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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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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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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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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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Father Cutie Defects to the Episcopal Church

Father Cutie, Scandal & a Reflection on Celibacy

Where Does a FIRED Catholic Priest Go?

Was Peter, the First Pope, Married?

Celibacy, a Dangerous Suppression of Natural Desires?

May 11, 2009 – Miami Catholic Priest – Father Cutie Discuses Being Caught Kissing & Fondling A Women On CBS’s Early Show.

MIAMI (CBS4) ― Father Alberto Cutie, CBS A well-known South Florida priest is under fire after a Spanish-language tabloid magazine released pictures of Father Alberto Cutié with a woman. Father Cutié, better known as Father Alberto, had his own Spanish language television show on Telemundo. He hosts a radio show on Radio Paz and writes an advice column in El Nuevo Herald.

Father Cutié serves Mass in the parish of St. Francis de Sales on Miami Beach and faces possible removal from performing Church functions at his parish because church leaders believe he violated his vow of chastity.

CNN’s Rick Sanchez And Miami CBS & FOX Station Report: Photos released of a Miami priest [Father Albert Cutie]. He’s supposed to be celibate, but the pictures show him getting very cozy with a woman on a South Florida beach. Father Alberto Cutie is now on leave as the church tries to figure out how to deal with this scandal. Parishioners are shocked by these photos showing their priest, Father Alberto Cutie, locked in a loving embrace with a brunette on the beach. The pictures, from TV Notas magazine and obtained by the Miami Herald, were reportedly taken on Miami Beach in February.

Father Albert Cutie gives his interpretation of his favorite parable: The Prodigal Son.

PRAY FOR FATHER CUTIE!

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STEVE:

With all of these cases [of priests leaving for women], it brings up the arguments to allow priests to marry. The practice of celibate priests, I believe, did not happen until the middle ages in the West. Our first Pope, Peter was married as many priests in the East have been since the beginning. What is the opposition to allowing married priests? It seems it might solve a lot of the lonliness and depression problems a lot of Western priests have as well as sexual impropriety. It seems to be a self-imposed cross of the Church on its clergy in the West.

My European Legal History professor was of the cynical view that the celibate priesthood in the West was begun so that priests could not pass on their money to children or wives upon death in order to keep the money and property under Church ownership.

FATHER JOE:

There was a preference for celibacy going back to St. Paul and the early Church. There is even evidence that married priests practiced celibacy. Jewish priests practiced temporary celibacy during the time of their service to the temple; the difficulty with Christian priests was that their service was perpetual. There were many early attempts to impose mandatory celibacy in the West, as is evidenced in the Lateran councils and various synods. The definitive point came in the eleventh century. The ruling was not simply to protect Church property but to raise the moral and spiritual caliber of clergy. Celibacy was such a serious sacrifice that it was thought that it would help weed out the worldly ambitious and those seeking monetary gain. The Church essentially made the monastic model the framework for her priests in the West. They would not promise poverty like religious, but they would often live a simple life and promise obedience and celibacy. We should not look at celibacy merely as a deficit or as a tragedy. It is a wondrous gift that God makes possible through the faith and service of the man and the empowering gift of grace. This does not mean that married men could not function as priests, only that the single-hearted love of celibate clergy is a different kind of priesthood, yes of a higher order.

Married people also know loneliness and depression. Married intimacy and sexuality is no absolute protection in this regard. The celibate priest is often too busy to feel sorry for himself. In any case, most priests I know are happy men. They belong to the people they serve. They are comfortable with “aloneness” and if they are ever tempted by loneliness, it becomes part of the priestly identity, resonating with Christ’s agony in the garden as he awaited his betrayer and passion. I do not think married priests would solve the Church’s problems. Then we would have to deal with alienated spouses, marital and family scandals, etc. If you do not believe me, look at the Lutherans and Episcopalians. They have their rascals, too; although, our sinners seem to get more publicity than theirs.

STEVE:

Regardless of its origins, I think it’s time the archaic celibacy rule for Western Priests was abandoned. Eastern Rite married priests, to my knowledge; do not suffer from the problems of Western celibate priests to the same degrees. They have proven it works. Not only those, but many Protestant ministers with big congregations have families and do well. One argument I’ve heard is that priests are on call 24/7 but so are doctors and many other married professions. In addition, allowing married priests would help solve the priest shortage, therefore reducing the work each priest has to do.

FATHER JOE:

I absolutely and totally… disagree with you. One of the hallmarks of a traditional Catholicism is the celibate priesthood. The Protestant reformers were quick to discard celibacy because it is such a hallmark of a Western priest’s identity and fidelity. He belongs to the Church. He goes where the bishop sends him. There is no wife and family that can be used as a manipulation against him. There is no reservation to sending him to the missions or to a poor parish where drugs, crime and murder surround him.

