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I am slowly deciphering some of the written materials left by the late Msgr. William J. Awalt. For review and comments, they are being posted at my BLOGGER PRIEST site.

http://bloggerpriest.com/category/awalt-papers/

Msgr. Awalt was the pastor of St. Ann’s Church in NW Washington , DC for just over 30 years, retiring in the year 2000. I was honored to preach at the Mass celebrating his 60th anniversary as a priest in 2007. His pastorate was marked by a deep devotion to the Eucharist and a never-ending preoccupation with preaching the Gospel and teaching the Catholic faith.

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Bill and Susan are both baptized Catholics. But they rarely went to Mass. You might see them in the pews at Christmas and Easter, but that is about it. One Easter they came to Mass and had the surprise of their lives. The parking lot was empty. Going up to the church doors, they discovered that everything was locked. Confused, they almost decided just go home but it was Easter so they drove a little further to another church. Again, they were shocked. There was no one there, either. Now the mystery was intriguing them. What had happened? Had there been a revolution and the churches forcibly closed? Were the Protestants right and all the good Christians taken away by the rapture? They traveled outside of town to a third church. Here they found cars but services were ending. Although they had missed Mass, they entered the church for a quick visit and to find reassurance that nothing else had suddenly changed. Everything appeared to be in place, although the congregation seemed a bit small from the celebrations remembered in the past. They saw the priest and approached him with their puzzlement.

Susan spoke first, “Father, we are sorry about missing Mass but we had trouble finding an open church.”

Father Flynn responded, “I take it that you are new to the area. We would love to have you register here. We can always use new members.”

“No Father,” said Susan, “we have lived here all our lives. We were married at St. Margaret’s.”

“Oh my,” responded the priest, looking somewhat disturbed and maybe upset.

Bill entered the conversation, “We went to St. Margaret’s this morning and finding no one there went over to Holy Spirit. Both places were empty.”

“Yes,” lamented the priest, “I guess you both feel inconvenienced.”

“It certainly ruined Easter, what is going on Father?” asked Susan.

“You won’t like my answer. It might even make you angry,” added the priest.

The priest motioned for them to sit in a pew next to him.

“What is it, Father?” asked Bill.

“I will tell you,” said the priest, “it is your fault.”

Taken aback by the answer, they immediately insisted that he explain.

“You and so many people like you, killed St. Margaret, Holy Spirit, and almost a hundred other churches in the diocese. You want the church for a wedding, as if the building is only a decoration on a cake. You might ask for a baby’s baptism, when grandparents nag you. But then we have trouble finding a godparent who is not in mortal sin. Everyone who comes is a stranger. No one is practicing his or her faith. You come to Mass a couple times a year, throw a few dollars in the basket and expect the church to still be here waiting for you when you feel like coming back. Some only come to church twice in a lifetime, the day of baptism and the day of final repose. You did not know about those churches because they were not a part of your life. You did not support your parish through donations. You did not add to the parish life by your participation at Mass and in the various volunteer opportunities. You did not have children or if you did, you did not encourage vocations. How did you expect us to keep the churches open when we have no priests and empty pews? You broke the hearts of your priests who gave up the possibility of spouse and children to take care of the family of God. Priests weep over their people who neglect Confession and the Mass. Priests yearn to forgive your sins. You became comfortable with sin and made excuses. You said by your neglect that our sacrifices did not matter. Some of you were even vocal in arguing for married priests and condemning all celibate men as deviates and predators. In essence, your dissent and absence told the priests that we were wasting our time. Worst of all, you were saying that you did not need the Church. You forced God to the periphery of your lives, if he were there at all. The churches closed were wonderful places once. God lived in those houses and in the hearts and souls of the people. But when you stopped coming, things began to run down. Where there were once three priests, now there was one. Eventually even that one was shared between parishes. Many young people stopped coming. The congregations got older. The average parishioner age at Holy Spirit was around eighty! God called the faithful remnant home. Grandparents tried to give the faith to their grandchildren, but sometimes with opposition from their own children. They suffered terrible guilt. What had they done wrong? Why did their children stray? Bills started to grow and resources were strained. The new Bishop had to take action. Critics hated him and spouted condemnations when he closed beautiful old churches. Many of these same voices were those of fallen-away Catholics. They still had sentiment about their childhood parishes, but nothing of a deeper or lasting value. Catholics today are twice as populous as in the old days, but less than 15 to 20% go to weekly Mass. Back in 1960, that figure was 90 to 95%. Our schools are dying and increasingly expensive. Our churches are relegated to the status of museums instead of as places of worship and community life. You did not pray— you did not pay— and now you are upset that the churches did not stay. We are drowning in a sea of hypocrisy. A housing developer will be bull-dozing Holy Spirit within the month. Who knows what shall become of St. Margaret Catholic Church? There is talk that a Baptist group might buy it. Some of the churches have become condominiums with the guts torn out. What the enemies of the Church could not do, we have done to ourselves.”

The couple was silent. The priest reached into his pocket and pulled out a broken piece or marble or plaster made out as marble.

“See this,” said the priest, “this is a fragment from the altar at Holy Spirit. I was pastor there. On the morning I came by to pay my final respects, demolition men were hacking the altar to pieces. It was on that altar that bread and wine became the body and blood of Jesus. It was from that altar that the faithful received the bread of life and the cup of eternal salvation. I did everything I could think of to save the church. I went door-to-door in an attempt at outreach. But there was a bigger Catholic church down the road and we had no school. Even they were struggling. Most people of faith in the area were Protestants. Others spurned all religion. Many Catholics had moved away and those who remained did not come, except for my small faithful remnant. I buried most of them.”

Staring straight into the faces of the couple, he lamented, “I cried and cried after seeing that altar destroyed. Here, take this,” offering the altar fragment.

“It means too much to you Father, no, we couldn’t take that,” returned Bill.

Not taking no for an answer, the priest forced the fragment into his hand, and said, “It is okay, I really want you to have it. You are right, it meant a lot to me, but it is my hope that someday it might come to mean something to you and your wife.”

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FSSP transform a modernistic free-standing altar into a very beautiful High Altar. The church that this took place in is in France and is now operated by the Fraternity of St. Peter. The complete time for this “Altar-ation” was just about 15 minutes!

