Saturday, May 30, 2009

Father Cutie and TEC

This action, both on the part of Father Cutie and the Episcopal Diocese of Southeast Florida, is so deliberately provocative and sensationalistic that I do not even know where to begin commenting on it...

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Institution of the IV Rector of Saint Barnabas Church, Dunwoody, Georgia

Deo Volente

The Right Reverend C. Peter Brewer, OSF
Bishop Suffragan of the Diocese of the Eastern United States
of the Anglican Province of America

will canonically institute

The Reverend Canon Chandler Holder Jones, SSC

into the Office of Rector of
Saint Barnabas Anglican Church
4795 North Peachtree Road
Dunwoody, Georgia 30338

during the offering of the Holy Eucharist
in celebration of the Thirtieth Anniversary of
Saint Barnabas Church,
being the commemoration of the Feast of
Saint Barnabas the Apostle,
on Sunday, the Twenty-First Day of June
in the Year of Our Lord Two-Thousand and Nine
at ten o’clock in the morning

Your prayers and presence are joyfully requested

Clergy, red stoles Celebration luncheon follows

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Anglo-Catholic Standard

A new magazine has been established to defend and promote traditional Prayer Book English Catholicism. The first issue of The Anglo-Catholic Standard has just been published and contains articles on:

War! What is it Good for? An Analysis of Just War in Anglican Worship

Two Integrities: Can They Really Co-Exist?

and the following personal contributions:

A Communion of Communions: Orthodox Anglican Ecclesiology

Authentic Catholic Anglicanism

The Intermediate State

This professionally produced and printed magazine also contains poetry and a book review.

To order a copy send your name and address and $5.00 to:

The Anglo-Catholic Standard
P.O. Box 444
Ivy, VA 22945

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

A Neo-Anglican Convert to Orthodoxy

Edith Humphrey, a prominent speaker and laywoman within the neo-Anglican movement, has converted to Eastern Orthodoxy:

At the same time, I have wondered for several years about the possibility of our continuing together, given the foundational differences that we have in our understanding of the Church, of the sacraments, and of the place of tradition. Recent developments, including the continuing autonomy of AMIA within the proposed new Province, suggestions that we can continue in parallel with TEC, Primatial statements that expressed satisfaction with the last Primates’ meeting when it seems to contradict GAFCON, and continued attention to pragmatics rather than to the nature of the Church have been very problematic, in my view. All the while, I have been drawn for some time in a compelling manner towards the Eastern Christian tradition, and have gained deep appreciation for its apostolic claims, its ancient theologians, its healing disciplines, its sacramental spirituality and its rich liturgical tradition. Despite my temptation to stay and fight for the Anglican way, it seems clear to me now that I must go where the Lord is directing me.

This eloquent and graceful testimony explaining the reason for her conversion to the Orthodox Church bears witness in a fresh and poignant way to our absolute need to recover the patrimony, apostolic, patristic and conciliar, of Catholic Anglicanism.

It has been some time since I have read in the blogosphere a more succinct description of what orthodox Anglicanism should look like, to what it should aspire and attend, and what is in fact the proper and acute vocation of the Continuing Anglican Church.

The Internet Monk has prophesied that evangelical conversions to the historic Apostolic Churches are part of the wave of the future.

Catholic Anglicanism, we insist with vigor and a sense of urgency, is Anglicanism fulfilled, Anglicanism completed, the Anglicanism to which the Ecclesia Anglicana has always tended and in which she is truly vivified and embodied.

Doctrinal Anglo-Catholicism is not just a party or group within Anglicanism: she is the Church in her full being, plene esse.

Does not Catholic Anglicanism place the nature of the Church and Sacraments and the role of Sacred Tradition at the centre of her ecclesial life? Does she not also have apostolic claims, ancient theologians, healing disciplines, sacramental spirituality and a rich liturgical tradition? Indeed she has all of these and more - and so we are rightly pressed to bring to the fore once again who we are and what we are... positively and energetically.

Catholic Anglicanism will never entirely fulfill her destiny so long as she focusses on what she does not believe and fails to express with contagious joy and unmistakable lucidity what she actually does believe. The call remains before us to be the Church and to be authentically Anglican and Catholic...

