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DEBATE ABOUT MILINGO & MARRIED PRIESTS NOW!

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This discussion is based upon yesterday’s post.

AMBER

There are several words for this but all that comes to mind right now is “disturbing.” I simply don’t get how they justify their actions.

GUY

Bongo, Bongo, Bongo— I never should have left the Congo—

What a circus side show! It seems that Peter Brennan is a member of every organization that will take him in.

Guthro, whom I have met on more than three occasions, was ALWAYS in choir cassock even though no liturgy was taking place. I guess if I put out all that cash for those glad rags I’d wear mine to the grocery store too! (I’ve heard that he does as well.)

ARCHBISHOP PETER BRENNAN

A married priest comments:

Dear Father Joe, the issue was not apostolic succession. Each of these bishops is quite firm in his apostolic succession. The issue was MARRIED priests and bishops. I was ordained as a married priest so your inference about broken promises is mistaken. Your research is weak and minimal since you are just re-hashing media errors and assumptions. You should be able to do better. The Gospel of Jesus might say something about promoting this type of detraction and mud-slinging.

FATHER JOE

If each of these men were truly clear about his apostolic succession, additional ceremonies would be unwarranted. Of course, what really matters is not what each of these men think, but what the true Church holds to be true.

Are you Archbishop Brennan, or just using his name here? The post is unclear and the subsequent comment implies you are someone else.

If Peter Brennan were a professed religious as his biography states, then promises were broken. Or was even this “calling” outside the confines of the “real” Catholic Church? Along with the others, he is automatically excommunicated from the Catholic Church, outside of which (as the Fourth Lateran Council teaches) there is no salvation. Of course, the spiritual state of those who come to them and receive their sacraments is less clear, depending upon their understanding and profession of faith. I reiterate the Holy Father’s statement of excommunication with no malice, although I cannot pretend to feel no repugnance and sadness. That is probably what you see reflected in my words.

We have thousands of married clergy in the Catholic Church. Some of them were formerly Episcopalians or Lutherans who saw the inclusion of women and explicitly active gays in ministry as the further sign that ritual Protestantism could not constitute any form of third way of orthodoxy or Catholicism, and definitely not an “in media res.” Most of our married clergy are deacons. Indeed, my cousin’s husband is a deacon who operates a parish in North Carolina. The teaching and governing Church has every right to regulate her sacraments as she sees fit. I personally think the discipline of compulsory celibacy is an important and valuable element of Roman Catholic tradition. God works with the genuine shepherds of the Church and thus any man “truly given a religious vocation” also receives the charism of a celibate and single-hearted love. Men who left to get married or those who are angry after making their promises have my pity, but not my support. Given the age we live in, to forsake romantic love and intimacy is an intense sacrifice that should immediately join a priest to the Cross of Christ— not merely in sorrow but in joy. It is wrong to try and force the Church’s hand about a married priesthood. That day may come, but I suspect defections and parallel ecclesial communities will only short-circuit and delay its coming.

Archbishop Richard Arthur Marchenna, if he is the one who initially ordained Brennan, was a bishop of the Old Roman Catholic Church. If he was formerly a member of the true Catholic Church, then here is another case of broken promises, if only those made for him at baptism. Sorry, but I have no sympathy for those who join schismatic and breakaway faith communities. (Was he always ORCC?) While valid orders are sometimes acknowledged for a few of these groups, I must admit that I find much of it quite suspect. Now that some organizations are attempting to ordain women, the small lingering doubts are being brushed away. The priesthood is entirely lost.

I would be curious to see the ordinale recently used by Archbishop Milingo. Canonist friends of mine assert that any episcopal consecrations or absolute ordinations would be valid if the men were already truly priests and if the proper ritual was utilized. Tampering with the ritual, just as old Cranmer did for the Anglicans, can invalidate the whole business. Of course, consecrating bishops must still have the proper intention, and here too I must confess some concern, because it is hard to fathom how a man who claimed he was brainwashed might now be in his right mind.