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1194984585936802019female_rollandin_frances__svg_medMary gave birth to a baby boy and named him Jesus.  Jesus grew up and he picked more boys to be his apostles.  They in turn ordained still more boys to be bishops, priests and deacons.  The priesthood is the ultimate boy’s club.  But radical feminists act as if it is a woman-hater’s club… it is not.  We all benefit from the ministry of priests.  Not all men are worthy of this vocation.  Women are called to other vocations, like religious life and motherhood.  Except for a misguided sense of egalitarian equality, a disproportionate focus upon one element of social jusitice and feminists hungry for power, there is little that commends a move to ordain women.  These dissenters would not only refashion the ministries but also Jesus would be remolded to their liking.  He would become an abstraction, a model for their agenda but not the historical Savior.  If God is not neutered, then he is likely made feminine.  Jesus becomes Jessica or the Kristi who hangs upon the cross, raped and defiled by male machismo.  They talk about equality; but this is a lie.  They seek dominance and payback for what they regard as past subjugation and oppression.       

I just read an article by Greg Archer over at THE HUFFINGTON POST entitled, “Roman Catholic Female Priests Growing in Numbers: An Insider’s Perspective.” I feel compelled to make a few comments. It is important that good Catholics not be confused by dissent on women priests or priestesses. There simply is no such creature within the Christian context. Christ has never given the Church the authority to ordain women. While our Lord counted women among his disciples, only men were selected to be his apostles. Jesus proved time and time again that he was willing to break the stereotypes of his day; however, upon this matter he retained a male leadership or hierarchy.

Many are surprised to find out that Catholicism only has one High Priest— Jesus Christ. Every man ordained to service is configured to Christ and participates in his one priesthood. The ordained priest is a living and breathing icon for Christ. His very flesh and his manhood resonate with that of Christ— making our Lord and his saving work present for the community. Historically, the Gnostic heretics had priestesses because they rejected matter as evil and denied the full incarnation of Christ as the God-Man. Catholics and/or orthodox Christianity take the incarnation seriously. Matter is not evil. Indeed, human nature is elevated and divinized by the coming of God among us as our brother. While the soteriological implications transcend gender, in baptism and faith all can know the gift of redemption; the parameters of sacerdotal ministry were clearly laid out. Only men could be bishops and priests. This did not deride the role of women. Holiness is available for all. It is just that God has intended that we fulfill differing roles.

Some have argued that the male-only priesthood gives balance to God’s life-giving love. Just as only women can physically conceive and give birth to a child; only a man (who is a priest) can spiritually confect the Eucharist and give us the bread of life. The Church also offers us the marriage analogy that passes down from Scripture. The priest signifies Christ who is the divine bridegroom; the congregation at Mass signifies the Church, his bride. Many of the centrist advocates for priestesses hate this analogy because it makes the notion of a woman priest into a kind of sacramental lesbianism.  Of course, the more liberal critics might like this analogy in that they also support the gay and lesbian lifestyle.

The article started off by mentioning Victoria Rue, a lady who “attempted” ordination back in July 2005. Although the author claims to be “an insider” he refers to the precious blood as a wine chalice. This might be Episcopalian terminology; but, it is not how informed Catholics would speak about the cup. In any case, his point is that she is only one of a quickly growing number of women who are becoming “priests”. I have to stop at that point and insist that he is wrong to assume that these women are truly priests. They can play dress up, but as far as the true Catholic Church is concerned, they are only posturing.

He pokes fun that the Vatican would solely acknowledge “those sporting an XY chromosome” and yet he fails to realize that gender is more than an accidental. Too many people have bought the lie that the sexes are interchangeable or essentially the same. Gender is more than facial hair and muscles; it is a core element of human identity. The saints in heaven will still be both men and women, not neutered monstrosities. The resurrected and glorified Christ was still a man. Mary, our Blessed Mother, is still a woman. Gender has more purpose and meaning than genital expression. It is who we are.

Seven women tried to become priests three years earlier on the Danube River, seeking to avoid canonical sanction from the immediate archdiocese. However, by January 2003, they were all rightfully judged  excommunicated. He also mentions Christine Mayr-Lumetzberger and Gisela Foster of a group called Womenpriests. They make a claim to ordination because their renegade bishop had apostolic succession. However, a woman constitutes “invalid matter” and cannot be ordained, even if the form is correct. They also like to confuse the issue of a celibate clergy (a discipline in the Church) with that of proposed women priests (which is doctrinally impossible).

Other women are also slowly joining the ranks of excommunicated wannabe priestesses. Rue claims that the Vatican has become quiet because they do not want an escalation. I suspect the real reason is because the Church has already made its position clear. There might also be an element of pity for these poor women who want something so desperately that they cannot have. The article gives the impression that this is all a game of strategy. But this is only the opinion of the dissenters. The Church is not playing. There is no game. It is a done deal. There can be no change… not today, not tomorrow, not ever.

These so-called women priests are really just creating their own church. They are Protestants with a few Catholic trappings. Some have gravitated toward the Episcopal communities that allow priestesses. As far as many of us are concerned, this movement is rather mute. Anglican orders, even for men, are probably largely invalid. Women priests merely represent the last nail in the coffin for a church that is no longer even Christian in its values. Adultery is routinely accepted.  Fornication is excused.  They welcome openly gay men and lesbians! What is left?  When mortal sin is regarded as a virtue, Satan has won the day!

The author cited a 2006 NATIONAL CATHOLIC REPORTER survey of U.S. Catholics that said 62% of those responding favored women priests. An AP poll in 2005 found about 65% supported the change. But the AP is hardly sympathetic to Catholicism and such numbers make good news. As for the NCR, it is a liberal rag that gets the answers it wants. Traditional Catholics would likely not even respond to such garbage surveys. Further, who are these Catholics? Are we talking about NCR readership? Just because someone was baptized or went to Catholic school does not make a person a “real” or “practicing” Catholic. Only a quarter of our people still go to Mass. The rest are victims of modernity with its secular humanism, materialism, hedonism, and ignorance of faith. In any case, the truth and Church teachings are not open to polls. The Church is not a democracy. Christ is king and still in his heaven. The Pope is his vicar on earth.

