Saturday, October 31, 2009

A Very Significant "Clarification"

The well-connected Fr. James Martin brings us the scoop, his blog posting is titled "Vatican Clarification:  Ordaining Married Men A Possibility". It opens thus:
In response to various reports over the upcoming apostolic constitution on admitting Anglicans into the church, Cardinal William Levada, through the Vatican's press officer, Frederico Lombardi, S.J., took the unusual step of issuing this "clarification" to some concerns raised by some journalists, including Andrea Tornelli, noted on this blog below.  H/T to Damian Thompson of the Telegraph.  Celibacy, according to the statement, will continue be the norm, but exceptions may be made "on a case by case" basis in the new "personal ordinariates." [my emphasis]
Martin then comments ...
"With such exceptions does the church begin to change."
Click on the link(s) for more.  And here's Rocco.

Martin is correct, in observing that this is how the church changes.  We do not change, we "clarify" positions, we bring forth the fullness of a teaching, etc.  The ban on married clergy has always been merely a discipline, not a dogma, we recall.  It was instituted for particular reasons for the good of the church, and then became a "good" in and of itself.  And, while 'celibacy for the sake of the kingdom' will always be a charism given to some as a way to live the Christian life, mandatory celibacy for clergy may no longer be a discipline that functions for the good of the church, and thus the idea that it is a "good in itself" may be attenuated.  In other words, with regard to priestly celibacy, yes, the church may change, and probably will.

My progressive heart sinks at this news, which may surprise you.  The notion of a married clergy in itself is not my problem, indeed, I like the notion of a family at home in the rectory.  But it will be the husband, not the wife, who is ordained and, once Roman Catholics begin to ordain married men ... you've figured this out already, haven't you? ... we'll never ordain women.

Just so you know -- that's the trade-off.