Sexual Authenticity: An Intimate Reflection on Homosexuality and Catholicism

Wednesday, October 5, AD 2011

An Article by Melinda Selmys, author of the book Sexual Authenticity: An Intimate Reflection on Homosexuality and Catholicism.

Twelve years ago, I converted to Catholicism and began a long dialogue with my own sexuality. At the time, I was involved in a lesbian relationship that had been going on for a little over six years. I had, in the course of researching the Catholic position  with  a  view  to  refuting  it,  encountered  the  Church’s  teachings  on homosexual relationships before, so when I decided to embrace the Church as my mother, I knew that meant giving up my lesbian partner. I called her that night and explained my decision.

At the time, I thought that I was signing up for a life of celibacy. I was okay with that:  before I became a Catholic I was a hard rationalist, and it wasn’t a long stretch to port my idealistic devotion to rational self-possession into an iron-clad commitment to  Catholic sexual teaching. I would simply apply my will to the problem, subsume my passions to the rule of Reason, and everything would be fine. Right?

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25 Responses to Sexual Authenticity: An Intimate Reflection on Homosexuality and Catholicism

  • Interesting.

    Is there a meaningful distinction between “gay identity” and “queer personality”? Should there be? A gay identity seems no more contrary to Church teaching than a female identity. If that’s the case, it would make sense to encourage a gay identity within the Church rather than making Catholics choose between the two.

  • Honest self-examination and self- knowledge are essential if we’re going to make any headway in achieving chastity, in or out of marriage

    Amen to that. She seems to be doing a marvelous job at it, and it is wonderful that she is willing to share so much. Her advice is not only helpful for the LBGTQ community, but for “straights” as well. We all face temptations, and self-mastery is difficult for the best of us (just ask St. Paul). It is particularly difficult in a society that constantly encourages us to give in to our passions rather than rule them.

  • I don’t have anything to add, but thanks for posting this.

  • This is one of the most honest, intelligent pieces on the subject I have ever read. This will better help me relate to some of my friends who are gay and lesbian and has enlightened my understanding and insight. Thank you for writing this and for your transparency.
    God bless!

  • Paul, kind of the opposite. From their website: “By developing an interior life of chastity, which is the universal call to all Christians, one can move beyond the confines of the homosexual identity to a more complete one in Christ.”

    What’s wrong with a homosexual identity? I remember reading something critical of the organization you linked to. I can’t remember where I read it. I think it was a blog by a chaste gay orthodox Catholic. The criticism was related to the issue I pointed out. Instead of creating a welcoming environment for the “gay and Catholic,” they seem to be saying “don’t be gay, be Catholic.”

  • RR,

    I wouldn’t consider “gay” identity to be equivalent to “male” identity or “female” identity as you suggested. Rather, “gay” identity would be more like “alcoholic” identity or “addict” identity.

    “Male” and “female” identities are normal. A “gay” identity, while real, is no more normal than an “alcoholic” identity or an “addict” identity. The Church needs a creation of a “gay” identity no more than it needs a creation of an “alcoholic” or “addict” identity. But the sympathizers of the gay community and the gay community itself insist on normalizing a “gay” identity as something natural like a “male” or “female” identity, and that simply isn’t the case. Being gay, like being alcoholic may have a genetic pre-disposition factor to it, but it still isn’t natural. It’s abberant (did I spell that correctly?)

    Now that doesn’t mean that we persecute and harrass gay people any more than we persecute and harrass alcoholic people. We all have our own special demons to taunt us. But let’s not normalize the abnormal; let’s not legitimatize the illegimate.

  • I thought again about RR’s idea of a separate identity for gays in the Church. Galatians 3:27-28 bears upon this:

    27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

  • As Paul W Primavera says, or alludes to, our primary personality should be that of Christ. In that context, we do not develop an alcoholic personality, nor a wrathful personality, nor a lecherous personality, nor a “much afraid” personality. Those are disorders, and we don’t embrace them as fundamental to our nature or our being. Someone who is prone to these things is called to work on letting Christ heal them. That does not happen by socializing oneself into them. An alcoholic who is letting Christ heal him acknowledges that he is an alcoholic, but I don’t think that is the same as saying he has an alcoholic personality.

    As the Canadian bishops said in their guideline to ministry with young people with same-sex attractions, Catholic theology does not use the word ‘gay’. Any adjective on the word ‘personality’ is too limiting – the important factor is the human person, created in the image and likeness of God, and beloved of Him.

  • Thank you very much for your witnessing.

  • Good on her.

    The description of attraction that she mentions jives with my personal experience– attraction to someone’s appearance often boils down to reading character traits into their appearance. (For example, I can’t remember a time I thought that Tom Cruise was attractive, but I also can’t remember a time I didn’t know he was a jerk.)
    Possibly an aspect of SSA is the way that all sexual attraction gets flanderized? I’m quite straight (TYVM) but I’m far from attracted to men in general, and I can see how admiration based attraction or friendship-attraction could very easily be interpreted as sexual, with the right base assumptions. It would just be another influence, but if the deck is stacked enough….

    (Side note: quickly scanning things can be bad for your mental health. I saw this was a post by Tito in my reader, scanned quick and saw the phrase “I was in a lesbian relationship;” serious confusion.)

  • Amazing article and an amazing personality….a sort of Catholic existentialist in her stress on choice over inclination.

  • Paul, the Galatians passage isn’t entirely relevant since there’s no problem with a female identity or American identity within the Church.

    I’ve thought about the “homosexuality as a disease” perspective and I’m not sure it matters. There are no sober alcoholics who feel that they need to be recognized as a distinct group. If they exist in some bizzaro world, then I don’t see any problem with it. It seems like some are confusing the fact that separate identities don’t exist in other analogous situations with the idea that they shouldn’t exist.

  • We are called to respect the inherent dignity of all persons as we live in relationship as husbands and wives, fathers and mothers, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, not to view one another as objects of sexual desire, but as persons who have been created equal in dignity while being complementary as male and female, made in the Image of God to live in a communion of authentic Love.

  • RR said,

    “There are no sober alcoholics who feel that they need to be recognized as a distinct group.”

    So why do gays (or at least some gays and their straight liberal supporters) feel they rate special recognition? There is no Jew or Greek, slave or free, straight or gay – to paraphase a verse of Scripture.

    I think that some people want gays to have special recognition because that would serve to legitimatize the deviancy of their sexual actions. People need to stop being gay just as people need to stop being drunken addicts. Having a homo-erotic impulse is no different than having a compulsion to drink.

    We’re powerless and our lives are unmanageable (1st step)
    Only a Power greater than ourselves can restore us to sanity (2nd Step)
    We have to make a decision to turn our will and lives over to His care (3rd Step).

    And that’s exactly how this whole thing ought to be treated (not forgetting of course steps 4 through 12). One can recover – as this post on which we are commenting so elegantly demonstrates.

    But one other thing is important: we are NEVER recover-ED. Alcoholics who say that usually go out drinking again – it’s called arrogance and pride, the first to come in a slip (Sobriety Loses Its Priority). Rather, we are recover-ING (steps 10, 11 and 12). Whether it’s sobriety from a drinking complusion or sobriety from homo-erotic impulses, it’s still a DAILY reprieve contingent on one’s spiritual well-being. Giving special recognition to a gay identity or an alcoholic identity only serves to inflame the ego which inevitably leads to a slip (whether from homo-eroticism or drinking).

    But some people – even straights out of some perverse sense of tolerance – WANT homosexual filth to be declared as normal and would rather gays go to hell than gays find happiness in Jesus Christ. Sad.

  • Paul, sure we’re all God’s children but there are Jews and Greeks, slave and free, straight and gay.

    “So why do gays (or at least some gays and their straight liberal supporters) feel they rate special recognition?”

    Read the blog post!

    “Sexual identity is not just about sexual desire. A lot of the time people embrace a gay or lesbian identity because of real, genuinely foundational elements of personality that seem “queer” to other people. The LGBTQ community becomes a safety zone, and a gay identity becomes a security blanket, that protects the elements of personality that are under attack from mainstream culture. Anyone who is leaving a gay identity behind needs to find other ways of protecting those elements of personality, otherwise we just end up retreating back into the village when we come under fire.”

    “I think that some people want gays to have special recognition because that would serve to legitimatize the deviancy of their sexual actions.”

    It’s worth repeating:

    “Sexual identity is not just about sexual desire. A lot of the time people embrace a gay or lesbian identity because of real, genuinely foundational elements of personality that seem “queer” to other people. The LGBTQ community becomes a safety zone, and a gay identity becomes a security blanket, that protects the elements of personality that are under attack from mainstream culture. Anyone who is leaving a gay identity behind needs to find other ways of protecting those elements of personality, otherwise we just end up retreating back into the village when we come under fire.”

  • RR, I still don’t think gays rate special identity any more than alcoholics do. You disagree.

  • Foxfier, I made the same mistake about Tito. I thought maybe Tito was a woman until it registered. Anyway, Jesus and St. Paul are abundantly clear that the single life is a calling. Categories such as straight and queer are not biblical ones. These emerge from a culture of sexual politics. Sexuality is here seen to be defining in a way that Scripture never suggested.

