Saturday, February 23, 2013

Cardinal O'Brien's remarks


Is Cardinal O'Brien ignorant?
“There was a time when priests got married, and of course we know at the present time in some branches of the Church – in some branches of the Catholic Church – priests can get married, so that is obviously not of divine origin and it could get discussed again.
“In my time there was no choice and you didn’t really consider it too much, it was part of being a priest. When I was a young boy, the priest didn’t get married and that was it.
“I would be very happy if others had the opportunity of considering whether or not they could or should get married.”

or is he simply breaking that oath?
Remember it was strongly rumoured, with some strong evidence afterwards from the Cardinal O'Brien's own remarks, that when he was named a Cardinal that the then Cardinal Ratzinger insisted he take the following oath, the rumour was given credence by the Cardinals own words afterward when he remarked on his surprise at Cardinal Ratzinger's presence at his reception after the Consistory and the warmness of his welcome to the College of Cardinals.
I further state that I accept and intend to defend the law on ecclesiastical celibacy as it is proposed by the Magisterium of the Catholic Church; I accept and promise to defend the ecclesiastical teaching about the immorality of the homosexual act; I accept and promise to promulgate always and everywhere what the Church's Magisterium teaches on contraception. So help me God and these Holy Scriptures which I touch with my hand."
My surprise is the ignorance of the Cardinal's remarks, Catholic priests, as well as Orthodox priests and Catholic priests of Oriental Rites, and now Ordinariate priests, do not marry. Married men may be ordained priests, there is a very important difference.

Even then the important works on celibacy in the early Church by Roman Cholij, and by Cardinal Stickler indicate that from very early on that celibacy was expected after Ordination from married men. Jesus' own remarks about "eunuch's for the Kingdom" is an indication of the Dominical origins of celibacy.

It amazes me, but it is part of the mystery of the Church, that God entrusts her to ignorant and foolish men.

41 comments:

EFpastor emeritus said...

The ignorance and stupidity of some in "high" positions in the Church is, to me, living proof that Christ is with His Church. Otherwise it would have disappeared long ago.

Cathy said...

I regret his comments but I don't think he broke the oath. Note that he said "I accept and promise" to uphold the Church's teaching on homosexual acts and contraception. But with regard to priestly celibacy he says "I accept and intend to defend" the Church's law. He may well have 'intended' at the time to defend it, but since then something might have happened to change that intention.

What he says is disappointing as well as being incorrect (as you rightly say, marriage after ordination is very different from marriage before ordination) but it is not clear that he has broken the oath.

francis said...

His words on clerical celibacy are ill-judged and ill-timed, but I don't believe he's breaking his oath. Since the law on ecclesiastical celibacy is not de fide and therefore not immutable, accepting and defending it in its current form is not incompatible with speculating as to how it may develop.

A policeman or judge who is charged with upholding and implementing the law as it stands is not thereby barred from discussing possible changes to the law. He would be wise, though, to be cautious as to the forum, and the occasion, in which he holds such discussions, lest he be thought to be undermining the law. And he certainly must guard against coming across as saying that the law is an ass.

GOR said...

Yes, I recall Cdl. O'Brien was called to Rome after some pubic statements he made prior to getting the Red Hat. It seems he hasn't learned from his earlier intemperate remarks...

nickbris said...

Your own observation last week in your homily put it over well enough.A priest is Married to the Church.I don't know why we have to have the continual wittering about it.

Trisagion said...

Father, neither Cholji nor Stickler suggest the priests were enjoined to celibacy after marriage - that would be impossible - they were enjoined to perfect and perpetual continence.

William Tighe said...

Some might find my comment on this posting (and the posting itself) of interest:

http://scecclesia.com/?p=6980

johnf said...

I think the reportage in the Telegraph is pretty bad, so much so I begin to wonder what His Eminence actually said.

He does not say 'Let priest marry' (as the headline says); nor does he say that the next Pope should reconsider issues such as the ordination of women as priests (which is also mentioned in the Telegraph).

He might be criticised if he has spoken before fully forming his response (we all do this). Maybe all senior prelates should what the Pope does and only respond to pre-set questions.

