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Archive for the ‘Priesthood’ Category

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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The Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity has put out an official press release on the FATHER CORAPI SCANDAL. Fr. Gerard Sheehan, the superior writes:

“While SOLT does not typically comment publicly on personnel matters, it recognizes that Fr. John Corapi, through his ministry, has inspired thousands of faithful Catholics, many of whom continue to express their support of him. SOLT also recognizes that Fr. Corapi is now misleading these individuals through his false statements and characterizations. It is for these Catholics that SOLT, by means of this announcement, seeks to set the record straight.”

While I can appreciate the need for a statement, I must admit that I am surprised at the bluntness and the depth of revelation. He remarks about the investigative process and what they discerned from emails, witnesses and other sources that has been going on during the time of the priest’s public ministry:

  • Fr. Corapi already handed in his resignation in early June.
  • He paid $100,000 to silence the woman making charges.
  • Other witnesses were similarly silenced and Fr. Corapi refused to release them for testimony to the investigative team.
  • He had violated his promise of poverty by holding legal title to over one million dollars in real estate, luxuary cars, boats, etc.
  • He cohabitated in two states with a known prostitute, recently began sexting one or two women and resorted to repeated drug and alcohol use.

I would not normally even post about such matters, but I can well appreciate the frustation of his superior. Fr. Corapi is a powerful communicator and people love him. If he is guilty of such things and is falsely placing the blame on the leadership of the Catholic Church, then public correction needs to be made. Having said this, I think that the leadership in SOLT must be faulted for allowing this situation to grow so out of hand. They should have reigned him in years ago. Their passivity has now made for a far worse and more scandalous situation. The press release continues:

“SOLT has contemporaneously with the issuance of this press release directed Fr. John Corapi, under obedience, to return home to the Society’s regional office and take up residence there. It has also ordered him, again under obedience, to dismiss the lawsuit he has filed against his accuser.”

A letter of resignation would not release him from his priestly promises and those made to SOLT. A good priest does as he is told. This is a bad situation all around. I wonder how Fr. Corapi will respond? I suppose die-hard fans will contend that the evidence is contrived and that the priest is innocent. And indeed, I would still argue that if he is innocent then he should make his case and work with the process. It is unfortunate that Fr. Corapi has forced this whole matter and scandal into the public forum. But souls are at stake and this delicate situation is about more than one man. If he is guilty, then he should demonstrate sorrow and contrition, placing his ministry and future into the hands of his lawful superiors. It would be a wonderful teaching moment and maybe the highpoint of his ministry. Christ is speaking to him through his superiors. That is how priestly obedience works. But will he listen? Will he fight for his priesthood? This battle cannot be won with militant rhetoric or tactics of subterfuge. He can only find victory by being a faithful son of the Church and a humble priest. He must be courageous and forthright about any revelations exposed by the truth. He must reckon himself as any confessor to be the first among sinners, “Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.” Things will never be the same but God may not be finished with him yet. I pray that Fr. Corapi will make the right choice and work with God’s grace in this.

An element which really upsets me about this situation is how one segment of the Church is set against another. Father Corapi comes under investigation and the priest comes out with a statement that the bishop and his superior have a right to do what they do; but next he talks about the real enemies of the Church and we all know he is targeting those who put him on administrative leave. Then he claims obedience but his personal corporation makes a statement that they are under no one’s thumb and the ministry media business will continue as if nothing has happened. By the beginning of June he submits his resignation and tells his fans weeks later that the Church has forced him out. Bishop Michael Mulvey and his lawful superior, Fr. Gerard Sheehan, SOLT, seek to clarify matters but then there is the public intervention on his behalf of the founders of SOLT, Father Flanagan and the Bishop Emeritus of Corpus Christi, Bishop Rene Gracida. Critics and fans of the priest can now take their pick and decry the other side as wrong-headed or evil. The impression is given that the Church is fighting with herself. Despite the lament of Fr. Corapi that this is a plot of the liberals who are out to get him, the battleground that emerges is between very conservative or orthodox churchmen and laity. Liberal revisionists are no doubt having a delight in watching the so-called “religious right” of the Church rip itself apart over the media priest. This has all the makings of a new voyeuristic television program called THE BATTLING BISHOPS. Since the clarification released from SOLT, I notice now that Bishop Gracida seems to have shifted somewhat from supporting Fr. Corapi to attacking SOLT for allowing the situation to develop in the first place. However, it seems to me that the stage was set by those who initially allowed Fr. Corapi to set up his independent operations. In other words, there is blame enough to go around. It is troubling that Bishop Gracida took a public stand against a man’s lawful superiors even though he admits that he has not talked with the priest for years! Now Fr. Corapi is telling his fans on Twitter to look forward to an important announcement on Thursday. Enough already! I discern a manipulation of good men behind all these tensions that is due to evil human machination and/or to the intrusion of something devilish.

