Saturday, April 3, 2010


This article describes another bishop I have suddenly taken a liking to, even though he was recently at the center of that controversy about trying to force people during swine flu to receive on the hand, even at the Old Rite (strange times make strange bedfellows, don't they?):
Calgary's Catholic bishop is pressuring the Vatican to allow him to ordain married aboriginal men.

Catholic priests are required to practise celibacy, but that law has only been in place for half of the religion's history. It was made 1,000 years ago to keep priests from willing church land to their spouses.

But Bishop Frederick Henry says he's trying to change that because of a dearth of religious leadership within the native community.

"Well I would hope that we would have perhaps a change in legislation," the bishop said. "We've raised the issue a couple of times in our visits to Rome — that we would like permission to ordain married men on some of our native communities because of just the absence of a native clergy."

Priests from other countries have been brought to Canada because of a shortage here.

While more clergy is badly needed, the bishop said, the church is much more likely to allow men to marry than to allow women into the priesthood, a position he says he personally supports. [This is awkwardly and confusingly phrased, but I assume based on his following comments that the position he "personally supports" is allowing married priests, not women priests].

"We believe that there is something in terms of the identification with Jesus himself that excludes women [from the priesthood] — but that doesn't necessarily mean that they're not called to holiness," he said.

"I don't see it [ordination of women] as a possibility theologically right now, but I think probably if there were to be a change it would be the whole question of celibacy in a married clergy."

Of course, he can't do that without Vatican permission, though his "my call, not theirs" over communion suggests he's got a refreshing independent streak (even if in the wrong direction). But if he "personally supports" the idea of married clergy, perhaps he would be sympathetic to other celibate models of formation and priesthood. At the very least, it is a lead worth following up on. I just worry he'd hate us because we're trads...


Michael D said...

I think the phrasing of that piece is awkward in one place. The text says, "the bishop said, the church is much more likely to allow men to marry than to allow women into the priesthood, a position he says he personally supports." That phrasing makes it sound like he supports women in the priesthood.

I don't think that's what they meant to say, if he's attracted your attention, it's doubtful he supports women priests, but the phrasing is awkward. Did they mean he personally supports the position that allowing men to marry is more likely than allowing women priests?

A Sinner said...

It is indeed awkward, I hadn't noticed that. I just assumed from his following comments that he doesn't support women's ordination, but rather support's married priests.

Kelly said...

+Fred is his own man, that's for sure.

Very pro-life. Took a lot of flack when he did not support gay marriage (which is now legal in Canada). At the same time, a strong social justice orientation.

Definitely defies pigeon-holing.