While the 1975 report of the Pontifical Biblical Commission noted “no scriptural objections to ordaining women,” this summation is somewhat misleading. All it means is there is no direct statement from Christ about it. However, we do have the Scriptural teachings about Christ’s relationship to the Church (see St. Paul) and his example in appointing only men as his apostle-bishop-priests. Further, Catholicism is NOT a “sola scriptura” religion. We also have Sacred Tradition. There we do find explicit statements against women’s ordination. The early council of Nicea forbade the laying on of hands upon women (ordination).

Rue asserts in the article that there is archeological and Scriptural evidence for priestesses, but this is not true. She and her organization Womenpriests put a spin on dubious materials that cannot be substantiated. Conveniently for her, too much so, she complains that there was more evidence the Church destroyed and that the canonist Gracian wrote them out of the Church’s legal books and history. Her organization also sometimes fails to distinguish early heretical groups from the orthodox. They try to argue that boyish icons of priests are really females. They grab for straws and the author of the article swallows it uncritically.

And who is this know-it-all Victoria Rue who functions as his chief source? She is an ex-nun, seduced by militant feminism and angry with the Church. She left the Catholic Church. Her theological training was at a Reformed Protestant school in New York. She studied Liberation Theology, inherently Marxist in regards to its dialectic analysis of poverty, but she pursued it under the umbrella of radical feminism and lesbianism. She also studied at the GTU in Berkeley, California, a so-called ecumenical school known for its adherence to religious indifferentism and relativism, even in regard to blatantly and/or pagan non-Christian religions. She, along with other Womenpriests, are deceitful to gullible Catholics about their standing. As a teacher of propaganda in “women studies” and “comparative religious studies” she feigned being a real priest and offered a “weekly Catholic Mass” at San Jose State University. We are told that the diocese in 2006 rendered this statement:

Rue is not a validly ordained priest of the Roman Catholic Church. Members of the Roman Catholic Church should not participate in celebrations of the sacraments that are conducted by Victoria Rue, as those celebrations are not in union with the local or universal Church.

The fact that she regularly celebrates so-called Masses at an Episcopal church in San Francisco says it all. They might be in communion with her but she is not in communion with the bishops of the Catholic Church. She is a Protestant. All priestesses are either Protestant or pagan (understood as a reference to the old religions prior to Christ). Some of them even say that they worship the goddess. There is a popular crucifix with a naked woman upon it. However, Kristi is a model of the divine that has no place in genuine Christianity. It is Jesus Christ who offers the saving sacrifice and who forgives sins, not Kristi suffering with a bad hair day.

At the end of the article we are told that Rue is a lesbian who has lived with her partner for many years— big surprise— NOT!

Scriptural prohibitions against homosexuality and lesbianism mean nothing to her. She cites psychological views to the contrary. Of course, the American Psychiatric Association once referred to perversion as a disease. It was only when gays poured into the field that this verdict changed. Divine positive law and natural law take precedence over human whim. Rue says that her sexuality is important to her identity as a priest. This is an interesting statement, given that she renounced the Church’s prohibition of women priests based upon the importance of male gender as an element of identity in the priest.

The article concludes by telling us that there are now five RC bishop gals and almost 100 priestesses in the U.S. This is hardly a number about which the Church needs to be worried. Few practicing Catholics take these ladies seriously. Many of them are also quite advanced in years. They will not be around for long. Meanwhile, the numbers of young men entering legitimate seminaries are on the rise. Nice Catholic girls and women are entering religious orders with traditional charisms and structure. Rue traded in her habit for a collar. But the former she prized too lightly and the latter does not belong to her.

The article ends with the acclamation, “Hail, Mary!” But Mary would not be pleased. She is about bringing us to her Son. These women are preoccupied about themselves and power. In reality, the priesthood must always be about humility and obedience— servanthood. However, Mary must indeed be brought into the equation. All these wannabe priests should repent and come home to the true Church.

“Holy Mary, Mother of God, Pray for Us Sinners!”

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Why Does the Fire Go Out?

People have their reasons, but there is no good reason for leaving the Church.  The majority in the area where I reside are probably Baptist and/or Evangelical.  Some of these communities target Catholics and many Catholics marry non-Catholics.  Not understanding their own tradition, many Catholics are inordinately moved by the music and preaching in Protestant churches.  Catholic reformed rituals might not be regarded as very entertaining.  Much of the music we sing is criticized as trite and unmoving.  When we borrow Protestant hymns or sing Gospel, it is usually a pale imitation of what our separated brethren have to offer.  Music enshrines preaching.  Particularly in the African-American community, services can go hours.  The importance of the minister is measured by his musicality and his effectiveness as a preacher.  Our gravity is upon the formulae of liturgy, not upon preaching. 

Masolino_Peter_Preaching2

Preachers and Priests, No Comparison?

Many priests were trained to keep homilies or sermons to ten minutes or less.  That is about the length of two or three MTV videos.  Time-wise, it cannot compare to the formation of the media or to the teaching sermons of our separated-brethren.  I knew one old man who went to Mass on Saturday night and to his wife’s Baptist church on Sunday.  He told me that he went to Mass for Holy Communion and to the Protestant church for good preaching.  This is a rather sad state of affairs.  Are we fully feeding our people?  Preaching outside the Catholic Church may be dynamic and meaningful; however, it is also fraught with religious error.

Sermons or Homilies?

I recall from preaching seminars that the priest should offer a homily based upon the Scriptures of the day.  This focus was understandable but I found the focus too narrow and absolutist.  The priest or deacon can preach upon the readings, the liturgical prayers themselves, upon the feast or memorial, or upon what his people (at that time and place) need to hear.  I had a vigorous dispute with a liturgist when I suggested catechetical sermons. It was and remains a contention of mine that many people stray to other faith communities because they really do not understand Catholicism and the full significance of the Eucharist.

Can Father Talk Too Long?

How long should the priest or deacon preach?  This depends upon many factors:

1.   What is the type of liturgy?

2.   What has to be said to make the message worthwhile?

3.   What is the capacity in patience and in comprehension of the listeners?

Given that Catholic sermons are usually shorter than Protestant counterparts, the priest might be able to amplify his instruction by linking his sermons from week to week.  He can also use the parish bulletin, special adult education and bible study, and invite people to use the cycle of readings themselves with missals they can take home.  If people look at the readings before Mass, their experience will not be cold when the priest or deacon speaks about them.  Instead of merely thinking about what Protestants have that we don’t, let us utilize our own strengths, the missal and the cycle of predetermined readings. 

