Synods and Sausages: Making a mess in Germany

Three things need to be sorted out when it comes to the covert agenda being pursued by the German bishops.

Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich and Freising, president of the German bishops' conference, speaks to the press at the beginning of the German bishops' fall assembly in Fulda, Germany, Sept. 24, 2018. Also pictured is Matthias Kopp, spokesman for the conference. (CNS photo/KNA)

The so-called synodal assembly being concocted by Catholics in Germany has emerged with a covert agenda so cynical that even its sharpest critics have missed it. This meeting is shaping up to be a debacle not just for some of its proposed content but also for making a hash of serious notions of synodality. Into this mess Pope Francis has already stepped once with a personal warning and exhortation to caution. Now we are told that his Curia, especially the Congregation for Bishops, have conveyed additional canonical concerns to the German bishops.

There are three things to be sorted out here. For some, likely most, the gravest concerns come from proposed topics for possible change. Let us first consider those before trying, yet again, to clarify the methodological-ecclesiological issues at work, and then conclude by noting the real episcopal agenda.

Ed Condon’s recent article in the Register states that the issues up for debate are “clerical celibacy, the Church’s teaching on sexual morality, and a reduction of clerical power.” CNA is reporting that this proposed “synodal assembly” (a revealing appellation about which more in a moment) “aims to address and clarify key issues such as: ‘authority and separation of powers,’ ‘sexual morality,’ ‘the priestly mode of life,’ ‘women at the service of ecclesiastical offices’.”

In both lists, the first and third items—celibacy and clerical power—should occasion far less anxiety than the second and perhaps the fourth. No Catholic anywhere has grounds for insisting that celibacy be universally enforced. It is a discipline largely peculiar to the Latin Church alone (which the East would regard as much better suited to a monastic context), and the last time an attempt was made to enforce universal compliance in diocesan priests, it ended in disaster, with tens of thousands of Catholics in North America driven out of the Church and into the Orthodox Church of America. Would German Catholics open a major split with Rome on this issue? Would Rome try to bring down the hammer on Germany with another document like Cum Data Fuerit in 1929 that drove so many Catholics from the Church? I remain very skeptical on both scores.

As an Eastern Catholic I must forever caution my Latin friends against romanticizing celibacy or, worse, claiming—as some heterodox figures started doing in the late 1990s—that celibacy is an “ontological condition” of ordination, which is rubbish. Are there good reasons for celibacy? Absolutely. Is it a condition for ordination? Absolutely not.

Does a married presbyterate bring serious challenges the Latin Church has generally avoided? Absolutely. Should celibacy therefore be maintained always and everywhere? There is no good reason to insist on such a blanket policy. If the Germans want to proceed with ordaining married men, and their neighbors in France do not, that’s fine. Most of Ukraine’s Catholic priests are married; most of their brethren in the Latin Church in Poland next door are not. Even within a particular Eastern Catholic Church, including mine, we manage perfectly well with both celibate and married priests living and working side-by-side. The Latin Church could certainly handle such diversity.

Would it suddenly make the sex abuse crisis go away? Don’t be absurd! Would it suddenly fill up depleted seminaries and staff parishes with a plethora of priests? Don’t hold your breath! Merely permitting marriage, as I have been saying for well over a decade (e.g., here), is no panacea. More recently, the primate of the Ukrainian Greco-Catholic Church has agreed with this, recognizing you can have married priests and still have a shortage of clergy.

Additionally, it must be seriously recognized well in advance of any change that a married presbyterate brings real challenges in parish and diocesan life that the Latin Church has largely escaped, challenges that must be faced honestly by German Catholics, who give no evidence of having even begun to do so. They are, therefore, wrongly rushing into a potential change without listening to the cool wisdom of the pope, whom Chad Pecknold has quoted as telling Germany, that “a healthy aggiornamento requires a ‘long fermentation’” and only those who “lack maturity” would rush into major changes.