The numbers of Eastern rite clergy are very small and even they admit their problems. The bishops themselves must be celibate. Protestant ministers may have large congregations and serve well, but they are not priests. Indeed, they are not even deacons, and among these men we have many married clergy. It shocks me that you would compare Protestant ministers to Catholic priests. Trustees control their churches. They compete for the churches that offer the best salaries and benefits. Episcopal bishops often only have minimal control, and that in a church where holy orders is generally counterfeit and doctrines and values blow about like leaves in the wind. A minister cannot absolve your sins. A priest can take a damned man and make him a saint! (He knows the sins and secret lives of others, pray God a married priest would not talk about such things in his sleep and into his wife’s ears!) A minister can give you grape drink and buns. But a priest can give you the body and blood of Jesus Christ, humanity and divinity, raised from the dead! Does he need to conceive a child with a woman when he can consecrate God at the altar? In any case, you are quite wrong about married clergy in other churches. Over half of the men in the Lutheran churches are divorced and remarried. The Methodist churches allow for married men and yet most new candidates in seminary are female. The Episcopalians are not always in the news but there are countless cases of adultery, pederasty and pedophilia, and incest thrown in besides. Indeed, the past president of the Episcopal Church USA left his wife and lived with his gay lover. You would hold them up as an example for us? Pleeeeeease!

I am not saying that we cannot have married priests. We have some wonderful men, formerly Episcopalian, in my diocese. But it can make the priesthood a great deal harder and Mother Church would prefer not to place both the burden of a family and ministry upon our priests. The first man ordained in the Catholic priesthood after leaving ministry in the Episcopal church was greeted with great fanfare. A few years later his wife gave him an ultimatum– the Catholic priesthood or their marriage. She said that many years of service in the Episcopal church did not prepare them for the demands of Catholic priesthood. He remained a Catholic priest and she left him. Now, if not through a promise, then through her divorce he has joined the ranks of the celibate priesthood.

Despite having a married clergy, many mainline traditions are also having clergy shortages. The prospect of married clergy will neither solve scandals nor fill seminaries.

Most celibate priests I know are happy and want things to remain as they are. Honestly, we would appreciate it if the laity and others would just mind their own business and leave untouched the celibacy which we treasure in the priesthood.

STEVE:

God commanded us all from the beginning to be fruitful and multiply. Anyway, just some thoughts!

FATHER JOE:

I do multiply… every time I baptize someone… every time I take a host and say, “This is my body.” The body of the Church grows. Christ extends himself in the sacrament. That is how I am fruitful… by being a good priest and caring for souls in the family of God. The sacrifice of not having a wife and children was and is a very serious one for me… but I think it was for the best… and I would do it again! I belong to no one family but to every family.

TOM:

Franciscan friars aren’t celibate because they’re Latin Rite priests. They’re celibate because they’re Franciscan friars.

FATHER JOE:

You are right that religious brothers and priests both take vows of celibacy.

However, the religious clergy I know still see their celibacy as an element of their priestly vocation. Indeed, they speak about it as such in their theological formation classes as a shared discipline with the secular or diocesan priesthood. If they were one of the newer faith communities which invite both celibates and married couples, then the candidate for priesthood would have to embrace celibacy before ordination. Diocesan seminarians pledge celibacy at their ordination to the diaconate. Religious brothers and priests are held to vows of obedience, celibacy and poverty. Diocesan priests make promises of obedience (at the ordination to priesthood) and celibacy (at the ordination to the diaconate). However, no matter when taken, celibacy is understood as something that is to be maintained perpetually throughout priesthood. The Church regards the celibacy of both religious and secular priests as part of the common discipline mandated by Church law.

It should also be noted that in practice it is a great deal easier for a religious brother or sister to be released from vows than for a priest (secular or religious) to be released from celibacy. Laicization regulations became more complicated under Pope John Paul II than with Pope Paul VI. Under the previous Pope, there were thousands of defections who received laicization. Not all of them were released from the obligation of celibacy which is a separate matter. Some men left the priesthood following Vatican II, not because of romantic relationships but because they could not relate to the new sense of identity in the Church and the reformed liturgy. Pope John Paul II revised the laicization process and now it more resembles the procedures for an annulment. Usually the first and maybe even the second request for laicization are turned down. There are long periods of seeming inaction on the petitions. The priest must assert that his ordination was a mistake and that he should never have been ordained. The Church can also force laicization upon a priest as a disciplinary measure, i.e. a pedophile abuser, a man ordained to traffic in drugs, etc. Both the Mafia and the Communists tried to plant their personnel in the ranks of the clergy; when discovered, these men were quickly removed.

If a religious priest, like a Franciscan, should want to become a diocesan priest, he must receive permission of his superior and the invitation of a bishop. After five years of service within that diocese he can be incardinated as a diocesan priest. He does not repeat his vow to celibacy which still binds him but he does promise anew and transfer his obedience from his superior to the diocesan bishop.

I have a dear friend who was a Carmelite and who faithfully served as a diocesan priest for many years. Such a change in direction is not infrequent and is often welcomed in dioceses where the priest shortage is particularly painful. Similarly, I have known men who went from the diocesan priesthood to the religious life, particularly as monks.

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FATHER JOE:

Healthy heterosexuals, real men in the priesthood, are attracted to women. They make a promise of celibate love and by discipline, prayer and grace, they live out this life of loving service. They might fall in love… heck, they might fall in love with a number of nice women in their lifetimes, but they remain steadfast. Older and wiser men recognize the signs and make distance, even becoming gruff or mean to women they particularly like. This is often misinterpreted. But it has to be done. If a priest falls deeply in love with a woman in a romantic way, he must abandon her friendship and any affiliation with her. He must not play games that will lead the both of them into disaster. He must say goodbye. Often he will not and should not tell the woman why they cannot remain associates or “friends”. He must love her enough to let her go. There is something of sacrifice and the cross about this. It is as it must be. We need men who have a single-hearted love for God and devotion to the Church. As new Christs, they take the Church as their spouse. Once the promise is made, they must not think again that they are free like other men. Fantasies must be guarded and brushed aside. No time for envying other men or feeling sorry for oneself can be allowed. They have surrendered their intimacy and their sexuality to God– case closed.