Catholics might also do well to getting used to longer liturgies.  Of course, this runs counter to the Roman Rite tradition, known for being curter and more to the point than Eastern Rite liturgies and certain Evangelical Protestant services.  There is a basic dilemma with longer sermons, and that is the balance and rhythm of the Mass.  A long homily and a short Eucharistic prayer seems to switch the gravity away from the sacrament to the Word which is intended to dispose us for the sacrifice and Holy Communion.

I am concerning myself essentially with the Sunday homily.  Given work concerns and strained time issues, weekday Masses would probably have to remain little more than basic exhortations.  Such exhortations are similar to aspirations:  Jesus, Mary, Joseph save souls!  Do good and avoid evil!  Keep faith and hope alive!  Lord, have mercy on us!  God will not abandon you!

Messages Should Comfort and Challenge

Homilies more strictly revolve the Readings; however, sermons can touch upon all sorts of relevant topics.  Sermons might be moral exhortations, catechetical moments, inspiration rhetoric and stories, etc.  However, they should always connect the lesson, whatever the source, to the lives of the people listening.  The congregation should not be passive to the preaching but actively engaged.  A topic is explored, the message is ordered for coherence, examples or illustrations are made, and there is the immediate appliance.

The words used in preaching vary upon the setting.  When the clergyman marries a couple, he speaks about the joy and hopes of the couple.  He might also challenge them to keep the marital act free from the corruption of lust and artificial contraception.  However, many Catholic ministers are afraid to rock the boat.  When a priest or deacon officiates at a funeral, his words emphasize the consolations of faith to those who mourn, the promises of Jesus our gentle shepherd in regard to eternal life, and the need to go on with our lives.  Again, many Catholic ministers are afraid of the conflict that comes with challenging the congregation to see the death as a warning about their own mortality and the need to reform before it is too late.  Even evil men are temporarily canonized and little is said about Purgatory.  A number in the pews no longer even believe in Hell.  Sunday homilies are often pampering and grossly approving because many clergy are afraid of alienating the numbers in the pews and depleting the money gathered into collection baskets. 

Need for Courage and Trusting Providence

I knew a priest in the South who tried to integrate the two churches he pastured, one white and the other black.  White parishioners complained to the bishop and the man found himself stripped of his parish, reprimanded for making trouble, and reassigned to a teaching position in a college far away.  Decades later he was still not allowed to return to parish ministry.  But God writes straight with our crooked lines.  This priest ended up teaching seminarians.  He inspired another generation of men in ministry to struggle for social justice. 

How often have we heard certain priests speak about artificial contraception, abortion, divorce and remarriage, or even about fornication and cohabitation?  Some men in ministry are afraid.  But what chance do God’s people have when their shepherds are passive and fearful?  The late Pope John Paul II echoed our Lord’s words of wisdom, “Be not afraid.”

It may be that the priest shortage and the clergy scandals have drained the energy resources and joy of our priests.  This needs to be remedied.  The core message of the Gospel is not exhausted or angry.  Priests who show enthusiasm or excitement about the Catholic faith and Gospel are the most effective.  It is also a mentality which breeds vocations.  Young men do not want to join a confraternity of tired old men who only go on because of cold duty and obligation.  We have to be on fire with the faith if we want those in the pews to ignite!  It is very hard for a priest to give what he does not have.  God’s servants should be so in love with God that this love spills over in their service of others.  Preaching should reflect a life of prayer and a drive to save souls!

The preaching should move God’s people to greater faith and acts of service to our Lord and neighbor.  It assists everyone to better understand the Eucharist and disposes us to receive the Blessed Sacrament.  We take what we have been given in Word and sacrament as we go out in mission to the world around us.

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gibsonpaintedI am sick at heart about the hypocrisy we find all around us. It is no wonder that good people feel discouraged in the Church. Today’s headline was like a punch in the stomach: MEL GIBSON’S GIRLFRIEND IS PREGNANT! What? I was still lamenting his wife’s decision to divorce him.

A few years ago the conservative voices in the Church fell over themselves trying to make an apologia for Mel Gibson’s breakaway “traditionalist” Catholicism. Much was made of the fact that an approved priest offered the Tridentine Mass for Gibson and his associates while they filmed his movie about Christ in Italy. He was even interviewed very “gingerly” on EWTN. Many claimed that it was the fault of liberals and aberrational practices in the post-Vatican II Church which had estranged him. His PASSION OF THE CHRIST was reviled by some and praised by others. Purportedly the late Pope remarked about the movie portrayal: “It is as it was.”

The movie upset some in the Jewish community, but the same voices criticized Pope Benedict for insisting that Jesus remains the universal Savior. Gibson told Diane Sawyer: I don’t want people to make it [his film] about the blame game. It’s about faith, hope, love and forgiveness. That’s what this film is about. It’s about Christ’s sacrifice.”

The film was violent, but was probably still short of the terrible reality that constitutes crucifixion. Gibson told Sawyer that the drama was a personal testimony of faith. But there was a great disconnect in the fact that he could claim Catholicism and still ridicule the Holy See, the bishops, and breech himself from juridical unity. It was also hard to understand how a good Catholic could be party to sexual simulation as an actor.

Gibson confessed that he had been suicidal, even contemplating jumping out a window. But he turned to the Bible and rediscovered Christ. He rightly asserted that our Lord “was beaten for our iniquities.” “He was wounded for our transgressions and by his wounds we are healed. That’s the point of the film. It’s not about pointing the fingers.” Many had hoped that the film would make him a true champion of Catholic faith and values. However, it seems that the “spiritual bankruptcy” which plagued him years earlier has sought to reclaim him.

Mel Gibson is a man with many gifts and yet also terrible addictions. He is one of us, although cameras and gossip mongers follow him everywhere he goes. He admitted to problems with alcohol. He fell off the wagon and used anti-Semitic slurs against the arresting officer. He admitted to sexual promiscuity. His wife has left him and now a young girlfriend is reported as pregnant. Gibson really is in no position to criticize the Church, with or without the vernacular Mass and reforms. Gibson needs our prayers and we should let him know that the Christian community is still ready to help him.

The Church teaches that marriage is a permanent bond that lasts until the death of one of the spouses.

Jesus forbids divorce.