I would beg people to separate the truths Father taught from the possible failings of the messenger. All are tempted, but the devil delights in targeting priests; while he could not seduce the high priest Christ, he often settles for corrupting those men who participate in his priesthood. Pray for priests, pray for Father Corapi and pray for “the little ones” who might despair of their faith.

CLICK HERE to read the SOLT press release.

CLICK HERE to read my post on this matter last month.

POST COMMENTS at BLOGGER PRIEST

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HOW IT STARTED

Father Corapi made his first announecment in March 2011:

On Ash Wednesday I learned that a former employee sent a three-page letter to several bishops accusing me of everything from drug addiction to multiple sexual exploits with her and several other adult women. I have been placed on “administrative leave” as the result of this… All of the allegations in the complaint are false, and I ask you to pray for all concerned.

EWTN removed his programs from the cable network:

In EWTN’s thirty years of existence, the Network has never knowingly aired programming featuring any priest whose priestly faculties have been suspended. The Network has always responded consistently and immediately in such situations by removing such programs from the air. We are obliged to do so in obedience to the discipline of the Church. Father John has long been a friend of EWTN and many of us have worked closely with him throughout the years. He is a tremendously gifted preacher who has led many souls to Christ. We are doing exactly as he has asked and supporting him and everyone involved in the situation in the best way possible, through our prayers.

Many of us were unfamiliar with the nature of his SOLT religious community:

The Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity is a community of disciples of Jesus and Mary composed of all vocations: priests, deacons, brothers, sisters and single and married laity. The Society was founded in 1958 and has been approved by Rome as a Society of Apostolic Life. ‎Ecclesial Teams are the basis of our community life as well as the means by which our missions are staffed. A complete Ecclesial Team is composed of at least one priest, religious and lay person or married couple. At the present, the International Headquarters of Our Lady’s Society is located in the United States, in the city of Robstown, Texas under the Diocesan jurisdiction of the Diocese of Corpus Christi, Texas. In looking forward to when The Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity achieves Pontifical Status within the Church, the International Offices will be transferred at that time to Rome, Italy.

There was a clarification from the lucrative company, Santa Cruz Media, over which Fr. Corapi was identified as the CEO:

Santa Cruz Media, Inc. is the owner of all of Fr. John Corapi’s intellectual property and the DVDs, CDs, and books that flow from it. We are a secular corporation and not affiliated with the Catholic Church in any way. As such, we are not under the jurisdiction of any bishop or other official in the Catholic Church, although we have the utmost respect for Church authority.

Here is my FACEBOOK comment from March 2011:

FATHER JOE: Priests are men under authority. Fr. Corapi, himself, says that they cannot play games with their promise of obedience and others should respect this. If Father Corapi’s faculties have been removed and his ministry suspended, then EWTN was morally required to take the action they did. Hopefully the matter will be resolved and he will be restored to his place on television and radio. Having said this, the sale of media (audio, video, web and print) would also fall under “ministry.” Given the situation, Fr. Corapi could certainly require Santa Cruz Media, Inc. (an extension of his ministry) to suspend sales and distribution of his materials. I suspect that the good priest is innocent, but there is much to which we are not privy. Prayer is our proper posture at this time, not ridicule of episcopal jurisdiction in the Catholic Church.