HELEN:

Father Joe, I have question about the following: “Often he will not and should not tell the woman why they cannot remain associates or ‘friends’.”

Why should a priest not be honest with the woman? If he pushes her aside with no explanation, she may think she has done something wrong (sinned) to hurt or offend him, when she has not. Perhaps, she did not lead him on. We (adults, single, celibate, married, whatever) are beyond the age of innocence, yet we do not always “do” anything that makes another desire us sexually. The priest has taken a lifetime vow of celibacy. Has he also promised not to be so aloof that may hurt another person, when a simple explanation could clear up the problem, as far as the woman going her way, so as not to be a “stumbling block” to him?

FATHER JOE:

“Why should a priest not be honest with the woman?”

Priests are often shy men who live in their heads. They may feel a great many things that they do not express. While priests may express fatherly love or the more general love of a shepherd to his flock, it would not do for a priest to confess “romantic” love to a woman. I base this upon the experiences of many priests who thought they had to be honest before making distance between themselves and a woman they cared “too much” about. More so than not, it can touch reciprocal emotions in the woman and matters can quickly escalate. It is best that she never know how he really felt. Unfortunately, they can also begin to lie to themselves, that they can keep this love under control.

“If he pushes her aside with no explanation, she may think she has done something wrong (sinned) to hurt or offend him, when she has not.”

Yes, she might feel hurt. This sometimes happens, but it cannot be helped. It is for the sake of both their souls that he must keep silent. He can assure her that she has done nothing wrong, and maybe tell her that the demands of ministry require more of his time. This is true; his priesthood requires that he spend less time with her. He can also explain in a vague manner, that he wants to return to the spirit of detachment that he was taught in seminary so as to better focus on his spousal love to the Church and to his prayer life as a priest. But he should not tell her, “I love you.” What he feels for her may not even be reciprocal; it does not matter. He might never get over her and will have to take this burning love with him to the grave– so be it. He must allow her to find joy in the company and embrace of another man, no matter how much he sacrifices personally. Promises are made to be kept.

“Perhaps, she did not lead him on?”

“We (adults, single, celibate, married, whatever) are beyond the age of innocence, yet we do not always ‘do’ anything that makes another desire us sexually.”

She did not have to, at least not intentionally. He might simply have fallen in love with the person she was. Priests are especially vulnerable or sensitive to nice girls who practice and know their faith: going to Mass, saying their prayers, practicing modesty and chastity, etc. They are everything a religious man of strong values would hope to find. He sees in her a true helpmate and a wonderful potential mother for a family. Many people these days discourage priests and tear them down. Such a lady builds him up and tells him that he is important and needed. He will quickly make friends and before long, loving her will be as easy as breathing. Her joy will become more important to him than his regular duties. Trouble is brewing!

We are sexual beings. Priests like all men are constantly dealing with sexual feelings and thoughts. His need for intimacy when turned toward such a girl will not subtract the sexual elements. If the relationship becomes increasing exclusive, then he must make the hard decisions about what to do next. Hopefully, the priest did nothing to lead the woman on.

Young priests in particular can be very innocent. This is also a component that quickly resonates with the innocence of a woman who cherishes her virginity and values. They see in each other something of themselves, and the potentiality for a best friend. But can a priest have a woman as his best friend? I have trouble in seeing it. Fr. Groeschel used to recommend that priests make friends with women whom they find particularly unattractive. This way they develop that side of their personalities that must interact with females, but by lessening any possible dangers. That is why some priests reserve their closer female relationships to matronly or elderly women. Older priests might also have some friendships with young women for whom they have fatherly feelings. However, caution must be used because while young men like young women, so do old men.

“The priest has taken a lifetime vow of celibacy. Has he also promised not to be so aloof that may hurt another person, when a simple explanation could clear up the problem, as far as the woman going her way, so as not to be a ’stumbling block’ to him?”

YES, a priest has taken a lifetime vow or promise of celibacy.

But, to be honest, he did not make promises about the rest. Some priests are aloof and they remain that way to survive. Others are better at relationships and limits. I am all for simple explanations, but in many of these situations the explanations are really not so simple and can lead to a host of additional problems. Rarely is it a case of the woman going her way, unless she sees the problem and nobly makes a move before the priest does to preserve his vocation. What usually happens is that a priest, consulting his spiritual director and/or confessor, will seek a new assignment. It is often too hard for the priest to remain in a parish and regularly see a woman with whom he wants to share time and intimacy. He goes on with his life and she goes on with hers. He does not go out of his way to be mean or nasty. He will no doubt bless her and keep her in prayer. But he might also never see or talk with her again. And if he does, then he must bear his pain of loss in silence.

HELEN:

Thank you for your explanation. Obviously, priests are fully human. They are as sexually alive and responsible for their own behavior as anyone else. It just seems that in almost every instance a priest could say, “I’m sorry, but I can’t see you anymore. You didn’t do anything wrong and have not sinned against God. I am asking you not to question me further. If you care for me, as a human being, please don’t continue to ask.” It seems kind, doesn’t seem to violate his vows, and would let a young woman (perhaps as shy as he) know she had not led a priest on.

FATHER JOE:

Helen, certainly the priest should do all he can to help a person he loves to move on with her life. But the priest may be so caught up in his own emotions that he does not have the right words.

