Friday, March 4, 2011

Sad News...

A reader to whom I owe more than one of my posts here just sent this article, which details a very bad decision:
Italian news sources are reporting that the Italian Episcopal Conference (CEI) has vetoed the idea of allowing married priests of the Romanian Catholic Church (one of the Eastern Catholic Churches in union with the pope of Rome) to exercise their priestly ministry in Italy.

In an article entitled “Priests of a Lesser God: CEI — New Veto to the Presence of Married Catholic Clergy in Italy,” Italian news service Adista reported obtaining a copy of a confidential letter written last September 13 by Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, president of the Italian Episcopal Conference to Lucian Muresan, Major Archbishop of the Romanian Catholic Church. In it, Cardinal Bugnasco explained the position of the Italian Episcopal Conference regarding not allowing the presence of married Romanian Catholic priests in Italy.

The Romanian Catholic Church follows the Byzantine liturgical rite and retains many customs — such as a married priesthood — similar to Eastern Orthodoxy, from which it broke away in 1698 when it entered union with Rome. It is estimated there are more than half a million Romanian Catholics in Italy. Cardinal Bagnasco, appointed by Pope Benedict XVI in 2007 to be President of the CEI, said that the Bishops’ Conference:

“after having carefully examined the issue in light of the figures relating to the consistency of the ethnic communities from Eastern European countries and the situation of clergy in the Italian dioceses, believes that, at present and in general, there is not ‘just and reasonable cause’ to justify the granting of the dispensation.”

The letter from the Bishops’ Conference cited the importance of “protecting ecclesiastical celibacy” and the need to “prevent confusion among the faithful.” At issue is the concept that the free exercise of the right of Eastern Catholic Churches to ordain married priests is limited to their “canonical territory” or traditional homelands. Outside of their traditional territories, this right is seen as subject to regulation by the Pope.

The Adista news article cited a 2008 meeting of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith which affirmed the norm of priestly celibacy for Eastern Catholic priests ordained outside of the traditional “canonical territories” of their respective Churches, unless dispensation is given by the Pope:

“On 20 February 2008, the regular meeting of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith reaffirmed the validity of the norm of a binding obligation of celibacy for priests of Eastern Catholic Churches who exercise the ministry outside the canonical territory. The pope, however, has given the Congregation for the Eastern Churches the authority to give a dispensation from this norm, with the approval of the Episcopal Conference in question.”
All the more reason to get rid of this silly idea of "mandatory" celibacy for secular priests completely, and to pray for reunion with the Orthodox (they'd never accept such a limitation to certain territories). One wonders just what the ecumenical plan is among Catholic bishops, as stuff like this certainly doesn't help reunion with the East in any way...

I actually remember attending a Romanian Catholic liturgy while in Rome with a married priest. Is he suddenly going to be no longer able to exercise his ministry at the heart of the Catholic world?? This decision is ridiculous, especially given how badly many of the Italian bishops have put up barriers against Summorum Pontificum. Somehow traditional liturgy is bad, but a tradition of unhealthy institutionalism is not?

"Confusion" among the faithful? Ha! What the mean is people realizing that celibacy for secular priests is a changeable and culturally contingent discipline and then clamoring for change in the face of massive shortages of priests.

And "protecting celibacy"?? What the hell does that mean? Why does it need to be "protected"? That assumes making it "mandatory" for secular priests is useful and that married priests are a "threat" to celibacy (which is silly; if we believe it's a real vocation, those truly called to it...would still be called either way!) And yet, to "protect" their beloved freudian madhouse of an institution, they're willing to do something incredibly offensive and patronizing to the Eastern Catholic churches??


Auricularis said...

While I think the decision is rash, celibacy is a venerable discipline in the Latin rite that should be retained. A priest is a man of God - not of this world.

A Sinner said...

Hmm, well that's not really what this blog is about. But I think that statement is incredibly revealing.

One, it implies that celibacy as a tradition wouldn't exist without making it "mandatory" for secular priests (ie, drawing diocesan priests from only the pool of men with the celibate vocation). I think that's silly, there'd still be plenty of men called to celibacy, just without the weird dynamics of institutionalizing it, having a whole clerical-social world based on it.

Two, it is rather clericalist. A diocesan priest is NOT a monk, is not "holier" for being a priest. The consecrated life and the priesthood are two different vocations, and it leads to a certain type of clericalism to bootstrap the latter to the former, to identify the two.

Three, it implies that somehow marriage makes one more "of the world" (these are SECULAR priests, after all) than priests (many of whom are very worldly, trust me). But this is rather an insult to many Eastern Catholic priests.

I simply don't believe in keeping the secular priesthood as that sort of "separate" caste, especially not in today's world where Christendom is no longer in place. Pretending it is doesn't help anything.

Who Am I said...

Latinizations FTFAIL!

Honestly though, if there indeed exists a substantial Italian community of Romanians in The Diaspora, what precisely are they trying to tell Eastern Christians ? You're in Italy now, conform to Roman standards ? What in the world happened to relevant Liturgies and Liturgical diversity ? Likewise, anyone can hop on the web these days and look up Eastern and Byzantine Christian practices and not be mortified to see MARRIED clergymen. I don't see how it would confuse anyone. The priests in question would merely be serving ROMANIAN faithful. Aren't they likewise insulting The Eastern and Byzantine Christians by treating their TRADITION as second class ?

Who Am I said...

I made this a while back just to spite (in good fun that is) Trads that like to shove Occidental Christendom as being SUPERIOR to Eastern and Byzantine Christendom with those "It's better in Latin" posters. Enjoy !

On that note, the "Don't forget your Mantilla" ones are so kitschy too. Ugh ! Maybe it appeals to individuals from that generation ?

Anyway, here's the motivational poster I made:

Stephen said...

One would hope that the bishops in Italy would have learned from the mistakes American bishops made on exactly the same issue. When Eastern-rite Catholics started immigrating to America in the late 1800's they asked their bishops back home to send some priests over, and naturally those priests were married parish priests. The Latin-rite bishops insisted on only celibate priests and pressured the Eastern-rite Catholics to Latinize their liturgy. The result was that many Eastern-rite Catholics became Orthodox.

Who Am I said...

Testify brother Stephen, testify !

BTW, you wouldn't happen to have Eastern Christian contacts in NYC would you ? If so, check out this page:

My apologies to 'A Sinner' for utilizing this space to advertise. I shall be posting the above link to my blog shortly.

Stohn said...

Isn't the CEI composed of Roman bishops? If so, then how can they have a say over the pastoral practices of an eastern church?

A Sinner said...

"the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith reaffirmed the validity of the norm of a binding obligation of celibacy for priests of Eastern Catholic Churches who exercise the ministry outside the canonical territory. The pope, however, has given the Congregation for the Eastern Churches the authority to give a dispensation from this norm, with the approval of the Episcopal Conference in question."

The CEI has this authority because it is up to the national bishops conferences to approve allowing Eastern Catholics to have married priests outside the canonical territories of their sui juris churches.

Joshua G. said...

A friend responded to this news with, "Well, that's just pisserating!"

I think that sums it up.