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If you are visiting my blog, expecting to see 'Toward a Progressive Catholic Church,' I have changed my title to reflect my wide assortment of interests. Having retired from my secular job, I hope to devote the rest of my life to my hobbies, ministries and perhaps a part-time job that makes good use of my communications skills. This blog will be designed to address my multi-faceted interests.

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I have an M.A. in Theology and an M.Div (Master of Divinity) from St. Bernard's School of Theology and Ministry. I am currently a media consultant and promoter of classical music. I am also certified as an officiant by the Federation of Christian Ministries for baptisms, weddings and funerals and minister independently of the Rochester Diocese. My life has encompassed many interesting paths: broadcasting, free-lance writing, video-production, music, ministry and a secular job in government. In addition to this blog, I have a YouTube site at www.youtube.com/priestray and I have a Facebook page.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

My Fantasy Debate with Cardinal Pell

MY FANTASY DEBATE WITH CARDINAL PELL
by RAY GROSSWIRTH, CORPUS NATIONAL SECRETARY

October 13, 2005
Dear Friends:

While I am encouraged over the fact that a few courageous bishops brought the topic of married priests to the synod table, we should not be surprised that Cardinal Pell is trying (in a very forceful way) to keep the policy of mandatory celibacy intact.

I often wonder what it would be like to debate someone like Cardinal Pell. Since the opportunity will probably never present itself, I interjected my own thoughts in the following article that contains quotes from the cardinal. (My comments are in capital letters.)

Cardinal calls for keeping celibacy rule
NICOLE WINFIELD
Associated PressOctober 13, 2005

VATICAN CITY - A senior cardinal warned Wednesday that relaxing the Roman Catholic Church's rule on celibacy for priests would be a "serious error," countering calls by reformers that allowing them to marry would help resolve a shortage of clergymen.

WHAT IS THE ALTERNATIVE, CARDINAL PELL? DO YOU BELIEVE THAT OUSTING GAYS FROM SEMINARIES WILL CREATE AN AVALANCHE OF HETEROSEXUAL MEN WILLING TO PLEDGE LIVES OF MANDATORY CELIBACY? DO YOU THINK THE CURRENT WORLDWIDE AVERAGE RATIO OF ONE PRIEST PER 3,500 CATHOLICS MAKES SENSE? ARE YOU MORE CONCERNED WITH PRESERVING THE 'OLD BOY'S CLUB' THAN WITH HAVING INTELLIGENT CONVERSATIONS ABOUT INCLUSIVITY IN THE PRIESTHOOD?

Cardinal George Pell, archbishop of Sydney, Australia, delivered the strongest defense of celibacy yet to the Synod of Bishops, a meeting that gives Pope Benedict XVI recommendations on running the church.

Pell praised what he called the "ancient tradition and life-giving discipline of mandatory celibacy.""To loosen this tradition now would be a serious error, which would provoke confusion in the mission areas and would not strengthen spiritual vitality" in the developed world, Pell said.

EXCUSE ME, CARDINAL PELL, WHILE I PROVIDE AN IMPORTANT PIECE OF HISTORY. IF YOU ENROLL IN CATHOLIC HISTORY 101, YOU MIGHT BE SURPRISED TO LEARN THAT THE "ANCIENT TRADITION" IS ACTUALLY THAT OF A MARRIED PRIESTHOOD. I WOULD LOVE TO HEAR YOUR EXPLANATION OF WHY YOU FEEL THE IMPLEMENTATION OF MARRIED PRIESTS WOULD CAUSE "CONFUSION." HEAVEN FORBID IF WE SHOULD "CONFUSE THE FAITHFUL" (A COMMON EXCUSE USED BY MEMBERS OF THE HIERARCHY).

"It would be a departure from the practice of the Lord himself, bring significant practical disadvantages to the work of the church," he said in remarks from the closed-door meeting distributed to reporters.