You suggest that he could say the following: “I’m sorry, but I can’t see you anymore. You didn’t do anything wrong and have not sinned against God. I am asking you not to question me further. If you care for me, as a human being, please don’t continue to ask.”

I think it is good to tell her that she has done nothing wrong. About that I agree, if it is indeed the case. But I also believe that he has to remove himself from the picture. If she really cares about him, no explanation will suffice. Someone is going to get hurt, not matter what.

Further, in some cases the emotions are not entirely shared. The girl might only have “friendship” feelings while the priest feels more than he should. He has to be careful to say or do nothing that would re-direct or amplify her feelings. (It could also be the other way around. I have known priests pursued by women.)

Romantic feelings are not very rational. The problem may be more the priest than the girl. If he says something like this and she comes crying into his arms, begging, “What is wrong, tell me?” Well, who knows?

Thank you for the contribution. I hope priests struggling in such situations will take seriously this post and the thoughtful words that you offer as a model for them. You are a smart lady, Helen. God bless!

MARY:

There are so many factors involved in these situations; it is hard to reduce these situations to linear scales of right and wrong. There are multiple factors acting on the principles. Some examples:

(1)  Some women consciously or unconsciously actively seek priests out for relationships and marriage. I know of one woman who is obsessed with marrying a priest and even vehemently argues for the Church to allow priests to marry. She never sees her obsession as taking a “father” away from many, many, children. This woman may have felt that she needed a father for her children, but she probably didn’t ever consider that in giving her children a father she will be depriving many, many others of a one-of-a-kind spiritual father.

(2)  People become confused I think also when they entrust someone with the deepest, most intimate parts of their spiritual life. This is often a person’s most secret and intimate self. It’s not surprising that a person who has never been able to share this part of their life with anyone else will reason that their ability to share it must necessarily mean that that they and their priest/counselor share an intimacy beyond any other and is evidence that they should be together for life.

(3)  Our society is over sexed and places a high premium on “sexual identities.” The Christian life demands that people refrain from inappropriate relationships but the world is so at odds with Catholic understanding of sexuality and the human person. Everyone is bombarded constantly with messages to be sexy and demonstrate one’s sexual prowess. It’s about the equivalent of alcoholics being asked to live in a bar 24 hours a day. The temptations are so great. I think we need to realize that just as alcoholics need AA, so to do those who are called to chastity according to their state in life (married, celibate consecrated, celibate singles, etc.) need the same kind of support that AA provides its members. I think the Church should organize support groups for chastity for both lay people and clergy.

(4)  If this relationship really went on for awhile, it underscores the value of having busy body old ladies as receptionists who just have a way of “knowing” who should have a lot or a little access to father.

SANDY:

Fr. Joe, today I find all too many priests insensitive to the feelings of those they “shepherd”. How sad it is for me to hear that a priest would purposely choose to be mean to a woman whom he has feelings for. It seems cruel given the sensitive nature of woman. Some women look to a priest as a reflection of Christ. A priest treating her coldly may cause her to question her love of the Church and this may cause her to leave the Catholic Church. I know this because I have left the Church due to so many uncaring priests.

FATHER JOE:

You miss the point Sandy; the object or ideal is for the priest to pull away before the woman develops strong feelings and an attachment to him. Many today see love only in a selfish way, like those priests who break their promises. If a priest really loves a woman he will want what the best for her, even if he must pay a high price by forfeiting her friendship. Love is not always about kissing, holding hands, embracing, or jumping into bed. Sometimes REAL LOVE means saying goodbye. (Remember, priests and their women who attempt marriage commit mortal sin and cannot be restored to good grace unless they separate or unless the priest is laicized and given permission to marry. I have known such couples, cut off from the sacraments, knowing that every act of romantic affection and sexual union is neither sanctioned by the Church nor approved by God. How can a good priest live with such a decision, knowing that he may have damned the person he says he holds most dear?)

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Choosing the Woman over the Altar

fallenIf any priest in a compromised situation with a woman attempts marriage then he places himself and a person he says he loves into a seriously sinful state. It angers or upsets me that men can reject Church law and teachings when it suits their selfishness. My upset or indignation is in reaction to the hypocrisy, dissent and scandal caused by fellow priests against the Church I love. I am not vindictive about it, only deeply disappointed. If he maintains a brother-sister relationship until (or if) laicization is offered, at least then he shows some respect to the Church and concern about her soul.

I have friends who are priests who left ministry to get married. I would not condemn them. But they would not seek to function without the legal faculties to do so. 

Discussion with revisionists who have burned their bridges is very difficult. We may be destined to communicate at cross-purposes due to very divergent premises and convictions. However, everyone on the right or left of such issues should want to facilitate genuine healing in the lives of others. Priests and the women with whom they have had intimate relations or attempted marriages might confess to something of a love-hate relationship with the Church, owning up to their anger, reckoned by them as justifiable.

I wish priests who leave ministry well. Once a man has defected with his beloved, I would hope that such couples would love and be faithful to each other. Laicization and release from the promise of celibacy are important; otherwise, no marriage would be recognized as either valid or licit. I would hope that priests who leave for a woman would reserve their romancing until that time they are deemed free to do so. As for shame, what kind of woman could take a priest from his altar and from the confessional and not feel some sort of remorse? How could a priest, albeit a fallen one, ever really love a woman who took so lightly what he would give up for her?