German Catholics should also wait and consider the wisdom of those of us who have experience going back generations in living a married presbyterate. I document such experience in detail in my forthcoming book Married Catholic Priests, drawing on the experiences of married Eastern Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and now Roman Catholic priests in the Anglican ordinariates in North America, Europe, and Australia. Their hard-won wisdom reveals that priestly families live often difficult and deeply sacrificial lives totally unknown to any Germanic Catholics who may be dreamily imagining that abolishing celibacy will suddenly fill up every empty rectory with a brood of Von Trapps cheerfully and selflessly warbling away at every Mass, baptism, wedding, and funeral their father celebrates.

The second issue for German discussion concerns the reduction or separation of powers. Here we should verify whether this discussion will in fact bring about a greatly overdue series of deep reforms breaking up monopolies of power in the Church (as I have argued in Everything Hidden Shall Be Revealed: Ridding the Church of Abuses of Sex and Power). Unlike some Catholics who feel we need only changes of personnel—a few new priests, bishops, and perhaps a new pope to get the Church back on track again as a “perfect society”—the rest of us recognize that we’ve had personnel appointed by men now declared saints (e.g., John Paul II) who have turned out to be demons in episcopal drag, guilty of the most heinous abuses while also covering up the abuses of others. They were able to do this because the current system is a monarchical and monopolistic, concentrating power in the hands of bishops and popes in ways totally unjustified by history, theology, ecumenical experience, basic psychology, and common sense. If the Germans find useful ways of dismantling these monopolies and forcing more local accountability upon clergy (and I very seriously doubt they will for reasons noted below) then their assembly might not totally be in vain.

As for the other issues—sexual morality above all—here we enter into a different realm to be regarded with a skeptical if not hostile eye. Julia Knop, a theologian helping to put this assembly’s agenda together, has been quoted as claiming that the Church’s teaching on homosexuality is a cause of sexual abuse: “There can be no doubt that not homosexuality as such, but its ecclesiastical tabooing and pathologization is a risk factor for sexual abuse by narcissistic or even sexually immature clerics.” This is fatuous nonsense. (What about the nuns and other women in the Church sexually abused by men?) Even if Catholics anywhere could change doctrine—which no synod is appointed to do—it would not help reduce abuse one iota.

As for discussion of the role of women in the Church, here again we must proceed with careful discernment. We know that priestly ordination is completely out of the question. But that in no way precludes women from being, say, fully elected members of a diocesan synod and of a parish council where they could and should vote for a bishop or priest and vote on his annual budget in a binding way, as I have proposed.

Let’s now very briefly consider whether this assembly deserves to be called a synod or whether its waffling appellation “synodal assembly” is the more appropriate moniker. Last December here on CWR I tried to clarify what real synods area and are not. Since this remains both unclear and often contentious, and since the Germans have in fact vexatiously muddied the waters further still, I have again more recently here and here attempted to state what synods do and do not do. I will not bore you by repeating any of that here.

By the criteria I previously presented (including in the book), I would say that initial reports of draft statutes from Germany give cautious room for hope if one criterion for a real synod is that it is not a voting chamber deciding on doctrine. Thus, for example, we are told that resolutions coming out of this assembly “do not affect the power of the episcopal conference and of individual diocesan bishops, in the context of their own areas of competence, to issue normative acts and to exercise their proper magisterium.” At the same time, however, Rome has recently argued that if the “synodal assembly” wants to make “binding” decisions in non-doctrinal areas for the Church in Germany, then this body should more properly be called a “plenary council.”

Neither assemblies or plenary councils are anything other than ad hoc affairs, called once for a set of issues and then perhaps never called again. Once more, then, we can say that the proposed meetings in German are not synods, which, going back to at least the fourth century, have a permanent or “standing” character responsible for meeting at least annually, or usually biannually (during Lent and harvest-time) for the election, and sometimes disciplining, of bishops, for debating diocesan policy and procedures, for voting or rejecting the bishop’s budget, and for demanding from him an annual accounting of his stewardship of the diocese. The plans I have seen for this German “assembly” include none of these things, and thus it cannot merit the title of synod.