  • I’m glad my kids were all napping when I had time to read this entire article, because it reduced me to tears. The author and I share a common experience of homosexual behavior. When I was a young woman, who had survived some childhood trauma within the family, I had an incredible amount of difficulty forming stable relationships with men. A well-meaning counselor (because counseling can solve any problem, right?) suggested that my difficulties were caused by suppressed homosexuality. I was twenty, it was 1991, and this seemed perfectly reasonable to me. Seven years later, I began to realize that her advice had been incredibly destructive. With the prayers, love, and support of my closest friends and a priest who is the finest example of his vocation I have ever known, I ended the relationship. It took me five years and exacted a physical, emotional, and financial toll that I’d rather not describe in detail.

    The difference between Mrs. Selmys’s story and my own is that I was never “gay.” I’m not terribly attracted to men aside from my husband (and father of our four children) and Jim Cantore (okay, you can laugh), but I think that’s more a function of love than anything else. I can see a good-looking man and think that he’s good-looking, and the same with a lovely woman, but there’s no sexual component to it.

    I am terribly, terribly grateful to Mrs. Selmys for sharing her tale and her experience. I know several other people who share the experience of living in a homosexual relationship and then choosing to live a chaste life, and the temporal conseuences have been terrible for most, if not all, of us. That said, the freedom I (and my friends) have found in following His will is a greater joy than any roll in the hay could ever provide.

    Thanks for listening.

  • Thank you so much for this. I struggle with SSA every single day and have been experimenting with other men recently. It’s been very emotionally draining and it just sucks the life out of my faith. This article was very encouraging for me as I struggle daily to be a half-way decent Catholic.

  • I have just said a prayer for you Freddy. Keep the Faith! God is stronger than any sin.

  • I hope it is an encouragement, Freddy. And I like-wise just said a prayer for you.

    God give you strength.

  • Freddy, may God bless you and keep you. You’ll be in my prayers always, and you have my love and respect.

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The Decline in Vocations: Celibacy Isn’t the Issue

Tuesday, October 4, AD 2011

In a recent interview, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, said that celibacy is not the cause of the lack of priestly vocations.

The Cardinal cites some statistics to support his assertion:

  • More than 40% of marriages fail, while only 2% of priests fail in celibacy.  The crisis in the sacrament of marriage as one and indissoluble is obviously greater magnitude than is the decline in the number of vocations to the priesthood.
  • The decline in the number of births in recent decades inevitably has led to fewer young men and, thus, of priestly vocations.
  • Protestant denominations which do not require their clergy to be celibate are in a state of deep crisis regarding vocations to the ministry.

In Cardinal Piacenza’s estimation, the issue from which these problems stem is much larger in scope:

[The issue is] the contemporary inability to make definitive choices, in the dramatic reduction of human freedom that has become so fragile as not to pursue the good, not even when it is recognized and intuited as a possibility for one’s own existence.

Discourse concerning mandatory celibacy, the Cardinal believes, must not begin with the assumption that freedom is the absence of ties and permanent commitments.  Instead, this discourse must begin with the assumption that freedom consists in the definitive gift of self to the other and to God.  Every human being, in freedom, must understand and welcome one’s vocation and must work every day more and more to become what God created that person to be.

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8 Responses to The Decline in Vocations: Celibacy Isn’t the Issue

  • That first point of his is brilliant!

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  • Celibacy isn’t the “cause” of the lack of priestly vocations just like lack of US intervention didn’t cause the Rwandan genocide. But lifting the requirement would undoubtedly increase vocations.

    There’s a selection bias in the first stat. Only those who are firmly committed to keeping their vows even consider becoming priests. People marry on a whim in Vegas. The crisis in marriage is real and so is the crisis in the lack of priestly vocations (and religious for that matter). The 2% failure rate doesn’t count the 50% non-participation rate (made that number up but you get the point).

    The decline in the birth rate should also lead to similar declines in all occupations but few have seen such a dramatic decline. It’s worse than the decline of the auto-workers.

    Some Protestant denominations are seeing a decline but that’s due in large part to canibalization. Evangelical denominations are seeing a boom. And even still, it’s not as dramatic a decline as in the Catholic Church.

  • In a society that focusses so much on the “self” – Self development, self fulfilment, self promotion – there is little left for focus on the “other” – those whom we love and are supposed to sacrifice ourselves for.
    The sense of self-sacrifice within our western society is very much subordinated to the self-satisfaction; we have become very much a narcissistic society. Within the vocation of marriage, the offering by both parties to each-other in self giving, one to the other spouse, is the same type of self-sacrifice that aspirants to the priesthood and consecrated life have for themselves in service to God, The priesthood is not a career path for self-fulfilment – it is a calling of service to Christ in ministering to His Church.

    The other problem in the shortage of vocations is not celibacy, but a lack of faith amongst the Faithful of today. Further, how often do you hear a mother or a father encouraging their son to consider a priestly vocation; or a daughter to the religious lfe?

  • Only those who are firmly committed to keeping their vows even consider becoming priests. People marry on a whim in Vegas. The crisis in marriage is real and so is the crisis in the lack of priestly vocations (and religious for that matter).

    I think what you’re saying here, RR, though perhaps not intended is that the celibacy requirement is a n effective qualifier for those who are committed – otherwise the failure rate of priestly commitments will likely mirror that of marriage commitments.

    Don the Kiwi notes a lack of faith and a lack of encouragement and to that I agree. However, I would pinpoint the reasons behind those to a general secularization of the Church over the generation. In regions (even in specific dioceses) where the Church draws sharper distinction from the secular world you have a lively faith and greater vocations. The celibacy requirement in the Roman Rite transcends all regions, yet some countries (or dioceses) have full seminaries and others are empty.

  • RL, relaxing the celibacy requirement or any onerous requirement will result in the admission of less dedicated priests. But the success rate would also be pushed up by the fact that having sex would no longer be considered a failure. So there’s no way of knowing which rate failure rates would move.

    The Church doesn’t vary enough from region to region to adequately account for the variability in seminary enrollment. The difference is primarily cultural. It’s no coincidence that seminaries are packed in developing former third-world colonies and empty in developed Western cultures.

  • It’s not a matter of whether having sex is a failure or not, RR. People have sex in marriages, yet based on stats it doesn’t seem that necessarily makes for lasting commitments, else we wouldn’t be discussing this point.

    Yes, culture is a large factor, and I took that into account when I was writing. Still, the Church in say Nigeria is far removed from US secular culture. Within the US we have dioceses that thrive and others that whither. We have some that were essentially dead and are now doing well. There seems to be a correlation between how those dioceses have been administered as far as their Catholic identity, commitment to traditional Catholic teachings and devotions, and what not vs. secular world. It stands to reason when you think about it. If there is nothing apparently sacred or “special” about the Church, why should anyone feel the desire to commit themselves?


WSJ Poll Alert, Should the Church Drop Celibacy?

Friday, September 24, AD 2010

[Update:  Great job TACers!  The poll has swung heavily to Catholic teaching.  It is now 83.3% wanting to keep to Catholic teaching, which was 44% previously.  See the updated poll below after the jump.]

The Wall Street Journal is running a poll on whether or not the Church should drop the requirement for celibacy by priests.

The results so far as of September 24, 2010 at 2:17pm US Central time:

We recommend our readers go visit the poll with fidelity to the Church.

Hat Tip:  Father Zuhlsdorf.

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30 Responses to WSJ Poll Alert, Should the Church Drop Celibacy?

  • Right now the poll is running 100% opposed in Vatican City, so tough noogies for the majority of the WSJ readership.

  • This is a discipline, rather than a doctrine. As Pope Benedict could wake up tomorrow and change his mind on the subject, I don’t see the harm in expressing an opinion either way.

  • John Henry,

    I agree that this is a discipline.

    But my reasoning for making this alert is that I don’t like a secular newspaper asking non-Catholics what to do with our faith.

  • What Tito said. Who cares what secular libertarians think the Church should do?

  • I didn’t vote, but I would actually vote yes. I won’t vote however because there is not an option for “Yes, when/if the Holy Spirit says it is time.”

  • Nothing wrong with voting “yes”. It does not go against any dogma of the Church.

  • Who cares what secular libertarians think the Church should do?

    I don’t see any reason to care about that; just thought it was worth noting that faithful Catholics can come down either way on this one.

  • just thought it was worth noting that faithful Catholics can come down either way on this one.

    I understand that, and I agree (though personally I think it would be the wrong move, and it certainly should not be done for the reasons outlined at the WSJ link, but that’s for another time).

  • The three obvious points here are:

    1. Nothing prevents the Church from permitting priests to marry.

    2. Whether the Church will/should do this doesn’t depend on what the polls say.

    3. Internet polls are worse than worthless.

  • It can’t be worse than sticking a pencil in my eye can’t it?!


  • Eric, any chance we can get a sketch of your rationale for why you’d voted yes? You’ve piqued my curiosity.