The priest shortage has been a major topic at the synod, but there have been no explicit recommendations to relax the celibacy requirement for priests to combat it, the Rev. John Bartunek, a synod spokesman, said Wednesday.

I AM A LITTLE PUZZLED, CARDINAL PELL. "DEPARTURE FROM THE PRACTICE OF THE LORD HIMSELF?" COME ON, CARDINAL PELL, GIVE ME A BREAK! DO YOU KNOW, WITHOUT QUESTION, THAT JESUS WAS CELIBATE? IF HE WAS CELIBATE, WAS THIS HIS GREATEST GIFT TO THE CHURCH? I THINK NOT! SPEND SOME TIME WITH SCRIPTURE, CARDINAL PELL. (JESUS TAUGHT US HOW TO MINISTER, AND DID NOT DISCRIMINATE ON THE BASIS OF GENDER OR MARITAL STATUS.)

Some liberal Catholics and church reform groups say removing the celibacy rule for priests would encourage more men to join the priesthood and alleviate the shortage, which has forced the closure of hundreds of churches and clustering together of others.

I FULLY AGREE WITH THIS STATEMENT. IT IS NOT ONLY LIBERAL CATHOLICS OR REFORM GROUPS ADVOCATING FOR INCLUSIVITY IN THE PRIESTHOOD. SOME POLLS INDICATE THAT AS MANY AS 80% OF CATHOLICS WORLDWIDE WOULD SUPPORT AN END TO MANDATORY CELIBACY FOR PRIESTS.

At the synod, most of the bishops who have raised the shortage have suggested that the church better redistribute the priests it has.

REDISTRIBUTING PRIESTS? OUR FEW REMAINING CELIBATE PRIESTS ARE ALREADY STRETCHED TO THE LIMIT! CONSIDERING THE FACT THAT THERE ARE MORE PRIESTS OVER THE AGE OF 90 THAN PRIESTS UNDER THE AGE OF 30, DO WE WANT TO SEND ELDERLY PRIESTS TO AN EARLY GRAVE BY ASSIGNING THEM TO PARISH CLUSTERS AND ASKING THEM TO EMBARK UPON EXTENSIVE TRAVEL?

Some Eastern rite Catholic prelates - who are allowed to marry - have told the synod that a married priesthood introduced different problems, such as the financial strain on dioceses providing for a priests' family.

THE PROTESTANTS ARE ABLE TO MANAGE. WHY CAN'T CATHOLICS?

In another major issue, ecumenical delegates to the meeting of bishops urged the church to more readily allow non-Catholic Christians to receive Holy Communion, saying it could help foster unity.

Catholic teaching says Communion can only be given to non-Catholic Christians under certain circumstances, primarily because of differing interpretations of the sacrament. They can receive Communion if they desire it, request it and "manifest the faith" that Catholics profess toward the sacrament.

WHAT WOULD JESUS THINK ABOUT THE RESTRICTIVE NATURE OF HOLY COMMUNION IN THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH? (THIS IS THE IMPORTANT QUESTION FOR THE SYNOD TO ADDRESS.) JESUS WAS ABOUT INCLUSIVITY AT THE TABLE. HE EVEN WELCOMED TAX COLLECTORS AND SINNERS, AND THE CATHOLIC CHURCH EXCLUDES NON-CATHOLIC CHRISTIANS?

Per Lonning, the bishop emeritus of the Lutheran Church in Norway, criticized the synod's working document, which scolded non-Catholic Christians for erroneously seeking Communion in Catholic churches.

Lonning said the reference made him "very sad" and suggested that if the document's references to the issue are published as the "official voice" of the Roman Catholic Church, ecumenical progress could be set back.

IN CONCLUSION, CARDINAL PELL, I LOOK FORWARD TO A TELEVISED DEBATE WITH YOU ON EWTN. (OOPS! I ALMOST FORGOT THAT EWTN CONSIDERS ME TO BE A HERETIC, BECAUSE I PROPOSE SOMETHING RADICAL - NAMELY, INCLUSIVITY.)

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