Tracts for New Enquirers: Roots - The Oxford Movement and The Prayer Book

In the 1800s, the Anglican Church had a revival, a new birth of faith and practice, which is called the Catholic Revival, the Tractarian Movement, or the Oxford Movement. Our Church today is the heir of this wonderful re-starting of Anglo-Catholic belief and worship. This movement, of which we are members, is called 'Tractarian' because the Priests who started it shared their faith in tracts, or little books they wrote. It is also called the Oxford Movement because it began at Oxford University in England.

The Oxford Movement recovered the faith and teaching of the Book of Common Prayer; its founders and leaders did not go outside the Prayer Book to find the Catholic Faith of Christ: it was waiting there all the while to be believed again. The Oxford Movement served the Church by showing her again that the official teaching of the Anglican Church is Catholic AND is found in the Prayer Book. The Prayer Book contains all the essential parts of the Faith and Sacraments. It also continues the traditional Church Year, the feasts and fasts that teach major doctrines and mark the important times of the year. The Prayer Book also helps Christians lead a life of discipline and personal prayer. The Book of Common Prayer is 80% Holy Scripture, and explains the meaning of the Bible. This is what the Oxford Movement wanted: the Doctrine of the Bible and the BCP.

Here are the contents of the Prayer Book - the whole Church's system of prayer and worship is in it:

1. Psalms and Lessons for the Christian Year
2. The Calendar
3. Table and Rules for Feasts, Fasts and Days of Supplication
4. Tables for finding Holy Days
5. The Order for Daily Morning Prayer
6. The Order for Daily Evening Prayer
7. Prayers and Thanksgivings
8. The Litany
9. The Penitential Office for Ash Wednesday
10. The Order for the Administration of the Holy Communion
11. Collects, Epistles and Gospels
12. The Ministration of Holy Baptism
13. Offices of Instruction
14. The Order of Confirmation
15. The Solemnization of Matrimony
16. The Thanksgiving of Women after Child-birth
17. The Order of the Visitation of the Sick
18. The Communion of the Sick
19. The Order for the Burial of the Dead
20. The Psalter or Psalms of David
21. The Form of Ordaining Bishops, Priests and Deacons
22. The Litany for Ordinations
23. The Form of Consecration of a Church or Chapel
24. The Office of Institution of Ministers
25. The Catechism
26. Form of Prayer for Families
27. The Articles of Religion

In truth, the Ordinal, the service for ordaining Bishops, Priests and Deacons, and the Articles of Religion are not part of the Book of Common Prayer itself but are published with it in one book.

As hoped by the Catholic Revival, anyone who uses the Prayer Book as the BCP intends gets a full course in the Apostolic Faith and practice every single year. The Prayer Book is simple enough to be used by laymen and clergymen alike. The clergy say Morning and Evening Prayer daily. Many lay people also pray these Offices each day too. The Prayer Book is in English so that those who use it can understand its meaning. Many, many people have joined our Church by reading the Book of Common Prayer or by attending the services offered with it. The Prayer Book speaks for itself.

The Movement which brought about a return to the Prayer Book and Prayer Book Catholic doctrine started at Oriel College at Oxford University. Four men were its first leaders. Father John Keble (1792-1866) was the son of a Priest and was himself ordained. A famous poet, he became professor of poetry at Oxford and wrote a book called The Christian Year. Father John Henry Newman (1801-1890) was a famous teacher, writer and Priest of Oxford's University Church of Saint Mary's. Dr Edward Bouverie Pusey (1800-1882) was a great Priest scholar and professor of Hebrew at Oxford. Father Richard Hurrell Froude (1803-1836) was a Priest and teacher at Oxford and died at a very young age. The Oxford Movement began with a sermon preached by John Keble in 1833, in which he taught that the Church is the Body of Jesus Christ, God's Family, not to be controlled by the government of the country. The Church, he taught, has its authority and power directly from Jesus Christ and the Apostles, and should never be told what to do by any country or state. He also taught that the Sacraments and Ministry of the Church come from Jesus Christ and not from any other source.