Fornication and adultery are listed as serious sins by St. Paul. They rob us of the kingdom of God.

After 28 years of marriage, Gibson’s wife filed for divorce. They were separated for three years. His publicist acknowledged today that his “girlfriend” Oksana Grigorieva (a 39 year old Russian musician) is pregnant. She already has a son by her former boyfriend, Timothy Dalton.

Drunkenness, fornication and adultery are faults which require repentance. Although Gibson has seven children, his latest will have to face the shame of being born out of wedlock. No priest will marry a couple if there is an existing prior bond. Gibson might have his private chapel staffed by a sede vacantist priest, but he would assuredly be told to refrain from taking Holy Communion.

My advice to Mel Gibson is to overcome your addictions and the demons which corrupt your life. Strive diligently to avoid mortal sin, repent, make restitution and seek absolution. If your marriage can be salvaged, that too should be explored. If the pieces cannot be reassembled, then you should strive for the gift of chaste celibacy. Make provisions for the new child, but part from this woman. She does not belong to you. You cannot exchange your wife for a mistress.

He gave us a great gift with his movie about Christ. He needs to know that while we are saddened and disappointed, he is still in our prayers.

Who killed Christ? When asked this question by Sawyer, Gibson answered, “The big answer is, we all did. I’ll be the first in the culpability stakes here.” Yes, his answer rings true, both then and now. The accumulative sins of all mankind throughout all human history and in every place targeted our Lord. We are the murderers of Jesus Christ. He dies so that we might live. However, his gift demands that we make a gift of ourselves. We are to surrender our talents, but also our hearts, minds and whole selves to God.

Mel Gibson loves the Mass. The Mass participates in the heavenly marriage banquet. Marriage is a sacramental covenant which points to the union of Christ to his bride, the Church. We all need to see ourselves in the Offertory and orations of the liturgy. We should see something of ourselves in the wine and bread. We offer the things of earth to be refashioned to that of heaven. Just as we ask that these gifts be changed, so too we beseech God to transform us ever more and more into the likeness of his Son. The one element missing from THE PASSION was the offering of ourselves with Christ, grafted to him, as a pleasing oblation to the Father. We must become spiritually one with the Lamb of God. God became a man so that men might by grace share in something of the divinity— eternal life.

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Both during election time and outside, many pro-lifers and good Catholics feel that it is scandalous for pro-abortion politicians and politicians to receive communion. Several bishops feel the same way and even refuse the sacrament. Others have tried to dialogue with these figures, asking that they either accept the Gospel of Life or personally refrain from taking the Eucharist. The American Life League has been especially vocal in urging American bishops to establish a unified policy to prevent such blasphemy.

Catholic Answers, an apologetics organization, distributed an e-letter in 2004 arguing that Senator John Kerry, the Democratic candidate for the presidency, should not be permitted to receive Holy Communion. Senator Kerry had publicly dissented on Church teaching and was avidly pro-abortion. The concern of many was his poor witness to others that such dissent was acceptable for Catholics.

The Church has a right to protect both the faith of her people and to regulate the sacraments in such a way that both honors God and protects the Eucharist from defamation. The reception of the sacrament by those who are not properly disposed constitutes the grave sin of sacrilege. While there might be public consequences, this was really an internal debate and subject for the Catholic Church. Catholics can and do vote for non-Catholics and fallen-away Catholics. If politicians or media celebrities should be deemed bad Catholics, that in itself does not mean the people in the pews would not vote for them or see their movies or listen to their music.

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Catholic Answers, a group dedicated to defending and explaining Catholic teaching, was fined by the Internal Revenue Service for their e-letter. It is contended that the group CATHOLICS FOR A FREE CHOICE under Francis Kissling had a hand in it. Some say that there are still many in the IRS from the Clinton years when so-called “right-wing” groups were regularly targeted.

Karl Keating of Catholic Answers said that Kissing also hated their VOTER’S GUIDE FOR SERIOUS CATHOLICS. It sought to educate Catholics about the importance of abortion; however, it did NOT mention any political parties or candidates by name. The guide was cleared of any IRS violations.

Given the fine for the e-letter, Catholic Answers is suing the IRS. They are claiming that the IRS has “intimidated” churches and non-profit groups into silence on certain controversial moral issues. This is actually the case and the reason why there is so much silence from the pulpits. Bishops are afraid and they have transferred this anxiety to their priests with very restrictive policies about what can and cannot be said.

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lightepbishopI grieve for the Church. It was bad enough that Father Alberto Cutie was living a secret life. He seemed more apologetic about being caught than about having his scandalous doings with his lady-friend photographed on a Florida beach. But now we are told that he has joined the Episcopal Church. My heart drops at the news.

The wayward priest spent his designated “retreat” time hanging out with his girlfriend. He did not even try to reform. We have all been deceived. While he asked forgiveness and said that he did not want to be the poster-boy for married priests, he has abandoned the true Church entirely. He has done the very thing which he promised he would not do. He has brought both Church doctrine and discipline to ridicule. He has hurt the faith of simple people. Given his popularity as a pastor and as a widely-known media priest, the danger of his defection is incalculable. Who knows how many will follow him out of the Catholic fold?

The picture of a bishop here is not that of Father Cutie’s true spiritual father, but rather of a robber who comes to steal from the flock.  In this case, he did not get away with sheep but with the shepherd.  The Episcopal Bishop Leo Frade (pictured here) should be deeply embarassed by his disrespect to the priest’s legitimate bishop, Catholic Archbishop John Favalora.  Ecumenism is dealt a serious set-back.  I would not be surprised to see lightning bolts from heaven about this travesty.  The good Archbishop would have us pray for his prodigal son in the hope that he might return to the fold.  The Miami Archdiocese has a beautiful short video online which brings home the wrongness of what Cutie and Frade have done:

THE SACRAMENT OF HOLY ORDERS

The news of his infidelity only broke recently but he was unwilling to give the matter the proper amount of time and distance for sober reflection. I have to wonder how much of this was premeditated. There is even speculation that his girlfriend may have had some prior involvement with the photographer on the beach. But I think it is reaching to suppose he was setup to force his hand. Regardless of the machinations behind the scenes, the blunt of the blame must be borne by Father Cutie.

