The problem with "viri probati"
Can we train men to be presbyters without a lengthy seminary formation?
Limited extract from Thomas O'Loughlin, Subscription journal :La Crox International, 25 may 2020
United Kingdom. It seems that every few months we begin talking again about the chronic shortage of presbyters in the many parts of the Catholic world today. Then someone suggests the ordination of suitable married men. But after some discussion, a solidly based argument (not based on dubious notions of ritual purity) is presented: how could these married men learn all that a presbyter needs to know in a short time? Then it is decided that, no, the problem is too big to be overcome and so it is best to shelve that whole idea. TINA rules – There Is No Alternative to the status quo! Even those bishops who are prepared to grant that it would be pastorally beneficial to change the Latin Church's discipline of mandatory celibacy and ordain "up-right married men" (viri probati), seem stunned into silence by "the insuperable problem" of training such men. Ordaining viri probati might solve a practical shortage, but could they be trained? The Catholic priest, so the argument goes, is a highly trained professional – and well matched to the laity's needs. So, first of all, how could one get the equivalent without taking the vir probatus away from his family and work for six or seven years of training in a seminary?.....(more) Viri Probati_La Croix International 20200525
Extract from Pope Francis Urbi et Orbi ('to the city [of Rome] and to
the world' - a papal address and apostolic blessing given by the
pope on certain solemn occasions), 15 April 2020
Dear Brothers and sisters, Happy Easter...............In these weeks, the lives of millions of people have suddenly changed. For many, remaining at home has been an opportunity to reflect, to withdraw from the frenetic pace of life, stay with loved ones and enjoy their company. For many, though, this is also a time of worry about an uncertain future, about jobs that are at risk and about other consequences of the current crisis. I encourage political leaders to work actively for the common good, to provide the means and resources needed to enable everyone to lead a dignified life and, when circumstances allow, to assist them in resuming their normal daily activities. This is not a time for indifference, because the whole world is suffering and needs to be united in facing the pandemic. May the risen Jesus grant hope to all the poor, to those living on the peripheries, to refugees and the homeless. May these, the most vulnerable of our brothers and sisters living in the cities and peripheries of every part of the world, not be abandoned. Let us ensure that they do not lack basic necessities (all the more difficult to find now that many businesses are closed) such as medicine and especially the possibility of adequate health care. In light of the present circumstances, may international sanctions be relaxed, since these make it difficult for countries on which they have been imposed to provide adequate support to their citizens, and may all nations be put in a position to meet the greatest needs of the moment through the reduction, if not the forgiveness, of the debt burdening the balance sheets of the poorest nations. This is not a time for self-centredness, because the challenge we are facing is shared by all, without distinguishing between persons. Among the many areas of the world affected by the coronavirus, I think in a special way of Europe. After the Second World War, this continent was able to rise again, thanks to a concrete spirit of solidarity that enabled it to overcome the rivalries of the past. It is more urgent than ever, especially in the present circumstances, that these rivalries do not regain force, but that all recognize themselves as part of a single family and support one another. The European Union is presently facing an epochal challenge, on which will depend not only its future but that of the whole world. Let us not lose the opportunity to give further proof of solidarity, also by turning to innovative solutions. The only alternative is the selfishness of particular interests and the temptation of a return to the past, at the risk of severely damaging the peaceful coexistence and development of future generations. This is not a time for division................(full version here)
A Letter from the Catholic Bishops of Victoria
Wednesday 18 March 2020
Prayerful greetings to the people of God across Victoria,
This morning, the Prime Minister announced that non-essential indoor gatherings will be limited to 100 people, and outdoor events of more than 500 people will be disallowed, effective today. Given the seriousness of COVID-19, we support this measure as being responsible and sensible, and we encourage everyone to follow public safety guidelines respectfully.
The Bishops of the Province of Victoria have given this prayerful and considered reflection, and have determined the following actions:
• Immediate suspension of public liturgies, celebrations of the Mass, until further notice.
• All other gatherings are suspended. For clarification of any concerns, please contact your local diocesan authority.
