Friday, May 11, 2007


Today four men will become priests in the diocese of Cleveland. There will be the usual protesters outside. There will be the family (though they were not there last year) whose children hold signs that say, “My father is a Roman Catholic Priest.” It has been interesting watching those little tykes grow into adults over the years.

There will also be those who stand on the Cathedral steps as we walk in that hold the banner, “We are priestly people too!” promoting ordination for women. If someone wants to hold that position, fine, but I find it almost as appalling as that “Christian” denomination that protests military funerals. Wrong time. Wrong place. Fortunately it seems that less women and no one under 50 seems to be taking this particular route in protesting.

Let us be honest. Who reading this would not, if they had the power, change something that really bothers them about the Church? I would. In a heartbeat. I also know that many, many people would be very unhappy with the Church the way I want it. First of all, they would have to learn Latin, chant, and look at my back for at least half of the mass and that is just the start of it. But you know what? I get over it. I move on and try to be the best damn Catholic that I can be with what is given to me.

I’m tired of angry Catholics. No, I take that back, I’m tired of whiny Catholics. Every last one of us most likely has some legitimate complaints. With over one billion people in her care someone is going to be disappointed with every decision made. But she plugs along as best she can.

It is Okay to make your beef known. But one must also be humble enough to know that they may be wrong or that it may not be time for their idea to come to the fore (and most probably the former.) But anger does not have a place. If meeting after meeting, gathering after gathering you are tooting the same horn on the same note there is something wrong and it is not with the Church. At some point you must say, “I may believe that this is wrong, but I must stop being angry and become constructive with the tools I have been given.” How many things have not to be studied and taught, how many people turned off to the faith, how many people have to be left unfed, how many visits have to be left unaccomplished, how many opportunities to pray must be wasted, how many vocations not promoted, how many other social justice issues be forgotten, how much time and energy wasted, how many opportunities to volunteer sneered at before we say, “That’s enough. Let us pull together now and get to work.”

It is one thing to debate a topic; it is another to spend your spiritual journey licking nursed wounds and kicking everyone who does not march into your camp. Catholic men and women, it is time to stand up strong and live the faith with reckless abandon. There is enough hurt and pain out there that needs our attention without men and women of faith worrying that they are not getting everything entitled to them. Besides, you and your cause will be much more attractive if you are living a positive, constructive life rather than spending vast amounts of energy moaning about how the system is getting you down. If you are not leading people to the Eucharist, it is not of God.

Be a force of fortune instead of a feverish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will devote itself to making you happy.” – George Bernard Shaw.

Stop trying to save the Church. The Church is here to save you.


Anonymous said...

A very eloquent expression of the ultramontane position. I think I am growing into the ultramontane position myself, viewing obedience of the heart something to be striven for. Is 'striven' even a word? Anyway, for those of us returning to the church after the scandals i think that there is this feeling like 'OK I'm coming back but now I recall just how much I disagree with X,Y, and Z.' At least that's how I felt/feel.

Priestly marriage is a bit of a different topic than most dissent, because Pope Gregory the Great or whomever just randomly asserted in 1100 AD or something as some primitive means to avoid nepotism. It's not defined in any sort of ethical way, it's just a bad human resources policy.

That's not to say that some folks don't have a charism to celibacy. But then so does Ralph Nader (there's not necessarily anything holy about it), he's not a priest. And he reportedly has little tolerance for the family needs of his staff. Again, that's bad HR policy. Some celibates project their state as a requirement for others. And the church dealt with similar tendencies in the past, and called them 'Apotolici Heresy'; a heresy actually driven by lay people that was the heretical notion that all faithful had to adhere to fanatical aescetics.

So I have immense respect for the ultramontane/obedient position and I agree with your notion that we need to 'just get on with it'. I also agree that protesting at ordinations is completely innappropriate, and I agree with the head of the KoC that we should defend our priests like we defend our mother's honor on the playground!

But I also think that the majority of lay people just want the best priests they can get, and they want those priests to be allowed marriage if called to marriage. And they shouldn't shut up about it. Or other issues that are troubling them. They should write letters by certified mail to the cardinals and bishops who are supposed to represent the sense of the faithful. They should sign petitions. They should organize rallies and protests.

And then they should also strive for obedience! Sometimes there is Truth in paradox, no? And isn't this the path the traditionalist sorts have been walking to get the tridentine back?

Anonymous said...

There are angry people in Ohio?? I was kinda hoping that was exclusive to the east coast and VotF.. I've only seen one "protest," by one man, and I hope never to see that look on a good priest's face and on the good deacon's again. It broke my heart. To scream, "WHERE'S THE ACCOUNTABILITY???" on the steps of church just after Mass lets out, so that children and old ladies take the wound, too -- not to even mention that these two have never harmed a fly -- oh, God. That right there is enough to make one try all the harder to build things up, to help heal, and above all, yes, to pray. As it happens, Mr. Accountability ended up humbly serving with his wife as EMHC, which proves that God writes straight with crooked lines.

