Cardinal O’Brien Is In Need Of Instruction.
The most remarkable trait of V II prelates seems to be that very few of them manage to know Catholic teaching with the same level of expertise of, say, a thirteen-year-old boy circa 1953.
The last one to make an ass of himself is Cardinal O’Brien.
His words according to the above mentioned “Homograph”:
“In my time there was no choice and you didn’t really consider it too much, it was part of being a priest. When I was a young boy, the priest didn’t get married and that was it.
“I would be very happy if others had the opportunity of considering whether or not they could or should get married.
“It is a free world and I realise that many priests have found it very difficult to cope with celibacy as they lived out their priesthood and felt the need of a companion, of a woman, to whom they could get married and
raise a family of their own.”
Yours truly, who was never married and – sinner as he is, of course – never found it so difficult to cope with celibacy (particularly after seeing some of those who are married; but that’s another matter entirely…), is rather stunned at these affirmations for the following reasons:
1) Last time I looked, it was de fide that a priest cannot marry. One can become priest when he is already married (look at the Anglican converts: for the Church they are no priests, and therefore they can become priests whilst being previously married) but no one can marry after he has become a priest. One of us two is wrong, then, and I think it’s the one with the funny hat…
2) “It is a free world”. What on earth does this mean. Freedom isn’t anarchy or licence; celibacy isn’t more or less difficult under Cameron than under Mussolini; I do not know of many contemporary priests forced to take orders in a dictatorship and now finding it difficult to cope with celibacy because there is freedom.
3) “In my time there was no choice”. Well neither there is now, actually.
4) “You didn’t really consider it too much”. What? The man took a solemn vow of celibacy and now he tells us that was something one just didn’t think about? And then they say today’s youth is irresponsible? Who made this man Cardinal? (Answer: John Paul II…).
5) “companion etc”. Look, I though that a priest was married to the Church? That the celibacy is what allow himself to be completely dedicated to his life of service without having extremely time-consuming (and emotionally exacting) distractions like, erm, “a woman to whom they could get married and raise a family of their own”? That this dedication and self-sacrifice is exactly was makes the priest respected in his community, and trusted to care for Christ and for his sheep above all else? Am I wrong?
6) “found it difficult to cope with celibacy aas they lived out their priesthood”. Oh for heaven’s sake. Are we talking of men or children? You make choices like a man, you carry on with your life and the choices you have made like a man. Can a soldier say “I am tired of Afghanistan”?
7) “I would be very happy etc..”. Dear Cardinal, the opportunity is already there. Either one wants to become a priest, and then he cannot marry. Or he wants to marry, and then he cannot become a priest. A priest can never, could never, will never “have the opportunity of considering”. Once a celibate priest, always a celibate priest and no, the “free world” is nothing to do with it.
In this very matter, it is refreshing to read that a couple of very good priest bloggers have become rather impatient with the Cardinal’s remark. I understand them very well, then the Cardinal lets all celibate priests look like people who didn’t really think about it, have no clear idea why they are celibate, and should well reflect a bit whether to have the “opportunity to consider” wouldn’t be a fine thing indeed.
For one, Father Ray Blake has a rather explicit post on the matter. Among the commentators, EF Pastor Emeritus – another excellent priest and blogger – is no less explicit. Third is Father Hunwicke, a convert from the Anglicans (and therefore, crucially, not a priest when he married), who says it very beautifully with the words: “Wherever did the Cardinal, whom I greatly respect, get the idea that priests like me are allowed to make up our own mind about getting married?”
Interesting question, actually.
Wherever? If you ask me, from the madness called Vatican II, that wanting to “renew” everything ends up wanting to demolish, sooner or later, everything. That’s where.