I never intended a dissertation about what happened. Certainly, I am open to being enlightened. Notice I have not deleted your comments here. Indeed, reading your remarks gave me some peculiar amusement on a dreary overcast Sunday morning.

Do I sling mud? Hum, sometimes I get some on myself, too— mea culpa. In any case, while we very much disagree, these men are very much in my prayers, just as I have prayed daily for George Stallings these many years since my brother priest left the ranks of the Washington presbyterate. PEACE!

ARCHBISHOP PETER BRENNAN

Maybe an honest discussion about married priests would be much more worthwhile. What is the church going to do in twenty years since the average age of celibate priests now is above 70 years of age? Marriage will not make anyone younger but it will attract more young men (and women) to the profession. Here is an excerpt from a Catholic writer Roger Chesley of the Virginia Pilot who sees different possibilities.

With roughly 64 million members, the Catholic Church in the U.S. has struggled recently with rising numbers of parishioners and fewer priests to lead them. There are nearly 41,800 diocesan and religious priests in the country, down from 58,900 in 1975, according to the nonprofit Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate.

Meanwhile, married Episcopalian and Lutheran priests who convert to Catholicism have been allowed to remain priests, said Ryan of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

I’m Catholic, and I’d appreciate a serious discussion among church leaders about married priests. But in no way can I condone what Archbishop Milingo has been doing. His methods are wrong. Though the church generally resists change, there’s still value in working from within— cajoling, persuading, reasoning. The archbishop’s actions amounted to freelancing.

“The church hasn’t moved in that direction at all” to end mandatory celibacy among priests, said Mary Gautier, senior research associate at CARA.

The Holy See Press Office said this week in a communique that the Archbishop Milingo’s “new association of married priests” has spread “division and confusion among the faithful.”

That’s unfortunate, given the importance of the issue that Milingo has done so much to raise.

FATHER JOE

I would agree that Archbishop Milingo has chosen the wrong method of getting his message across. I have no personal problem with priests and laity who work humbly and faithfully within the Church for a change of discipline. Although I believe the issue of women priests has been permanently resolved in the negative by Pope John Paul II and in such a way that it cannot be reopened.

I visited the website for Married Priests Now!

What do I think? Here is my initial reaction:

Opus Dei is a personal prelature of the Holy See, but “Married Priests Now!” is NOT a canonical personal prelature. Such a designation is a misnomer and deliberately misleading. Archbishop Milingo does not have the authority to create his own personal prelature. Archbishop Milingo and the four bishops he consecrated are excommunicated from the Catholic Church. I know of no ground swell to return married priests to full ministry. Indeed, most married priests are themselves of advanced age and will soon be leaving this earthly pilgrimage entirely. If the Church should relax its discipline further in regard to a married priesthood, it is fairly certain that there would not be a retroactive component. Married men might become deacons and priests, but men who broke their vows would not be invited back. They proved themselves unreliable and while ontologically and sacramentally priests forever, will remain inactive and/or canonically laicized.

The “Brennan” poster insists that this is not a matter of assuring apostolic succession, but an article at the website linked to his comment (to which he directed me) says differently: “On September 24, 2006 Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo, the Roman Catholic Metropolitan Archbishop Emeritus of Lusake, Zambia, consecrated four Americans as Married Roman Catholic Bishops and appointed them to be Roman Catholic Archbishops.” The emphasis is that he made them bishops. Of course, they are all excommunicated, and so can hardly be called “Roman Catholic” given that they are all now disconnected from the Roman Catholic Church. The Catholic Church is bigger than one rogue bishop and four pretenders!

The Vatican affirms that they are all automatically excommunicated and yet Milingo states: “We cordially thank the Holy Father for his gracious and caring concern about us and Our College of Bishops and the Prelature for Married Priests Now! It is our intention to be faithful to the Church and to honor and respect the Holy Father. We thank him for his brotherly love and we hope to return the same to him.” Such a response shows one of two things, that Milingo is not above mocking the Church’s negative response or that he can no longer mentally comprehend how the Holy See actually views the situation.