WHERE IS STANDS NOW

ON JUNE 17, 2011 AN ANNOUNCEMENT WAS MADE BY FATHER CORAPI THAT HE WOULD CONTINUE MINISTRY BUT NOT AS A PRIEST IN GOOD STANDING. IT IS A VERY SAD DAY.

FATHER JOE:

(June 2011) I have not blogged about this matter until now and I am not comfortable about posting on it. This issue has gone beyond Father Corapi and could harm the very souls for whom he has confessed concern. Already on the social network sites, his fans are taking sides with him and attacking the Church. This has quickly become a very dangerous situation, another reason why cult worship of religious media personalities should be discouraged. Our faith is in Jesus and the Church, not in preachers with impressive rhetoric and militant attitudes.

This business has gone sour and Father Corapi, as much as I hate to say it, is duplicitous in saying (on one hand) that the bishops have a right to do what they are doing and then (on the other) to malign them for violating his rights and daring to impose discipline upon him. He is a priest and cannot pretend to be anything else, as with this pathetic “black sheep dog” foolishness. His failure to shut down his multimillion dollar business was an early sign that he would not obey the demand of the bishops to suspend public ministry. Now he is taking it to the next level. Faithful Catholics have no choice; in tears and anguish, we must leave Father Corapi. Pray for him but do not participate in his pretense of obedience while he is actually disobedient. True humility would have him submit and accept the Cross. His obstinancy insists that no one will tell him what to do– that was the trouble with his independence all along. More grievous than any genuine or false indiscretion with a woman, the skirting or outright violation of obedience is the greatest possible failing for any priest. Everything from his assignments to the moral life is covered in his fidelity to the Church and Christ. He is to discern God’s will in his obedience to the bishop and his superiors. Evidently, he has become a dissenter on the nature of priesthood and its obligations, as well as upon Catholic ecclesiology. A suspended priest can neither preach nor teach religion; his intention to do so anyway would be a movement toward the Protestant camp, no matter what the message.

REMARKS ON HIS STATEMENT

FATHER CORAPI: All things change, only God stays the same, so I have to tell you about a major change in my life. I am not going to be involved in public ministry as a priest any longer. There are certain persons in authority in the Church that want me gone, and I shall be gone. I have been guilty of many things in the course of my life, and could easily and justifiably be considered unfit to engage in public ministry as a priest.

FATHER JOE: The problem is that priesthood is not merely a job we can change or a hat we can trade for another. Even if the priest is laicized, he is configured to Christ as a priest, forever. If he cannot engage in public ministry, then he cannot do so in any fashion, even if he drops his priestly title or goes under a pseudonym as in a superhero’s secret identity. [It is rarely permitted, but sometimes a laicized priest can give religious instructions with permission of the bishop if it is generally not known that he was a priest and no scandal would result. Fr. Corapi is too well known for this exception ever to apply.] The label “Black Sheep Dog” is a literary fiction without meaning. It says nothing that would grant him an escape from Church censure. He is a suspended priest who has no faculties for preaching or publicly teaching the faith. That means he cannot do it— even on the Internet or with books or with audio/visual media. If the Church authorities want him gone, and it is uncertain who he really means, then he should pursue his canonical rights in private. He has opted not to do this. Suspensions can take a year or more to resolve. He did not last three months! That is hardly the image of a tough former Special Forces military man. (But wait, we found that this part of his biography was a fabrication. We will let that fact check go given his more serious troubles.) Of course, he may acknowledge one important grain of truth; he may indeed be “unfit to engage in public ministry as a priest.” It should be said that all priests are unworthy. The best of priests fall short. If he were sincere then he should fight for his priesthood, no matter how much time it might take to be restored to ministry or good standing. However, such must be done within the system and among the fraternity of his brother priests. He should hold his tongue about how he feels about the process and treat the bishop, his superiors and the Church with trusting respect. A priest who caricaturizes the Church as the enemy is burning his bridges. These latest remarks have ignited a fiery inferno. Fame and fortune should mean nothing to a good and humble priest. He might argue that the Church has forced his hand, but every faithful priest knows this not true. The laity may not clearly understand this situation. Our lives and obligations are very different. He may want to step away from his priesthood, but a priest he is, and that means that any public ministry without ecclesial approbation will be PROTESTANT ministry, not Catholic.

