Saturday, April 1, 2017

Clerical "Breeding" Grounds

A more robust sort of religion
source: newliturgicalmovement.org
I once held a more favorable view to the ordination of married men in the Latin Church, as was once a partial practice before St. Gregory VII in the West and still the custom of the East. Latin preference for ordaining continent, older men eventuated the contemporary practice of ordaining single, celibates who would live a quasi-monastic life as priests. In the East continence lost its luster among among married priests and deacons; it is not uncommon to congratulate Father Dimitrios or Father Dmitrievich on his latest family member. Aside from the callousness of telling the faithful priests in the Roman Church that he had needlessly sacrificed family life and informing the parish that they are now responsible for supporting a few more people, there would be an unmitigable mistake in replacing a spiritual outlook on the priesthood that dates seventeen centuries back to fix a contemporary problem. What problem is there now that would make a few of us consider the merits of alternatives to custom? Simply the fact that the priesthood has, in the twentieth century, become a breeding ground for creeps.

Leon Podles wrote extensively about various influences in Church history that, according to the writer, contributed to the effete clergy of today. Among these influences he counts St. Bernard of Clairvaux's bridal mysticism, which the saint developed when he was not promoting the crusader movement. In Phoenix from the Ashes HJA Sire ascribes the ubiquity of homosexuals to modern standards and lax discipline, which he believes began well before Pope John called Vatican II. The same Sire contrasts modern gay jokes about priests with the prior doubt that as a man a priest could be celibate, that Father must be seeing Ms. Whoever in the rectory.

At some level the gay issue is a local problem. It is not restricted to a few dioceses, but certain dioceses are much worse in this regard than others. In one diocese I met one gay priest in two decades. In another I had to go to another town to find one I could be certain was straight. One bishop can change an entire generation of clergy for the worse in a diocese. John Gregory Dunne's novel True Confessions relays a scene in which a Fr. Tracy asks his bishop, based clearly on Cardinal McIntrye, why he has not been made a pastor after twenty years as a priest; the archbishop replies flatly, "Because you're a homosexual."

McIntyre's successor, a less robust kind of religion.
We can argue about how it began, but it might be more prudent to ask what might be done in general priestly formation to weed out the malefactors for future clergy. The most obvious answer is to make being a priest more difficult again. Parish clergy lived on the charity of farmers and maybe one local noble family prior to the Industrial Revolution; if one did not enter the priesthood or monastery from a noble family with the intention of gaining a red hat a priest could anticipate a fairly rough life. It was not an appealing life for someone looking to hide or to ruminate on one's self while living a furtively un-Catholic lifestyle. As dioceses shrink a modern possibility might be to give priests healthcare, insurance, and retirement benefits, but strip their salaries to a bare minimum; $33,000 may not seem like much, but when one has housing and benefits for free and only the duty to say a 30 minute Mass daily, that money becomes license for physical and spiritual sloth.

Another possible solution would involve a degree of liturgical reform, or at least sanctions against those who do not cooperate with a tightening of liturgical rubrics. Speaking anecdotally, priests who are "light in the loafers" tend to use the Mass as an opportunity to put on a show, be it an Opra-esque talk show or a sing-'n'-dance. Suppress the various permissions in the GIRM for celebrants to elaborate on the Mass, turn the altars around, and perhaps even add a language—like that one spoken in ancient Rome—that disables the celebrant's chance to extemporize. Cardinal Heenan's prophecy that only women and small children would still attend the reformed Mass was realized in the latter half of the 20th century, and grown, level headed men rarely have an interest in doing female or puerile activities unless they are with their own wives or their own children. Do we expect equilibrated chaps to watch Disney cartoons or sip Cosmopolitans? No, so why should we expect them to spend the entirety of their lives doing something that they knowingly or unknowingly associate at the same level?

