Friday, November 18, 2005

Those Cafetarians are at it again!

Despite the Ratzinger Fan Club's clever new slogan--"The cafeteria is closed"--it seems that a good 75% of American Catholics want to keep it open; seventy-five percent think they can be a good Catholic and not go to Mass every Sunday AND use artificial birth control. (Why are those two things paired?) A good 75% also support the ordination of married men, 61% would accept celibate women as priests ("Celibate women? Who wrote this survey?), and 81% want priests who have left and married to be allowed to return to active ministry.

I, on the other hand, am for the complete abolition of "priesthood" and for a restoration of the ancient orders of ministry, including presbyter (which is technically the office "priests" are first ordained to anyway). How 'bout we just pick a few of the parishes natural leaders and designate them to preside at eucharist? Or maybe choose the best preachers in the community and depute them to preach? What if we sent them for some good training once we discovered their inborn talents? No? But that's not likely to happen any time soon anyway, so no need to worry. Oh well.

In the meantime, it seems we could alleviate the "priest" shortage, and try out a married clergy to see how it would go, by readmitting to active ministry some of the guys that left to marry. That way we don't have to ordain anyone new; a lot of those guys are older anyway, so the experiment kind of has an expiration date. (Plus, we Romans have been accepting and ordaining married Anglican and Lutheran men for a while. There are something like 300 married Roman Catholic priests now working in the U.S.)

Of course, I'm pretty sure that when the sky doesn't fall because of married priests, people will be just as happy with their married clergy as with their celibate, and we'll have a married priesthood. And then maybe we'll rediscover celibacy as an actual charism instead of a "discipline." In fact, you have to wonder if some of those opposed to relaxing the discipline are resistant just because they "had" to do it and are mad others won't "have" to.

But I do understand their concern. It is a slippery slope. Once married men are ordained, influenced as much by their wives as by the bishop, can ordained women be too far away? And once the gay priests come out, and the sky doesn't fall, and they want to have partners (as some already do), and the sky still doesn't fall, we'll have openly gay clergy--better than closeted ones as far as I'm concerned.

So it just depends on how fast you want to get to the bottom of the hill. But the ball is already rolling.


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