Worse, I cannot but regard the entire operation as being calculated chicanery by bishops who have decided that the way to take the heat off themselves over their own incompetence in the abuse crisis, and over the staggering decline in the German Church, is to toss a bone to the dog impertinently yapping the loudest. The very fact that questions of “sexual morality” are up for debate strikes the Freudian in me as indisputably an act of episcopal deflection—a clear-cut case of a “defense mechanism” on the part of bishops with a lot to hide. In a piece published today, Catholic News Service captures this causal-deflective dynamic very well:

The German bishops began discussing plans for the gathering in September 2018 after they published a study that revealed an estimated 3,700 cases of sexual abuse had been reported in the German church from 1946 to 2014.

Bishops trying to defend their powers and perks have chosen to indulge the perceived (and, we must say, puerile) demands of some of their people (some of them rather dodgy) for voting on trendy alterations to age-old sexual teaching to bring it into conformity with bourgeois notions of sexual diversity and propriety. This is clearly a “passive-aggressive” tactic, as CWR’s editor has recently called it—a pandering under parliamentary form. The pope has recently and rightly warned against any notion that “having an attitude of ‘synodality’ means investigating opinions — what does this one and that one think — and then having a meeting to make an agreement. No! The synod is not a parliament!”

Serious self-respecting Catholics in Germany must resist this undignified and tawdry pandering and must rebuke their bishops for being such condescending cowards that they would rather capitulate to the Zeitgeist than undertaking any serious structural reforms to dismantle their own monopolies on power. Catholics must not be fobbed off so cheaply, and bishops must not be allowed to escape so lightly. Catholics in Germany and around the world must challenge bishops to stop playing games, and instead—if they wish to do something serious to purify the Church—to relinquish, in a kenotic way, their own power and glory so that real reform can happen as real synods are established in every diocese to hold everybody accountable. Are there any Germans with the guts to propose that?


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About Dr. Adam A. J. DeVille 73 Articles
Dr. Adam A. J. DeVille is associate professor and chairman of the Department of Theology-Philosophy, University of Saint Francis (Fort Wayne, IN) and author of Orthodoxy and the Roman Papacy (University of Notre Dame, 2011).

44 Comments

  1. Can you please stop pretending the prelates you consider to be shepherd’s of the Catholic Church are interested in or even believe what the Catholic Church teaches?

    What do they have to do to convince you they are faithless?

  2. “the last time an attempt was made to enforce universal compliance in diocesan priests, it ended in disaster, with tens of thousands of Catholics in North America driven out of the Church and into the Orthodox Church of America.”

    It seems to me that no, they weren’t driven out, they chose to leave rather than obey. There’s a difference.

    “Would German Catholics open a major split with Rome on this issue? Would Rome try to bring down the hammer on Germany with another document like Cum Data Fuerit in 1929 that drove so many Catholics from the Church?”

    The cases are hardly similar, since Germany, unlike the Eastern Catholics, does not have a tradition of married priests.

    “Should celibacy therefore be maintained always and everywhere? There is no good reason to insist on such a blanket policy.”

    Yeah, there is. There is no reason to change it.

    “If the Germans want to proceed with ordaining married men . . . that’s fine.”

    No, it’s not. They don’t have the right to decide that.

    “Most of Ukraine’s Catholic priests are married; most of their brethren in the Latin Church in Poland next door are not. Even within a particular Eastern Catholic Church, including mine, we manage perfectly well with both celibate and married priests living and working side-by-side. The Latin Church could certainly handle such diversity.”

    There is no reason for the Latin Church to change. You’ve already admitted that it wouldn’t solve the sexual abuse crisis or the vocations crisis.

    • More vocations are not the purpose of options to celibacy. More variety and healthier vocations are. You see in believing that the followers of St Alexios Toth and the founding of the Johnstown Diocese rebellious. They are only what was allowed and expected in the mother Churches. We have hashed this out numerous time all coming down the Latin fear of women and by vocational work.

      • “More vocations are not the purpose of options to celibacy.”