There's a right way to ask, and a right time for that, and I think it's the book of James that speaks of it, as well as the book of Canon Law, and of course, it all rests in what Christ said was paramount as Paul echoed: The greatest of these is love.

I would never dream of approaching the Bishop for any reason! That's an American corporate mindset error. Make an appointment with a priest, and bring your concern privately.

I'd thought church sit-ins were obnoxious in Boston, so I'd have a real problem with people holding signs outside of a church.. oh gosh, a problem and a half. I'll be praying for a sweet ordination day, and I hope others will be, too.

Ps - thanks for the admonishment; it is timely and you say it very well, Fr. V.

Roman Catholic Vocations said...

Fr. Valencheck,

Yet another great post! Thank you.

I was surprised to hear about the "protests" at the ordination. How sad. I was imagining the dissapointment of a young married couple coming out the church to hostile homosexuals protesting for "gay" marriage. It would certainly be a stain on the memory of a beautiful day. Similarly, these young men have no more control over Church teaching than you or I. It is a shame that what is supposed to be a most beautiful moment in their vocation, is dampened by these protests.

Adoro said...

These kinds of protesters completely blow me away with their complete selfishness. Their actions do nothing to further their cause, but rather, hurt people who have a right to a celebratory, blessed moment. It is a complete injustice.

And I love your last line:

"The Church is here to save you."

I so need to be saved, and I thank God every day for the Church!

Odysseus said...

-because Pope Gregory the Great or whomever just randomly asserted in 1100 AD or something as some primitive means to avoid nepotism.-

Priestly celibacy was not "invented" in 1123 AD at the First lateran Council under Pope Callistus II. That is propaganda. He could not have just forced all priests to give up their wives suddenly. This move was possible becuase both groups, celibate and non, existed at the time.

Celibacy goes all the way back to the time of the apostles. Paul recommended celibacy. There were both married priest and celibate priests back into the first centuries of the Church.

St. John the Apostle
St. Ignatius of Antioch
St. Polycarp
St. Papias
St. Justin Martyr
St. Athanasius
St. Augustine
St. Ambrose

The list goes on and on.

As for being bad human resources policy: Luther and his ilk took away many Catholics in the sixteenth century and permitted clerical marriage. In that same century, the Ctaholic Church, hoding to its disciplines, quadrupled in size. Besides the Orhtodox, the "denominations" that allow clerical marriage are all commmitting suicide, except for the fundamnetalists.

So, why is the idea of proiestly marriage so attractive. I don't see anywhere, as a policy, that it has had good results.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this great post.
I am a convert and so I am so happy to belong to the Church that Jesus created. Jesus's Church was never meant to be a democracy. I also have seen how Ministers and their families of different Protestant denominations are torn apart never to be back in a church of any kind because of the expectation of the Pastors you can not be married to the Church and have a family. I know how difficult it can be to not understand the teachings of the Church but I can tell you from my heart that Praying the Roasary and the Devine Mercy every day will help. If you can get them on CD you can just listen and somtimes God will speak to you in this time also Adoration just visit with Jesus. We also need to pray for these angry people can any one imagine what their life is like...

Anonymous said...

Oh, Robin. You hit the nail on the head... "we need to pray for these." Thank you for the reminder. I'll join you in that.

Anonymous said...

Well, with all due to respect to those who feel otherwise, and with equal approbation towards those protestors, I'll just say this:

Jesus gave the keys to heaven to a married priest (Simon-Peter), and Paul advised that bishops 'have only one wife' in Timothy.

Rob asks: So why is the idea of priestly marriage so attractive?

My answer is that the idea of blocking vocations is what is unattractive, based only on a disdain for paying childcare benefits, some weak marriage metaphor, and some misguided notion that celibates are inherently more dedicated workers than marrieds. The church claims that she has no authority to ordain women. Well, she has no authority to withhold priesthood from the married, since Simon-Peter was married and Paul is explicit in his direction that Bishops should have only one wife.

The orthodox, Anglican, and Lutheran churches are not 'committing suicide' as Rob puts it. They make up a very substantial portion of Christendom. And the Eastern Rite churches are under our pope and doing just fine with priestly marriage, they are Catholics just like we in the Western Rite.

It's important to remember that what those protestors lack is respect, let's not disrespect our brothers and sisters in the Eastern Rite even if we disagree.

Anonymous said...

There is not a shortage of vocations there is a shortage of men saying yes to that call. We live in a very me, myself and I world now. We tend to forget that life is a scrafice. Life is summed up as JOY:
J-Jesus first
O- Others
Y- Yourself
Do not be afraid, have faith!

Adoro said...

WC ~ The reality is that those dioceses (Lincoln, NE) and individual parishes that uphold tradtional disciplines as well as doctrine are literally EXPLODING with Vocations, for both men and women. The men who are entering the seminary today don't WANT to be married. They see it as a choice...either/or.

In my area, there are a few parishes, and esecially those run by misguided feminists, crying out for married priests as well as things that are doctrinal. I have not seen one faithful parish suggest that the discipline of priestly celibacy be changed, but why would they? The only parishes that are seeing a crisis in vocations are the ones trying to make the Church change to fit their preferences.

