Monday, January 17, 2011

Wrong Kind of Non-Celibates

Amidst the euphoria over the establishment of the Ordinariate there are one or two negative voices. One of these voices is a Tablet Director, Cafod Advisor and critic of much that the Holy Father does: Professor 'Tina Beattie. She repeats Peter Stanford's insulting and bigoted comments and adds in a few herself. If a celibate priest, or any man had written them they would cause serious concern and they would be unlikely to hold on to their position in the areas of Catholic influence that she fills.

She does however raise one point with which she beats the Ordinariate -and therefore the Pope- that is worth discussing here, the issue of celibacy. Here she is favour of it. Proportionately the number of married clergy, former Anglicans, is most probably the highest in England and Wales than anywhere else in the world but it is still a small number, in some dioceses it almost reaches 7%, in most it is considerably less and growing less as some of those who came into communion 20 years ago are retiring or dying.

As a celibate priest I have no problem with the Church's generosity to these men, they are often exceptional priests and their married state is an exception to the normal rule of celibacy in the Western Church. When their wives die they are bound to celibacy. Their ordination is by special dispensation of the Holy See. There is great deal of difference in their state and that of a celibate priest who chooses to leave the priesthood in order to marry.

The Ordinariate is slightly different, the approach to celibacy resembles that of Oriental Rite Catholics. The discipline of celibacy is important but not as important as Communion with Christ in His Church and the salvation of souls. It is out of paternal charity, based on salvation, that the Holy Father welcomes groups of former Anglicans. In this exceptional situation for an exceptional group, which is likely always to be small, the Holy See is experimenting with optional celibacy. Under other circumstances this experiment would be welcomed by 'Tina and her ilk but these are obviously for her the wrong kind of non-celibates.


Lucy said...

I have noticed the priests whose blogs I read all share your generous attitude to the married former anglican priests, Father. I was saying as much to my mother today - because, as lay women, we both instinctively think it is unfair to the "normal" Catholic priests and to young men who felt they had a vocation but did not feel they could deal with the sacrifice of celibacy and the lack of a life-long human companion. We were also saying that we don't know what would happen if the married now-Catholic priests ended up getting or being divorced - my husband's mum had an anglican minister who has been divorced 3 times and my mother lives in an anglican parish which has a male one who has been divorced and remarried to a divorced female minister.

I find your attitude inspiring and will pray much more about my own because, frankly, I hope we get to keep our celibate clergy - and am very grateful for the sacrifices they (and you) make for their flocks.

B flat said...

I find it deeply amusing that a woman who feels such obvious need to represent the sexist agenda of feminism in the Church, should presume herself to speak at all about the personal difficulties, sacrifices, or whatever, of a male celibate priesthood. Hers are no more than second-hand observations, and it is just possible that a male, celibate, hierarchy, especially the Pope in this case whose life is known, is likely to appreciate far better than a feminist academic what Christ asks of a man who is entrusted with the priesthood or celibacy, and what He gives him in return through these.

Dominic said...

One thing which I am somewhat confused about, about which I would be grateful for a clarification - if that is possible now:

While the priests being received into the ordinariate from the Church of England (now and in the future) are, exceptionally, for the Latin rite, permitted to be married, am I correct to presume that, once (or if) the ordinariate is training its own priests, they will be bound to celibacy; or will the existence of married priests be deemed to be part of the "Anglican patrimony" that they bring to hte Church?

georgem said...

It's less to do with celibacy than meets the eye. Rather, it's another reason for this tiresome person to take a sideways pop at Pope Benedict, chief repressive in a Vatican composed of misogynistic, homophobic, geriatric celibates. A quick google reveals this is standard Beattie "it's not fair" fare.
Had the Pope limited the Ordinariate to single former Anglican priests he'd have been bashed for disenfranchising good men and their wives (anti-women, etc. etc.).
The main reason I deduce from Ms Beattie's previously stated approval of celibacy is that Christ had genitals which He did not use. Even by these "radical" and superficial academic standards this is verging on the goofy. Personal sacrifice and the sublimation of self is an unknown country of which she knows little and understands less. But, hey, Roehampton; it's hardly Oxbridge.
That her four children have left the Church shows just what a good job Ms Beattie has done.

georgem said...

Apologies. I meant "a foreign country".

Eva said...

"It is important to recognize dissent for what it is, and not to mistake it for a mature contribution to a balanced and wide-ranging debate."

As you point out she has a connection with The Pill, Cafod etc both these organisations seem to now be on the extreme of mainstream English Catholicism.

They promote dissent, at the very least by giving voice to dissenters.

Dilly said...

I don't know the marital status of Tina Beattie, but I am reminded of St Teresa's words "Be careful what you wish for..."
Marriage for a typical observant Catholic requires periods of abstinence - sometimes for a long periods if a woman's health would be damaged by pregnancy). Some spouses take a hike for one reason or another, and leave the remaining partner unable to get an annulment easily or quickly if at all. Some develop mental illness or alcoholism. Some announce they are gay. Many marriages are lonely places, and some are positively toxic. Oh - and marriage does not preclude paedophilia. Celibacy is not a "problem" and marriage is not the answer - just a different set of potential problems.

Now I have a choice of marking or ironing. How lucky I am to be married. My poor single colleagues are missing so much.

Pachomius said...