Tracts for New Enquirers: The Oxford Movement - How The Church Got Her Groove Back

The story of the Catholic Revival continues when a meeting of clergy was held in a town in England called Hadleigh. The Priests who gathered there agreed to teach the Catholic Faith and to show what the real teaching of the English Church is. To do this, a series of popular little books or tracts was put out at Oxford with the title of Tracts for the Times. Our four leaders, Keble, Newman, Pusey and Froude, were among the first authors. The teaching of the Prayer Book and of the Anglican Fathers of the 1500s was put forward. These men also published a series of books called The Library of the Anglo-Catholic Fathers. This series showed that the Anglicans of the 1500s and 1600s taught the same beliefs that were taught in the ancient Church of the 300s and 400s. The Church's teaching is always the same. Anglicans should always be proud to call themselves Anglo-Catholics.

In 1841, John Henry Newman wrote a tract called Tract 90. This Tract, the last one in the Tracts for the Times, taught Anglicans that the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion, found at the back of the Prayer Book, do not reject any Catholic doctrine or any part of Catholic worship. Many people did not understand the meaning of John's tract because for so long they had understood the Faith of the Church wrongly. Many people hated this little book because their ideas about the Church were wrong - nevertheless, Tract 90 helps us even today to understand what the Articles of Religion really mean.

The Catholic Revival did not invent anything new; it only kept the Faith as it has always been believed and practiced in the Church of England. Unfortunately, because so many people were confused by the little book of John Henry Newman, he felt he could no longer stay in the Anglican Church, and so he left in 1845. The leadership of the Oxford Movement passed to Doctor Edward Pusey. Father John Keble went to become a country Priest. As the most respected man in Oxford, Dr Pusey rose to defend and teach the Truth in a very powerful way. He was the greatest scholar of his age. Pusey brought back the Sacrament of Penance, or Confession, to the Church of England. He helped many young men become Priests. He was a Saint; he had a deep life of prayer, and helped others to pray. He built a great parish and gave away his money to help the poor. The Anglican Province of America, with the whole Anglican Church, is what it is today because of men like Dr Pusey and the other leaders of the Catholic Revival.

But the Oxford Movement wasn't just in Oxford: it spread like a wildfire all over England... and then America. Another great Anglo-Catholic Priest and leader was Father John Mason Neale. A Priest, husband and father, Father John helped bring back Religious Life, monks and nuns, to the Anglican Church. Yes! That's right, the Anglican Church has monks and nuns - they are called Religious or monastics. Fr Neale was an expert on liturgy and worship and wrote-out most of the hymns now found in our Hymnal 1940. With Dr Pusey's help, in 1841, the first Anglican nun since the Reformation took her vows. In 1849, the first Religious Order for women was created at Oxford, the Society of the Holy and Undivided Trinity. The first convent in the Anglican Church since the Reformation was formed in 1845. The first Mother Superior was Priscilla Lydia Sellon. The first Religious Order for men, the Society of Saint John the Evangelist, was formed by Father Richard Meux Benson in 1866.

The Catholic Revival began as a Movement of the mind and heart - it first wanted to teach and instruct people about the Faith. It taught two main ideas that we should hold very dear today:

1. The Church is the Body of Jesus Christ, not made by man but by God. The Church is the Home of the Holy Spirit.

2. The Sacraments are God's means of grace. God conveys His Grace, His Life, in the Sacraments.

The Oxford Movement held to the importance of the Church and Sacraments. But, the Movement also wanted prayer and devotion. Spiritual life, fed by prayer and Sacrament, was returned to the Church. The Oxford Movement then restored beautiful ritual and ceremonial to the Church, to show in outward ways, by sight, touch, taste, smell and sound, the mystery of God's presence in His Church. Catholic life was taken into parishes. People who had no education or could not read were taught the Faith by outward signs and symbols. The people were shown in dramatic ways the Real Presence of Our Lord's Body and Blood in the Holy Eucharist. This could only be done by treating the Most Blessed Sacrament with amazing reverence, adoration and love. It is the Mass that matters.

The Catholic Revival also gave birth to new missionary work. Monks and nuns preached to pagan people who had never heard the Gospel before. Several groups were created to do missions. The greatest missionary of the Catholic Revival was Bishop Frank Weston (1871-1924) of Zanzibar, Africa. He built up a strong Diocese and served as a defender of the orthodox Faith.

Tracts for New Enquirers: Catholicism - The Whole Faith For The Whole World

Why do we call our Faith the Catholic Faith? Because the word Catholic means 'according to the whole' or 'fullness.' The word Catholic also means 'Universal' or 'worldwide.' The Catholic Faith is the Faith once delivered unto the Saints, which has been believed by all Christians, in every place, for all time. Those who believe the whole Faith given by Christ to the whole world are called Catholics. The Catholic Faith has been believed everywhere, always and by all.