Lastly, reform minded bishops might appeal to potential candidates with life experience. This is not to be confused with mediocre professionals looking for second careers. Rather bishops should, as in ancient times, look for mature men with some life experience and a developed sense of self-awareness. Teachers and military veterans have made excellent priests in the United States. Those who enter immediately after high school or college tend to be the proverbial mixed bag, spending seven years juggling an undeveloped sense of self with supercilious liberal formulations and mediocre education. Those further on in life would be exposed to the same thing, but would perhaps have a greater immunity and sense of purpose.

None of these suggestions are full proof, even if practiced in their entirety. A nearby Orthodox priest—married with little ones—would have passed most of these theoretical criteria and he still left his life and ministry for his "husband" in the southwestern United States. Still, while certain ailments require specialized medicine and treatment, general hygiene and immunizations have increased the average expectancy. Extirpating celibacy in the Latin Church is not the remedy for our contemporary malady, but some imaginative steps taken by men with a resolute understanding of their vocation might cure a great portion of this affliction.

27 comments:

  1. Two things.
    1) Saying that pre-industrial secular priests lived from "charity" might create a wrong impression. In fact, priests at that time lived from benefices to which they were assigned, and Church authorities repeatedly forbade to confer holy orders to candidates from whom there were no available benefices. Of course, one could say that any benefice would have its origin in an act of charity when some feudal lord had established (endowed) it, assigning to it income generated by some manor, farm, or other entity. Thus becoming a priest assured some reasonable standard of living through a benefice and, for a peasant or townsman, also a climb upwards the social ladder. Probably at that time there was no urgent need to pray for vocations, unlike now when priests more depend on the collection plate.

    2) As to the traditionalizing the liturgy as a recipe against deviant clergy, there are also opinions that it would have an opposite effect. See, e.g. the blog of the author you mentioned L. Podles and the links in it:

    http://www.podles.org/dialogue/davis-berger-on-himself-393.htm

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    1. Point 1 is quite fair and right.

      I would say that the intention behind what in your second point you call the "traditionalizing" of the liturgy is not necessarily that it will drive the deviants out, just make it less appealing to many of them to enter, to eliminate opportunity for "sublimating" their impulses. I deliberately avoided using the term "traditional" for the very reason that I can see some enjoying the performance aspect of a prissy Tridentine Mass. Berger's admittedly anecdotal book may reflect his German experience, but here in America, anecdotally, I find the gays to be in diocesan and Ultramontane settings.

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    2. I Had hope that you would have made more References to Fr. Butler O.P's book. Tsk,Tsk,Tsk!!!

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  2. Could you please point out the evidence that priests were ever allowed to marry in the first 5-6 centuries? My understanding is that married men could be ordained, but they had to be celibate once ordained and could not marry again (imitating the apostles, some of whom were married prior to their vocation). Actually married priests was a Byzantine innovation (as I understand it).

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    1. You misread The Rad Trad. Nowhere here does he say any priest was allowed to marry after ordination. Married priests isn't an Byzantine innovation at all, as well. The innovation was at that one council (I forgot the name) in which the Easterns presumed to impose their norms concerning priestly ordination on all Churches.

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    2. The Quinisext Council/Council in Trullo/Penthekte Synod. Our estranged Orthodox brethren sadly have a knack for singling out longstanding ecclesial practices that were never an impediment to being in communion until the controversies of the turn of the millennium, but are now trotted out as excuses for continued separation. I get the sense that while the Roman Church of late has tended to downplay our deal-breaking differences, the Easterns have been inventing them where none need exist.

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    3. In Orthodoxy married men can become priests. But once annointed priests they can never marry nor live with women even if they live like brother and sister. Traditionally only men married with virgin women of good faith could become priests. Today the limit is that they must have absolved seminaries and choose a wife of whom the Church would aprove of.
      The same is true for Greek Catholics. But being married is not mandatory.
      Certain positions - like Bishops or Patriarchs - are still reserved for unmarried men who became priests.
      A Bishop can never be a married man.

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    4. Maria Anna, if you don't mind me asking, are you Romanian? If so, whereabouts in Romania are you from?

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  3. Pope Siricius, 384 AD, issued two decretals reminding all priests of their duty to remain continent which is of Apostolic Origins (of Priestly Celibacy, Christian Cochini, SJ).

