Field of Dreams: if you build it, they will come!


Catholics and Orthodox
January 31, 2014, 12:19 pm
Filed under: Opinion

I would like to commend an article recently published in the The Catholic World Report. It is written by an Eastern-rite Catholic in North America, Dr Adam A.J. DeVille. After enumerating a number of areas where he thinks Roman initiatives towards Orthodoxy have been good, and deserving of a positive response, he continues:

“I hope, in view of the foregoing litany, that I may be permitted now to note a few areas in which there is room for improvement. Indeed, let me state it as strongly and bluntly as I can: absent significant and unambiguous evidence of change—and not merely vague promissory notes with an unspecified future date—in the following areas, unity with Orthodoxy will not happen.

1) Clerical Celibacy: The whole history of much of Orthodoxy in North America would be inconceivable without the complete fiasco of Latin bishops trying to force priestly celibacy on Eastern Catholics in the early 20th century. When the Latins attempted this with staggering arrogance and insensitivity, tens of thousands of Catholics became Orthodox. Today’s Orthodox (and Eastern Catholics) need it made very clear that while we all honor celibacy highly, in the East the longstanding custom has been that parish priests are usually married while celibate priests are usually monastics. No requirement, therefore, can again be demanded of Eastern Christians whereby all seeking priestly ordination must be celibate. The East should be able to decide about a married priesthood without interference just as the West decides about a celibate priesthood without interference. The Eastern custom, as valid and ancient and “apostolic” as the West’s tradition, must be accepted on equal footing without cavil or qualification. (If the West decides to alter her tradition, it should only be changed after very careful discernment and deliberation as to the major costs—financial and administrative, inter alia—that such a change would bring. It should also be changed not because of some supposed “vocations shortage,” because a married priesthood is no guarantee of lots of priests.)”

There are several other points, too, but I highlight this because I think it is of relevance not only to Catholic-Orthodox relations, but to the growth of the Ordinariate as well. The legitimacy of a married priesthood is part of “Anglican Patrimony”, and should be regarded as non-negotiable. Please find time to read the whole article.

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