Our Holy Mother is the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church:

The Church is One, because her members agree in One Faith, have the same Sacrifice and Sacraments, and are members of the One Christ.

The Church is Holy, because she teaches holy doctrine and offers to all her children means of holiness.

The Church is Catholic, because she endures through all ages, teaches all nations, and is the one Ark of Salvation for all.

The Church is Apostolic, because she holds the doctrine of the Apostles and derives her Orders and Mission from them.

The Catholic Faith, that is, the Faith of Christ's Church, is shown forth with traditional ceremonies, which include the vestments of the Priests, the Altar and its candles, Cross, and cloths, and special music and ritual. Anglicans show great respect and dignity to the Altar, which represents Christ. The centre and heart of the Catholic Faith is the Holy Eucharist, or the Holy Mass, which is celebrated every Sunday and Holy Day. The Mass has always been the chief service of the Church. We best prepare for Mass and Holy Communion by going to our Priest for Confession, in which we confess our sins to God and receive Absolution, or the grace of forgiveness for our sins from God.

Many Priests of the Catholic Revival have worked very hard to spread this Faith we believe. Father Charles Lowder (1820-1880) formed a special group of Priests called the Society of the Holy Cross for this purpose. He built a lovely parish Church in the poorest part of London and gave his life in service to the poor. He helped bring back the beauty and reverence of Anglican services. Other wonderful Priests like Father Robert Dolling (1851-1902) and Father Arthur Stanton (1839-1913) built
up the Catholic Faith in the poorest parts of some of the poorest cities in the world. The saintly Bishop of Lincoln, Edward King (1829-1910), lived the Catholic Faith in his ministry and amongst his people. Wonderful laymen like Charles Lindley Wood (1839-1934) put together groups like the English Church Union to spread the Faith. These are but a few heroes of the Anglo-Catholic way.

The Anglican Church is not protestant; she differs from protestants in that she keeps Apostolic Succession and her book of worship teaches the traditional faith. The Anglican Church keeps the doctrine and morals which she had before the Reformation. Anglicans believe that the Mind of Christ is the Mind of the Whole Church. Only that which has been taught at all times, in all places, by all good teachers, and confirmed by the Bible, is held by Anglicans to be true belief and teaching. No individual person can claim to be the only authority for the Church; individual people cannot make up the Faith for themselves. Only the Church as a whole has authority to define the Christian Faith. All Churches that keep the Apostolic Succession and the Creeds share a common belief about what is essential for Christians to believe. For Anglicans, the final authority for what we believe and how we act is the universal, or Catholic, teaching of the whole Church throughout all ages. Nothing less than this will do.

But there is also freedom in the Anglican Church. Since only that which the whole Church of all times has believed is what is required, things which the whole Church has not decided on can be left up to people to believe or not to believe. 'In essentials, unity, in non-essentials, diversity, and in all things, charity or love.' The Catholic faith is the same, yesterday, today and forever. In the end, it wins.

To be Catholic means to include in the Church many different ideas and points of view concerning those things which are not essential to salvation. We call this inclusiveness or being inclusive. Another word for it is 'comprehensive.' The Church comprehends, that is, brings together, different ideas or views in one Family. One of the Anglican Church's greatest strengths is her freedom of thought, ideas and expression. People may differ on how many candles should be on the Altar or what kind of vestments a Priest may wear, but, in the Anglican Church, with a shared Prayer Book, Creed, and Ministry, they agree on what is really important. And that's also being whole, complete, entire, full - Catholic.

Now you know a lot about the Anglican Church!

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Tracts for New Enquirers: The Book of Common Prayer - Glory Since 1549

The Apostolic Succession is the lifeline that keeps the Anglican Church joined to Christ and the whole Catholic Church which He instituted, the Body of Christ. The Book of Common Prayer has preserved for the Anglican Church the whole Catholic Faith as it has been handed down from the Apostles. The Prayer Book is a unique feature of Anglicanism.