My wife made the point that those who question the idea of priestly celibacy show look at the experience of the Church of England, where it has its share of Vicars running off with parishiners and also divorce.

In addition, there has been a sharp drop in the number of men being ordained and it won't be long before the Church of England is totally and wholly run by women.

Fr John Hunwicke said...

I couldn't make out what on earth the Cardinal meant. Before I was admitted to the presbyterate of the Latin Church (I am married with five children) I had to swear that, should my wife predecease me, I would not get married. So do all married Ordinariate clergy. Wherever did the Cardinal, whom I greatly respect, get the idea that priests like me are allowed to make up our own mind about getting married?

morgansroom said...

I"t amazes me, but it is part of the mystery of the Church, that God entrusts her to ignorant and foolish men."
What a terribly arrogant and uncharitable remark for a priest to make.

john-of-hayling said...

Computer users are familiar with "Error 404" - this article looks a bit like that in that the Cardinal felt stuck and that he had to say something - anything. Do priests get media training before being elevated as prelates?

Fr Ray Blake said...

"It amazes me, but it is part of the mystery of the Church, that God entrusts her to ignorant and foolish men."

I include myself in that, of course.

Hughie said...

His Eminence is neither a canonist nor a theologian, and would make no claim to be either. Nor was this an in depth interview with someone who was fully conversant with all the ins and outs of the matter under very brief discussion (and, it has just occurred to me, on either side). His Eminence said nothing that was in any way truly controversial. He feels that in time, in the not TOO distant future, practical considerations and prudence will demand a re-evaluation of the DISCIPLINE of celibacy.

In Edinburgh, His Eminence has on occasions visited the Church of Saint Andrew and Our Lady of Pochaev in Dalmeny Street, off Leith Walk.

The Parish Priest, Fr Lubomyr Pidluskyi, from Odessa, has for many years now been chaplain to the members of the Greek Catholic Church of the Ukraine resident in Scotland and the North East of England. Both Fr Lubomyr and his brother are priests. So, too, is their father! And all three are married men in perfectly good standing with Rome.

In the conclave of 1958, it has by most been maintained that the only serious candidate other than the eventual choice, Good Pope John, was Grégoire-Pierre XV (François) Cardinal Agagianian, Cardinal-Bishop of Albano, Patriarch Emeritus of Cilicia of the Armenians. Had His Eminence been elected we would have had a Pope many of whose dearest friends were married priests!

What is the real problem here?

If anyone is interested in the facts of this matter, I might suggest a wee look at a work of a friend, fellow parishioner and distant relation which deals with this in some detail: "Church Law and Church Order in Rome and Byzantium: A Comparative Study" by Clarence Gallagher, S.J., published by Birmingham Byzantine and Ottoman Monographs(Volume 8).



Patricius said...

I put it down to "foot in mouth". I don't think he's actually calling for those things but is struggling responding to the absurd questions of ignorant journalists.

Matthew Roth said...

I don't think celibacy will be changed. We need our priests to be celibate during a persecution.

Oona said...

In 2009 I went to Lourdes with a group led by a priest from Cardinal O'Brien's Diocese. He was a missionary in Latin America and was absolutely clear that his boss supported the idea of a married priesthood. I remembering arguing with him to no effect, and I suggested that he had misunderstood. It became clear during the week over the course of our discussions that he was right and that very interesting Liberation Theologists had held sway in Scotland for some time. Schillebeeck is king. To his mind, it was all a matter of time before Ratzinger rolled over and the Latin American LT's took over.

Just a thought, at this interesting crossroads.

Genty said...

There's a lucid piece on priestly celibacy on the blog of Laodicea (see the sidebar). No splitting hairs.

BJC said...

What struck me about his remarks was the lack of firmness in his replies. He just didn't seem to know the details and I don't think it can all be put down to nerves and foot in mouth. He got parts of things right like saying certain doctrines were of divine origin and can't be changed but he reminded me of somebody who had been revising for an exam but could only remember bits of what he'd been revising. Something tells me his training wasn't particularly good and its now catching up with him. Maybe better luck next time when he's finished his revision.

