Global debate gets underway over married Catholic priests

BERLIN (AP) — Germany’s Catholics reacted enthusiastically when bishops coming from across the Amazon called for the ordination of married men as priests to address the clergy shortage in that will region. Such reforms have been pushed for decades by many German bishops as well as lay groups who trust the item can lead to the liberalization of centuries of Roman Catholic tradition.

There is actually resistance elsewhere for the proposal, however, with the conservative Catholic establishment producing sure its voice is actually heard as Pope Francis prepares his own document — expected by year’s end — that will could determine whether married priests as well as female deacons eventually become a reality within the Amazon.

Bishop Franz-Josef Bode coming from Osnabrueck, Germany, welcomed the proposals as well as suggested that will a European synod similar to last month’s assembly by the Amazon bishops could be a useful way to address pressing issues on the continent.

He told the Osnabrueck Diocese paper Kirchenbote that will while the Amazon Synod’s recommendations might not be transferable one-to-one in Europe, they might show the way forward to a similar type of priesthood in Germany that will allows for combining work as well as family.

“Regarding the role of women in our societal as well as ecclesiastical situation, the recommendations are a tail wind for our efforts so far,” Bode said.

A powerful lay organization, the Central Committee of German Catholics, or ZdK, stressed that will its congregations also are concerned about such problems.

“The question of whether we still have enough priests who live in celibacy as well as can fulfill all the tasks needed within the community is actually one that will needs to be asked in Germany as well,” ZdK Vice President Karin Kortmann told The Associated Press on Friday.

“the item’s right to ask how we can open offices within the church without jeopardizing the basic principles,” Kortmann said. “the item is actually also a question of credibility that will we discuss women’s access to all offices within the church.”

The ZdK will take part within the two-year “synodal path” meetings with the German Bishops Conference that will holds its first plenary session in January in Frankfurt. the item is actually widely likely to push for married priests as well as the ordination of women, among some other reforms.

Vicar generals coming from 10 German archdioceses sent a letter Tuesday to the bishops conference as well as the ZdK, saying they also consider “fundamental reforms of the church in Germany to be urgently necessary, indeed essential.”

Cardinal Reinhard Marx, the archbishop of Munich as well as chairman of the bishops conference, expressed support for the Amazon Synod’s proposal, yet stopped short of calling for a global recognition of married priests. In a statement after the item ended, Marx tried to dampen expectations among German Catholics by saying “the synod was not about the abolishment of celibacy, that will’s not going to happen.”

The Catholic Church already allows for married priests in Eastern Rite churches as well as in cases where married Anglican, Lutheran or some other Protestant priests have converted to Catholicism. yet if Francis accepts the synod’s proposal, the item might mark a first for the Latin Rite church in a millennium as well as could help the church compete with evangelical as well as Protestant churches that will are gaining converts, especially in South America.

The synod’s proposals have not been universally embraced outside the region.

Some key cardinals at the Vatican as well as elsewhere have voiced opposition, warning that will married priests within the Amazon might create far-reaching, negative effects on the priesthood elsewhere for the 1.2 billion-member church, while also opening the door to an even greater problem: What to do about divorced priests.

Most of these critics are coming from the hierarchy’s conservative camp that will has grown bolder in voicing skepticism or outright opposition to Francis. They form part of the high-level criticism that will is actually buffeting the papacy over issues such as the clerical sexual abuse scandal, allegations of financial improprieties within the Holy See as well as doctrinal concerns.

Perhaps the most surprising critic was Cardinal Marc Ouellet, head of the Vatican’s powerful bishops office as well as a top adviser to Francis. Ouellet, considered a possible papal contender, published a book on the eve of the Amazon Synod affirming the value of the celibate priesthood as well as expressing skepticism that will married priests might solve its clergy shortage.

A more predictable “no” came coming from Cardinal Robert Sarah, an arch-conservative coming from Guinea whom Francis has kept on at the Vatican’s liturgy office despite sharp ideological differences. He also published a book on the eve of the synod lamenting the “dark night” of crisis for the church, citing the sexual abuse scandal as well as overall doubt about Catholic doctrine as well as morals, as well as insisting on the value of priestly celibacy.

“I often hear people say that will (celibacy) is actually only a question of historical discipline. I think that will that will is actually wrong. Celibacy reveals the very essence of the Christian priesthood. To speak about the item as a secondary reality is actually hurtful to all the priests of the planet,” he said.

Outside the Vatican, Cardinal Camillo Ruini — a conservative who was St. John Paul II’s vicar for Rome as well as head of the Italian bishops conference — also criticized the proposal as well as said he “hopes as well as prays that will the pope … doesn’t confirm the item.”

Ruini acknowledged the priest shortage within the Amazon as well as said the proposal was understandable, “yet I think the item’s the wrong choice,” he told Corriere della Sera. “The celibacy of priests is actually a great sign of total dedication to God within the service of your brothers, especially in an eroticized context like today’s.”

Ruini also suggested married priests might inevitably lead to divorced priests.

“Today marriage is actually profoundly in crisis: Married priests as well as their wives might be exposed to the effects of This specific crisis, as well as their human as well as spiritual condition wouldn’t be able to avoid the item,” he said.

Most U.S. bishops have so far avoided emphatic pronouncements about the synod.

One of the more outspoken is actually Bishop Richard Stika of Knoxville, Tennessee, who says celibacy “is actually a living gift of a man to the church as well as should be the norm.”

In an interview with the AP, Stika said there are practical reasons for excluding married priests, at least within the U.S. Many dioceses are struggling financially as well as might be hard-pressed to support a household that will included a priest’s wife as well as children, he said. the item might also limit a bishop’s ability to transfer priests having a family.

“I know the pressures of being a celibate priest,” Stika said. “If you then have a family of six, your primary vocation should be to your family, not your parish.”

Brazilian Bishop Mário Antônio da Silva of the Amazonian diocese of Roraima, who attended the synod, said married priests as well as ordained women are needed within the Amazon.

“I defend celibacy for those who feel the priestly calling. yet I also say: We need brand new collaborators in our communities,” Da Silva told the AP. “The ordination of married men meets This specific need, so I’m in favor.”

He suggested the concept might eventually spread beyond the Amazon.

“the item’s a process that will must advance for the maturity of our church,” Da Silva said, “not just within the Amazon, yet who knows, maybe in some other parts of the church, in our continent, as well as the whole world.”

“We want Pope Francis to help us move forward with This specific,” he said.


Associated Press writers Nicole Winfield in Vatican City, David Crary in brand new York as well as Luis Andres Henao in Buenos Aires, Argentina, contributed.

,, 9 November 2019 | 4:28 pm

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