is treated like a middle-class professional will naturally fall into abeyance; to which I say, good riddance.

Hugh McLoughlin said...

Might I suggest that “Church Law and Church Order in Rome and Byzantium: A Comparative Study”, Birmingham Byzantine and Ottoman Monographs Volume 8, by my late friend Fr Clarence Gallagher SJ, Rector of the Pontifical Oriental Institute 1990-95, provides an excellent account of how the discipline in relation to celibacy diverged between the Latin and the Oriental rites?

At page 34, Fr Clarence notes: “That there were married priests in the Church is something that is presupposed in both the Latin West and the Greek East. Canon 5 of the Apostolic Canons states: ‘Let not a bishop, presbyter or deacon put away his wife under excuse of religion; but if he put her away, let him be anathema.’ Similarly canons of the Councils of Gangra, Neocaesarea and Carthage presuppose the existence in the Church of married clergy and these canons are contained in both the “Dionysiana” [an unofficial collection of canons and papal decretals compiled by Dionysius Exiguus, “the first great canonist of the Western Church known to us by name”, in Rome at the beginning of the 6th century] and in the “Synagogue” (of John Scholasticus, appointed Patriarch of Constantinople by Justinian in 565ad).”

Fr Clarence's personal opinion, voiced to me in 2002 just before his book was published (I got a signed copy for my 50th birthday on April 17 that year) was that a change in the Latin discipline was inevitable but that it wouldn't come about in his own lifetime. Fr Clarence went to his eternal reward on May 5, 2003: so he was right about that.

Edwin said...

It is never wise to disagree with you, dear Fr Hunwicke; but this time I must do so. It is, you agree, a matter of discipline rather than of doctrine. There are many married priests in Communion with the See of Peter - former Anglicans are newcomers in this. You adduce two reasons for resisting; first, that it will be the thin end of a wedge leading to the Ordination of Women. But it has not done so in the oriental churches. The reason why many Anglican groups moved in that direction was because there was no magisterium, no authority which could resolve that or any other matter. The Catholic Church has said, quite clearly, that it is impossible for women to be ordained. No matter whether married men are ordained or not, this does not alter.
Your second rather curious point is that to ordain married men would make feminists more aware than they are already that ordination is restricted to men. So refusing to ordain married men will keep the monstrous regimen quiet? I think not.
The only question for me is whether married men may be ordained, and if so why the Church is not ordaining them. Of course it does not answer all the Church's problems; and of course it creates more things to be resolved. But at least those of us who are married Catholic priests should not be resisting moves to increase our numbers. And of course Anglicanorum Coetibus kept the door open for allowing married men to go forward to ordination, even though they had not previously been ordained as Anglicans. (pace the Ordinary in the USA)