FATHER CORAPI: I did not start this process, the Bishop of Corpus Christi, Texas ordered my superiors, against their will and better judgment, to do it. He in fact threatened to release a reprehensible and libelous letter to all of the bishops if they did not suspend me.

FATHER JOE: Notice how quickly Fr. Corapi uses the word libelous. Would he resort to the civil courts to punish any in the hierarchy who would dare challenge him, his importance and his resources? He says that he loves the Church and so I am hoping that he will not. Nevertheless, are the assets of his “for profit” company fully his or do they belong to the Church? I suspect they are in his name. We might see a fight about this yet. In his own mind, he is the Church’s great defender. He is Superman, Batman and the Green Lantern all rolled up into one. His fans echo his own conviction— “Oh how will the Church survive without him?” In truth, the Church will fare perfectly well without him. But, if he decides to pursue this BLACK SHEEP DOG nonsense, it is possible that he could inflict great harm upon the Church and cost good people their salvation. As for the bishop’s actions, it confirms what I suspected, that SOLT was impotent in reigning in this isolated Lone Ranger priest who had made religion into his own personal big business. Let me be fair, he may not have started out expecting this happen. But the media can make celebrities of anyone, even religious leaders. When fans tell you are wonderful, their praise can be seductive and the person can become addicted to adulation. This is deadly for the minister of God. Everything we have is gift. Every priest should be the poor man– the sinner who seeks to bring God’s mercy to other sinners. Fr. Corapi did some incredible work. My fear is that everything might now be undone.

FATHER CORAPI: My canon lawyer and my civil lawyers have concluded that I cannot receive a fair and just hearing under the Church’s present process. The Church will conclude that I am not cooperating with the process because I refuse to give up all of my civil and human rights in order to hold harmless anyone who chooses to say defamatory and actionable things against me with no downside to them. The case may be on hold indefinitely, but my life cannot be.

FATHER JOE: And who are these canon and civil lawyers? Was there an appeal to the Congregation for the Clergy in Rome? No, I doubt it. My suspicion is that Fr. Corapi refused to cooperate with the process. Maybe he never understood what the Catholic priesthood was really about? His promise of obedience was not selective and he had indeed surrendered certain rights. He promised celibacy and gave up an important natural right to marry. His overall promise of obedience meant that he would speak for the Church and not for himself on matters of faith and morals. In a negative way, it also meant that he would not speak if the Church so deemed. His faculties to say Mass, to hear Confessions, to preach and to publicly teach, all fell under lawful authority. He was to function as an extension of the Church and his bishop. Now he is claiming that such a promise of obedience conflicts with his “civil and human rights.” He should reflect more intensely upon the biblical scene where Jesus washed the feet of his apostles. The first must be last. He was called to be a servant, not the Master. Demanding large audiences and tens of thousands of dollars for talks is not the way of humble priests. The Pope could give him a lesson. We call the Holy Father the “Servant of the Servants of God.” This word “servant” can be translated as SLAVE. In any case, I guess Fr. Corapi wants his own version of freedom, but he will pay a terrible price for his alienation from the true Church.

FATHER CORAPI: I shall continue, black sheep that I am, to speak; and sheep dog that I am, to guard the sheep—this time around not just in the Church, but also in the entire world. I am, indeed, not ready to be extinguished. Under the name “The Black Sheep Dog,” I shall be with you through radio broadcasts and writing.

FATHER JOE: The sheep dog has no occupation separated from the chief shepherd or bishop. A dog that runs after the sheep on its own is not a true sheep dog, but rather we use another name for that canine… we call him a wolf. I would suggest that Fr. Corapi change the name of his blog and new label to BLACK WOLF. Indeed, in the future, if he carries out his intent to keep selling his wares and writing and making radio broadcasts, that is what I shall call him.