In 1534, King Henry the VIII, the King of England, separated the Church of England from the Church of Rome. He did so in order to save (as he saw it) his country by preserving the kingdom. His first wife could not have a son. Without a son, no rightful heir would come to England's throne. The Bishop of Rome forbade King Henry from putting away his first wife and re-marrying, although his first marriage was actually illegal according to Church law. Many people in England were also tired of paying taxes to Rome. At the time, the Pope was a king, a political ruler who required people to pay him taxes if they wished to remain in communion with him. The Pope directed the affairs of the English Church from abroad. With the support of many English people, and by act of the English Parliament, the ancient Church in England separated herself from the Bishop of Rome and began to reform herself. The Church King Henry separated from Rome existed before the Reformation. She has existed since the first century. She is Apostolic and she is ancient. King Henry did not form a new Church at all. He introduced the independence of the ancient Church of the English people.

The Church of England was not a new Church - she was the old Catholic Church in England, which was renewed and restored to earlier and more biblical doctrines and practices. 'Where was your face before you washed it?' Part of the reform of the English Church was allowing Bishops, Priests and Deacons to marry. Another reform was returning the reading and study of Scripture to the people in their own language. Another was the restoration of Holy Communion for the laity under both kinds or forms of Bread and Wine. Yet another, most importantly, was the recovered emphasis on the primacy and authority of Holy Scripture as containing all things necessary to salvation. Another reform was the restoring of the worship of the Church to the people in their own language. Before, it had been in Latin. During the reign of King Edward VI, King Henry the VIII's son, in 1549, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer, compiled a book of prayers which includes all the essential services of the Christian Church. The Book of Common Prayer is a Catholic book, because it contains the prayers, rites and ceremonies of the Catholic Church. It is in English so that English-speaking people can understand it and use it in worship. The Prayer Book has preserved the Faith during many hard times in Church history, when people tried to change or even destroy the teaching of the Church of England.

Even when people have tried to impose their own false views on the Prayer Book, it has served to keep together what the Church actually believes. In fact, some people have kept on using the Prayer Book even when they have not believed what it teaches. The Prayer Book contains the official teaching of the Church. Next to the Holy Bible, the Book of Common Prayer is the authority for what Anglicans believe, teach and pray. It is the great responsibility of the Church to make sure that nothing is taught about the Christian Faith which is contrary to the Holy Scriptures and the Book of Common Prayer.

The Church and Prayer Book teach and the Bible proves truth. Anglicans have been able to keep right doctrine (which we call ORTHODOXY) throughout the centuries because of their love of the Prayer Book. During the reign of Queen Elizabeth I in the 1500s, people who believed the errors taught by a man named John Calvin were corrected by the Prayer Book - as the reformed Catholic Settlement was established. When Puritans, who rejected the Catholic nature of the Church, attacked the King and the Church of England in the 1600s, it was the Prayer Book which preserved and saved for Anglicans the Catholic Faith. In the 1700s the Prayer Book's teaching was ignored by many people - but it remained an unchanged witness to the truth. In the 1800s, the Book of Common Prayer produced the Catholic Revival, which caused the rebirth of Anglicanism. In the 1900s, the Church struggled to preserve the Prayer Book and did so in the Continuing Church. We keep the Prayer Book to this day.

Here are the important versions of the Book of Common Prayer:

1.1549 (English) - compiled by Archbishop Thomas Cranmer

2.1552 (English) - never officially accepted by the Church

3.1559 (English) - the Prayer Book of the Elizabethan Settlement

4.1604 (English) - a slight revision made by King James I

5.1637 (Scottish) - issued by Saint Charles I King and Martyr and Blessed William Laud, Archbishop

6.1662 (English) - restored with the Church, official Book of the Church of England

7.1764 (Scottish) - official Book of the Scottish Episcopal Church

8.1789 (American) - first Book of the American Church, based on the Scottish Book

9.1892 (American) - updated version for the American Church

10.1928 (American) - official Book of the Continuing Church

The history of the Prayer Book is really the history of the Anglican Church. In addition to the Book of Common Prayer, Traditional Anglicans also use the Missals, which provide extra collects, epistle readings, and Gospel readings for weekday Masses and special Feast Days.