Although supposedly orthodox in his teachings, this latest act shows quite the opposite. He broke trust with his bishop and brother priests but now refers to Episcopalian priests as his “many brothers… [who] serve God as married men and with the blessing of having their own families.” This act sickens me. Episcopalian priests may be good Christians, but he sees no difference between the authentic priesthood of Catholicism and the empty shell of Anglicanism. He is not the first.  But, almost every one of them abandoned Roman Catholicism, not for deep-seated doctrinal reasons, but because of the desire to bed a woman and still retain a public or ministerial persona as a spiritual guru.

Catholicism receives many Episcopalian priests into her ranks, but they are drawn by doctrinal permanence over fluctuating instability, moral absolutes over relativism and a humility coupled with obedience to God and his Church over a selfish and earthbound liberalism. Those who become Catholic often sacrifice much in the way of salary, standing and home. While a few married Episcopalian priests have been ordained in the Catholic Church; many have sacrificed their ministries entirely to be a part of the Catholic family. They placed a higher premium on divine truth than upon a capricious religion easily swayed by the fads and fashions of the day.

How could he give advice about faith and relationships to others on television, radio and in writing when he was so personally messed up? People came to him for life-giving water; but he was really an empty well. Many of his supporters seem more “on his side” than in harmony with the mind of the Church. He made disciples, inadvertantly I suppose, less for Christ and his Church and more for himself. Sometimes I think the Church should rotate clergy in media settings. Left too long in front of the camera or on the radio– and a personality cult frequently develops. We should not hero-worship our clergy. If a popular priest should fall, he might take many souls with him. This business with Father Cutie has re-ignited the married priest debate even though most active priests prefer the status-quo in favor of compulsory celibacy. Who knows how dire this will be for the Church in Miami?

A television station showed parishioners of St. Francis de Sales Parish marching around their church in support of their former pastor. Evidently they did not care that their pastor had broken his promises and had lived a lie. When interviewed they compared Father Cutie’s transgressions favorably against the terrible crimes of pedophiles. The real comparison is with good and faithful celibate priests.

The situation was intensely precarious. Today, it became a great deal worse. The woman is identified as Ruhama Canellis. She stood by his side at Trinity Cathedral where they both entered the Episcopalian church. The Episcopal bishop and priests in attendance dressed up for the event. They pulled all the stops. Even priestesses were in attendance. He is planning to marry his lover and to become an Episcopalian priest. I suppose it is fitting. King Henry VIII stole the English people from the Catholic Church so that he might divorce and remarry. Canellis is a divorced woman. Did Father Cutie miss the class in seminary on basic Christian morality?  Are not fornication and adultery still sins?  This should matter to them both.  In addition to these concerns, he is now a renegade Catholic priest. If he accepts Protestant teaching, and plans to expound upon it, then he will be a heretic as well. He is digging a big hole for himself. My fear is that thousands might fall into it with him.

Well, it is a sad thing, but if the Episcopalian church wants our rejects then that is their trouble. Look how quickly they grabbed this fallen priest. We would have taken more time with one of theirs. His legitimate Catholic bishop was not even notified about his reception into the Episcopal church.  That shows how little respect Father Cutie had for him and the ROMAN Catholic Church.  The Episcopal diocese should be ashamed of itself.  But given the current fragmented status of the Episcopal communion, are they even capable of shame?  This was all quite sleazy and I suspect it was in the works for some time. I have no respect for men who do such things.

Father Cutie described his new faith affiliation as “a new family” and yet we do not subscribe to any form of religious relativism. Father Cutie disowned his family today. That should be the real headline. All churches are not the same. The Holy Father was clear. The Catholic Church is the true Church; Orthodoxy is a defective church; and all Protestant groupings are ecclesial communities, but not properly CHURCH. Many Protestant communities claim no priesthood or Eucharist; Episcopalians claim both but the Catholic Church judged their orders invalid and their Eucharist as false.

SEE APOSTOLICAE CURAE   (Pope Leo XIII, 1896)

They are not a branch of Catholicism but a foreign misbegotten creature that has delusions of grandeur while feigning a pedigree it does not really possess.

What clouds the issue is the presence of former Catholic priests in the Episcopal church. They are still priests, even if in mortal sin and excommunicated. Father Cutie says that he will continue to proclaim God’s Word; but what is a Catholic priest apart from the Catholic Church? Will he preach the Word of God or the word of Cutie?  Father Cutie is rejecting the Pope, the authority of his lawful bishop, the seven sacraments as clearly defined by Catholicism, our view of priesthood, our moral teachings on sexuality and marriage, the prohibition against divorce and remarriage, and the basics of Catholic ecclesiology. Will he be happy? Can he close his mind and heart to the many differences we have with Episcopalianism? He will be obliged to accept women priests, gay bishops and same-sex unions, a tolerance for abortion, artificial contraception and divorce with remarriage. He is leaving the Church of commandments for the church of anything goes. He says, “I will always love the Catholic Church.” But, he did not love her enough. The Church was his bride. Now he has traded her for two paramours: the divorcee and the mistress church of Henry VIII and Cranmer the despoiler.

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“LONGING FOR SOMETHING? MAYBE IT’S GOD!” When a friend of mine first saw the title of this initiative on a bus billboard, she humorously said, “Hum, longing for something? Maybe it’s… CHOCOLATE!” She did not mean to be profane; I guess she was just hungry. Her response does offer us something important to reflect upon. Many people are searching for ultimate meaning, but often they settle for something proximate and which gives a quick fix. Some turn to drugs and replace otherworldly communication (prayer) and meditation with drug induced euphoria. Others have substituted sexual union, and the accompanying thrills, for a genuine communion with God and the spiritual rapture that knows no bounds. I suppose some try to find God in a bottle, and yet excessive alcohol always fails to deliver what it promises and forces a heavy toll upon us as well. Even physical food, which we need to survive, cannot come close to the promise of the Eucharist as our spiritual food and encounter with the living God. Every one of us is like a puzzle where our lives consist of putting the pieces together in the right places. Without God, an important piece remains missing and the perfection or wholeness is ruined. We were made for God. There is no need to wander aimlessly through this world. The Church safeguards the answers to the ultimate questions; Christ, himself, is the source of this meaning. He is the Way and the Truth and the Life. The old children’s catechism did not hesitate to share the answer to the great existential question. Why did God make you and me? He made us TO KNOW HIM and TO LOVE HIM and TO SERVE HIM in this world and TO BE HAPPY AND GIVE HIM GLORY forever in the world to come. That is the long and short of it.