        That’s the reason people keep claiming the Church needs to get rid of priestly celibacy.

        “More variety and healthier vocations are.”

        That’s your opinion, which in my opinion isn’t worth much.

        “You see in believing that the followers of St Alexios Toth and the founding of the Johnstown Diocese rebellious.”

        Which they were. Toth got into a snit and broke with Rome and dragged others with him, because he chose to be disobedient, and without the consent of his bishop in his homeland.

        “They are only what was allowed and expected in the mother Churches.”

        The “mother Churches” (and in case you missed it, there’s *one* Church) allowed and expected people to leave the Church because they were mad about something, did they? What a dreadful attitude.

        “We have hashed this out numerous time all coming down the Latin fear of women and by vocational work.”

        Your sentence isn’t very clear. We, who, have hashed this out? And as a woman, I can assure you I have no fear of women. I just don’t like having the priesthood looked on as nothing but a means to power, which is the attitude of those wanting priestesses; and it has been made abundantly clear that the Church has no authority to ordain women. I can’t figure out what you meant by “by vocational work.” Could you maybe rephrase your sentence so I can understand it?

  3. Would a married priesthood mean an end to Mass seven days a week? Do married Greek Orthodox priests celebrate Lituria every day of the week?

    • It would if we followed the ancient canons/Tradition BUT who are we kidding, the liberals in the West who want married priests don’t care about such things. If you want to know what it will look like just look to the Anglican Church. Heck even our married deacons aren’t required to abstain prior to serving at the altar. I asked one married deacon about that ancient discipline and he said he’d never heard of such a teaching. We are quickly becoming Anglican without the nice liturgies that Anglican’s still have.

  4. It’s not celibacy that frequently gets romanticized but Orthodoxy and to some extent the Catholic East.

    I came to the conclusion long ago that actually “both lungs” are already in the Western Church and have always been despite…everything…and my conclusion is based not simply on reading and reflection but 8 years in very active up close Orthodoxy and 2 years as an Eastern Catholic.

  5. Dear Dr. Adam, No one need worry, even faithful schismatics are going to Jorge’s paradise: https://www.the-american-catholic.com/2019/09/13/joyful-fruitful-schismatics-whatever-going-to-heaven/#comment-339980. Those trying to destroy Jesus’s Church have believed their Grande Hermano Jorge and their Daddy of Lies-he has convinced them they can actually achieve this, that they can beat God and rid the earth of Holy Mother Church. And many will leave, most will not believe in the Real Presence, and cathedrals will be turned into to-go pizza places. BUT, Jesus’s Church will remain, forever, as will the truth and the Truth. Guy McClung, Texas

  6. “Synods and Sausages: Making a mess in Germany”

    AKA: “Der Oktoberfest Synod mit Amazon Muzik Bei Pabst Francis und seiner Kardinalischer Tanzers!”

  7. I must forever caution my Latin friends against romanticizing celibacy (DeVille). A good follow up argument Fair and Balanced from an Eastern Rite protagonist. Although missing the point. We romantics find in the Latin Rite’s insistence on celibacy – counter arguments I’ve long considered valid a quite mysterious romantic even to stretch the issue [for some] mystical reality. When I read Carl Olson’s commentary on the Exaltation of the Cross I sensed something of the mystery, I also know a young lady who, after being an atheist for several years, finally crumbled on her knees before a crucifix and wept, broken and healed (Olson). She experienced within her soul something she likely always realized, desired but thought unreal unattainable unworthy of reasoned thought. A stroke of grace changed that. It’s the kind of inner sense that motivated Jean de Brebeuf to write of his longing to accept horrible torture and martyrdom by the Iroquois in the “savage wilderness” of N Am. For love of Jesus Christ. For most it’s insane. All the expected well reasoned arguments, cause for exceptions proffered by DeVille do not take into account an ‘unreasonable’ bond of blood scripted love signatured on the Cross proffered by Christ to this one entire segment of Catholic priesthood.