I suspect what the likes of 'Dr' Tina Beattie PhD (as she styles herself - I put 'Dr' in inverted commas because I have grave doubts about the learnedness of a lecturer in 'Catholic Studies' at the University of Little Muttering) fear is that these Anglo-Catholic priests are often better educated and more orthodox than many 'mainstream' Latin Rite priests. And that they will show up the hollowness of what the 'Easter People' have wrought by their actions.

brunhilde said...

Tina Beattie deserves our prayers and sympathy. Having hitched her theological wagon to the dead horse of women's ordination, she finds herself surprised when flogging it fails to result in any movement. I don't know whether Ordinatio Sacerdotalis ever reached the luminaries of the University Formerly Known as Roehampton Institute of Higher Education, but for her benefit:

Although the teaching that priestly ordination is to be reserved to men alone has been preserved by the constant and universal Tradition of the Church and firmly taught by the Magisterium in its more recent documents, at the present time in some places it is nonetheless considered still open to debate, or the Church's judgment that women are not to be admitted to ordination is considered to have a merely disciplinary force.

Wherefore, in order that all doubt may be removed regarding a matter of great importance, a matter which pertains to the Church's divine constitution itself, in virtue of my ministry of confirming the brethren (cf. Lk 22:32) I declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church's faithful.

Pope Benedict, while still at the CDF, provided some helpful background:

This teaching requires definitive assent, since, founded on the written Word of God, and from the beginning constantly preserved and applied in the Tradition of the Church, it has been set forth infallibly by the ordinary and universal Magisterium (cf. Second Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen Gentium 25, 2). Thus, in the present circumstances, the Roman Pontiff, exercising his proper office of confirming the brethren (cf. Lk 22:32), has handed on this same teaching by a formal declaration, explicitly stating what is to be held always, everywhere, and by all, as belonging to the deposit of the faith.

As I said, prayers and sympathy.

nickbris said...

My initial reaction was that that will be handy as the wives can organise the cleaning and brass polishing,but then I thought perhaps the regular workers won't like being bossed about by a woman.

Anita Moore said...

Sheesh. Let the Church be generous with these men, who themselves have been so generous as to leave behind so much that gave a sense of security to their lives (to say nothing of pensions and salaries) for the sake of Christ and His Church.

universal doctor said...

A poor confused woman (oops). She should make her mind up. As for me, I would like to now where are those "many many men" who feel torn between the two vocations? I count myself blessed to number a good many faithful priests among my friends- they all have a great joy in their vocation to the celibate priesthood, and I would not want it otherwise (their joy that is). As has been pointed out by several people already, the vocation to marriage is not without its own demands- I am only 2 years in and sometimes wonder what God is asking of me.
I would suggest that "Tina" relinquish her silly agenda and try actually to reason to what God asks of these men. She should maybe also decide where she does in fact stand on the issue of celibacy.
Dissenters- a gift that just keeps on giving.

Richard said...

Dilly, I do hope you finished ironing your husband's shirts before you even thought about doing any outside work!

Richard said...


It's all in the Norms
issued with Anglicanorum coetibus.

Yes, the Ordinariate will be able to put forward its own married lay members to train as priests.

Article 6.1:
"In consideration of Anglican ecclesial tradition and practice, the Ordinary may present to the Holy Father a request for the admission of married men to the presbyterate in the Ordinariate"

The Norms are here; all sorts of good stuff in them:

Norah said...

When the permanent diaconate was instituted in the USA a married deacon, if his wife died, was not permitted to re marry. This rule has been dispensed with in some cases where young children are now motherless. Will the same thing happen if a married priest's wife dies and leaves behind young children?

Will a married priest's wife be permitted to divorce her priest husband?

If the Ordinariate can have married seminarians wouldn't this mean that there will, in time, be a parallel priesthood in the Catholic Church - the celibate and the married?

Would a cradle Catholic, who wishes to be both married and a priest be permitted to join the Ordinariate as a married seminarian?

JARay said...

This dissenting woman's views mean nothing to me.

Richard said...


It's all in the Norms (see above).

Basically it seems no, a cradle Catholic generally won't be able to become an Ordinariate married priest.

Article 5.1:
"Those baptized previously as Catholics outside the Ordinariate are not ordinarily eligible for membership, unless they are members of a family belonging to the Ordinariate"

So unless he comes from an Ordinariate family, it seems he can't join the Ordinariate.

Sadie Vacantist said...

I have to admit that Tina Beattie is hot!

Lucy said...

Norah - re "letting" a married priest's wife divorce him: how could they stop her? It is a legal right to obtain a divorce for any reason or no reason in this country. So many anglican clergy are divorced, then re-marry and carry on regardless it seems - I suppose at least in our Church, a divorced priest couldn't surely be allowed to remarry and still remain an active priest.

Lucy said...

Norah - I just tried to find out how many convert priests are already divorced - I couldn't get figures but I did see apaprently the first divorced Catholic priest was from 1995 - in the USA, a married former Episcopalian with five children divorced and carried on being an active priest.

Sue Sims said...

Divorce per se isn't the problem: it's remarriage after divorce which is forbidden by our Lord's words and the teaching of the Church.

Dilly: if you're really hesitating between marking and ironing, just send me your ironing and you can have all my Year 11 Mocks marking. Coming towards the end of three full papers, I think I'd rather pull out my own fingernails than get back to the marking...

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