Its still shocking though to think a Cardinal can't give better answers than this. Catholicism is after all his specialist subject. Its a bit like going on Mastermind and fluffing the first two questions. In his defence though I have to say his letter to the Telegraph on gay marriage was an absolute corker and an object lesson in holy anger.

Katie said...

Nothing to say about the Cardinal. Just glad to see a post from Fr Hunwicke!!

Damask Rose said...

Why can't these prelates just help and encourage priests to be holy and love Jesus in their celibate state?

Independent said...

1 Timothy 3.2 "A bishop should have only one wife". Did some have more than one in biblical times?

Fr Ray Blake said...

Independant,
Most (all?) Orthodox Chueches would limit the ordination to a one wife priest, if he had been widowed and remarried he could not be ordained.

Independent said...

Fr Blake -Thank you for pointing out what the Orthodox Church understands by Timothy's Epistle on the subject of bishops.

JARay said...

I too remember that Cardinal O'Brien had expressed similar views before his elevation. He has seemed to be more orthodox since, and, indeed, his letter on SSM was far better than anything from Westminster.
However, far more disturbing is the news from Germany regarding the 'morning after' pill. Also I read that such practice has been common in some dioceses in America for quite some years.

lx54 said...

@Fr Ray: Most Orthodox Churches (and I don't speak for any of 'em, I'm just a lowly layman) would have a starting point of refusing ordination to a remarried man, but the decision will be left to the bishop who will consider all the facts and may exercise economia if it is appropriate in each individual case.

Far, far more distressing are the allegations (four separate ones, over several years) that have been made about Cardinal O'Brien today. I expect the media frenzy to begin shortly.

wretchedwithhope said...

From The Scotsman:

'THE most senior Roman Catholic in Britain has said he believes priests should be able to marry if they wish to do so'. That's the thing - the biggest consecrated voice is saying the most undermining thing - exiling, in a way, other consecrated brethren from a proper committment to their vows: "It is a free world and I (Cardinal O'Brien) realise that many priests have found it very difficult to keep with celibacy as they lived out their priesthood, and felt the need for a companion, of a woman, to whom they could get married, and raise a family of their own.”'

I suppose if they (the 'many' priests) go to the Cardinal with their struggles that struggle will only be compounded by such 'don't bother mastering (changing) yourself for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven, lets master (change) the CHurch instead so you can feel more a part of this 'free world'. Exactly what 'free' world is the Cardinial talking about?

wretchedwithhope said...

what the Cardinal is speaking sounds so much like: 'the redefining of love as self-satisfaction rather than loving self-sacrifice.' Fr Pablo Straub

CSR said...

Thank you, father, for daring to call it like you see it.

wretchedwithhope said...

and before the aforementioned Cardinal witters at the faith of other lay and priests, from a beaten and battered life-long catholic:

"when you have a holy, traditional Priest as your Pastor, you've just about got life wrapped up." Congressman Bob Dornan (now in his 70's)

http://www.churchmilitant.tv/premium/index.php?vidID=micd-2013-02-14&ssnID=235

John Fisher said...

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/feb/23/cardinal-keith-o-brien-accused-inappropriate

?

George said...

Are the Orthodox Churches really a good example for us?

The Orthodox Church has defected from the Christian Faith and Morality with regard to Holy Matrimony.

The official teaching of the Orthodox Church is that a fully valid, sacramental Christian marriage can be dissolved by the Church, and that the divorced parties can remarry within the Church. (Incidentally, they can divorce and remarry up to 3 times and still receive Church weddings, although with more solemn ceremonies)

Is it mere coincidence that the same Orthodox Church which has not embraced the understanding of celibate love between the priest and the Church also has lost the apostolic, biblical and eternal understanding of the institution of Holy Matrimony?

A Christian Marriage cannot be dissolved. This is de fide. God created marriage. The Church only has the power to explain what marriage is; She has no power to change marriage.

Furthermore, the Orthodox allow for most forms of artificial contraception within marriage.