    The legislation was not novel and it evinces that since the get go Catholic Clergy were to imitate the OT priests who, although married, were required to be content during the time they served in the Temple.

    As to seminaries, the local one in the Dead Diocese of Palm Beach County, Fl is St Vincent De Paul where the faculty is 25% female and with one adjunct prof who is a Messias-Denier and so Ecumenism.

    The heterodox idea of married priests is, of course, now urged upon we Latins Look, they do it and so we should too,

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    1. That book is so questionable about the origins of celibacy that I can't trust it. Married priests IS NOT heterodox or else you call the whole Catholic East heterodox!!

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    2. https://east2west.org/articles/mandatory_clerical_celibacy/

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  4. The book is considered definitive and it teems with original source material.

    And yes, the east abandoned the Apostolic practice of continence. Of that there can be no doubt.

    http://unamsanctamcatholicam.com/component/content/article/79-history/518-quinisext-council-in-trullo.html

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    1. No, I strongly disagree. That book IS NOT considered definite at all. Are you one those who want to impose celibacy on the Eastern clergy? If so, no wonder quite a few of them hold grudges against the Latins for imposing DISCIPLINES! The argument from silence is a very weak form of evidence. Not one ordinance in Apostolic times has been cited that clerics need to be celibate, NOT ONE! Show me proof earlier than Elvira and St. Siricius (who only legislated for Latins), and then maybe I'll consider it. But I'm confident that you can't. The article I cited hasn't been in the least refuted by that poorly made article attempting to prove the East was wrong!

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    2. From my article:

      Before continuing we would do well to pause for a moment and consider the authority and legitimacy of the Council in Trullo. The Cardinal portrays it as some sort of rogue assembly that deviated from the teachings of the holy apostles.[44] Yet beginning with Pope John VIII the Papacy has considered the canons of Trullo to be binding on Byzantine Christians, both Catholic and Orthodox. In fact, up until 1949, when Pope Pius XII promulgated a partial Code of Eastern Canons, the Council in Trullo was considered to be the definitive source of marriage law for Eastern Catholics of the Byzantine Tradition.[45]

      [45] See Frederick McManus, “The Council in Trullo: A Roman Catholic Perspective,” Greek Orthodox Theological Review 40, no. 1-2 (1995).
      _____________________

      This clearly shows the opposite, that all the Popes to Pius XII considered Trullo lawful.

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    3. https://opuspublicum.com/2015/12/23/some-remarks-on-trullo-in-the-catholic-church/

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    4. A more orthodox writer on this topic might be Cardinal Stickler.

      Continence, not necessarily celibacy, was clearly the norm in the ancient Church until the mid-to-late first millennium. While its historic lapse is lamentable I do not see how the loss of a particular ancient discipline equates to heresy while others do not. The writer in the referenced article carefully shies away from any such accusation. Would not omitting the all-night vigil before Sunday or Mass facing the people be a similar loss of ancient practice? I find the latter far more offensive than having a priest who has fathered natural children recently.

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    5. Or what about denying children the Lord's Supper? Or switching the bread from leavened to unleavened? Or removing reception of the Chalice?

      Even if continence was the the norm (though probably not universal, if I had to guess), so what? The examples I gave above demonstrate that those in glass houses shouldn't throw stones...

      Especially when there's no reason to do so. Both practices in all these examples are acceptable.

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  5. I was waiting for someone to bring up the book of Cochini, SJ. It never ceases to amaze me when western "traditionalists" attack the traditions and restoration of traditions of their Eastern brethren (delatinization, married clergy, restoration of ancient anaphoras...). You would think they'd applaud restorations and look at the East as potential allies, but I guess the ghetto mindset prevails.

    As for Cochini, SJ, trads really should have done their homework on him. He's an ultra-leftist Jesuit (a redundant statement, but still...) who spends much of his time galavanting around with Buddhists and has nothing but praise for that form of nihilistic paganism. In other words, the Christian East is to be attacked while the pagan east is to be held as a standard.