  • I get it. Marriage is bad, protecting pedophiles is a-okay. If Catholics are uncomfortable with others having thoughts on their practices, perhaps it is time for the RCC to butt out of politics. I am not a Catholic, and find it disturbing that money donated by the faithful is used to pressure my government to pass laws which will not pertain to Catholics. If you think abortion is wrong, fine. No argument. Don’t have one. And I’ll trust your god to judge me when my time comes.

    The word for religious people trying to legislate their doctrines onto non-believers while decrying reasonable attempts to stop the massive sexual abuses committed by Catholic clergy (all over the world!) is “hypocrisy”.

  • Redflags,

    Why you butt out of our affairs.

    For that matter, let us take you argument to the next logical conclusion.

    Stop forcing your morals and ethics on us, the American people.

    Abortion on demand was imposed on us by an unelected judiciary.

    Gay marriage is trying to be imposed on us by an unelected judiciary.

    As for the pedophiles, why you don’t take a look at the rampant sex scandals in the public schools and clean up your own “secular” schools for that matter.

    Your own hypocrisy knows no bounds.

  • Even though celibacy is a discipline, it has nevertheless deep theological roots, and it will never be discarded as a general rule. There have been several pronouncements throughout history regarding celibacy, starting with the council of Elvira.
    There are married Catholic priests – take Fr.Dwight Longnecker – and there will be many more like him with Anglicanorum Coetibus. And of course, the Eastern Rites.

  • Wow. Check the updated chart – the ‘no s’ are in the ascendency.

  • Blackadder,
    “Nothing prevents the Church from permitting priests to marry.”

    In my opinion, that is far more problematic than allowing currently married men to be trained and ordained for priesthood. It’s two different things. The Orthodox admit married men to priesthood, they don’t allow celibate ordained men to pursue a romance and get married in the course of their priesthood.

    I also want to point out that married Catholic priests are among the greatest promoters of the gift of celibacy. It is an AMAZING gift. It’s not very often accepted, though. I wonder, in the “mustard seed” Church to come, if this dispensation might be relaxed by necessity.

  • Karl,

    I’m confused at your comments.

  • The Orthodox in general promote adultery through their “penitential marriages” which should be anathemized, directly, ex cathedra, by the Pope.

    The dialogue between the Churches should have it CLEAR that this heresy must be stricken from their practices, no matter how far back it goes, BEFORE serious talks regarding “unity” can be taken with more than polite conversation.

    Obviously, since Jeuss had married Apostles

  • Tito,

    I think you got the wrong one(deleted post) but that is fine. Sorry.

    I do not separate the issues of marriage and celibacy as the priesthood and marriage are both sacraments relating to manifest sexuality and how it is addressed/practiced.

    Obviously, since Jesus chose married disciples any assertion that a married clergy is “wrong” cannot be defended. However, a married priesthood, in the current state of things, in my opinion, is lunacy. Marriage means nothing, inside and outside of the Catholic Church(big and little tent). The Catholic Church must restore itself regarding marriage or nothing really matters. Celibacy is secondary to marriage in my eyes. All the sacraments are secondary without people, who are supposed to get here through marriages.

    Perhaps a married clergy should exist but only with personal exemptions, very, very, very limited and granted only by a sitting Pope, in consultation with the bishops and laity, who have shown a dogged defense of marriages, not simply due to holy orders, or advanced degrees(both of which are increasingly meaningless as we see those with these “qualifications” exhibiting lack of wisdom, daily).

  • I know a married Catholic priest who I asked, begged is a better word, to intervene with a close friend of his who is a bi-Rite Catholic priest who supports the
    “orthodox” heresy of “penitiential marriages” and who supports my wife’s adulterous relationship, knowing she is MY WIFE. Both of the heretics know Rome upheld our marriage, TWICE.

    He refused. So much for the “wisdom” of marriage for a priest. I asked him to ask his wife about it or if I could talk to her about it. He refused!

    Corruption is corruption. Marriage will only divide the mind of a man. Only the truly exceptional man should even “think” about a married clergy.

  • Marriage was only exception made because the woman would get everything. If you look back at the start the true reason they made marriage illegal was because women would start to take wealth from the church. In the modern day the church has means to protect itself better than in the past so .. it is dumb not to allow priest to marry may stop all those homos that enter the priesthood

  • Alex V.,

    It’s quite apparent you’re here to provoke rather than engage in dialogue.

    You are on moderation now.

  • I doubt the discipline of celibacy requires more from a homosexual than it does from a heterosexual man.

    It is simply folly to think that a man can give himself fully to, two vocations.

    I have lived as a married husband and father. I have lived as a single(divorced) celibate man who remains a father(and a married man if one accepts what the Church teaches, I do).

    I could not be a priest and be married and be free enough to function as both. That is clear to me. In a perfect world, I would believe, such would be possible, but not otherwise. There are too many demands, that are legitimate ones, upon the life of a priest. Both his wife and their children would suffer, to their detriment.

    Especially, the sometimes necessary intimate contact that priests must have with women in some pastoral situations, makes them(both) very vulnerable to temptation.

    The agony, that I live with everyday, because it never goes away(from our divorce, my abandonment and abuse), fully, reminds me, graphically, when I must be, by necessity, in very close, personal, contact with women, on occasion, of what damage I could do in weakness, through temptation, to another man or to the children of the woman I am close to at that moment.

    It is, primarily, my personal suffering, that protects(all of us), in such a circumstance. It stands guard, right next to discipline and respect for the teachings of the Church when I am in situations of temptation, which are, thank God, very rare.

    I never, ever, want to cause or precipitate in anyone else’s life, the hell that never ends for me, or for our children.

    I might consider a man who has been maliciously abandoned and who has learned to cope with it for many years, as a “possible” candidate for married priesthood, but not many others.

    May God save the Catholic Church and its clergy from
    such a “pastoral response” to declining numbers of priests. The answer is not an end to celibacy or an openness to a married priesthood. The answer is supporting marriage.

  • Allowing priests to marry is definitely not the answer to a declining priesthood. The priesthood and marriage are reflections of each other – the priest being the good example to married couples with his fidelity to the Church and all of her teachings and a constant service to his flock, and the married couples supporting the priest in his vocation by their fidelity to each other and to the Church. There is a decline in all self-giving professions, (protestant ministry, OB doctors, nurses, etc.)of which only the Catholic Church requires celibacy. It is our self-serving versus self-giving culture that has caused the decline. We have become materialistic and do not tend to pursue any vocation that isn’t about making money or conferring status, which has made it very hard to hear the call of God to a vocation. A good friend of mine who is a very holy priest has often told me about how his parents taught constantly about selflessness. This man is always other-serving so as to serve Christ. He would absolutely have no time for a wife or children. He keeps his schedule busy 24/7 serving others. (When I need some direction from him, I often find my emails were answered at the early hours of 2 or 3 a.m. as it may be the only time he had that day to get to his email) He does a holy hour and says mass every single day. He comes from a household of 11 children from which came 2 very holy priests (out of the 3 boys) and 1 cloistered Carmelite nun (out of the 8 girls)! They were constantly focused on prayer and on others. They learned early about redemptive suffering and how to offer it to God and not place too much emphasis on their own problems – that to focus on others to serve Christ was the best way to deal with any problems. In our pursuit of wealth, our families have shrunk, leaving many parents loathe to plant the seeds of religious vocations in their own children so as not to lose out on their own possibilties of grandparenthood etc. It’s all about fidelity to all of the Church’s teachings, not just the ones that are comfortable for us…

  • OB doctors, nurses

    The decline at least in these professions is not just the lack of selflessness. Liability issues (and for nurses, the rather low wages compared to the effort invested) have as much to do with it.

    As for the celibacy practice, I can certainly see the good reason for having it. Being a husband and father, I don’t see how one could handle well the familial role as well as the priestly one. Some professions I suppose fall into a similar category (ER docs, criminal defense attorneys, police/firefighters) – where you have to give priority of one over the other because conflicting duties will inevitably occur. Perhaps some sort of limited role for married clergy to relieve some of the pressure off the parish priest (eg, hearing confessions, hospital ministries, last rites, etc.) might be a good idea. I don’t care much for the “part time” or “on call” priest inuendo that would develop from it (thus making the married priest appear less than a “real” priest”), so I can also see arguments against it. As always, the Church should take her time with such an important issue.

  • Don’t you understand that this WSJ poll is unscientific and that its results, therefore, are worthless?

  • Patrick,


    Catholics can have fun too.

  • Tito,
    It is said that this is an open forum to discuss our opinion yet you would censor my thoughts. It is fine since it is your blog, but I only stated what I said to stir discussion. I honestly believe that priest should be allowed to marry. I would challenge you to look up the history of this from the church. When did it start? Why was it done? That is all I am asking. I believe in a lot of teachings of the church, but some I do not. Not because I pick and choose, but because i look at logic and the church has gone back and forth in many other things. You cannot say that the modern church is the same church my grand parents grow up in. I am catholic because i believe Jesus founded this church even with its flaws (it started out good because of jesus) but remember it is still ran by men no matter how good the intentions.