    • Furthermore of itself it’s the form of total witness complete surrender of self leaving all behind for God and the salvation of souls that wayward clergy, prelates including those at the Vatican, and for love of the laity who need to know exists. Like Olson’s young lady who crumbled to her knees before the Crucifix and wept that there is a God for whom relinquishing all is of far greater recompense than what is relinquished.

    • Fun and odd fact: The actual place where St. Jean de Brebeuf was martyred is on the grounds of a Presbyterian summer camp in Midland Ontario (a few hours north of Toronto).

      However…

      There is an impressive shrine and a complete recreation of the mission the Jesuit martyrs built. It’s worth seeing. The mission recreation is built on the original site of the Jesuit mission and the church has the relics of the martyrs including St. John’s skull.

      https://martyrs-shrine.com/

      • Thanks Andrew. I lived in Canada prior to ordination studying at Ottawa U. Didn’t know of the Brebeuf shrine. I would love to have visited it. I did visit the St Regis Mohawk Res settlement NYS and met the first Mohawk priest. They were the most warlike of the Iroquois now mostly Catholic.

        • P.S: I visited St Regis specifically to see the shrine of now St Kateri Tekakwitha. She apparently lived there with the tribe and was treated badly. Iroquois weren’t too fond of converts. The Jesuits moved her north to Canada where they had set up a refuge for converts.

        • I encourage everyone to visit the Martyr’s Shrine in Midland Ontario. It’s “cottage country” so it’s still rugged with lots of nature. You get a real sense of what it was like for the early Jesuit martyrs. It’s well worth the visit; especially the very large recreation of the actual mission. The Jesuits still run the shrine. Best to visit mid-week in the summer. Very quiet.

  8. It should be noted that according to the traditional canons of the Eastern Churches celibacy is required of married priests and deacons prior to celebrating the Holy Mysteries (which is why daily Mass is not found in Eastern parishes…only monastic communities).

    Moreover, celibacy is also required of married clergy during the multiple fast periods in the Church’s calendar. Also, if a married priest or deacon’s wife dies he is required to be celibate. Finally, only celibates can become bishops (who have the fullness of the priesthood).

    It would seem that celibacy in the East plays a very important role in the priesthood. It is far more than simply a “discipline”. Celibacy is apostolic and is rooted in both Scripture and Holy Tradition.

    • I would think a man who has a true calling to the priesthood would want to imitate Christ as closely as possible, living his entire life for Christ and His sheep. To split that life between a wife and children and the Lord would be only living half his life for God.

    • “It should be noted that according to the traditional canons of the Eastern Churches celibacy is required of married priests and deacons prior to celebrating the Holy Mysteries”

      Actually, abstinence from sexual relations has been traditionally required in both the Latin and Greek Churches for ALL Christians before communing, not only the clergy. I’m not sure when it was lost in the Latin tradition and in the modern-day Eastern Catholic Churches (some Orthodox Churches enforce it more actively, others not so much), but it was part of the Latin patrimony for the vast majority of its history.

      • “Actually, abstinence from sexual relations has been traditionally required in both the Latin and Greek Churches for ALL Christians before communing, not only the clergy.”

        Excellent point.

    • It should be noted that according to the traditional canons of the Eastern Churches celibacy(sic) is required of married priests and deacons prior to celebrating the Holy Mysteries (which is why daily Mass is not found in Eastern parishes…only monastic communities).

      Moreover, celibacy(sic) is also required of married clergy during the multiple fast periods in the Church’s calendar.

      You mean continence not celibacy.

  9. I also find it funny that the one Church teaching the German bishops never call into question is the authority of bishops. If I was a Catholic in Germany (and increasingly everywhere else) I’d make the following deal with the bishops: Your excellencies, I will follow Church teaching on obedience to the bishop when you follow the Church’s teaching on everything else.

    In other words, the bishops can’t demand obedience while at the same time disobeying both God and Church teaching.

  10. When I bring up the subject (nicely summarized here) folks say the problem can be contained in Germany/Brussels.

    Really?