FATHER CORAPI: I hope you stay with us and follow us into our new domain and name of “The Black Sheep Dog.” Through writing and broadcasting we hope to continue to dispense truth and hope to a world so much in need of it.

FATHER JOE: Those who collaborate, defend and buy his products will be offering material support to a suspended priest. In other words, he will be making his sin, their own.

Dear Fr. Corapi, reconsider what you are planning to do. Speaking as a brother priest, (if I were in your shoes), before bringing spiritual harm to others and scandal to the Church, I would have preferred to “quietly lie down and die.” But in actuality, the Church is not asking you to do this. We want you to live and to offer oblations for God’s people. You are a priest and your prayers to heaven have power even if they are said from a lonely monastic cell. You do not have to shout from the housetops to be a good priest. I know my words are critical and I might sound harsh, but I am thinking both of you and of your followers. We all make mistakes. We are all sinners. Sometimes we speak out of turn. We become frustrated and afraid. Old demons try to reclaim us under new guises. Be strong! Be a man! Be a priest! Be a faithful son of the Church, no matter what the personal cost.

The complete statement by Father Corapi is available on THE BLACK SHEEP DOG site.

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Recently I entered into a heated discussion with Dennis on an assortment of topics. He is very negative to the Catholic faith. PLEASE NOTE that it is an apologetical dialogue that might make some readers uncomfortable.

To easily follow the discussion, it has been posted to the BLOGGER PRIEST Blog.

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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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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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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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Former Illinois U.S. Senate candidate Alan Keyes and 21 other protesters were arrested this morning when they refused to leave the Notre Dame campus during a protest of Obama’s upcoming commencement address there, authorities said.

Keyes and the others were arrested on trespassing charges when they refused to leave campus, a university spokesman said. All 22 were being held in the St. Joseph County Jail on misdemeanor criminal trespass charges, in lieu of $250 bond each, said St. Joseph County Sheriff’s Sgt. Bill Redman.

Keyes was among a group of 26 protesters, some of them pushing baby carriages with dolls covered in fake blood, who entered the campus and were greeted by Notre Dame police, said university spokesman Dennis Brown.

The protesters had “publicized their intentions in advance,” and were handed notices advising them that university policy bans protests unless they are organized by student groups and approved in advance, Brown said.

University policy is to arrest anyone who refuses to leave campus after being notified of the policy, and Keyes and other protesters who stayed were arrested about 12:15 p.m. Eastern Time, he said.

”We’ve got a long established policy that only members of the university community can organize or lead a protest, and they have to be approved by our office of student affairs,” Brown said.

The first protester was booked on a trespassing charge at the St. Joseph County Jail at 1:14 p.m., Redman said. The protesters were a mix of local residents and others from out of state, he said.

Those arrested would appear in St. Joseph County Court next Monday if they fail to make bond, he said.

Notre Dame announced earlier this spring that Obama would be the commencement speaker at its May 17 graduation ceremony. Since then, Notre Dame, a Catholic university, has become the target of protests by groups who say Obama’s stance on abortion should disqualify him from speaking at a Catholic institution.

Activists including Randall Terry, founder of the anti-abortion rights group Operation Rescue, who was arrested at the campus last Friday, have begun targeting the school for protests in recent weeks. A student group, Notre Dame Response, has organized its own protests regarding Obama’s visit.

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thornIsn’t the Father Cutie scandal just further evidence that it is wrong and dangerous for Catholic priests to suppress their natural desires for sexual intimacy with women?

The priest in question admitted he had a long-standing serious struggle with his sexuality and need for a wife and family. It may be that he sought ordination without open full deliberation and resolution of this concern with those to whom he was entrusted for formation. He may have been chaste in his behavior for many years but failed to surrender dreams and hopes for a family of his own. The man who would be a priest must let these things go. His hopes and aspirations should revolve instead around his prayer life and his goals and service as a pastor of souls. Men in seminary must also be realistic about their drives. As St. Paul reminds us, it is better to marry than to burn. Priests must also be very wary of their fantasies regarding choices not made and how other men might live. The grass might seem greener on the other side of the fence; but priests must not trespass where they do not belong. They freely embraced celibacy so as to enter into holy orders and become priests. Had they become married deacons, they would still be clergy in the Church. They could have lived saintly lives as laymen. But they made a choice. They made promises. These promises should be kept. Before ordination is the proper time for deliberation and soul searching, not afterwards.