  • Alex V.,

    Your views are similar to Truthers and Birthers line of reasoning.

    Hence why you put on moderation, plus your insults didn’t help much either.

    You’re off moderation and can post all you want without moderation.

  • Tito,
    I guess I deserve that slap. My apologies, in the future I will get into more detail than just slap mud on your blog. I will be the first to admit that I am quick to insult and not explain. Thank you for taking me off moderation, I will try not to insult but explain my point of view better.

    In this case I remember the history of the church:
    “Peter, a Galilee fisherman, whom the Catholic Church considers the first Pope, was married. Some Popes were the sons of Popes.

    The first written mandate requiring priests to be chaste came in AD 304. Canon 33 of the Council of Elvira stated that all “bishops, presbyters, and deacons and all other clerics” were to “abstain completely from their wives and not to have children.” A short time later, in 325, the Council of Nicea, convened by Constantine, rejected a ban on priests marrying requested by Spanish clerics.

    The practice of priestly celibacy began to spread in the Western Church in the early Middle Ages. In the early 11th century Pope Benedict VIII responded to the decline in priestly morality by issuing a rule prohibiting the children of priests from inheriting property. A few decades later Pope Gregory VII issued a decree against clerical marriages.

    The Church was a thousand years old before it definitively took a stand in favor of celibacy in the twelfth century at the Second Lateran Council held in 1139, when a rule was approved forbidding priests to marry. In 1563, the Council of Trent reaffirmed the tradition of celibacy.”
    I think that they should allow marriage. It may bring more men into the priesthood. They have already opened other priests from other faiths that allow marriage to convert to be a catholic priest why can’t roman catholic priest be permitted to marry.Outside the modern reasoning of the church why would it be bad?

Time For Vatican III? No!

Monday, April 5, AD 2010

Father Edward L. Beck, a Passionist Priest, and a contributor to ABC, wrote a column for ABC in which he calls for Vatican III.  I think the article is worth a fisking.

April 2, 2010 —Surely this was originally intended for April 1?

As Christians begin their celebration of the Easter season, the Catholic  church seems stuck in Good Friday. No Father, the Catholic Church is always “stuck” in Easter. Just when some would like to turn  their attention to the profound mysteries of their faith, they are  instead mystified by yet another round of horrendous sex abuse storiesmaking headlines. Yeah, totally by accident, and too bad Father doesn’t spend time mentioning how spurious this piece of tripe by the New York Times was.

Most Catholics in the United States were convinced that the issue of  sexual abuse by priests had been adequately dealt with after the last go round more than eight years ago.   I do not think this is the case.  Most Catholics in this country are still fuming about predator priests and the bishops who protected them. Many are also outraged by the ambulance chasing attorneys and the suspicion that some of the victims are merely cashing in on flimsy evidence.  There is still a lot of outrage about this whole mess. In many ways, it has been. U.S. bishops adopted strict policies of zero-tolerance after the abuse scandal exploded in 2002. Bishops are now required to comply with state laws for reporting abuse and to cooperate fully with authorities.   For the most  part the stories once again generating news in the United States concern old cases and the previous negligence of bishops to deal effectively and  justly with the crisis. New to the controversy has been the suggestion by some that the Pope himself bears responsibility for lapses. Actually such accusations have been flying around for years.  They have gotten nowhere because they lack substance.

The recent reports indicate this is not — and never has been — a distinctly American church problem.  I doubt if many Catholics in this country thought that it was. The European Catholic Church is now  experiencing what the U.S. Catholic Church did nearly a decade ago. Once reports from Pope Benedict’s native Germany emerged that boys had been abused in a church-run school there, hundreds more from other European countries came forward admitting that they too had been victims of abuse decades ago. We have not heard the last of these stories. Africa and  Latin America have yet to weigh in, but they will. Reports from those parts of the world will eventually emerge to increase the dismay of those who expected more diligence and, indeed, holiness, from religious institutions.

What is readily observable from the avalanche of reports is that the sexual abuse of minors is a systemic, worldwide problem. But it is not exclusively a Catholic or ecclesial one. True. It cuts across all faiths, institutions and family systems. Presently, however, it is the Catholic church in the spotlight, so it must take the lead in dealing with this issue in a transparent, effective and ultimately transformative way. Though its halo has been dimmed by past negligence, if only the scandal of the criminal protection afforded by bishops to predator priests had been limited to mere negligence the church can still be a beacon of light to lead the way if it now proceeds with haste and unwavering conviction. We might start by ordaining only those who believe what the Church teaches when it comes to sexual morality.  We must also understand that a fair number of the people who attack the Church on this issue are motivated much more by raw hatred of the Church than concern for the victims.  The evil from our ranks must be excised, but let us not assume we will receive plaudits from the World for doing so.

So then, what is the best way for the church to move forward? Dramatic failure requires a dramatic solution. Nothing gets the attention of the church and, perhaps the world, like a Vatican Council. Here we get to the purpose behind this article. The last one, of course, ended more than 45 years ago in 1965. While some would maintain that we have yet to fully execute the decrees of that Council, the world and the church have changed dramatically in the interim.  When has the World not been changing?  As to Vatican II, all the turmoil in the Church since that Council should cause us to hesitate before calling the next one. The current crisis in the church can serve as the impetus for once again calling together the worldwide church community in pursuit of modernization, reform and spiritual integration for a new time and world.  Always be alarmed when anyone proposes a radical step for the sake of vague terms like modernization, reform and spiritual integration.

What issues might this Council address?  The death of the Faith in Europe?  Rampant immorality?  The failure of the Novus Ordo Mass to inspire many Catholics? Many to be sure, but chief among  them could be the current crisis confronting the priesthood.  Homosexuality?  Lack of fidelity to their vows?  A desire for a life of ease? Certainly the issue of sexual abuse and the devastating toll it has taken in the church might be examined and addressed definitively, once and for all. In addition, while pedophilia and the sexual abuse of minors and priestly celibacy are not organically related, the abuse crisis has once again raised the issue of the necessity and relevancy of mandatory celibacy for diocesan priests.  How long has celibacy been bugging you Father?  Wasn’t that particular requirement spelled out clearly enough for you when you were ordained? The majority of Catholics and priests want an open discussion about this issue, but up to this point, that has not been permitted.  Rubbish.  This ” issue” isn’t even on the radarscope for most priests and laity.

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7 Responses to Time For Vatican III? No!

  • I may be wrong, but the issue of celibracy was not the culprit in my opinion..The standards for those entering the priesthood were too lax and many of those whose sexual norms were suspect were allowed into the priesthood who wanted to escape the stigma of those norms in society and a heavy price has been paid. Many of young men who aspired to enter whose views were orthodox in nature were by passed. The changes in the current young men now entering and their formation has seen a stricter approach to this issue and it is paying off. The current Pope has been stricter in ridding the Church of this scourge than any previous Pope inclding his predessor in my opinin.

  • Only reason for Vat III: REPEAL Vat II.

    Here is my crazed solution to the judas priest problem (no pun intended). Reinstitute the Inquisition. No stake, though (boo!). Blatant, relapsed abuser gets life sentence: chained to a wall in a dungeon on bread and water. Minor abuser (released with penance) is branded so all know what he is – end recividism.

  • “a defeated celibate clergy who must sometimes then minister side by side with married priests who have more
    rights and privileges than the celibate ones do”

    I guess its not enough of a right or a privilege to be a priest in Christ’s Church.

  • Thank you for highlighting “Church seems stuck on Good Friday” This is an argument I have heard for 40-50 years. Why is mystery such a stumbling block? Easter Mass Father made a comment about Christ descending into hell and one reason he did this is because he could relate to us. I thought Father has been reading secular publications, most likely he lost his point and grabbed just what made sense.

  • I think it is rather a time for mass repentance in the Church and a return to the Catholic Faith by clergy and laity alike.


    Father Beck will die soon and so will most of the “Spirit of Vatican II” crowd. We’ll be left over with malcontents and disobedient Catholics strumming their guitars and arguing with themselves in dark corners of the Internet.

  • Vatican III? I’d be thrilled if the documents of Vatican II were actually
    read and finally implemented! They plainly state that Latin is to have
    primacy of place in the celebration of the Roman rite, that gregorian
    chant is the greatest artistic treasure the Church possesses, etc., etc. .

    I’m in my 40’s, and I’ve yet to see a Novus Ordo Mass at the parish level
    that actually incorporates all of what the documents of Vatican II envisioned.

    Perhaps we can have another Council in a century or two, after we’ve
    cleaned up the wreckage inflicted on the Church by ‘professionals’
    riffing on the documents rather than reading and respecting them.

  • Some nutty suggestions here undercut the seriousness of the discussion.

Married Priests From the First Centuries Practiced Celibacy

Monday, March 8, AD 2010

The practice of celibacy in the priesthood is apparent in the years following Jesus’ resurrection.  Single priests and priests who were married abstained from sex, of course with approval from their wives. Just as Jesus chose celibacy giving up a family in order to give himself to mankind, priests are called by God to imitate Jesus. In fact, the priest is able to better serve all people because he is more available.