Tracts for New Enquirers: Anglicanism - Yesterday, Today and For All Time

The Anglican Province of America is an Anglican Church, which means she is a part or branch of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church founded by Jesus Christ our Lord. The Church is the Body of Christ, the Divine Family, of which Our Lord is the Head and all the Baptized are the members - and in which Bishops, Priests and Deacons minister and the Sacraments are given. The Anglican Church is the Catholic Church founded by Jesus Christ and found in Great Britain, the United States, and other English-speaking countries. Anglicans are Catholics who belong to the English Church.

The Church founded by Our Lord has the Faith, Order and Sacraments which Jesus Christ gave to the Twelve Apostles. The Anglican Church receives from Christ the same teaching, ministry and Sacraments that He gave to the Apostles. The Anglican Church is an episcopal Church, which means 'Church of Bishops.' The Anglican Church is governed, that is, led, by men called Bishops. The word Bishop means 'overseer' or 'supervisor.' Bishops have the exact same ministry which Jesus gave to the Apostles. The Bishops are the Apostles of Jesus Christ today. Only Bishops can ordain other Bishops. Only Bishops can ordain Priests and Deacons. Only Bishops give Confirmation. The Apostles handed down their authority to teach, govern, and bless to the Bishops. The Bishops of the Church are the Successors of the Apostles. The Bishops of the Anglican Church descend directly from the ancient Church. The Body of Jesus Christ, the Catholic Church, always has Bishops as its leaders. The Catholic Church is present only where Bishops lead. No Bishop, no Church.

The Anglican Province of America, because she is an Anglican Church, has received her Bishops, Ministry and Sacraments from the English Church. 'Anglican' means 'English' or 'British.' The Anglican Church comes from England, where the Church is called the Church of England. The faith, teaching and worship of the Anglican Church originally come from the Church of England. Our Bishops have an English Succession, meaning that the Bishops who consecrated our Bishops originally came from Great Britain.

The service book which contains all the essential services or liturgies of the Anglican Church is called The Book of Common Prayer. 'Liturgy' means 'work of the people.' All true Anglican Churches use the Book of Common Prayer, which was created in 1549.

The Book of Common Prayer takes all of the ancient services of the early Church and translates them into beautiful English. Each Anglican Church in each country has its own government, with the right to draw up its own constitution (the document which it uses to govern itself) and to create or revise its own Book of Common Prayer. All true Anglican Churches recognise that the faith and doctrine of Christ's Holy Catholic Church is best expressed in the Book of Common Prayer. The Prayer Book is the chief bond which has always held Anglicans together as the Church.

The Anglican Church is part of the Catholic Church because she has kept what is called Apostolic Succession. Together with the Faith of the Church found in Holy Scripture and Holy Tradition, and with the Seven Sacraments, Apostolic Succession is necessary for the Church's life and ministry.

What is essential to Anglican belief?

Anglicans share with the whole Catholic and Apostolic Church of Christ:

1. The Holy Scriptures: The 39 Books of the Old Testament, the 27 Books of the New Testament, and at least 7 Books of the Apocrypha.

2. The Three Creeds: The Apostles' Creed, the Nicene Creed, and the Creed of Saint Athanasius (the Athanasian).

3. The Seven Holy Sacraments:

a. The two Greater or Dominical Sacraments of the Gospel: Holy Baptism and the Holy Eucharist or Holy Communion.

b. The five Lesser Sacraments: Confirmation, Holy Orders, Matrimony, Penance and Unction of the Sick.

4. The Apostolic Ministry of Bishops, Priests and Deacons.

Our succession of Bishops ordained by Bishops right back to the Apostles is a lifeline that hands-down and safeguards the teaching, faith, ministry and Sacraments of Jesus Christ. Apostolic Succession means that the Bishops, Priests and Deacons of the Church can trace their ordinations in a direct line, a chain, straight back to Our Lord and the Apostles. Apostolic Succession is the authority and commission of Christ which guarantees that the Sacraments convey grace. Men ordained in Apostolic Succession act not in their own name or power, but in the Name and power of Christ, who gives them His power in Ordination. Only Bishops, Priests and Deacons act in Christ's Name in this way. We call this the Sacrament of Holy Orders.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Sacerdotal Celibacy in the Latin Rite

Concerning sacerdotal celibacy, another altogether more traditional perspective from the Roman Communion:

A selection from The Form of the Priesthood and the Formation of Priests

Father Jay Scott Newman

Pastor of St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Greenville, South Carolina