The business about Father Cutie should have no meaning beyond this one poor priest, himself. He is not representative of the thousands of other priests in the United States who have never compromised their promises or their celibacy. The impression from the question is that men cannot be expected to have any semblance of self-control. This is silly and shows just how far our society and its views have been contaminated and distorted by excessive nudity, immodesty, and eroticism. We even dress our little girls like whores and then wonder why there is child abuse. Teenagers have their bellies exposed and shorts up to their crotches. Parents sometimes object but then cannot find decent stuff in stores. Television and movies celebrate fornication and give us scene after scene of simulated sex acts. Pornography has gone main stream and sexual gratification is viewed as a necessary rite of passage. It is into this mix that we find the celibate priest. Mothers want their sons married because they cannot see how a man might otherwise be happy. Fathers want their sons married because otherwise everyone will think they are gay. The truth is that celibacy can be very rewarding and liberating. Celibacy is not a denial of love but a special way of loving.

The priest promises perpetual celibacy but even married men promise a fidelity to a spouse which will require periodic chastity. Those who follow Natural Family Planning would understand how one must be creative in love, perhaps reverting back from time to time to the romantic and chaste acts of courtship during fertile periods. Celibacy is not merely a matter of priests suppressing their sexuality; rather, it is redirected to a love of God and a love of neighbor in sacrificial service. Priests, who say their prayers and stay busy, have neither the time nor the interest to pursue an exclusive relationship. If men in general cannot be expected to control themselves, then what happens when a spouse is sick or incapacitated or away? If the husband has military duty abroad or the wife has to travel back home to care for an ailing parent or there is an extended business meeting, would the man control his sexual urges or be compelled to commit adultery? If his wife is sick and cannot have sex with him, does he necessarily turn to her pretty nurse as a proxy? An over-sexed society suffering from an epidemic of fornication, perversion, adultery, pornography, prostitution and child endangerment can hardly speak in a credible way about priestly celibacy and marriage. The trouble with these fallen priests is not the Church but the fact that they themselves are more formed and affected by the fallen world around them. Secularists and hedonists criticizing priestly celibacy are like drunk boozers telling teetotalers to take a drink.

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peter333QUESTION:

You claim that Peter was the first Pope, and yet Scripture attests that he was married. Since this great apostle could be married, why not all bishops and priests?

RESPONSE:

Restricting ourselves to the Gospels, no doubt you are referring to Peter’s mother-in-law. We read in Luke 4:38-39: “After he left the synagogue, he entered the house of Simon. Simon’s mother-in-law was afflicted with a severe fever, and they interceded with him about her. He stood over her, rebuked the fever, and it left her. She got up immediately and waited on them.” See the story again in Mark 1:30.

The Catholic Church does not deny that Peter was married. However, note her general absence in the New Testament texts. We do not even know her name. We only encounter the mother-in-law, never his wife or any children. Indeed, throughout the Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles, references are made to Peter’s activities and travels; but, only a vague intimation by Paul in 1 Cor. 9:5 that he had a right to travel with his “believing wife.” If it were not for this mention in the epistle, one might suppose that Peter was a widower. Tradition suggests that his wife was martyred. It is peculiar that although the wife would ordinarily have cared for the needs of guests, Peter had to rely upon his wife’s mother.

However, granting that she was still around (somewhere); she evidently assumed a secondary role in his life behind his leadership of the infant Church. Indeed, her insignificance in the biblical witness would seem to provide weight to the supporters of priestly celibacy. Like Peter, bishops and priests might do better to serve God’s people without the distraction of wives and children. Jesus gives his sheep to Peter. Pastors similarly love Christ and care for their flocks. This is the emphasis of Catholic ministry, our family in faith.