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HUMANAE VITAE:  CATHOLIC TEACHING

CUA GIVES GREEN LIGHT TO PRO-ABORT KERRY

DR. HURLBUT’S CREATION:  MAN OR MUTANT?

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL BETRAYS ITS MISSION!

WORDS FROM AN UNBORN DAUGHTER

BISHOP THOMAS TOBIN BLASTS GIULIANI

CATHOLIC BUSINESS NETWORK & BOB CASEY, JR.

BODY PARTS TO THE HIGHEST BIDDER?

PRO-ABORTION POLITICIANS & THE CHURCH

CATHOLIC CONGRESSIONAL DEMOCRATS ATTACK POPE

POPE WARNS PRO-ABORTION POLITICIANS

ARCHBISHOP AMATO ON GAYS, ABORTION & EUTHANASIA

SUPREME COURT JUSTICES OF DEATH

MAINLAND CHINESE EATING BABIES

MR SEAN HANNITY VS FR THOMAS EUTENEUER

LITURGICAL OR MORAL OR POLITICAL DOCUMENT?

GK JOHN MARCUS, REST IN PEACE

FATHER ROBERT DRINAN DIES AT 86

A REFLECTION UPON THE HOLY FAMILY

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collar2Recently someone made much of the apostle Peter being married as a witness against compulsory celibacy for priests. I challenged, show me where in the bible it says that Peter “traveled and preached with his wife”? Maybe I am having a senior moment? I have no recollection of any such passage that suggests he and his wife had a team ministry!

Priests and religious vow celibacy freely, not because marriage is bad, but because it is so good. Celibacy becomes a wonderful gift, freely embraced, as a sacrifice for God and his holy people. Jesus was celibate. St. Paul not only practiced it but encouraged it. The celibate priest becomes a sign of contradiction of the kingdom of Christ to a hedonistic world. It is not a rejection of love, but a selfless abandonment to divine love as manifested in service to God’s people, the Church. It is not a calling for everyone.

I know of no references of Peter traveling and preaching with his wife; the bible does mention Peter’s mother-in-law. While this indicates that he was married, do we ever encounter her? What was her name? Did they have any children? Her absence from these texts might lend one to think that she experienced some mishap and passed away. Be this as it may, the Catholic Church has never hidden the fact that Peter and other religious leaders of the Church were married. Indeed, the Catholic Church had a married clergy all the way up to the 12th century. The Fourth Lateran Council was quite decisive in mandating compulsory celibacy for any who would be priests of the Roman or Western Rite. The Eastern rites of the Catholic Church, to this very day (in Europe and the Far East) have an optional married clergy. These priests are in full union with Rome. Also, in our own nation many Protestant clergy, Lutheran and Episcopal, have entered into the Roman Catholic priesthood, even though they are married and have families. Those who are raised in the Western rite realize that celibacy is a special gift and a particular charism of our priestly experience. It is a sign of a wondrous single-hearted love. One of the fruits of this sacrifice is the availability that a priest can give to his prayers, study, and service.

No one forces a young man to become a priest or brother. There is no coercion for a woman to become a nun. They know that vows of poverty, obedience, and celibacy are part of the package. If God gives a person a vocation in the Catholic Church, we believe that he will give them the graces and gifts to follow this life. The majority of men who leave the priesthood to get married ultimately have failed marriages. Promises are made to be kept. The problem is not the Church or God; the dilemmas are people unwilling to surrender their lives fully to Christ.

The Catholic Church also recognizes the right of people to get married. However, the Church has a right of her own to regulate her ministries. Permanent deacons, Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, Catechists, Readers and/or Lectors, Acolytes, and Lay Evangelists and Ministers all serve the Church and may be married. Would the critic demand compulsory matrimony? I hope not. Those who opt for priesthood in the Roman Rite also freely embrace celibacy. This is no less than what St. Paul did. After listing all the various rights that a follower in Jesus possesses, he acknowledges that he has chosen not to use these rights for himself.

[After listing the right to marry among many other freedoms, St. Paul says] “Yet we have not used this right. On the contrary, we endure everything, so as not to place an obstacle to the Gospel of Christ. … I have not used any of these rights, …” (1 Corinthians 9:12,15).

[After speaking about marriage] “This I say by way of concession, however, not as a command. Indeed, I wish everyone to be as I am, but each has a particular gift from God, one of one kind and one of another. Now to the unmarried and to widows, I say: It is a good thing for them to remain as they are, as I do, …” (1 Corinthians 7:6-8).

[Advice to Virgins and Widows] “Now in regard to virgins, I have no commandment from the Lord, but I give my opinion as one who by the Lord’s mercy is trustworthy. So this is what I think best because of the present distress: that it is a good thing for a person to remain as he is. Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek a separation. Are you free of a wife? Then do not look for a wife. If you marry, however, you do not sin, nor does an unmarried woman sin if she marries; but such people will experience affliction in their earthly life, and I would like to spare you that. I tell you, brothers, the time is running out. From now on, let those having wives act as not having them, those weeping as not weeping, those rejoicing as not rejoicing, those buying as not owning, those using the world as not using it fully. For the world in its present form is passing away” (1 Corinthians 7:25-31).

There is evidence from the early Church that many bishops and priests, although married, practiced perpetual celibacy.

[More on virginity] “So then, the one who marries his virgin does well; the one who does not marry her will do better” (1 Corinthians 7:38).

[About a widow] “She is more blessed, though, in my opinion, if she remains as she is, and I think that I too have the Spirit of God” (1 Corinthians 7:40).

[Celibacy is a sign of the kingdom!] “His disciples said to him, ‘If the case of a man with his wife is so, it is not expedient to marry.’ And he said, ‘Not all can accept this teaching; but those to whom it has been given. For there are eunuchs who were born so from their mother’s womb; and there are eunuchs who were made so by men; and there are eunuchs who have made themselves so for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let him accept it who can’” (Matthew 19:10-12).
I believe the celibate priesthood is superior to a married clergy precisely for the reasons that the Church does. If any would challenge this, I would ask, do you think that the Magisterium is capricious in this demand? No, there are good reasons to maintain the tradition.