Monsignor Angelo Amato of the Prefect of the Congregation of the Causes of Saints states:

“Jesus was chaste, virgin, celibate and he defended it. His virginity distanced him from others, but it’s what made him able to show, compassion and forgiveness to others.”

Thus priests are called by God to imitate Jesus in this discipline.

By the end of the fourth century Pope Saint Siricius pushed for a celibate priesthood in order to maintain continuity with earlier centuries.  Later this became a discipline* in order to carry out the tradition of celibacy, thus priests could not marry in the Catholic Church.

Video courtesy Rome Reports.


* The Eastern Orthodox still allow their priests to marry, but they must be so before entering the seminary and are not allowed to become bishops.

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19 Responses to Married Priests From the First Centuries Practiced Celibacy

  • Tito,

    While there is good, valid arguments for a purely celibate priesthood, the case that the early church had such a priesthood is simply not there. In fact, there is evidence of married priests, even in the West, way into the Middle Ages. In fact, there were married Bishops in the East well beyond the fourth century and it was clearly the case until that point.

    There is valid theological, historical grounds to support married priests (quite obviously). Moreover, I would carefully assess evidence of married priests commonly practicing celibacy within their marriage in the first century. The notion of priest is not as developed in that century as one would find in later time periods.

  • Eric,

    According to the Pontifical University it is true.

    That or I guess doctors in Church history are incorrect.

    It would be cool if you provided references to books or links, since I am a history buff and never turn down a good recommendation to a history book!


  • Tito,

    I have never formally read a book focused precisely on the question of a celibate priesthood. However in all of my study of Catholic theology and history, I have not ever encountered anything to the degree of which you have asserted nor any existing historical evidence that would substantiate it.

    In the first century, the Eucharist was celebrated in house-churches typically over a common meal. There was not a very rigorous developed theology of the sacrament of the priesthood nor was there any universal mandate or encouragement of celibacy. St. Paul suggests it, encourages it, but he did not see it as something to be required. So while it might have surely existed, I don’t think that is the same thing as saying it was “widely practiced” (depending on what you mean by that) nor was it required. Indeed, the local church was under the leadership of an “elder” or usually a council of them. The terms Bishop, Presbyter, and Deacon were not definitively defined in such a way that we can easily describe the essential ministry and function of each in the same way we can today.

    Sts. Timothy and Titus celebrated by the Church as Bishops were hardly territorial monarchial bishops set over a fixed diocese. They functioned more like “emissiaries” or “ambassadors” whom were sent by St. Paul to Christian churches throughout the region for the purposes of teaching and maintenance.

    There seems to be very little evidence, if any, from documents that can be dated prior to the second century that the marriage status or even continence was a great concern amongst Christians and those providing ministry in the first century. Indeed, in the beginning, these men were Jews and worked from a Jewish mentality where celibacy was not at all the mainstream norm, though there are clearly Jewish traditions of which celibacy is esteemed, e.g. the Essenes. The greatest indicator is that Christ Himself who began and instituted the priestly ministry, from a Catholic sacramental perspective, chose a number of married men for such a position and there is no New Testament era evidence that the Apostles were specifically celibate within their marriages; we can only speculate and that scarcely amounts to hard evidence. Indeed, the Apostles themselves selected a great number of married men to succeed them.

    I do not think any reasonable historian would dispute that in the first centuries of Christianity married priests quite a norm, if not the norm itself. There is however evidence that continence within marriage was advocated and that is valid. However it is not clear that this was strictly enforced or how universal were such strictures. It is clear local synods were mandating celibacy for clergyman in certain regions in the West, but these were not practices affirmed as universally obligatory at ecumenical councils.

    The Council of Elvira held in the Roman province of Hispania Baetica, for example, enjoined celibacy on bishops, priests, and deacons. This was obviously local. A number of scholars hold a tradition of clerical continence, obviously, whereby married priests were expected to abstain from sexual relations with their wives. This tendency was more characteristic of the West than in the East. There is a tradition that is in practice today that married priests are not to engage in sexual relations on days where they celebrate Mass (this is the common practice of married Eastern Catholic and Orthodox priests). Now clearly there became a tradition against already ordained clergyman marrying, but there are still cases of married Bishops up until about the time of Gregorian reforms (heck, the East had women deaconesses up until about the 9th century).

    After a number of centuries, though celibacy was common and widespread in the West it was not necessarily mandatory. It was made the official discipline of the Latin Rite at the Second Lateran Council in 1139 A.D.

    Either way, the issue remains non-dogmatic.

  • Eric,

    First there is no sacrament of the priesthood.

    Second there was no mandate, it happened organically. Not everywhere, but in many places that we have historical evidence of this. Which eventually influenced those to make it a discipline. And I did not say it was required.

    There is also no evidence that the apostles were not celibate as well. In case I’m mistaken, Saint Peter refrained from sex after the death of Jesus (I could be wrong here, but I’m pulling back all the way to my CCE days).

    Never have I mentioned the word dogma as well, I always used the word discipline.

    In essence you’re arguing for argument sake and you misinterpreted the Rome Report as definitive for all early century priests which I can understand.

  • Tito,

    I obviously simply misunderstood you.

    Point: The priesthood because of the priestly ministry, technically speaking, includes deacons and bishops. Either way, it is obvious I was talking about holy orders.

  • Mr. Edwards,

    You write: “The Eastern Orthodox still allow their priests to marry, but they must be so before entering the seminary.”

    According to a Byzantine Catholic priest, Eastern Christian seminarians are most often single and they get married just prior to ordination. In fact, as I understand it, the wedding often takes place the day before the ordination.

  • Eric,

    My bad.

    I figured you were talking about Holy Orders.

  • John R.P. Russell,

    I’ll take your word for it.

    I’m mostly familiar with the Russian Orthodox Church and that was what I was basing my statement on.

    Now when you say Byzantine Catholic, you mean Eastern Catholics right? Not Eastern Orthodox.

  • There are several recent books which treat the topic of celibacy in the early Church, exhaustively [and exhaustingly] – Fr. Cocini, Stefan Heid, Cardinal Stickler.

    That St. Peter was married does not affect the matter. Many priests were married BEFORE being ordained. This is the case in the Orthodox Church. A priest may not marry after being ordained. To do so would invalidate his marriage vows.

    The idiotic and illogical Fr. Kung blames the sex scandals on celibacy. How could this be? The scandals are males on males.

  • The standard practice, at least in the Antiochan Orthodox Church, ( and most likely for the Greek and Russian), is that a seminarian can graduate with his MDiv. degree, become ordained as a deacon, and then, as it were “shop around” for a wife, becoming married before ordination as a priest.
    That is what I saw at one Antiochan parish.

  • I am not an expert in this area by any means, but married priests were quite common in Ireland well into the 12th century. St. Patrick’s grandfather was a priest and his father was a deacon. (St. Patrick was originally from Wales, so that was apparently the practice there, as well.)
    Since it did not become required in the Latin Rite until the 12th century, it should be pointed out that we have had married priests longer than priests have been required to be celibate. There are, of course, also a small number of Catholic priests today who are married, having been married and served as Anglican or Presbyterian ministers prior to converting to Catholicism and entering the priesthood.

  • I think he was a Romano-Briton, the ancestors of the Welsh.

  • “Byzantine Catholic, you mean Eastern Catholics right?”

    He did. The East that is not in communion with Rome scarcely, if ever, uses the term “Catholic” to describe itself. Theologically and liturgically, perhaps (they recite the term in the Nicene Creed), but surely not formally as a label. But Byzantine Catholic refers to a particular rite, or theological, liturgical tradition in the Catholic Church.

    Just for the nickel knowledge, there are 22 churches following the tradition of Eastern Christianity in communion with the Bishop of Rome.

    If you look at the Byzantine rite, there are several churches in that tradition.

  • Correct me if I’m wrong but if “married priests” were to practice celibacy that would be one heck of an identity crisis since, in fact, to be celibate is to be unmarried.

  • VJ,

    They got married first. Then they became priests. Later they chose to be celibate.

  • Veritatis Jorge is correct: the definition of celibate precludes being married.

    But the issue is merely a terminological one: priests in the apostolic and post-apostolic era who were married practiced not celibacy but *continency*, i.e. they abstained from sex with their wives… forever.

    Cf. Conchini’s _The Apostolic Origins of Priestly Celibacy_.

  • Chris,

    That is very interesting!

    Learn something new every day.

    VJ is correct after all.


    I get to expand my vocabulary as well. 😉

  • Evagrius,

    As an Antiochian Orthodox priest, I believe that we are not in the habit of ordaining deacons and then letting them marry. We do however ordain married men to the diaconate and priesthood. I am a married priest. However, it is common practice to allow those in “minor orders” such as subdeacons to marry, although this would seem to be technically agains the canons which seem to require the same discipline from both minor and major orders.

    peace and good,
    Fr. Joseph

Saint Valentines Day

Sunday, February 14, AD 2010

Here is a good explanation on the origins of Saint Valentine’s Day, which today has been truncated to Valentine’s Day.  It is written by Ronald J. Rychlak of InsideCatholic titled simply St. Valentine’s Day.