Note that Milingo has violated his own promise of celibacy (by a civil or Moonie marriage if not by consummation) and that he would lead other men in the priesthood to do the same. He also violates a hallmark of Catholic faith, which is obedience. Disobedience by an archbishop to the Pope is no sign of respect, but of rebellion. Such is often the happenstance with fools or liars… and it may be that only God can tell who belongs to which category.

Priests dismissed from ministry for breaking their promises and getting married have been shown no injustice. Indeed, they are the ones who have inflicted a wound upon the Church. The Judas-priest also knows a long succession in the history of the Church and for many reasons like power, passion, weakness, and perversity.

I can respect a man who is released from his promises, is laicized and then gets married with the commitment to remain in the Church and raise his children as good Catholics. But attempting marriage while still bound by the promises of celibacy and obedience is wrong. It not only hurts the priest and the Church, but wrongs the woman by making her a spouse in name only. Civil contracts are not always recognized by God and the Church. Such rogue clergy turn their spouses into concubines and are fornicators masquerading as married men. The injustice on so many levels rests with Milingo and his new apostles.

Given that this Married Priests Now! organization also includes women priests, canonists might argue that there is a defect in intention, making any subsequent ordinations after rupture from Catholic unity– NULL AND VOID! The definition of what constitutes a bishop and priest may not sufficiently jive with genuine Catholic teaching. More and more, this is my opinion.

The Married Priests Now! movement says that they only want the restoration to ministry of married clergy. However, this is not true. Stallings broke away from Catholic unity many years before taking to himself his Moonie Asian wife. Indeed, at one time he was engaged to an Episcopalian gal from Texas, but she declared the whole thing off when troubling stories emerged about Stallings. The Washington Post even published a few articles about his association with certain “young” men in Washington, DC. Certainly, taking to himself a female spouse might put such stories to rest. I suspect that the real issue for him and all these men remains one of authority. George wanted to be a bishop and when that prospect seemed unlikely, he took off. These other men would also not accept being told what to do…not about sexuality…not about anything. Milingo has been fooled into thinking that this is simply a matter about married priests. It is not. It is about four men who wanted to make sure that they were really bishops…and repeated ordination ceremonies is ample evidence that they had their doubts. Milingo was used, plain and simple! Of course, he remains culpable.

Such movements often get quickly out of hand. If Milingo attempts to exert authority over them, I bet you this fragile prelature will fracture. Many of those who support a change in the discipline about married priests could not accept a radical change in doctrine that would permit women priests. We shall see in the weeks and months ahead just how far the contagion of dissent and heresy will go.

While the website is a harbinger of doom about clergy numbers, recent seminary classes are beginning to grow again and the men are more conservative and orthodox than we have seen in a long time. This is the truth that they would hide behind slanted statistics.

The discipline of celibacy is not merely a medieval dictum but is one that the living Church continues to see as worthwhile in most of our priests. It goes back over 900 years and even before that was extolled as the better way by many of the doctors of the Church. St. Paul, himself, recommends it. No one has a right to priesthood. It is a gift that comes from God and is given to the Church. Reserving the priesthood to single men is no injustice to married men and to women. Those that think so, as the site seems to stress, are guilty of wrong thinking… not as the Church thinks.

We read on the webpage: “The sexual abuse accusations against celibate priests in the United States speaks loudly that something is wrong. And what is wrong is the enforcement of a promise of celibacy on secular clergy.” This canard alerts us immediately that the argumentation for married priests is desperate to find reasons for a change. Abusers would still abuse, even if married. Indeed, some of the actual priest abusers had left ministry, gotten married, and then abused their own children… or the babysitters! Although it does not make the news, married Protestant ministers have their own problems, not only with child abuse but with gay relationships and with adultery and remarriage. Half of all Lutheran ministers are divorced and remarried! Indeed, priests who leave ministry for marriage have an inordinately high divorce rate. Priests troubled in keeping their promises and with intimacy will continue to have this struggle even if they should marry.