    The Society of Jesus, just when you thought they were content dismantling Latin tradition...

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    1. The Society of Jesus, just when you thought they were content dismantling Latin tradition...

      Where is Clement XIV when you need him the most?

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  6. As for the topic of the post, married vs. celibate doesn't seem to affect the quality of a priest as far as I've seen. However, I have noticed that those who entered the priesthood later in life after much actual experience in the real world tend to be better priests. A number of these men, yes, have been married and had children of their own but others were just men who found they could do more good as priests than have a career or try to get married.

    I'm sure many of us have seen the results of a bright-eyed barely not-boy going off to seminary, then getting all his training from Suarez-ian manuals (Ecclesia Dei trads) or anti-"modernist" screeds (SSPX), and then being thrown into a parish duty for which he is entirely unprepared. Soon the young priest has the clericalism of his old-lady followers go entirely to his head or becomes bitter and angry. The result is a breakdown, abandoning the priesthood, or the elevation of said cleric to cult-leader like status in the eyes of a devoted following.

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  7. And a final note, Heenan's prophecy about only women and children being at Mass was already being fulfilled according to Podles and several other sources. One need only look at 18th-20th century religious art (Catholic and Protestant alike) to see why...

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    1. Male church attendance was quite strong, at least anecdotally, in France, England, Ireland, the USA, and Latin America. Italy and central Europe might be another story. Italians used to have a saying that the men smoked outside while the women prayed.

      Regardless, it is far worse now.

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    2. Strong, but on the decline. Church in many circles was seen as the affair of old ladies, especially in Latin America.

      Yes, it is worse now. The sad part is that trads generally have not answered back with masculinity but with the effeteness of the past.

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    3. Italians used to have a saying that the men smoked outside while the women prayed.

      A common observation about Ireland in the last century, too.

      But as you say, Leon Podles has worthwhile insights into the history here. The decay of male religious engagement - and the factors which seem to cause it - does seem to be a phenomenon mostly of late modernity.

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  8. ABS apologies for his rebarbative polemics and offering the excuse he argues that way because Latins are told we must imitate the East is really not an valid excuse at all.

    Suffice it to say that all ministers ought imitate our High Priest, Jesus, and live a continent life so they can be 100% focused on their duties in our modern temples, our consecrated churches.

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  9. Cochini's work, as well as that of the Eastern Catholic Cholij (Clerical Celibacy East and West), are heavily critiqued in the following reviews:

    Roger Balducelli, “The Apostolic Origins of Clerical Continence : A Critical Appraisal of a New Book,”
    Theological Studies 43 (1982): 693-705; Daniel Callam, Journal of Theological Studies n.s. 41
    (1990): 725-29; J. Kevin Coyle, “Recent Views on the Origins of Clerical Celibacy: A Review of the Literature from 1980-1991,” Logos: A Journal of Eastern Christian Studies 34 (1993): 480-531; Alexandre Faivre, Revue d’Histoire et de philosophie religieuses 63 (1983): 471-73; Roger Gryson, Revue d’Histoire ecclésiastique 78 (1983): 90-93; Adrian Hastings, “The Origins of Priestly Celibacy,” Heythrop Journal 24 (1983): 171-77; Charles Kannengiesser, Recherches de Science religieuse 70 (1982): 620-21; Peter L’Huillier, Sobornost n.s., 12 (1990): 180-82; C.H. Lawrence, “Unconvincing Arguments against a Married Priesthood,” The Tablet 244 (January 6,1990): 14.

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    1. Having read a few of these critiques I find them as spurious if not more than the works they review. the paper trail runs cold on establishing continence as a universal custom before the fourth century, which does making claiming its supposed Apostolic origin dubious, but there is also hardly any positive contrary evidence.

      I know it is a sore point for Eastern Christians who have suffered much as the consequences of bureaucratic arrogance—namely the ignorance of Archbishop Ireland and the ensuing schism of Alex Toth—but on this particular point the Roman tradition might in fact be closer to the anciently preferred discipline. Where I think the error lies is in assuming that it then must be the universal norm now.

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