I will be 50 years old in a few days. I have been a priest for over 22 years. I am a normal heterosexual male. I have always safeguarded my purity. The older I get, the more convinced I become in the teachings and disciplines of the Church. I am convinced that the celibate priesthood is a treasure we must maintain no matter what the critics might say. Most priests I know love their celibacy and would change nothing about it.

Yes, I really believe this and so does the Church. Indeed, the word “vocation” was once reserved to priesthood and religious life precisely because of the celibacy or virginity element. Most people will get married and have sexual relations; those who pursue the evangelical counsels and embrace a single-hearted love of God have been called to something higher, more spiritually perfect.

Despite the rampant criticism of celibate priests, married priests are not morally impeccable either, and I could cite from history all sorts of self-righteousness and hubris on their part, too. Ministers with wives and families in other denominations also have problems. Half of all Lutheran ministers are divorced. We all need humility, lay and clergy alike. We especially need humility in regards to the teachings and disciplines of the Church. Humility would have us submit to her wisdom on such matters. Men who are generally called to the priesthood in the Roman Catholic Church are given the grace of celibacy as a gift of the Holy Spirit. There is no conflict between the mind of Christ and the use of the keys by his shepherds.

The statistics reveal a high divorce rate for clergy who drop out to marry. One can also look to the rolls of organizations which illicitly employ married priests for ministerial purposes. The rate of failed marriages has varied from 50 plus % (in the 1960’s and 70’s) to 30% (more recent defections). We generally do not share such reports or figures.

A man can have a wife and serve God. No one disputes this. That is why we have thousands of married clergy, deacons in the Catholic Church. All of us are called to serve God. But, no one has a right to priesthood. No one deserves or merits ordination. Priestly vocations are pure gratuities from God but granted and affirmed by the Church. She has every right to specify mandatory celibacy. Why is it that critics cannot appreciate this right of the Church to manage her own ministries? Why is it that people who are not priests want to tell priests that they should be married or have the right to be married? I gave up that option when I answered God’s call. I am happy. Most priests accept it.

Sorry if I sound harsh, but along with most priests I know, we find this subject upsetting. We embraced our celibacy as a gift to the Lord FOR GOD’S PEOPLE, and yet many of them bemoan the fact. If those in the pews (and/or who have stopped going to Mass) cannot be appreciative, why will they not stop being busy-bodies in trying to tell celibate priests how to live and to define their priesthood? The true selfishness is with the apologists for married priests. The cry for married clergy is insulting to every celibate priest. We experience the heights of both divine and “human love” without having to commit ourselves to a single person or to engage in acts of sexual intercourse. The problem here is not the Church’s prohibition against married priests (which) is not absolute; but rather, those who malign as worthless the value of celibate love lived out by priests in imitation of our Lord Jesus and of many of his apostles like St. Paul and St. John!

God keeps his promises and so should we. If a priest is faithful to his prayer life and ministry he can know both happiness and peace. The time of decision is before ordination, not afterwards. We all know times of loneliness, but the “aloneness” of a priest is something entirely different. He is comfortable in his own skin. He needs no other human being to compliment or to perfect himself. He is a priest and priests render sacrifice. He offers the Mass and in his celibacy he offers his own flesh with that of Christ. Daily he says to God, I belong entirely to you. He expresses this devotion and love of God in his service of the flock. People should want such priests and settle for nothing less!

I know the gentleness that should be shown to individuals. But when I speak about the priesthood as a whole, there can be no compromise. Priestly celibacy has a powerful eschatological meaning. It points to the kingdom that is breaking into our world. It best manifests our solidarity with the poor and the marginalized. It is no curse, but can become the engine that fuels the priest’s spiritual life and efforts at service. His focus is narrow and he looks upon his bride, the Church, without distraction. He goes where he is sent. He does what God and his bishop tells him to do.

In one sense it is true that we cannot walk in another man’s shoes; knowing what he feels and the demons that confront him. I would hesitate to publicly judge the souls of priests who leave ministry. Nevertheless, in another sense, every priest wears the shoes of the apostles who were instituted as priests by Christ. Could it be that the priest, who abandons his ministry for marriage and/or cohabitation, opts to walk barefoot and unprotected? The Roman rite insists that a priest is shod (wears shoes or sandals) at Mass. The tradition of Rome is that a working man puts on his working shoes or boots. The work of a priest is the Mass and so he puts on his shoes. When he takes his shoes off, his work is over. Priests who leave ministry for marriage have taken off their shoes. They have walked off the job. Hopefully there will be other priests to take up the work and to care for the people who were abandoned.

Charismata are gifts freely given from God. The charism of celibacy is given to any and all who are called to the priesthood in the Roman rite. Those who would deny this would be at odds with Catholic ecclesiology. God works in tandem with the Church he established. The Holy Spirit gives efficacy to the sacraments. Jesus extends his ministry through the shepherds he has appointed. God gives his servants what they need. This interaction is guaranteed by the keys given to St. Peter. Celibacy may be a greater sacrifice for some men than for others; however, God would not give a man such a vocation without also filling his heart and mind with the graces to fulfill it. God is not oblivious to the demand for compulsory celibacy in the West. Indeed, such long-standing traditions are regarded as guided by divine providence. While the requirement for celibacy is technically a discipline of the Church; it has accrued significant doctrinal elements over time— particularly in terms of the identification with Christ and the bridal analogy of the priest at the “marriage” banquet we call the Mass.

If it seems that not all priests are equipped with the charism of celibacy my response would be two-fold. First, while I once thought that a man could be confident in his vocation when he heard the bishop call his name, I am no longer so presumptuous. There was a story from a few years ago about a priest laicized by Rome because he was designated by the Mafia to become a priest so that he could better smuggle drugs in and out of the country. There is a similar dilemma with the priests who are pedophiles and pederasts. They should never have been ordained. Formation and psychological investigations should weed such men out. Child molesters, homosexuals and men lusting uncontrollably for women should not be ordained. Second, God gives his gift of celibacy, but the man must be properly disposed. That means that he is open to the charism, is in a state of grace and he values celibacy. What God gives the man; he must in turn, give back to God as a gift. Celibacy is a real sacrifice that honors God and benefits his people. It is an eschatological sign of the kingdom.

If priests fail in their single-hearted love, the fault is theirs— not God’s and not the Church’s demand for celibacy.

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