NEWS:  May 29, 2007

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Bird’s Eye View of the News

Atila Sinke Guimarães

MARRIED PRIESTS? THEY ARE HERE - Once I discussed the topic of married priests and women priests with Fr. Edouard Hammel, S.J., who had the courtesy to receive me twice in Rome, opening time in his busy schedule as Vice-Rector of the Gregorian University, possibly the most prestigious university of Rome. At the time Fr. Hammel was also a member of the International Theological Commission. He was a moral theologian who had been a perito at Vatican II, and had participated in the writing of Gaudium et spes.

Cardinal Mahoney ordains married priest

Card. Mahony ordains Episcopalian minister William Lowe as a married priest
When the day comes that both women and men are priests, I asked him, could an act of love between them as a “reflection of God” ever be made on the altar? I based my question on the writings of some progressivists who define the act of “amoration” – the sexual act – as the best reflection of the Trinitarian life. Fr. Hammel smiled, looked knowingly at me, and noted that Fr. Urs von Balthasar defended similar ideas. Later, he gave me a very interesting article summarizing the erotic aspects of Balthasar’s theology. But Fr. Hammel did not think that this “best reflection of God” should take place on the altar.

The interview continued, and I addressed the question of when the ordination of women would be allowed. Following a good Jesuit style, with his eyes and facial expression Fr. Hammel encouraged me to expect women’s ordination, but he did not say a word that could compromise him. To close this topic, he said in more or less these words: “As a first step we should expect married men to come to the altar.” That was in 1983.

Some 10 years ago, I read media reports on some secret cases of Catholic married priests. At that time, the discussion revolved around viri probati – experienced men – who could be ordained priests. Progressivist Card. Aloisio Lorscheider – if I am not mistaken – proposed that the precedent of two married men who had been secretly ordained priests in Brazil should become a rule. The first was an old widower who lived with his sister and, therefore, could be ordained; the second was a man in his fifties whose wife was still living but had agreed to practice perfect chastity so that he could become a priest. As far as I recall, this couple had agreed not to live under the same roof. For a while, the two cases were being held up to the public as models to be followed, but then there was silence on the topic. The general ambience was not ready yet to accept the idea.

Episcopalian homosexual becomes bishop

The Episcopalian "Church" is a putrid institution. Above, the homosexual minister Gene Robinson becomes "bishop" and receives his mytre from lover Mark Andrew
In 1980 John Paul II allowed a liturgical program called the Pastoral Provision, which allowed some Anglican “priests” who convert to the true Faith to become Catholic priests. When I read this, I thought that he was trying to ease the way for the impressive numbers of Anglicans “priests” who would like to abandon their putrid confession and come to the Catholic Faith. I was naïve. To this date the Anglicans are still being discouraged from conversion in order not to impair ecumenism. JPII was only letting in some of these ministers as a means to introduce married priests in the Catholic Church.

On last May 6, Card. Roger Mahony ordained William Lowe as the “first married priest” in the Los Angeles Archdiocese at Blessed Junipero Serra Church in Camarillo. Lowe, 68, had been an Episcopalian pastor for 27 years in Newton, Massachusetts, before retiring and moving to Southern California with his wife Linda, age 44. Both were received in the Catholic Church five years ago while living in Massachusetts (The Tidings, May 11, 2007, p. 3).

I remind my readers that in his Encyclical Apostolicae curae Pope Leo XIII solemnly stated that the Anglican sect does not have valid sacraments. This applies, therefore, to its American branch, the Episcopalian “church.” Hence, the Episcopalian “priest” William Lowe had never been a priest before his recent ordination.

How did Lowe convert from the Episcopalians to the Catholic Church? He describes his change:

“I did not like retirement. I am very happy to be back to work. I come home whistling and singing.” More specifically, he says: “We didn’t leave the Episcopal Church because we were angry or upset. We were drawn to Catholicism for positive reasons. But we are deeply grateful for everything we had in the Episcopal Church.” He explains the positive reasons: “We always had a strong feeling that Catholicism was the Church for the poor; it was the Church that cared the most for the poor – Jesus’ people” (Orange County Catholic, April 2007, p 7).

Therefore, he did not change doctrine or deny his previous heresies and errors. Rather, he confirmed that “everything” the Episcopalians gave him was good. In short, there was no conversion, since this term is reserved in Catholic language for those who abjure the heresies and errors of the false religion to which they belonged and clearly profess the Catholic Faith. Nothing either in Lowe’s statements to the press or the description of the ceremony I read gives any hint that this clear rejection of errors took place. The alleged positive reason – care for the poor – is a social consideration that does not play into conversion. So, what actually happened is that an Episcopalian heretic was ordained a Catholic priest without changing his doctrinal beliefs, and was allowed to begin spreading his heresies to Catholic audiences.

Married priest blesses wife

As a Catholic priest William blesses his wife Linda
When William and Linda moved to Camarillo, they were received with open arms at Fr. Serra Church. Both became engaged in active parish lives. During the process of studies laid out by JPII’s provision, William became a deacon. Now he has been ordained a priest by Card. Mahony. Linda co-chairs the parish’s outreach commission, including its justice ministries and charitable activities.

In the speech he gave after ordaining Lowe a priest, Card. Mahony thanked God “because you [Lowe] not only bring new things to us in your own person, but you bring your own heritage of years past” (The Tidings, ibid.). That is, Mahony blessed Lowe’s Protestant past. Then, using a metaphor worthy of his intellectual formation, Mahony compared the Catholic Church and the Episcopalian sect to two parallel ramps to the same highway, the universal Church:

“I know that it is the fond prayer and hope of all of us Christian communities that pretty soon all these on-ramps might some day merge into one highway. We have a lot of parallel on-ramps that have not merged … But today at least your on-ramp has merged with our on-ramp” (ibid.).

The supposition of the two news reports I read in the official organs of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and the Diocese of Orange is that William and Linda continue to live under the same roof, did not make any promise or vow of perfect chastity, and therefore continue to have a normal marital life. By the way, according to the Pastoral Provision, the requirement of celibacy is waived for these priests.

A news report mentions that the papal provision has allowed “several dozen” Episcopalian married pastors to become Catholic priests (Orange County Catholic, ibid.). Some of them were ordained priests before Lowe, others are on the pathway… Lowe’s ordination was the one chosen to receive general publicity.

It seems clear to me that the death knell of the vow of chastity in the Catholic clergy tolled in Camarillo.


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