Friday, May 28, 2010

Sandro Magister: Schonborn and Celibacy

Italian journalist, Sandro Magister, has an excellent piece up on clerical celibacy.  It was prompted by the many news stories still being discussed in Italy over the Austrian bishops, and their public push for a re-evaluation of celibacy.  However, as Magister notes, Pope Benedict XVI has been on a different path, one which has been aimed at strengthening celibacy.   

I will give you the beginning, then you can follow the link for the rest.  Note to my international readers: If you prefer Italian, French or Spanish, there are options in the left sidebar for you.  Magister publishes his blog in four languages.  Emphases mine in bold:
Sandro Magister
ROME, May 28, 2010 – Benedict XVI is preparing to conclude the Year for Priests, which he called in order to restore spiritual vigor to the Catholic priests at a difficult time for the entire Church.

Meanwhile, however, one famous cardinal among those closest to the pope, Vienna archbishop Christoph Schönborn continues to beat the drum of a "rethinking" of the discipline of celibacy among the Latin clergy.

Schönborn is a well-educated man, a former student of Joseph Ratzinger when he was a professor of theology. In the 1980's, he collaborated in the writing of the catechism of the Catholic Church. But as a man of command, since he has been at the head of a Church so off-kilter as the Austrian Church is, he has shown himself more attentive to the pressure of public opinion than to his leadership duties.

In mid-May, as soon as one of his fellow Austrian bishops, Paul Iby of Eisenstadt, said that "priests should be free to decide whether to marry or not" and that "the Holy See is too timid on this question," Cardinal Schönborn quickly commented: "The concerns expressed by Bishop Iby are the concerns of us all."

And this was only the latest – for now – of an unending series of similar statements. From Cardinal Schönborn and from other cardinals and bishops all over the world, not to mention representatives of the clergy and laity. "Moving past" the discipline of celibacy has long been the basso continuo of the music of the innovators.

In this music, just a couple of things are usually heard and understood.

The first is that the celibacy of the clergy is a rule imposed in recent centuries on the Latin clergy alone.

The second is that Catholic priests should be allowed to marry "as in the primitive Church."

The problem is that both of these things are at odds with history and theology.

Magister then goes on to qualify this last statement, and much more.   Continue reading Eunuchs for the Kingdom of Heaven. The Argument over Celibacy by Sandro Magister

Problems in Austria

Before leaving you with some links to qualify that which I have emboldened above, about the problems in the Austrian Church, let's look at what Pope Benedict XVI said to the Austrian bishops on their last ad limina visit in 2005. They are now up for their next ad limina.  Has their been any change?

Here are a few excerpts:

Grievous events are occurring today: the secularization process, constantly gaining momentum in Europe at this time, has not even been halted at the gates of Catholic Austria. Identification with the Church has been eroded in many of the faithful and with it, the certainty of the faith and reverential awe for God's law are lacking.


As you well know, profession of faith is one of the Bishop's most important duties. "I have never shrunk from announcing to you God's design in its entirety", St Paul said at Miletus to the Presbyters of the Church of Ephesus (Acts 20: 27). It is true that we Bishops must act prudently. However, this prudence must not prevent us from presenting the Word of God in its full clarity, even those things that people are less willing to hear or that never fail to arouse protests and derision.

Dear Brothers in the Episcopate, you are well aware that there are topics concerning the truth of faith and especially moral doctrine that are not being adequately presented in catechesis and preaching in your Dioceses and that at times, for example, in youth ministry in the parishes or associations, are not being confronted at all or are not being clearly addressed as the Church wishes.

I give thanks to God it is not like this everywhere. However, perhaps those responsible for preaching fear that here and there people might drift away if they spoke too clearly.

Yet experience generally shows that it is precisely the opposite that happens. Be under no illusion. An incomplete Catholic teaching is a contradiction in itself and cannot be fruitful in the long term.
The proclamation of the Kingdom of God goes hand in hand with the need for conversion and love that encourages, that knows the way, that teaches an understanding that with God's grace even what seems impossible becomes possible. Only think how the teaching of religion, catechesis at various levels and preaching can be gradually improved, deepened and as it were completed.

Please use zealously the Compendium and the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Ensure that your priests and catechists use these instruments, that they are explained in parishes, associations and movements, and used in families as important reading.

In the uncertainty of this time in history and of our society, offer people the certainty of the complete faith of the Church. The clarity and beauty of the Catholic faith are such that they brighten human life even today! This is particularly true if it is presented by enthusiastic and convincing witnesses.

The clear, public and resolute witness of Bishops, which can give a direction to all the faithful and especially the priests in your special care, and the courage to strengthen the faith through your own attitude, must be accompanied by many measures, often seemingly insignificant and unnecessary, which have a public effect.

Now, for some recent related links to this subject, and content which will qualify what Magister is talking about with regards to the Church in Austria being so "off-kilter".

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The obedient are not held captive by Holy Mother Church; it is the disobedient who are held captive by the world!