The Catholic Church actually recognizes several different saints named Valentine or Valentinus (including St. Valentin Faustino Berri Ochoa, St. Valentine of Genoa, and St. Valentine of Strasbourg). Most people, however, trace the story of St. Valentine back to a Roman priest in the year 270. He was arrested and imprisoned for performing marriage ceremonies for Christian couples at a time when such ceremonies were prohibited (as married men were exempt from the Roman army). Valentine also may have aided other Christians who were being persecuted during the reign of Emperor Claudius Gothicus (Claudius II).

Valentine was brought before the emperor and told to renounce his faith, but even under extreme torture he refused to do so. According to legend, couples whom he had married brought him flowers and gifts while he was in prison, which gave rise to the tradition of giving flowers and gifts in his honor.

Valentine tried to convert Emperor Claudius to Christianity, but his efforts were not well received: Claudius had Valentine executed outside Rome’s Flaminian Gate on February 14, 270. According to another legend, while still in captivity, Valentine restored the sight of his jailer’s blind daughter. On the day before his execution, he sent her a farewell message and signed it, “from your Valentine.” That, of course, is said to have established another tradition.

More than two centuries later, in 496, Pope Gelasius marked February 14 as a celebration in honor of Valentine’s martyrdom. According to some accounts, this date was chosen to preempt a pagan fertility festival known as Lupercalia, which took place at about that same time. Lupercalia involved a lottery by which young people would draw the name of a mate for a year. With the new holiday, Gelasius instead had participants draw the name of a saint to emulate for a year.

Unfortunately, the heroic story of Valentine’s piety has been almost completely eclipsed by the “flowers, candy, and cards” holiday that we know today. Gelasius’s efforts to Christianize mid-February seem to have come to naught, and we are left in the ironic position of celebrating romance on a day named after a celibate priest.

To read the complete article click here.

Happy Saint Valentine’s Day!

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3 Responses to Saint Valentines Day

Res et Explicatio for A.D. 7-30-2009

Thursday, July 30, AD 2009

Salvete AC readers!

Buckle Up! Because here are today’s Top Picks in the Catholic world:

1. Newspapers outlets and news agencies are reporting that Pope Benedict XVI has signed off on the laicization of Father Tomislav Vlasic.  Tomislav Vlasic is one of the leading priests alleging that apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary have been appearing continuously to six Croat seers since June 24, 1981 in the Bosnian town of Medjugorje.  These apparitions are continuing to this day and has been visited by an estimated 30 million pilgrims.  An estimated 40,000 messages have been conveyed to the seers by the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Officially the Vatican has not decided on the matter of these alleged apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  The Vatican has recently taken over the case of reviewing these allegations from the local Bosnian diocese.

There are skeptics and proponents debating the facts and implications of the latest scandal over Medjugorjie.  But what is clear is that Medjugorgie has lost more of its tarnish these last few years.

I won’t argue with the genuine conversions and sincerity of many believers that have occurred at Medjugorie.  Though I have a couple doubts concerning these apparitions which I will write to in a separate posting for a later date.

2. Quote of the Day:

“We do know that at the end of time, when the great conflict between the forces of good and evil takes place, Satan will appear without the Cross, as the Great Philanthropist and Social Reformer to become the final temptation of mankind.”

Archbishop Fulton Sheen (Life of Christ, p. 10)

Kind of sucks the wind out of your sails doesn’t it if you believe in the redistribution of wealth and all.

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12 Responses to Res et Explicatio for A.D. 7-30-2009

  • “I already love this man!”

    Oh great, Tito Taco has gone all bender on us; what’s next? Same-sex marriage?

  • e.,

    That’s Double-T to you.

  • Sorry, mate; I go for Double D’s! *wink*

  • My “Too Much Information” meter just exploded…

  • I’ve long believed the sheer duration of the Medjugorje apparitions was reason enough to suspect something fishy. Most genuine/approved Marian apparitions happen only once, or a few times, and span a few months at most, like Lourdes and Fatima. Genuine seers may have apparitions occasionally over the course of their lives (like Fatima seer Sister Lucy did) but not “on command” or on a regular basis, and if they do, they don’t publicize them. I could never believe the Virgin Mary was THAT much of a chatterbox that she would talk to these kids (who, of course, aren’t kids anymore) every single day for (as of now) more than 28 years.

    I know lots of people argue that Medjugorje produced all kinds of “good fruit” in the form of conversions, healings, etc.; but the same argument can be made about a lot of other non-approved apparitions, and about organizations such as the Legionaires of Christ and Regnum Christi which are now proven to have been founded on fraud. The “good fruits” are, perhaps, just God bringing good out of a bad situation.

    However, why does article linked above mention Ivan Dragevic’s marriage to a “former beauty queen” — not that there’s anything wrong with that, eh guys?

  • Elaine,

    Good point on that marriage.

    Yeah, nothing is wrong with that, but in a future posting I will touch on this, but briefly say it here.

    The Blessed Virgin Mary asked him to enter the priesthood and he decided not to.

    How many of us struggle for direction from God and here is Ivan telling the Holy Mother “no”.

    That was the back breaker for me.

  • “The Blessed Virgin Mary asked him to enter the priesthood and he decided not to… here is Ivan telling the Holy Mother ‘no’.”

    Ah, but what if the Holy Mother didn’t really speak to him in the first place? Church authorities have ruled more than once that there is no evidence to prove that she did.

    Of course that makes Ivan’s situation even worse, because it means either 1) that he has been duped or deceived into thinking the apparitions are genuine when they are not, or 2) he knows the apparitions are fake and willingly participated in fraud by pretending they were.

  • The Vatican approved apparitions the children didn’t even hesitate to join the convents. Yet Ivan, and a couple others, chose to live a more materialistic lifestyle.

    That is what disturbs me.

    They have broken many of the guidelines that are normally followed to be approved.

    Hence my skepticism on the matter.

  • I see what you mean, in that genuine visionaries normally don’t try to make a living off their visions or messages, and often hesitate to tell anyone about them at first, because they can’t believe Jesus or Mary would choose to speak directly to someone as unworthy as them.

    Although there were no such people as “jet setters” in Bernadette’s time or in the era of the Fatima visions, I can’t picture any of them becoming jet setters and running all over the world, speaking to conferences and giving interviews and such. However, while the majority of genuine visionaries do enter religious life, is it really a “rule” that they HAVE to or else the vision wasn’t genuine?

  • Elaine,

    It’s not a rule, but it certainly lends credibility.

    If Ivan chose to live simply then it would certainly have not put any doubts in my mind, but since he lives like a rock star, it begs the question.

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Res & Explicatio for A.D. 5-8-2009

Friday, May 8, AD 2009

Salvete AC readers!

Here are today’s Top Picks in the Catholic world:

1.  Archbishop Donald Wuerl of Washington, DC made some extraordinary claims of how to manage dissenting Catholics such as Nancy Pelosi.  His Excellency believes that Canon 915 does not apply in advancing the salvific mission of the Church which is basically a losing argument because there are no exemptions for Nancy Pelosi in regards to Canon 915.  Archbishop Wuerl is mistaken if he can escape from his episcopal duty to apply Canon 915 to the pro-abortion representative from California.

Dr. Ed Peters responds to Archbishop Wuerls misapplication of Canon 915 here.

To learn what Canon 915 is click here.

2.  Bishop Robert Morlino of the Diocese of Madison continues with his house cleaning of heterodoxy in his diocese.  It was reported earlier this week that dissident ‘Catholic’ Ruth Kolpack was removed from her position of pastoral associate at St. Thomas the Apostle Church.  In addition:

“Kolpack will be barred from all leadership roles in the parish, paid or volunteer.”

The diocese has not said explicitly why she was fired but strongly suggested that it may have had something to do with her opposition to church doctrine in her capacity as a Catholic teacher.  The tide is continueing to turn as more American bishops evanglize boldly as St. Paul and act strongly as St. AmbroseDeo gratias!

For the story click here.

3.  There is more than meets the eye from the Vatican’s L’Osservatore Romano newspaper that showed an article giving a glowing review of President Obama’s presidency thus far.  Apparently anything labeled from “The Vatican” carries magisterial weight, especially if it’s contra the Church’s position.  Let’s get something straight first, a janitor walking out of St. Peter’s Basilica can give an interview and that can be called news from “The Vatican”.  Second, there were glaring mistakes in said article and it was plainly obvious that Giuseppe Fiorentino, who wrote the article, did not know what he was talking about concerning embryo destruction and abortion.  Mr. Fiorentino has fallen under President Obama’s rhetorical spell, just as many dissenting Catholics have, of falling for style over substance.

Austin Ruse of The Catholic Thing breaks it all down for you here.

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13 Responses to Res & Explicatio for A.D. 5-8-2009

  • Archbishop Wuerl is an exemplary teacher, pastor and leader. God bless him and his sanity.

  • Mark D.

    that’s absurd. Why not post a response instead of a bumper sticker?