As recorded in Chapter 19 of St. Matthew’s Gospel, the Lord Jesus proposed celibacy as a freely chosen and permanent state of life and as a witness to the kingdom of heaven, and this was a true revolution in Judaism. Because marriage is, as the Nuptial Blessing puts it, the one blessing that was not forfeited by original sin or washed away in the flood, and because we are commanded by the one, only, living and true God to be fruitful and multiply, marriage was considered by Jews to be not simply a happy domestic arrangement but a sacred duty. And for this reason, not being married was usually thought of as at least a tragedy and perhaps a punishment. Scholars tell us that religiously motivated celibacy was a feature of life in the Essene community to which it seems John the Baptist had connections, but this was surely outside the mainstream of Jewish life.

From the time of the Apostles, however, celibacy for the sake of the kingdom has been a regular feature of Christian life in the Catholic and Orthodox Churches, and although there is no essential or intrinsic connection between the priesthood and perpetual celibacy, it has long been required for priestly ordination in the Latin Church because it is held to be most fitting for the priestly life. The Second Vatican Council expressed that conviction this way:

“Perfect and perpetual continence for the sake of the kingdom of heaven was recommended by Christ the Lord. It has been freely accepted and laudably observed by many Christians down through the centuries as well as in our own time, and has always been highly esteemed in a special way by the Church as a feature of priestly life. For it is at once a sign of pastoral charity and an incentive to it, as well as being in a special way a source of spiritual fruitfulness in the world. It is true that it is not demanded of the priesthood by its nature. This is clear from the practice of the primitive Church and the tradition of the Eastern Churches where in addition to those—including all bishops—who choose from the gift of grace to preserve celibacy, there are also many excellent married priests. While recommending ecclesiastical celibacy this sacred Council does not by any means aim at changing that contrary discipline which is lawfully practiced in the Eastern Churches. Rather, the Council affectionately exhorts all those who have received the priesthood in the married state to persevere in their holy vocation and continue to devote their lives fully and generously to the flock entrusted to them.” (Presbyterorum Ordinis, 16)

But, the Council continues, “there are many ways in which celibacy is in harmony with the priesthood. For the whole mission of the priest is dedicated to the service of the new humanity which Christ, the victor over death, raises up in the world through his Spirit and which is born ‘not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God’ (John 1:13). By preserving virginity or celibacy for the sake of the kingdom of heaven, priests are consecrated in a new and excellent way to Christ. They more readily cling to him with undivided heart and dedicate themselves more freely in him and through him to the service of God and of men. They are less encumbered in their service of his kingdom and of the task of heavenly regeneration. In this way they become better fitted for a broader acceptance of fatherhood in Christ.

“By means of celibacy, then priests profess before men their willingness to be dedicated with undivided loyalty to the task entrusted to them, namely that of espousing the faithful to one husband and presenting them as a chaste virgin to Christ. They recall that mystical marriage, established by God and destined to be fully revealed in the future, by which the Church holds Christ as her only spouse. Moreover, they are made a living sign of that world to come, already present through faith and charity, in which the children of the resurrection shall neither be married not take wives.” (Presbyterorum Ordinis, 16)

So, to summarize, although there is no necessary connection between celibacy and the priesthood, the Catholic Church finds that it is a fitting discipline for priests freely to embrace the celibate state for these reasons: to be conformed more completely to Christ, to serve more freely the people entrusted to their care, to live as Christ lived—as a spouse only to the Church, and to bear witness to the life to come in which there is no marriage. There are and always have been married priests in the Catholic Church, but in the Western Church for more than a thousand years, the norm has been and continues to be that only celibate males are eligible for priestly ordination.

This public commitment to a life without marriage and therefore a life without sex quite naturally makes Catholic priests objects of ridicule and contempt when we do not live according to that promise, and this is true most of all when the misconduct either is homosexual or is with minors or both. The notorious scandals of the past several years have caused many in the Catholic Church to ask if its time to reconsider the commitment to celibacy for priests, but the basic response of Church authorities so far seems be this: First, celibacy no more causes unchastity than marriage causes adultery, and second, the general promiscuity of our culture makes celibacy for the kingdom a more important witness now than it has ever been. From my own experience of these matters, I would say that the discipline of celibacy for priests is here to stay.

May 2024 Comprovincial Newsletter

The Comprovincial Newsletter for May 2024 -