This post was never meant to be a defamation against Peter’s wife. I have also edited it to avoid any peripheral discussion about whether or not the tradition can be trusted regarding her martyrdom; given that some authorities speculated that she might have died earlier and/or that there might have been a second bond. It is probably best that we accept the tradition at face value.

Here are early testimonies for the martyrdom of Peter’s wife:

CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA (died around 215 AD)

(THE STROMATA, 7:11)

So then he undergoes toils, and trials, and afflictions, not as those among the philosophers who are endowed with manliness, in the hope of present troubles ceasing, and of sharing again in what is pleasant; but knowledge has inspired him with the firmest persuasion of receiving the hopes of the future.

Wherefore he contemns not alone the pains of this world, but all its pleasures.
They say, accordingly, that the blessed Peter, on seeing his wife led to death, rejoiced on account of her call and conveyance home, and called very encouragingly and comfortingly, addressing her by name, Remember the Lord. Such was the marriage of the blessed and their perfect disposition towards those dearest to them.

Thus also the apostle says, that he who marries should be as though he married not, and deem his marriage free of inordinate affection, and inseparable from love to the Lord; to which the true husband exhorted his wife to cling on her departure out of this life to the Lord.

Was not then faith in the hope after death conspicuous in the case of those who gave thanks to God even in the very extremities of their punishments? For firm, in my opinion, was the faith they possessed, which was followed by works of faith.

EUSEBIUS (around 265 AD to 340 AD)

(ECCLESIAL HISTORY, 3:30)

1. Clement, indeed, whose words we have just quoted, after the above-mentioned facts gives a statement, on account of those who rejected marriage, of the apostles that had wives. Or will they, says he, reject even the apostles? For Peter and Philip begot children; and Philip also gave his daughters in marriage. And Paul does not hesitate, in one of his epistles, to greet his wife, whom he did not take about with him, that he might not be inconvenienced in his ministry.

2. And since we have mentioned this subject it is not improper to subjoin another account which is given by the same author and which is worth reading. In the seventh book of his Stromata he writes as follows: They say, accordingly, that when the blessed Peter saw his own wife led out to die, he rejoiced because of her summons and her return home, and called to her very encouragingly and comfortingly, addressing her by name, and saying, ‘Remember the Lord.’ Such was the marriage of the blessed, and their perfect disposition toward those dearest to them. This account being in keeping with the subject in hand, I have related here in its proper place.

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I read one critic who argued that Father Cutie could defect to the Episcopalian Church, get married and continue his parish and media ministry. Yes, he could do this, but he might forfeit his soul in such a move. The moral state of people who were raised in the Episcopal or Anglican Church is one thing; the state of those who abandon Catholicism to join their ranks is another.

pewwindows

The original Protestant reformers may have paid a terrible price in their break from Rome. They should have known better. The same cannot be said for those who were raised in the Protestant traditions. This is all they know. Those elements of Catholic faith preserved after the break may very well be meritorious for our Protestant brothers and sisters. However, those very same elements may convict former Catholics who were supposed to remain steadfast within the body of the Church and in the profession of all that we believe as true. Ignorance of the truth does provide some measure of excuse. Catholics in general and priests in particular, would have a more difficult time. They were one with the true Church. They professed its faith and received its sacraments. The conviction from the Fourth Lateran Council, Trent and in the margins of Vatican II cannot be escaped: there is no salvation outside the Church. Those who know, perfectly well, that the Catholic Church is the true Church, and then refuse to join or leave its ranks, might lose their place in the heavenly kingdom. In addition, the Holy Father has insisted that Protestant churches are ecclesial communities but not churches in the full Catholic sense. The Anglicans like to see themselves as a branch of Catholicism, but this sentiment is not shared by the successor of St. Peter. There are serious questions about apostolic succession and its priesthood and Mass. Non-Catholic communities suffer from many dire errors in teaching. Yes, the Episcopalians have married priests, but they also have openly gay clergy and (women) priestesses. They tolerate abortion, sodomy, fornication, contraception, divorce and remarriage, etc. I doubt Father Cutie could stomach such a so-called church for long.

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