Doing the Right Thing

Healthy heterosexuals, rightly ordered priests in their sexuality, are attracted to women. They make a promise of celibate love and by discipline, prayer and grace they live out this life of loving service. They might fall in love… heck, they might fall in love with a number of nice women in their lifetimes, but they remain steadfast. Older and wiser men recognize the signs and make distance, even becoming gruff or mean to women they particularly like. This is often misinterpreted. But it has to be done. If a priest falls deeply in love with a woman in a romantic way, he must abandon her friendship and any affiliation with her. He must not play games that will lead the both of them into disaster. He must say goodbye. Often he will not and should not tell the woman why they cannot remain associates or ‘friends’.

Certain dissenters, who might see some small value in celibacy for misanthropes, refuse to accept that such a mandatory discipline could be in concert with God’s will. My view was clear and was voiced in an earlier post: “They have surrendered their intimacy and their sexuality to God— case closed.” A priest is not his own man. He belongs to God and the Church. Giving God his intimacy and sexuality means that he will not have an exclusive sexual or intimate relationship with another human being. Priests are still sexual human beings, but they love in a celibate way of service.

I can well understand how those who have become entangled with priests might suffer through my comments. I stand by my words. Celibacy is a sacrificial discipline which priests FREELY embrace. God does not return our gifts except as transformed. In this case, the priest belongs to God and to his congregation but not to a particular friendship or to an intimate sexual relationship. The salvation of souls is the fruit he seeks, not that of his loins.

Is it immature to be a faithful celibate? Is it misogyny to say that a man can be happy and fulfilled without a wife and family? Those who applaud fallen priests and their women are very quick to judge priests like me; they errantly place the greater maturity with those men who broke their promises, perhaps even committing mortal sin? I have many close friendships with women, but I am well aware of the boundaries and I do not play games with them. The trouble today is that many women mistake friendship and kindness as a summons to something more. Given the immaturity of men and women in our society, it is no wonder that there is a problem in this regard. Would we rate the men who stayed celibate as children and those who fooled around with women as the more well-adjusted and mature?

Defection and Redefining the Priesthood

Those who turn their bitterness against the so-called “institutional” Church, as if the properties of the Church can be practically dissected, often forfeit a sense of the sacred and the supreme importance of the sacraments. It is for that reason that renegades will often turn to ecclesial communities with dubious apostolic succession and a questionable or counterfeit priesthood and Eucharist. One critic referred to the sacramental role performed by a celebrant, his action at the altar “in persona Christi”, as an empty caricature of priesthood with no significant or enduring meaning. She would reduce the meaning of priesthood to show that it is a poor trade for a wife and family. Priesthood becomes less a vocation and more a job in this evaluation. But priests are more than clueless figureheads; they truly make Christ present in their own person and in their activity.

Every validly ordained priest shares in the one priesthood of Christ, this is where his ministry finds focus: in the sacrifice, in the consecration (real presence) and in the forgiveness of sins. Dissenters, renegade priests and the women, who run away with them, might embrace a defective religious confession and their rites or they might even brush off any definition of priesthood which places the gravity upon the dispensing of the sacraments. Poor lost souls, they lose a sense of basic Catholicism 101.

It may be that some women redefine the priesthood to blunt the blow that they have cost the Church a good priest. Of course, the priest has responsibility in all this, and must share culpability. One might feel less guilty if our vision of the priesthood is narrowed to activity that anyone might do. It is wrong to contend that when not saying Mass or hearing Confessions, he is no longer configured to Christ Jesus, the great high priest. A priest is always a priest. As a case in point and it might sound profane, I once heard a Confession in the stall of a bathroom. Yes, I prefer Church confessionals, but if a person is in serious sin, there is no time to waste. Priests are never really off duty. And definitely, there is never time for illicit fun and games with the girls!

Priests who are celibate and expect other priests to keep their promises are not rigid and deliberately hurtful. Every priest is called to be a healer. But excusing or ignoring or offering approbation for failure is not to render true healing. Such activity represents a false compassion. The priestly confessor of souls serves many functions: physician or healer, father, teacher, prophet, and judge. I would not judge myself any less severely than I would any other priest. Such a role is necessary to insure proper guidance and repentance. We are all sinners. We are all weak and poor instruments. But, God’s grace can work the miraculous in our lives.

Truth versus Dissent

I can only speak for God when I echo the teachings and disciplines of faith. I claim no moral superiority over others. I make mistakes and even errors in judgment. We all do. But I do not think my views about this are in conflict with the Good News of Christ. Our Lord has given us an infallible Magisterium to guide and govern the Church. Dissenters cannot speak for God if they oppose the Catholic faith. Dissenters believe they have a special enlightenment in regard to the truth. They do not even seem to fear God in making themselves into little popes in deciding what they will and will not accept. Such a dilemma is clear when dissenters argue for a version of love unhampered by the restrictions of the Church (like vows or promises). Challenge their special enlightenment and they will go further in denying the Church’s charism of truth and the qualifications of faithful priests.

While speaking as if they are a competing or parallel Magisterium, critics insult the Church and every good priest, and yet, seem blind to what damage they are doing. Their rhetoric betrays an anger that moves from the matter of married priests to that of women priests or priestesses. They insist that the Church is depicting women as the enemy and dangerous. They demand that men and women be treated equally. Priests and their women who marry outside the Church and/or move into other denominations are stamped as heroes and not as sinners. There are a few cases where former Catholic priests allow their “attempted” wives to serve as priests alongside them. The first has no faculties to minister and the latter has a counterfeit priesthood severed from apostolic succession. An imaginary and false line is drawn between faith in the true Church and faith in the Lord.