    With strategic allies in the Vatican, chanceries worldwide, Catholic media, cultural and educational institutions by the bushelful – contained?

    These Germans know the game. Control, if only by influence, crucial pivotal nodes and junctures.

    That’s how the Illuminati (yes, those folks), Lenin, Hitler, and the Democratic Party, parlayed their undeniable victories.

    Which nodes and mynctures do the Catholic faithful control? The ‘life issues’ debate? No longer now that John Paul was given the boot. The evangelization of the Gospel? No longer now that the Vatican has gone full multi/diversity. The education of Catholic youth and children? Increasingly no longer, now with this papacy advocating One Worldism (UN/EUism in all things).

    Until red-blooded Catholic men occupy parish and chancery offices, nail a parchment of demands on the bronze doors of St. Peter’s basilica, there will be no wins.

    • Why do I feel that as the Church comes under attack from within our orthodox eastern rite brothers take the opportunity to constantly remind us that “celibacy” is not a tradition that needs to maintained in the Latin church by its shepherds. Rather they present arguments trying to validate the superiority of their rites. Jesus Christ was a celibate. What part of that do they not understand. The orthodox eastern rite churches also condone & practice contraception an inherent evil they tolerate & validate based on their understanding of tradition. Please spare us your virtuous enlightened theology on celibacy & why you think it’s not appropriate for parish priests. The last thing we need are married priests with families whose children are drug addictts or gay or become through secular education indoctrinated against the faith of their father who hold homilies in a Catholic Church. Are you people for real ? Have you considered the day to day ramifications of burdening priests with families ? Sorry but I do not believe that the orthodox priests present a case for married priests. Celibacy is not the issue. But Lack of piety & holiness is.

  11. Up until sixty years ago an emphasis on the practice of the virtues and the abandonment of the vices characterized the Latin Church. Chastity was modeled beautifully by priests and religious, and conscientious married couples where not so far afield from the same asceticism when you think about it.
    No, celibacy is a central and concrete value in the Latin Church, a source historically of its great force in Western history. The Eastern tradition is not without its beauty, nor has it ever been without its pronounced deficiencies. It is gravely over romanticized, ironically. It has never flourished nor has it had any substantial impact on worldwide Christianity but for tourism and the icon market.
    The abandonment of the requirement for clerical celibacy will only presage the eradication of the sacrament of Holy Orders. That nipped the agenda of secular materialism is accomplished. We don’t need priests providing witness to the temporal joys of earthly existence, we require their witness to joys everlasting.
    We are sorely in need of priests joined to the Crucified Christ.
    This piece by Dr. DeVille has gravely diminished his stature in my eyes. In all honesty I am saddened. It is surely is an example of impoverished reflection. Pitiful.

    • ” It has never flourished nor has it had any substantial impact on worldwide Christianity but for tourism and the icon market.”

      Hmmm. Why, again, do we Eastern Catholics think that Western Catholics have a low and lacking view of Eastern Christianity? It’s a mystery. As for never flourishing, was the 1000+ years existence of the Byzantine Empire not long enough to qualify for “flourishing”?

