Vatican welcomes married priests?

PriestMarriage 1It sounded a bit startling to me too as I was reading an announcement the Vatican made on Oct. 20, 2009 that the Church was making it easier for Anglicans to convert to Roman Catholicism. With the decision, the Anglicans will be able to join Catholic Church without giving up their Anglican liturgy and identity, including married priests. The decision was taken in secret by a small cadre of Vatican officials (without consulting the spiritual leader of the global Anglican Church, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams. Who cares whom?).

“The unity of the church does not require a uniformity that ignores cultural diversity, as the history of Christianity shows,” said Cardinal William Levada, head of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, while announcing the decision.

Yeah, fine. A good decision; after all, the ice has started thawing (but for economic reasons). However, the decision contradicts Vatican’s official stand on marriage of priests, who by principle should refrain from marriage and any sexual relationships, including ‘masturbation and impure thoughts’ (sexual visualization or fantasies). For, the Church considers itself to be the bride of Jesus, and wants its priests to imitate the life of Jesus.

So, if you are a Catholic priest, but want to marry, don’t worry. There is a way. Join the Anglican Church and convert back to Catholicism. You can save your ministry as well as your wife. But remember, an Anglican priest cannot become a Catholic bishop!

However, this is not the first time that the Catholic Church advertently made it look more acceptable to people from other orders/denominations or Christian groups. It has resorted to such tactics earlier to lure more people into its fold. During the pontificate of Pope Pius XII (1939-1958), such conversions were allowed for Protestant ministers and Anglican priests.

Now the question is, will the Church benefit from going ‘liberal’? Of course, it will. There is already a schism between traditionalists and modernists in the 77-million strong Anglican Communion on a variety of issues. Traditionalists are opposed to women priests, openly gay clergy and the blessing of same-sex unions which have been recognized by Anglicans. Those disaffected Anglicans are a frustrated group, tending to break away. And they will naturally turn to Catholicism to shelter their faith. And, for the Church, more people means more money. They pray for more such conversions. 

Catholics and Double Standards

Will the new announcement create other problems for Catholic Church? Theologically, morally, and ethically, it will. However, it is not a big worry to the Church just because none of the above concerns them. Morality can be expected only from those who have moral moorings.
Anglican Church came to existence after separating from Catholicism and shunning papal authority. Anglicans do not recognize the Holy See. How will an Anglican, converting to Catholicism, address the Pope, Your Holiness or Mr. Joseph Ratzinger? 

In September, 2008, the Anglican Church apologized to Charles Darwin for misunderstanding his theory of evolution and natural selection. In an article it said, “Charles Darwin, 200 years from your birth [in 1809], the Church of England owes you an apology for misunderstanding you and, by getting our first reaction wrong, encouraging others to misunderstand you still.”

Anglican Church officials then said senior bishops wanted to atone for the vilification their predecessors heaped on Darwin in the 1860s, when he put forward his theory that man was descended from apes. An apology is an admission that they (the Church) were wrong to construe that Darwin was wrong.

But, Catholicism anchors its faith in creationism – creation of the universe in six days by god. This negates Darwin and all his theories, which is against Anglican apology. What will the newly converted Anglicans (whose liturgy and identity remain the same) believe in – man descended from apes or created out of dust by god?

In 2006, Anglican Church apologized for its role in the slave trade. Then, they apologized to Islam/Muslims for the wrongs they committed during the bloody crusades. What will they say – Anglican Church was wrong or the Catholics were wrong?

Going by Cardinal William Levada’s words, “The unity of the church does not require a uniformity that ignores cultural diversity, as the history of Christianity shows”, Catholic Church will also recognize cultural diversity in Christianity.

There are Christians (Ukrainian) who celebrate Christmas on January 7th. If they join Catholicism, will they be allowed to celebrate Christmas as they do now? There are Christians who worship John the Baptist, the one who baptized Jesus of Nazareth, not Jesus Christ and also those who worship Mary Magdalene. If they accept Catholicism, can they continue their worship of John the Baptist or Mary Magdalene?

There are Christians who believe that Jesus was married to Mary of Magdalene. Number of different Christian sects thus goes on and on. So, do our questions. We will stop asking such questions only when they stop contradicting themselves. Until then, we are here to ask them questions.


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