The conflict in such discussions between sides is divergent views of ecclesiology and vocation. Those on different sides of this question place the gravity in different areas. My emphasis would be upon the head and the spiritual power of will. I suspect that many women actively involved in an intimate way with priests would give the gravity to the heart and the corporal passions or emotions. On the other hand, I would stress the clear fact that the Church welcomes men to holy orders who promise or vow celibacy. The objective or external situation is that men do this and I feel they should remain faithful to their promises. There is no good escape clause. As far as I am concerned, that is where matters should end. They should behave themselves and if they should suffer emotionally, offer it up with Christ’s passion.

Those who later want out of their promises make all sorts of rationalizations. The business about the heart and/or emotions is only recognition that such seems to play a big part in the decision of priests and women who become romantically entangled. I may be wrong, but is this really such a large leap in reasoning? If this is overly presumptive, then I would apologize but I have dealt with many delicate situations regarding such things and it has been my experience.

We must not be naive about the fierce physicality in men and the sexual drive which men must daily sublimate to stay chaste. I have never said that priests must hate or fear or universally separate themselves from the female gender. However, there will come times when a priest must break off certain relationships because his heart and fallen nature is taking him in a direction he must not go. A priest is always a living ICON for Christ. The full gravity or weight of his sacramental vocation is manifest at Mass where he operates “in the person of Christ, head of the Church.” He signifies Christ the groom and the Church is his bride.

Critics will insist that the Church and her defenders violate a number of values. However, a clarification has to be made. EQUALITY in grace is not any kind of egalitarian view of humanity. JUSTICE for others also includes following objective norms, of the State, of the Church, of Nature, and of Divine Positive Law. Today many things we call RIGHTS are really just made up excuses for license and sin. Women have no right to priesthood. Celibate priests have no right to either wives or concubines. People of one gender do not have rights to sexual contact with those of the same gender.

What Do Priests Know of Love?

One critic argued recently that priests generally knew nothing about love. She contended that they were ordained merely to fulfill family expectations. But there are many reasons and such anger cannot invalidate the calling of good men validated by the true Church. The truth be said, most priests today entered the seminary against the wishes of family and friends. God is love; however, it is wrong to equate this love entirely with the romantic. Such critics fail to acknowledge human weakness and sin; rather, romantic entanglements with priests are wrongly interpreted as God’s will. This is ludicrous. God never desires sin.

It is not my intention to give a comprehensive treatise on divine love and how we share that love. I believe God can forgive and that he showers mercy upon priests who leave active ministry to marry women. It is rather insulting and “mean spirited” that certain critics think many priests have no notion of love. I counseled a woman many years ago against flirting and trying to seduce a man in seminary formation. She walked out shouting that I had nothing to say to her because I had never been in love! I challenged her on this assumption and she crudely blurted out, “Unless you have gone to bed with a woman, you do not know what love is!” The very reason why I and so many of my brothers embrace our celibacy is out of love for God and his people. The harshest critics are essentially saying that they do not care and that it is a waste of our time. Love brought me to the priesthood. It is love that beckons me to the altar, to the confessional, to the baptismal font, and yes to the sick bed of the dying. I am sorry that such lost people cannot understand or appreciate that.

Attacks against the Church and Her Messengers

What has been my reward for speaking about the value of celibacy and for insisting that good priests keep their promises? I have been assaulted personally as a misogynist and my view of human sexuality has been condemned as immature. Such judgments were not the result of sharing a detailed appreciation of vocations and human sexuality; rather, I was labeled precisely because I placed a negative value on the illicit unions and/or liaisons of priests and their paramours. I am not naïve about priestly formation and human development. Truthfully, I believe clergy should be emotionally whole and integrated. Priests should be comfortable with women. However, and here is the great divide, celibate priests should NOT have sexual relationships with women.

I would certainly not want to generate unnecessary anxiety for others, but sometimes bravery means not denying or running away from our guilt. Ridiculing Church teaching and discipline, breaking the vows of priesthood and/or marriage, are not positive in any honest estimation. However, speak about sin, and there are always many who will insist that no one can judge such things, despite divine commandments and objective right and wrong. Prophets who speak the truth of God are castigated by false prophets who speak their own mind. Broken promises, fornication and adultery, attempted marriages, illegitimate children, scandal… yes, I would say that such sins should make people feel ashamed, particularly for the unrepentant and the guilty.

They want every faithful priest or so-called right-wing Catholic to be caricatured as an angry homophobic and chauvinistic white male. While they excuse their own venom, any use of hyperbole to make a point or indignation about fallen priests and their women is viewed as the most outrageous insult. They share this with certain radical homosexuals who condemn Church teaching as hate-speech. Both camps contend that you cannot judge the sin without condemning them as sinners. They think that faithful and traditional priests value institutions and laws more than people— and yet, must there be a disconnect? However, it is NOT the institutional Church that denies people access to grace. People do this to themselves by their sins and by failing to preserve a disposition receptive of grace. Critics wrongly dismiss the Church’s discipline as just man-made laws. But the Church is both a human and a divine institution. Celibacy is not a purely human fancy but is an element of the divine plan.