  • The Miami priest and his girlfriend evidently take his last name, “Cutie, ” much more seriously then they do the inconvienent title which precedes it.

  • In regard to L’Osservatore Romano, the author has been a fan of Obama since at least the election:

    “The Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, was published Nov. 5 with an opinion piece headlined “A choice that unites.”

    “In the end, change occurred. The slogan that accompanied Barack Obama’s whole electoral campaign found its expression” in the results of the Nov. 4 election, said the article by Giuseppe Fiorentino.

    “As the president-elect underlined in his victory speech in Chicago, America really is the country where anything can happen,” a country “able to overcome fractures and divisions that not long ago seemed impossible to heal,” it said.

    But, the article said, the vote for Obama was “very pragmatic” because he was the “more convincing” candidate for “an electorate needing new hope, especially for a quick economic recovery.”

    The newspaper said Obama and his supporters know “not everything is roses and flowers,” because of the “huge political, social, economic and moral challenges” the United States is facing.

    Obama must unite the nation, a process L’Osservatore said will be helped by the concession speech of Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who referred to Obama as “my president.”

    I’d say the article says a lot about the opinion of Giuseppe Fiorentino and little about the opinion of Pope Benedict.

  • Kolpack fired because of a paper she wrote in college. Unbelievable!

  • Michael,

    The article says specifically the paper itself was not the reason she was fired:

    The diocese later said that a college thesis, by itself, would not be a reason to fire someone.

    If you wish to criticize the Bishop, it would be better for you to extend the courtesy of not misrepresenting him.

  • Archbishop Wuerl is a superb catechist–that is not open to question. And, to his credit, he said he will honor the ban on communion for Kathleen Sebelius imposed by the bishops of Kansas. He’d be a much better pastor if he left denial of communion an open question. Conceding without a fight weakens his voice.

  • If you wish to criticize the Bishop, it would be better for you to extend the courtesy of not misrepresenting him.

    I’m not misrepresenting him at all. I didn’t say “The bishop said he fired he because of a paper she wrote in college.” All the diocese said was that was not the ONLY reason. It was certainly a reason.

    And I find it utterly hilarious that this bishop asked her to recant the views she stated in a freaking thesis. Does he think he’s dealing with Roger Haight? Totally lame.

  • It’s not hard to see why Michael “the Church is heterosexist” Iafrate would be nervous about Church institutions taking an interest in whether people expressed heretical positions while a student.

  • It seems like conservative Catholics are not the only ones who take umbrage at vile screeds against Israel:

    Sheikh attacks Israel, pope walks out

  • It’s not hard to see why Michael “the Church is heterosexist” Iafrate would be nervous about Church institutions taking an interest in whether people expressed heretical positions while a student.

    S.B., you should stop lying about what I, in fact, said. “Anon” is not fooling anyone.

  • I challenge you to show me where I said “The Church is heterosexist.” You are a liar.

    [ed. Permission to defend yourself granted, Michael; but comments may be edited]

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Cardinal Egan's Inability To Raise Vocations

Thursday, March 12, AD 2009


Outgoing Archbishop of New York Cardinal Egan demonstrates why he is a complete failure in raising the number of vocations in his archdiocese.  In comments made to a radio program in Albany two days ago Cardinal Egan [may have] insinuated that because priests aren’t allowed to marry was the cause of his inability to raise the number of vocations.  Cardinal Egan openly admitted it was his “greatest” failure in bringing in more seminarians.

[I am using the Cardinal’s own words in describing the issue of raising the number of vocations]

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23 Responses to Cardinal Egan's Inability To Raise Vocations

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  • As a NY Catholic I have my own opinions on Cardinal Egan, but in all fairness if you actually listen to the interview, he DID NOT “that because priests aren’t allowed to marry was the cause of his inability to raise the number of vocations.”

    First, he was asked about diminishing vocations across the nation (concurrent with the general decline of religion) and he noted that, while the visit of Benedict XVI did indeed provoke a rise within the diocese, overall the number is down.

    Secondly, he was asked about the matter of priestly celibacy and he stated that it was a perfectly legitimate discussion (it is) — since there are other rites which permit married priests he did not think an ‘across the board’ determination in one direction or the other was desirable. This is a perfectly legitimate point.

    He did NOT, however, tie his second opinion with the first, and I think you go too far in accusing him of such.

    (However, I’m more sympathetic to your basic point about catechesis and doctrinal orthodoxy).

  • Christopher,

    That is why I used the word ‘insinuated’ in reference to connecting the lack of vocations to the discipline of celibacy in the priesthood.

    I sensed an escape valve that Cardinal Egan was trying to paint as a possible cause to his lack of success in raising the number of vocations in his archdiocese.

  • “Insinuated” implies intent. My point is that I don’t think intent can be substantiated by listening to the interview.

    One question followed the other from the interviewer and Egan responded to both in succession. But in addressing the second question, he did not refer back to the first.

  • The definition of “insinuated” is to suggest indirectly by allusion, hints, or innuendo.

    Why would Cardinal Egan bring up his inability to raise the number of vocations after the question of celibacy came up. So clearly the lack of vocations was on his mind when answering the celibacy question.

    Hence why I used the word “insinuated”.

  • Probably it would have been better to use “may have intended” or “may have insinuated” instead of just “insinuated”.

    You have a point.

  • Tito,

    If I were you (and I am not), I would out of charity to Archbishop Egan simply erase this post. I see your concerns, but think you may have made a mistake here and read into his words.

    As Pope Benedict said yesterday, the Church is in too much danger of devouring itself within, in its hypercritical mode.

  • Mark,

    Thanks for the advice.

    It stands because he represents what many bishops around the country do and that is nothing when it comes to enforcing Catholic teaching.

  • Egan? Please consider if you are being a tad bit harsh here. Again, I understand your alarm over the “vocations-crisis” and your desire for good shepherds to tend to the flock. But matters may be a bit more complex than you are leading on here.

    Remember, this is a brother in Christ who sacrificed his life in service to the Church, and is generally seen as pretty solid.

  • Mark,

    I understand where you are coming from.

    I was careful to criticize is lack of success in raising the number of vocations, not the man himself. He does a very difficult and time consuming job that most men would fold deep into this process.

    He is solid, but I wanted to make the point that there are many orthodox bishops that practice their faith very well, but don’t take the necessary steps to enforce Catholic teaching.

  • Tito,


    We’ll just agee to disagree about the post.

  • The best we heard about him was- he balanced the books. And brought New York’s Hispanic community into full prominence within the diocese. Nice. My own problem with His Nibs was in the weeks following 9/11. When he spent quality time at the Vatican, no doubt enjoyin those lovely trattorias with his old buddies. While Rudy Giuliani- who His Nibs accurately called out for the multiple matrimonies- was hustling to two to three Funeral Masses daily for police officers and firefighters killed at WTC. In all fairness, most of the old skool sees have trouble bringing in young men to the seminaries. I quote the most faithful Father Shane Tharp in Oklahoma, schooled at our own St. Charles Seminary. That the local lads turned up noses as in ew you hayseed hick residing in our mansion. Sharp from Father Tharp- yeah and without guys like me your little mansion would be bulldozed and the property sold to build a shopping complex. Or something like that. In any event we pray new Archbishop Dolan makes the molding of Melchizideks a higher priority than outgoing His Nibs.

    (Oh, the Catholic Channel on Sirius/XM- largely sponsored by NY Diocese- is pretty spiffy.)

  • I like many of the successes of Cardinal Egan, the Catholic Channel being one of my favorites!

  • I agree with Mark. It is certain that many of the Bishops may not enforce Catholic teaching as well as they could; we certainly don’t know the extent in which they try — all we see is end results and we look back in retrospect with criticism.

    I’m not sure of the criticism offered here is constructive.

    Why does Bishop Bruskewitz have an (over) abundance of priests in his little diocese? Probably because he actively leads by example and enforces Catholic teaching. I know many good bishops who are as orthodox as they come, where they fail is in their utter disregard to bring in line dissident priests, parishes, and laymen. Bishop Bruskewitz is the only bishop in the United States that still doesn’t allow female altar servers, has most of the tabernacles behind the altar (where they belong), keeps his priests in line in following the correct rubrics of the liturgy, crushes dissident when they rear their ugly head, and has strict guidelines for teaching catechesis. Are there armies of mini-skirted extraordinary ministers giving Communion during Mass anywhere in his diocese? I doubt it, rare if any.

    St. Paul himself wrote to several churches admonishing theological and ecclesial error. But the existence of errors doesn’t necessarily insinuate that Paul was not demanding orthodoxy to the Tradition or that there were no people of good faith in the communities trying to maintain that Tradition. I think it’s too simple to criticize someone and to the level of comparison to another Bishop as if the only factor influencing the difference in the two dioceses are the Bishops. I’m sure there’s a myriad of other factors and perhaps a lot of bad in the diocese that seemingly has less problems because we’re so far removed from the problems, cannot possibly know the ins and outs of every aspect of each parish in a diocese.

