From: joachim omolo ouko
News Dispatch with Father Omolo Beste
TUESDAY, MAY 6, 2014

Rachel from Nyali, Mombasa writes: “Fr Beste you really shocked me. Since when did Catholic Church receive married Anglicans or other Protestants clergy to return to the full communion of the Catholic Church as priests? If this is the case then the Pope should just waive celibacy as a condition to become a priest or religious.

In fact I have a boy in form two who wants to become a priest after he completes school. I am afraid if I tell him about married Protestant clergy who return to catholic priests I am sure he will also be shocked. Otherwise I liked the way you answered Jerry. With his high sexual urges which he cannot be able to control better not to become a priest. My advice to him is that he should just forget about it and let him focus on other things.”

Thank you for this important question Rachel. Since according to long-standing Church discipline, Roman Catholic priests and religious are chosen from those who pledge to remain celibate, it is not a grantee that since married Anglicans become Catholic priests the Pope Francis should waive celibacy as a condition to priesthood.

I am of the opinion that you should just tell your son about it. This will help him make a mature decision. The Code of Canon Law reads: “Clerics are obliged to observe perfect and perpetual continence for the sake of the kingdom of heaven and therefore are bound to celibacy which is a special gift of God by which sacred ministers can adhere more easily to Christ with an undivided heart and are able to dedicate themselves more freely to the service of God and humanity” (Canon 277).

According to this Canon, permanent deacons can be either celibate or married. The decision must be made prior to ordination. In Kenya and many parts of Africa we don’t have permanent deacons as yet.

What you should also know Rachel is that priestly celibacy isn’t a tradition in the major sense of a dogmatic teaching, but rather an ancient and honored discipline which can be changed. You should also be aware that just because the issue may become a topic of discussion within the Vatican does not mean change will happen anytime soon.

For any change in the Catholic Church it must be gradual and very carefully considered. If a change happens, it will be the result of careful deliberation, pastoral and prayerful contemplation. This may not occur during the tenure of Pope Francis as reformed catholic priests would wish. To their surprise it is unlikely to happen so soon.

Another point you should also know is that Pope Francis has not himself said there is possibility of waiving celibacy. This is just the mainstream media, which is all atwitter made by Pope Francis’s incoming secretary of state, Archbishop Pietro Parolin, who is set to replace Cardinal Tarciscio Berone as the head of the Vatican’s Secretariat of State about the possibility of eliminating clerical celibacy.

He said this in Caracas, Venezuela, where he has been serving as papal nuncio (ambassador) to Venezuela. Apparently, it was an interview in anticipation of his leaving his role as the apostolic nuncio and going back to Rome to become Secretary of State.

In his discussion with the interviewer, following exchange occurred- Archbishop Pietro Parolin was quoted to have said: “Aren’t there two types of dogmas? Aren’t there unmovable dogmas that were instituted by Jesus and then there are those that came afterwards, during the course of the church’s history, created by men and therefore susceptible to change”?

In other words, it is not a church dogma and it can be discussed because it is a church tradition. According to Archbishop Pietro Parolin therefore, the work the church did to institute ecclesiastical celibacy must be considered.

This is a great challenge for the pope, because before he decides he must weigh the attitude of Catholic faithful, majority I believe would love to see priests and religious remain celibate. This is because pope is the one with the ministry of unity and all of those decisions must be made thinking of the unity of the church and not to divide it.

It is just the way you have been shocked that married Anglican clergy can cross to Catholic and become a priest in the Catholic Church with his family. This asserts what the archbishop stated that clerical celibacy is not a dogma but a matter of discipline- otherwise married Anglicans clergy would have not allowed crossing over to the Catholic.

Even though in the book Pope Francis: Conversations with Jorge Bergoglio (an interview book done before he was pope), Cardinal Bergoglio said: Let’s see . . . I’ll begin with the last question: whether or not the Church is ever going to change its position with regard to celibacy, we cannot rush to the conclusion that this is what he meant exactly.

Conversation continues: “First, let me say I don’t like to play mind-reader. But assuming that the Church did change its position, I don’t believe it would be because of a lack of priests. Nor do I think celibacy would be a requirement for all who wanted to embrace priesthood.

If it did, hypothetically, do so, it would be for cultural reasons, as is the case in the East, where married men can be ordained. There, at a particular time and in that particular culture, it was so, and it continues to be so today.

I can’t stress enough that if the Church were to change its position at some point, it would be to confront a cultural problem in a particular place; it would not be a global issue or an issue of personal choice. That is my belief. . . .Right now I stand by Benedict XVI, who said that celibacy should be maintained.

Now, what kind of effect will this have on the number of those called to the priesthood? I am not convinced that eliminating celibacy would cause such an increase in those called to the priesthood as to make up for the shortage”.

The Eastern Catholic Church, like the Orthodox Church, has allowed either married or celibate men to be considered for ordination to either the diaconate in Christ or priesthood. Celibacy or marriage as a state in life is determined before the first ordination to the Diaconate. Bishops are chosen from the ranks of the celibate clergy.

Fr Joachim Omolo Ouko, AJ
Tel +254 7350 14559/+254 722 623 578
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