I would contend that it is a pretty poor and simplistic synthesis against supporters of the status-quo to say that those who disagree with revisionists on this matter and their agenda are all angry men with a punitive outlook. We can be upset or disappointed without desiring any kind of harm to others. Most priests try as confessors to keep emotions in check. We hear everything, from the lurid details of abuse to murder itself. Our response is that of Christ. The penitent expresses sorrow for sin, makes an act of contrition, and then receives our absolution. Sometimes that healing is enough and at other times, they are placed on the road to recovery. Any upset I feel is precisely because the priesthood means a lot to me and we should not give poor witness.

The Effect of Scandals

Scandals are always thrown into the face of those who argue for no change regarding our discipline. Lately, the recent scandals around Fr. Marciel Macial have been their ammunition of choice. It is true that many regarded him as a conservative, i.e. orthodox. Critics of celibacy are having a field day with revelations that he purportedly fathered a child. This is bad news for the Legionnaires and for the Church. The questions about abuse in his regard are even more serious. However, such poor witness is no absolute invalidation of priestly celibacy. Most priests are faithful to their promises.

Critics point to the scandals and the fallen priests and ask the rhetorical question as to whether or not compulsory celibacy is a fallacy or myth? They think it is. Some well-meaning voices play into their hands by recommending optional celibacy. They feel that celibacy should only be permitted to those who feel called to it. However, most priests in the West freely promise celibacy. No one is forcing them into the priesthood. If they do not feel called to celibacy then God in his wisdom would not ask them to be priests. God is not in conflict or battling his Church; rather, he works in concert with the authority he established. The struggle here is to do God’s will, not what our selfishness would ask and not what the dissenters demand. Optional celibacy might see its day; but it will not solve the vocations crisis and it will create new serious issues in itself.

Many of us have had concerns about the secrecy and ultra-regimentation of the Legionnaires. I wonder how much of it reflected the secrecy that Father Macial utilized to cover his own scandalous indiscretions. It is a very sad business. Hopefully Rome will bring reform and healing to the situation.

Celibacy is not a myth, despite what the cynics might say. I believe that God works with his Church and gives the grace of celibacy to any who are truly called to his priestly service in the Roman Catholic Church. Yes, the Church could change this discipline tomorrow and make it optional. But no one should seek ordination with such an expectation.

Why Should We Care?

Why would a faithful priest be upset about those who violated Church rules? Well, first, one can be both upset and still show compassion and empathy. Second, good priests have a responsibility to admonish and to guide people in the moral life. Breaking promises to God and the Church is selfish and wrong. Third, while it is true that no one can absolutely read the inner hearts of others; this does not mean that the Church cannot render judgment about external actions. If you make promises and break them, you commit an objectively evil act. This is more than a sentiment or a temptation hidden in the heart and will. We would suspect that priests, of all people, would be fully cognizant of their behavior and the repercussions. They cannot claim ignorance. Bad priests agreed to the rules but later wanted to change them. Women who become involved with priests, and here I mean actively involved as in sexual encounters, mistresses and attempted marriages, should know full well that they have fallen far from what God and the Church demands. Ladies who have the heartstrings pulled and then do the right thing are entirely different. This latter group deserves our respect and continuing support.

Fourth, a fallen priest’s promises were made to his bishop and before God, not to me personally to other priests. The actions of one priest often affect all priests and thus, the misconduct of any one priest hurts all priests. That is why the abuse scandals have been so incredibly devastating to the morale of priests. It wounds every one of us personally. We are all sharers in the one high priesthood of Christ. We trust and look up to one another. We expect fidelity, courage, generosity, obedience and sacrifice. We believe all the jargon about the glories of the Roman Catholic priesthood. When men fall short, it pains us more than any of us could properly convey.

Every priest who keeps his promises feels hurt and betrayed by those who do not. This fuels the indignation, along with the insufferable arguments that question the teaching in hindsight. Often personal responsibility is minimized and the Church herself is made the culprit for making the celibacy requirement at all. Broken promises by priests are seen as a betrayal of our brotherhood. It breeches them from their spiritual father the bishop and their brother priests. Those who are not priests might not understand this element of family that is focused upon the presbyterate.

My indignation or upset or anger or resentment or whatever you want to call it is not misplaced, but justified. I may come across as somewhat judgmental, but such is often my response to dissent and attacks upon a celibacy which I believe is worthwhile and should be sustained as compulsory in the Western Church. I would and have supported men who left ministry. I see no contradiction in doing this quietly for individuals while taking a strong general position against romantic entanglements, defections, and laicizations.

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marcielFr. Marcial Maciel Degollado (March 10, 1920 to January 30, 2008) was a Mexican Catholic Priest who founded the Legion of Christ and the Regnum Christi movement.

Pope Benedict XVI disciplined him in 2006, inviting him to “a reserved life of prayer and penitence.” This was followed by Maciel’s resignation in January of 2006. He had been charged with incidents of pedophilia which he vehemently denied.

The Legionaries made the statement that he had “accepted the instruction with faith, total calm, with a clear conscience knowing that it is a new cross which God, merciful father, has allowed him to suffer”. The statement compared him to the falsely convicted Christ, and having pled his innocence he resolved himself to follow “the example of Jesus Christ, [and] decided not to defend himself in any way.”

Despite the mounting evidence the Legion and Regnum Christi members remained adament that their founder had been falsely maligned.

But among those charging him were an ex-priest and an active priest. Over a half-dozen men came forward and labeled him an abuser. I am sorry, I thought from the beginning there had to be some substance to their charges. But menton a word about this too his supporters and they were all over you.