We should be very slow indeed to "look to the East" on these or any issues. We should not be slow to dismiss the idea that a married clergy, rather than strengthening the institution of marriage, has in fact lead to its undermining. Look the East!

Some may say "well the Catholics have their annulments."

To wit I reply that 100,000,000 false annulments does not equate to changing the definition of marriage.

They are both bad indeed.

But having unscrupulous churchmen and laity abuse the annulment process is nothing as bad as outright changing the definition of marriage.

False annulments require unscrupulous churchmen to distort people's personal, private lives and history in order to pass through (falsely) the annulment process. This is very different than churchmen distorting matters of the Faith (like changing the definition of marriage) in order to make the Faith in compliance with people's private lives.

parepidemos said...

Dear Fr. Blake,

Not long ago you lauded Cardinal O'Brien for his spirited defence of marriage and indicated the need for the English hierarchy to emulate him. Now, you refer to him as being "ignorant and foolish" because he is open to a change, not in a matter of doctrine, but (admittedly important) ecclesiastical discipline.

I know this is your personal view, but I find it very uncharitable. Your later inclusion of yourself in this category, does nothing to ameliorate your unjustified comment.

Fr Ray Blake said...

No Parepidemos, I refer to those God entrusts his church to as "ignorant and foolish".
St Paul uses similar words, doesn't he?

Sixupman said...

Hughie: His Excellency has 'form'.

Parepidemos: +++O'Brien tailors his comments to suit the audience being addressed. E.G. cosying-up to FSSP in Edinburgh does not make him a Traditionalist.

Amfortas said...

Well, no one is going to listen to Cardinal O'Brien now. The rage of Caliban seeing his own face in the glass.

parepidemos said...

Sixupman, I find your accusation that Cardinal O'Brien "tailors his comments to suit the audience being addressed" to be without substance. Can you prove otherwise?

Also, if you would, please explain your comment to Hughie that "His Excellency (sic) has form" as I have no idea what 'form' means in the context you employ.

mundabor said...

Very, very beautifully said, Father.

I wish there were more priests like you.

Mundabor

Sixupman said...

'form': Frs. Gilhooley & Monaghan, et al.

'tailored': FSSP, TLM and the above, coupled to well known view on married clergy, clearly The Cardinal must tailor his outpouring differently.

nickbris said...

The only thing the His Eminence has done wrong is to step on the toes of the all powerful sexual deviant lobby.

The third rule of War after Field Marshal Montgomery's statements are Don't mess with the sexual deviants

John Fisher said...

Thomas More wrote about not telling a drunkard to shut up who tells us not to drink. I think Cardianl O'Brien either way has been brave to condemn homosexuality. If he is guilty then he has more authority when he repudiates vice like homosexuality. It is highly unlikely priests, an ex married priest would lie about this. Yes the cardinal makes himself a target. But isn't it obligatory he apologise personally and face to face to those he wronged? Denials do not work because those who have much to lose frequently deny. Remember Bill Clinton and that Cardinal in Vienna? Having been propositioned and grabbed by a priest who I fought and got away from. Having been in a seminary where a priest groomed and did sexual things with blackmailed seminarians. Not me I might add but when I learnt of it I left and later reported him. I think we need to wake up. Yes there is a homomafia in the Church. There were pro Nazi's in Rome during the war. I think if those priests are telling the truth they are brave as well. We need a strong man like Raymond Burke as pope. No one who is a callaborator or who puts ambition before seeing they are unfit to be a bishop. I would at least like somoene who is honest at great persoanl cost. Finally I ask anyone reading this if they have any secret sins? Sins they did but know were VERY wrong? How do they live? Do they carry that knowing and not repeat the sin? Do they struggle>? Or do they dive into their vices because they say what is the use? Do they blow their brains out? What sort of man then do you want a bishop or pope to be? Perfect when you are not. Or honest, repentant and holy? What sort of man is O'Brien given it happened 30 years ago? I don't know! Do you? Yet he should have made peace with those he hurt.

Fr Ray Blake said...

"Innocent until proved guilty" is a good principle, so is entitlemement to a "good name", therefore comment on Card. O'Brien are closed.