We are very aware that this restriction will be particularly difficult for families who are planning liturgies such as funerals, weddings and baptisms. At this time, so long as appropriate precautions are able to be put in place (such as distancing between participants), it may be possible for these liturgies to proceed with a carefully limited congregation. Deferring these liturgies may also be an option that is offered to families.
In light of this, all Catholics in Victoria are dispensed from their Sunday obligation until further notice (canon 1248). We encourage you to continue active participation in the life of the Church, through activities such as time in personal and family prayer, reflecting on the Scriptures, making a spiritual communion, or participating in a Mass online (http://bit.ly/MassOnDemand or https://melbournecatholic.org.au/Mass or www.wordonfire.org/daily-mass). ........Full letter HERE
2020 Plenary - what's ahead
Extract from Melbourne Catholic Podcast: Lana Turvey-Collins
CAM, Communications Office, 11 March 2020
Last month, Catholic Social Services Australia held their biennial national conference, ‘Serving our Communities with Courage and Compassion’. During the conference, Melbourne Catholic caught up with the national facilitator of the Plenary Council, Lana Turvey-Collins. In this episode, Lana reflects on how the idea of taking time out to pray and discern is deeply counter-cultural—even for an institution as old as the Catholic Church. ‘It’s a courageous decision,’ she explains. ‘Since the Second Vatican Council this (Australian Plenary) Council is only the third to be held (in the world).’ ‘The Australian psyche is very action-oriented,’ she says. ‘…we're doers, so three years of preparation and talking is something people are not used to ... The initial stage of dialogue was the first time there was a national formal invitation for all to come and share. When you do this for the first time in a country after 80 years of not doing it, then it takes time for people to move on from what they're angry about … and then the deep stuff comes through; the really beautiful golden nuggets that can be transformative. And that's what discernment is about: it's about finding the depth of the idea.’ She says discernment has to be an act of faith. ‘Discernment is not comfortable … we need to learn how to do that well; learn how to be “uncomfortably comfortable” in the mess.’ She cautions against people raising their hopes too high for a fix-all solution. ‘I don’t think these council assemblies will answer all of the questions that people want answered,’ she says, maintaining that the Church is simply ‘too big and too complex’ for that to happen. However, the message is a hopeful one, reasoning that through this process we can create ‘a pathway that will set us in the right direction of good things being nurtured and nourished’ and to ‘move and change and be responsive in culture’. ‘This whole process has been designed to activate our baptism,’ she says. ‘The council assemblies are important and historically significant, but so is every time a group of people gets together to make a decision ... the transformation that has happened because small groups of people rely on one another and on God and the Holy Spirit to make a decision has power beyond belief. So it was very deliberate to have two parts to respond to your discernment—locally and nationally.’ The body of delegates ‘is a group of people that we will need to pray for,’ Lana says. ‘They are charged with a huge responsibility.’ Lana says the delegates coming from their local places will be carrying their local story, ‘but with a heart and mind that is open to discern with all the people of God in Australia to finish this three and half year discernment process.’....(more)
Time to bury the clergy-centered Church
Limited extract from Robert Mickens. Letter From Rome, subscription journal La Croix International 20 February 2020
Vatican City. What's the greatest threat to the Roman Catholic Church today – a schism? Or the rise in power of fundamentalist clericalists? José María Castillo, himself a priest, believes it's the latter. The 90-year-old Spaniard was one of the most influential theologians in Latin America and elsewhere during the first couple decades following the Second Vatican Council (1962-65). His books, published in the dozens, were mandatory reading in many Spanish-speaking seminaries and universities immediately after the Council. Then they weren't. Not long after his election in 1978, John Paul II put the breaks on the push for further ecclesial reform (as theologians like Castillo were advocating) and began his restorationist project of carefully narrowing the interpretation and application of the Vatican II documents. One way the Polish pope did this was by appointing compliant and doctrinally conservative (and unimaginative) bishops. They, in turn, with the support of the Vatican's doctrinal office, began silencing and marginalizing theologians like Castillo. A return of the early post-Vatican II theologians. These theologians have found a new lease on their ecclesial lives since Jorge Mario Bergoglio SJ was elected Bishop of Rome in 2013....(source)