      • Ironically I don’t have a low opinion of Eastern Orthodoxy or our Eastern Rites, but I continue to be perplexed at the contempt the former has for centuries exhibited toward Rome [though most often veiled, at least when it is not veiled] and the mute comportment of our Eastern Rite bishops in the face of the Bergoglian conundrum.
        My respect for the East stems from a deep love for the Fathers and for the esteem the East holds for monastic practice and depth Christocentric spirituality, not to mention its liturgical richness and veneration for the Mother of God and the saints. My grievous disappointment stems from its bitter intransience toward Rome as we have known it [at least until recently], but perhaps more than anything the collapse of the East in the face of national imperialism over the centuries. They corralled themselves to no one’s advantage, least of all their own, bitterly depriving us their rich depth. Then, of all things, they joined the World Council of Churches where they are regarded as an anomalous.
        We could use a blistering corrective from Eastern Christianity at the moment, not in regard to celibacy or any ascetic practice [do they essentially exist any longer?], but in regard to sound concrete Christian doctrine and all that stems from that. In May “La Civilita Catholica” reported this gem from the mouth of Cardinal Emeritus Claudio Hummes (personally appointed by Pope Francis as upcoming synod’s Relator General) “…there is a need to rewrite Christology”. And further: “All theology and Christology, as well as the theology of the sacraments, are to be reread starting from this great light for which ‘all is interconnected, interrelated’.
        I’ll take Athanasius over Teilhard and Jesuit Teutonic jungle fever “Kris Kringle kristology” any day.
        We endure a pontificate characterized by one of its singular apologists with: “Pope Francis breaks Catholic traditions whenever he wants because he is ‘free from disordered attachments.’ Our Church has indeed entered a new phase: with the advent of this first Jesuit pope, it is openly ruled by an individual rather than by the authority of Scripture alone or even its own dictates of tradition plus Scripture.”
        His recent gift of a portion of the relics of Saint Peter to Patriarch Bartholomew only elicited from me some relief. At least in Constantinople they will be provided due veneration.
        The Bergoglian left is engaged with a fraudulent embrace of Eastern Christianity. It is using it for its own purposes and it will dump them when convenient. It is all craft. Let the East bring to the table a blistering corrective to Roman post-conciliar psychosis and bring it on without restraint. Then we’ll see what is transpiring with great clarity.

          • Despite his apparent desire for reconciliation, Francis can’t be bothered to study and address the issues that divide, preferring to leave those tasks to “theologians.”

          • Hey are in schism among themselves and involved un interminable wrangling. You seem todo this schism a good thing. Some of the greatest Eastern theologians such as St. Maximus Confessor certainly didnt think so and the got his tongue cut out and this bright arm cut off for it. Hopefully, a a future pope will declare him Doctor of the Church.

          • God will judge whether breaking off communion was a justified response in the disputes you allude to, but for the pope even the lack of communion isn’t enough to prompt him to study the issues involved in separation.

            As for St. Maximos the Confessor, whatever the patriarchate of Rome may or may not do in declaring him a Doctor of the “Church” is irrelevant to the rest of the Church Universal.

      • Rest assured I am not unfamiliar with the spectrum of Christian history. Unfortunately when we are speaking of the East we are most often speaking of a golden age centuries ago. Their richness need be spread abroad more abundantly through the ages. Tragically they picked up their marbles and went home. We are all the poorer for it.

        • Picked up their marbles and went home? Let’s see how the Western churches would do if it were subjugated by Turks, Muslims, Hindus, etc., and didn’t have the assistance of the secular power.

          • The end game for Francis is the eradication, for all intent and purpose, of the papacy. In the meantime he is brazenly abusing the authority of the Chair of Saint Peter in order to essentially eliminate it. In the meantime Eastern Orthodox perspective on Petrine primacy provides him credence. Ironically they are providing the boldly heterodox the mask of orthodoxy. He has no desire for reconciliation with the Orthodox any more than he had any authentic sincere desire to mend the rupture with the SSPX. They can be useful while the theatrics are played out. Then they will be dumped.
            Bergoglio has no interest in authentic theological reflection. That requires depth assent to the perennial Magisterium of the Church. At best he is a synchronist. In all likelihood he is simply an ideologue. Marxist, fascist, secular materialist South American post-Ignatian Jesuit pragmatist with some sympathetic romantic attachment to his granny’s Catholicism. But in the final analysis whatever works, whatever dismantles a Catholicism which he regards only with a contempt forged in the conciliar self-loathing miasma. While it might be somewhat neutralised by a certain nostalgia, make no mistake, Bergoglio and his clique are post-Catholic and post-Christian and they are legion.
            Doubts?
            Look to Bergoglio’s betrayal of the Church in China.
            This the character of what has been produced by the post-conciliar ecumenical “theological” academy. They regard the likes of us with a wink, a nod and a barely concealed smirk.
            As for the historical and cultural hardships the Orthodox have endured I have only sympathy. They have endured an incredible martyrdom. But their problem with Rome allows for somewhat less empathy. I attribute much of the strife to an inordinate involvement with the governing elements in their various territories. You and I know that the impediments went far beyond the theological and those secular and cultural complexities have gravely muddied the waters.