    This seems like a gloss over the principle of subsidiarity. It’s like saying the whole of economic prosperity during the Clinton years was solely the result of good leadership on behalf of President Clinton. Perhaps, God has graced the diocese with well-catechized, faithful priests who promote orthodoxy not just in their preaching, but by living good lives and many of the problems don’t reach the Bishop as one would think. I’d suppose from your reasoning that the Bishop is almost Superman, going everywhere in the diocese quelling the slightest problems. I know that’s hyperbolic, but that’s how, from my view, your wording presents itself.

    If Cardinal Egan would have even bothered to visit many of his parishes would he have put his foot down on these many abuses? Would he have disciplined priests who wash women’s feet on Holy Thursday and allow women to lead the homilies? Would he have cleaned up his seminaries of limp-handed, left-wing professors who dissent from Catholic teaching? No, no, and hell no.

    This comes across almost as an ad hominem attack. It is not so much the point that the Bishop should exert more effort in living out his vocation — and we all can heed that message — but it is the wording and the tone of it that seems very judgmental and presumptuous, as if this little bit would yield the almost perfect diocese described previously.

    In good charity, I’ve found lately that rather than expounding blatant criticism of someone else’s failures and shortcoming, not that they should never be expressed in good and charitable ways, but I took the opportunity to render some of my judgment on myself and observe my shortcomings and how they influence the Church and those outside of it and whether or not they are shown the light of the Gospel as preached by the Church through me. Now there is a clear role of a Shepherd, but I think in emotional frustration — especially given the widespread theological dissent in the Church right now — can easily lead us to blame much of the Church’s problems on a particular person, especially a Bishop. Not that I’m saying he does not have a pivotal role and a responsibility to promote and teach the faith; but I think your case here does not present itself well.

  • ‘Would he have cleaned up his seminaries of limp-handed, left-wing professors who dissent from Catholic teaching? No, no, and hell no.’

    Why the gratuitous homosexual slur?

  • “I would out of charity to Archbishop Egan simply erase this post. ”

    I absolutely agree. And the above comments are pertinent. Personally speaking, if this is the tone that American Catholic is going to take w/ regard to bishops, I will reconsider following this blog.

  • Again, I am criticizing his poor record on raising vocations, not the man himself.

  • demonstrates why he is a complete failure in raising the number of vocations in his archdiocese.

    I think this is unfair to Cardinal Egan, as are the comparisons with other bishops. New York is a uniquely challenging diocese, and the population of Catholics in the Northeast as a whole has been shrinking. While there may be valid criticisms of the Cardinal, I think they should be offered in a gentler tone, and without the assumption that everything is his fault. Cardinal Egan comes in for a lot of criticism; but he was in a difficult diocese, and we should applaud him for being willing to serve as the bishop of New York even if we disagree with some of his decisions. There are Cardinals who are far more deserving of criticism than Cardinal Egan who, from all appearances, is a faithful bishop who was doing his best.

  • “Again, I am criticizing his poor record on raising vocations, not the man himself.”

    I found this post to be more of a spewing rant than an honest and thorough critique. But you are a blogger here, so it’s your prerogative what you choose to post. Peace be with you!

  • Eric,

    Very eloquently put.

    Part of my post, or rant as Alan put it, was to explain the difference between an orthodox bishop who leads by example and an orthodox bishop who leads as well as takes action.

    Yes, I am personally frustrated by the rampant disregard to liturgy and catechesis. That is why I saw in Cardinal Egan’s comments an excellent example of someone choosing a straw man, priestly celibacy, as part of the problem to a lack of vocations, rather than the obvious solution so well exhibited by Bishop Bruskewitz of Nebraska.


    Again, where are the St. Ambrose’s of this country?

    I admit that I was a bit over the top on my criticism and I’ll rectify the situation on this particular column because hey, I don’t want Alan to be bored during his lunch break while boycotting AC ;~) .

    Thank you all for the constructive criticism.

  • It is Lent, after all – but my contribution to all of this will be to buy you a beer.

  • [Egan] is solid, but I wanted to make the point that there are many orthodox bishops that practice their faith very well, but don’t take the necessary steps to enforce Catholic teaching.


    Again, I am criticizing his poor record on raising vocations, not the man himself.

    Seeing as you have sought to amend the content of the post, I would amend the title as well, which repeats the charge. IMHO.

  • For this New Yorker who was originally happy to see Cardinal Egan come to here:

    Come on tax day!

5 Responses to I'll Take Her on a Test Drive

  • Love “consists of a choice to devote oneself to another.” That is one of the truths that the vast majority of Americans don’t know about or cannot come to grips to. Love is a choice, it is not a “feeling”. Yes, you can have feelings of love, but the greater and correct definition of love is “the commitment of oneself to another”.

    In Jesus, Mary, & Joseph,


  • I’m paraphrasing it badly, having seen it only once somewhere, but didn’t Bishop Fulton Sheen say something to the effect that to like is biology, to love is an act of the will?

    Ryan, this is probably your best post in this series so far. There’s a lot here to think about. Just for the sake of counterargument, one might say that you’re arguing by assertion that all premarital sex is not self-giving. I’m sure there are a lot of people who think that they’re very giving of themselves in this regard. How do you convince them that they’re holding back from that full union?

    I think your point about the “must have sex” mentality is a very good one, one that’s completely lost on our society. However, I’m sure that someone would counter that it might not be an imperative to have sex, but that it’s darn close enough. I’m not sure how to change that understanding.

  • I agree with J. Christian, an excellent post as well.

    How does one engage with secularists who live together and claim they are willing participants and thusly not “using” each other so to speak. Citing statistics that cohabitating couples have the highest propensity of divorce certainly shoots down their theory of “preventive divorce” by “living together”.

  • I would argue that any premarital sex is not self-giving, but there’s a lot of qualifications to be made about that. I’d be willing to concede, for example, that there are indeed self-giving aspects to some of the premarital relations out there, but that perhaps the selfish aspects outweigh the self-giving. That’s a very hard thing to judge for either the individuals involved, much less for someone looking on. It takes a vast amount of self-honesty to look at our sexual behavior and see it for what it is. (Of course, we can go overboard the other direction and feel any sexual behavior is reprehensible, so keep that in mind.)

    One of the questions I found myself asking a number of years ago when I was obsessed with one girl or another was, “If I can’t have her as my girlfriend, do I even want to hang out with her?” Implicit behind this is the selfish mentality. If we’re not going to have sex, do we even have a relation? I think a lot of people would be surprised at their answers if they were actually confronted with that reaction. We’ve become so inculcated with the notion that to be a couple is to have sex that we’ve grown to the point where a relationship is practically only about having sex, and then, sex for pleasure, not sex in its fullness.

    One revelation I had recently, probably back in February or so (so about 3 months before our wedding), I had to seriously stop and ask what it meant for my relationship with my wife if we could never have sex (for health reasons, for example, or simple accident in following NFP and not being in the mood during the infertile areas of the cycle). It was astounding when I realized how personally painful the thought of never having sex was, and eventually making the commitment to give up sex altogether, if our marriage warranted it, was something that has greatly strengthened our relationship.

    So how do we talk to people about whether or not their sexual relationship is selfish or self-giving? That’s hard, because sex tends to be so intimate an act you have a difficult time getting anyone to talk seriously about it. Trying to suggest to someone who is not seeking advice that, say, cohabitation is harmful is bound to turn them away in anger. The problem, of course, is the cognitive dissonance. I’m willing to bet that most people feel there’s something not quite right with premarital sex, but they dismiss it with any number of excuses. It doesn’t feel quite right because of the linger social expectation that sex should be within wedlock, or because of fear of pregnancy, or something like that. Eventually, we become so acclimated to bringing out those excuses to the fore that, for most intents and purposes, we rarely feel that discomfort.

    Perhaps the best we can do is try to, subtly, force people back into thinking about why the discomfort exists in the first place. Trying to get them to answer seriously the questions “Could you go without sex?” or “if you couldn’t have sex with her, would you still want to be with her?” could at last replant the seeds of doubt. Something else we could try is just to explain our Catholic position. Instead of trying to denounce any of their actions, simply explain why we Catholics view premarital sex with disdain. If we can get them to hear us out, and perhaps even get them to ask questions just so they know better the reasons why Catholics seem such prudes, that might also plant seeds.

    The biggest problem with secularists, especially materialists, is that trying to suggest there’s something wrong with using another as an object, or even demeaning oneself as an object for someone else’s pleasure tends not to work. They’ve convinced themselves that there’s no inherent dignity in the human person, and that’s where, I think, we have to start. It is sometimes horrifying in conversation to realize that the person you’re talking to really has no respect for the human person, believing we’re just chunks of meat with a “take what you can, when you can” mentality. To be honest, I have no idea how to uproot that, other than through prayer that God might move this person to faith.

  • Recognizing the dignity in each person is one of the basic concepts of Christianity that seems to have been fallen on the wayside in society. Part of this problem may lie in the public school system as well as parents, both of which have stopped in teaching Christianity at all (which could be an entire post in itself).

    Not recognizing the dignity in each other tends to make us more course in our engagement with others. Thus it’s easier to demean other whether physically, verbally, or any other manner.