Given the many testimonies of abuse and impropriety, even toward those who became priests, I was thankful that Pope Benedict XVI compelled Fr. Maciel to retreat to a life of prayer and penance. The latest news about his out-of-wedlock offspring (hija ilegítima) just compounds the scandal. Previously, there was a resistence among the Legionnaries to accept or even to investigate the charges against their founder. A number of purported victims claimed that this victimized them anew as liars or deviants. Yes, I believe there has to be a reckoning and probably a change from the manner in which the Legion of Christ usually operates. The criticisms of certain bishops and others may now be treated seriously. Among these concerns are the following: a general air of secrecy, a lack of cooperation with local parishes, the clandestine targeting of certain diocesan priests (usually young) for affiliation with them, and an overly rigid formation of seminarians and later priests that causes a dissolution of ties to family and former friends in favor of loyalty to the Legion. It is being argued that this systemic secrecy and control found in the Legionnaries may have found its initial source in the need to protect and enable the secret life of its founder. If that is true, the apple will have to be peeled to its core with the rotten pieces stripped away.

Let us pray for the Legion of Christ and Regnum Christi.

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[The initial post has been deleted given that the Blog in question deleted the citation and thread linked to a posting on this site. The material is being reworked as an essay.]

Finding myself cited on another Blog, I was quick to comment. I told the blogger that she was certainly welcome to discuss the views I put forward about priests and women. If her Blog was devised to give comfort and compassion to women who had been hurt in their relationships with priests, then I wished her well. I warned her and her readers that there was a certain tendency in my style toward exaggeration to make a point. I made no secret that we took very divergent positions and that I could never recommend organizations like CORPUS, Good Tidings or Rent-a-Priest. I suspect, given the tone and content of the responses, that a number of those who responded had actually broken away from Catholicism, probably defecting to the “anything goes” Episcopalians or to the similarly precarious independent congregations. (Many fail to appreciate that the married priesthood matter often disguises the deeper ecclesiological problem of disobedience against legitimate Church authority.) It is my view that the married priest movement has self-destructed by adding women priests and gay priests to their agenda. That which might have been possible within the context of a liberalized discipline will never include the acceptance of something judged doctrinally impossible or the failure to condemn immorality.

When I responded to the Blog citation; one commenter claimed that my remarks caused her suffering. This was not my intent and I seriously wondered if I should say anything more or just allow them to vent further. But questions were asked and I was under the impression that they might want the perspective of an average priest in good standing. There was real resistance to my ideas, no doubt because people blamed the Church and not themselves about what forbidden relationships with priests had wrought in their lives and in those of others. Do such traditional views as mine stymie discussion? Must discussions always be about only those things we want to hear?

The blogger thought my remarks were rather presumptuous of their motives when I wrote: “I suspect you would give the gravity to the heart and the corporal passions or emotions.” I guess she thought that assumptions about what moved people to do the things ascribed to women involved with priests left little room for dialogue. However, people sharing their commonly share animus against the Church is not real dialogue either. Further, there was a hesitance to acknowledge that priests who have counseled women in the past on such issues might have some insight into the thoughts and feelings that are so often operative. I will not lie about it; my mind is made up about the issue. This does not mean that I stop caring about those who have decided to change paths. We had one man who served as a good priest for many years, left ministry, got married and then became ill. A few of us fought for him to have compensation and benefits. Yes, there were some who insisted that “he left and we owe him nothing!” While outnumbered, we pressed our point home that we owed him, not merely from charity, but also something from justice.

As for the Blog experience, I shared my views, received thanks, and then in the next breath faced rebuke for towing the Church line. One of the reasons that I so rarely post on the Blogs of others is because the posture of openness is often a lie. I make no secret on my Blog that I have the last word, although I try earnestly to post comments from most everyone, albeit with appropriate responses if needed. Vulgar words and pages of cut-and-pasted spam are not welcome. Revisionist bloggers will quote me at length, but they often do not really want my responses. They want various points of view, but not my point of view— the perspective of one who is happy with compulsory celibacy and an all-male clergy. A recent blogger cited me and then later erased the whole thread because of my interaction.

It is apparent that certain bloggers who pose as Catholic really do not like the Church. They insist that the Church might proclaim Christ’s love but does not follow his example. I would take exception to this. The ministry of the Church expresses much in the way of reconciliation, love and caring. Such are hallmarks of the priestly life.

The blogger who debated with me later said she had no particular agenda other than to give women a place to speak, an oasis of safely to tell their stories. I did not say and would not oppose her attempt to create a community for sharing and healing. Indeed, it was out of a concern that my ideas might distress some of them that I offered no subsequent comment on her Blog. Then and now, I wish her well in reaching out to women and helping them, if that is indeed her purpose. The blogger was very gracious. She said that she was glad that I fully shared my views and thanked me for taking the time to write out my responses. Later she would rescind her kind words and changed her mind about my views.

I must admit I was hesitant to comment on a Blog for women in relationships and/or attempted marriages with priests. Such women may need a place to vent and to express themselves without the concern that a priest “such as me” would intrude. Given that I was cited to for the purpose of comments, I opted to enter the discussion. I honestly shared my opinions. They could disagree if they had to do so, but I never meant any ill will. I promised to pray for them all and for the priests with whom they were involved. It remains my hope that they will find happiness and peace. About this topic, the best for which we could hope would be to agree to disagree.

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