The website has no love for marriage, but has adopted the Moonie notion that men must be married and that to be single or celibate is to be a failure. Indeed, Jesus is faulted as a Messiah precisely because he failed to get married and have children. Notice what the website says: “Secular clergy should be married so that they can model what a good family is in the church community and so they can relate to the families they serve.” So, what are we to expect, a reversal from compulsory celibacy to compulsory marriage– count me out!

Men who have left ministry in order to get married without laicization can never be permitted to rejoin the ranks of the clergy, indeed, I would even object to these men returning if their spouses should die. They are not to be trusted. (Again, I might make an exception for men who did not attempt marriage and who waited for the laicization process, no matter how long and arduous.) Priests married outside the Church are not really married. Why would I want adulterers and fornicators back in the ranks of our good and faithful priests? No! They might yet repent and save their souls, but should never be allowed to minister in the Church, in any fashion.

Imani Temple and other groups can hold all the conventions they want for these men. Why should I care what a Protestant church does as it masquerades at being Catholic? Given a little more time and most of the thousands who left ministry will be in the grave. Already organizations like CORPUS are aging gatherings of old men. It is best to let them go. Better a smaller pool of priests than to contaminate the presbyterate with dissenters of this stripe. Most of these priests who left to get married subscribed to a whole list of doctrinal deviations, like support for women priests, peculiar Eucharistic theories, and dissent against the Church’s teachings about human sexuality and the evil of artificial contraception. I say let them go and allow God to take care of them.

A lot is made of the fact that these men fell in love, of course some of them bring their second or third wives to these convocations of shared grievances and lament. Honestly, most priests fall in love at some time or the other. Good priests then make distance to insure that they do not lead the woman into mortal sin. It might break his heart, but he lets her go because he has married the Church and promises are made to be kept. If he cannot keep his promises of celibacy and obedience in priesthood; how can he ask couples to keep their promises of marriage? Sometimes the greatest love is not expressed with a kiss or an embrace, but by letting go. Many faithful priests have suffered thus in silence, knowing that it was God’s will and the demand of their vocation. These are my heroes, men who weep for their people and make themselves poor in their service. In a sex crazed world, their celibacy gives them a special connection with the lonely and the poor and the sick. He belongs to them, even as he surrenders himself to Christ and to the Cross.

These rascals make demands on the Pope, sounding not unlike the radical Moslems as they seek to tell the successor of Peter his business. Note what Milingo says at their website: “Marriage is a sacrament and is a higher calling than celibacy.” This runs against the grain of ancient Christian tradition where celibate love was always deemed higher than sexual love. Most people will get married, but celibacy and perpetual virginity requires special graces and is a higher sacrifice. Their assertion impugns the long line of holy virgins and the religious sisters and nuns who have served the Church.

The audacity of these people know no bounds. Milingo writes: “We will work closely with the Holy Father, the Vatican offices, and other married priest organizations to once again make a married priesthood a normal part of the Church.” No they will not. They are now excluded from the Church and no longer have a voice in the true Church. Indeed, they have already set up parallel churches. Let them do what they want, the real Church is better off without them. Milingo writes: “I consecrated these four married men as Roman Catholic bishops in valid apostolic succession. The power and authority of a bishop comes from the very power and authority of his own sacramental consecration. I was consecrated by Pope Paul VI and, equipped with that sacramental power from him, I consecrated four married men in valid apostolic succession. These men are validly ordained Roman Catholic Bishops today and remain so in spite of Rome’s posture of denial of recognition.”

There you have it, Milingo consecrated them because he found their earlier ordinations dubious! But, he is wrong about Rome failing to give recognition. He was very much within the Vatican radar. That is why the Holy See has declared him and his four so-called bishops, excommunicated. Has Milingo gone insane, how can he call these licit ordinations? I am not even sure if they are valid. He says that they do not accept this excommunication, but that he returns it to the Pope. But the Pope only affirmed it as a reality; Milingo himself incurred it automatically by doing what he did. It is entirely his doing. He compares what he has done to the calling of the apostles in the early Church, but unlike them, he has separated himself from Peter, the Vicar of Christ. He draws apostles to himself, but not for the Lord. Milingo has made himself an anti-pope, or maybe worse, maybe he now pictures himself in the role of God?

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