The Church is not here to be changed by us or to submit to our demands. She is here to LIFT US UP to God, to save our souls, and to call us out of our navel-gazing and TRANSCEND our sinfulness and our narrow viewpoints so as to see ourselves and the world through God's eyes.

She is here to save us.

Yes, celibacy is a discipline, but in other religions that allow celibacy, there are crises there as well. Celibacy is not the issue...the entire reason for the problem with Vocations is in the "me" world we live in and the bad catechesis provided to most of us. This is changing, catechesis is slowing getting stronger, and with that, those grey-hairs saying celibacy is the problem is dying out.

There is no need to change this discipline. There IS a need for us all to walk in holiness, and there is a need for our clergy to stress that point again and again. It is holiness that begets vocations, not sex.

Fr. V said...

W.C. - You are right in so far as the Catholic Church does now and always has had a married clergy. It is a disciplin, not a dogma - though in a sex saturated world we may need it now more than ever.

Rob - to add to what you said, there is some serous scholarly opinions that both Paul and Peter where widowed. Just read about that possibility for Peter but right now can't remember if it was in the latest issue of This Rock or P & H Review.

Robin - Yes - ultimately it doesn't matter what we think. Pray, "God's will be done," and let's just get on with it. How much more time must we waste?

Odysseus said...

Fr. V,

Peter was definitely married (elsewise Jesus could not have cured his mother-in-law). And Paul was probably married and widowed, according to the scholars, but my point was that he was celibate during his ministry.

Adoro said...

Came across this tonight:

"I don't know if anyone outside our "fraternity" can ever know fully the sacrifice a priest makes in submitting to ordination; how, in many ways, no one, no program, no formation, can prepare a new priest for what he will encounter once he is placed in his first parish. Some sink, some swim. Some make it, some don't."

Kinda makes us all face the reality of the sacrifice of priesthood. Let us all keep this priest (Fr. Kanar) in our prayers.

Odysseus said...

-The orthodox, Anglican, and Lutheran churches are not 'committing suicide' as Rob puts it.-

Actually, I explicitly left the Orthodox out of it. (elsewise one of my best blog followers would have ground me into dust beneath his heel. He's Orthodox!)

The Anglican church most certainly is committing suicide. In a word, ECUSA. :)

I confess, however, ignorance as to the Lutheran situation (a lot of 'em swimming the Tiber these days, though.)

Anonymous said...

Well, when you think about it most sacraments are not refused to those who 'qualify' for them.

Last Rites

Sure you have to agree to reject the Devil in all his works, and you have to play by certain rules, but the church does not have "Power" over the sacraments, right? She was given the sacraments and commanded:

"Tend my Sheep"

Which is why she will not ordain females, or so it is explained. So you need a really good, solid reason to withhold the sacrament of holy orders from the married, and the sacrament of Marriage from the Ordained.

You can't just willy nilly make up some marriage metaphor between priest and church and then decide to ban marriage for human resources reasons, or because lots of priests receive the Charism of celibacy.

I don't support priestly marriage for convenience, or liberalism, or priest shortages.

I support it because it is fundamentally, scripturally, traditionally, and spiritually wrong to withhold the sacraments of marriage or Holy Orders from those who otherwise deserve them.

We do not call men to the priesthood, God does. And God gave the keys to the Kingdom to Simon-Peter, a married priest.

So when if a Married man were to discern a call, earn a degree in divinity or whatever, and otherwise qualify, (as I am sure many of our Deacons do), then the church has no authority to withhold a sacrament only for reasons of marriage.

Odysseus said...

-if a Married man were to... qualify...then the church has no authority to withhold a sacrament only for reasons of marriage.-

The Church can, and does,withhold sacraments, for a variety of reasons. If I am not in a state of grace, the eucharist is to be withheld from me. Absolution in confession cannot be given to me unless I am truly repentant (I can't confess to using birth control and receive absolution if my intent is to use it again. I've been through that one). Marriage can be withheld if I and my potential souse do not meet certain regulations.

The idea that the Church "owes" the priesthood to a married man because he feels called is just entitlement culture taken to the spiritual level.

Mary Martha said...

I never quite understand those who choose to stay in the Church only to attack it from within.

To be honest, when I could not in good conscience agree with the teachings of the Church I left.

Hardly my best moment... but I think without leaving I never would have come to the point where I am now. Willing and able to choose to be obedient to the Church and all of her teachings.

Anonymous said...

Hi Rob,

I realize there are valid reasons to withhold a sacrament. Those reasons must have sound theological, scriptural, and traditional reasons to be withheld, or the church does not have the right to withhold them.

I believe that the church has no valid right to withhold the sacrament of marraige for the reason of holy orders, nor the sacrament of holy orders for the reason of marriage.

I am well aware that there are multitudes of valid reasons to withhold both those sacraments.

Odysseus said...

-I believe that the church has no valid right to withhold the sacrament of marraige for the reason of holy orders, nor the sacrament of holy orders for the reason of marriage.-