          • “In the meantime Eastern Orthodox perspective on Petrine primacy provides him credence.”

            I don’t see how this follows at all. If anything, Francis proves that their suspicions of Latin claims concerning the bounds of papal authority to be correct, and no amount of popesplaining will eliminate the facts at hand. While there are other issues involved in the alienation between the Apostolic Churches, most of the theological ones have been resolved, except that of the office of the bishop of Rome concerning the Church Universal.

          • I should add that Amoris Laetitia, the Amazon synod, etc. really pertain to only the patriarchate of Rome so his exercise of authority or his decision not to exercise authority is a matter pertaining directly to the patriarchate and not to the Church Universal.

  12. If they allow heterosexual clergy to marry [yes, that will be the nose of the rainbow camel under the tent] can you imagine the prenup agreements future wives will be encouraged to ‘voluntarily’ enter into ? You think the billion$s paid out for the 10000s of victims of the 1000s of known homopredator bishops and sodorapist preists is a lot of money? Wait until a faithful wife {or a male lover faithful and virtuous past the time period for establishing a common law marriage] sues in a nonfrivolous divorce case for 1/2 the parish property, half the assets, and half the checking and sasvings accounts, half the stock portfolio, full medical for life for her and the children, educational support all the way throught the first bachelor degree, and monthly allowance for spouse and each child – her forever, children to age 25. You can add at least one zero to any billion$s number. Guy, Texas

  13. One aspect of a non-celibate clergy is one that can be seen in a number of Protestant churches: an unmarried priest (or minister) can be an irresistible target for some marriage-minded women looking for personal prestige and clout in the parish. Another dimension to parish politics which we do not need.

  14. Is a married priesthood the half-way house to ELIMINATING the ordained priesthood altogether?

    Congregational “faith communities” are already the subliminal message contained in the prayers of the faithful. So, what’s the “defensive” hang-up about “parishes” and bishops within the universal Church, anyway? Might take centuries—-and surely a bad dream—-ut connect the dots…

    Is the grand trajectory for all of us to become “generic” Muslims (?), but instead of riding camels we’re ride the so-called “arc of history.” The term “generic” meaning submission to an unexamined PREDISPOSITION within possibly any human heart, and as not necessarily attached historically to prophets, turbans and oil wells.

    Islam: where inborn Natural Law is retained only in fragments “dictated” in the “uncreated” Qur’an, and where the Qur’an is “the word made book,” not replacing the Bible, but REPLACING the Incarnation—“the Word made flesh” and all that this means. . .

    Yet, the hang-up still will have something to do with inborn human nature—i.e., Islamic revulsion toward an increasingly dominant homosexual subculture in the post-Western world. Secularism will counsel practical co-existence, or congruence, or RADICAL COMPROMISE—-meaning from Islam a provisional accommodation, and meaning morally compromised “accompaniment” from a polygon Church. (The secular inspiration/template is transformer toys, as now inculturated in gender theory and surgical sex changes on request.)

    Altogether, the final dot is the overarching GNOSTIC ARRIVAL of that “peace” which is to be found at the end of the rainbow in a HYBRID of Islamic universalism and (inevitable?) Western globalism.

    Even China will find a “provisional” place within a polyglot collage of fractious Sunnis and Shiites with equally-mutually exclusive, post-Western identity-politics narratives—-all of this under the tutelage of one-world manager ELITES IN EITHER TURBANS OR DESIGNER JEANS, and all under the internet “cloud” of electronic simultaneity, transparency and surveillance (institutionalized “hacking”!).

    Who needs grace, or an ordained priesthood? The post-modern and digital Cloud of All-Knowing replaces the pre-modern and mystical Cloud of Unknowing. Exit, stage Left! The curtain closes. Have a smiley button!

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