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And Away We Go: Pope Francis Poised to Abolish Priestly Celibacy

Fatima Perspectives #1375

In an article published by LifeSiteNews, Professor Roberto de Mattei reveals a leaked portion of Pope Francis’s imminent “apostolic exhortation” following his sham synod on the Amazon.  That synod, of course, was a blatantly contrived vehicle for the abolition of priestly celibacy in the Amazon so as to create the exception that would become the rule. 

The leaked passage, translated by LifeSite’s Diane Montagna, essentially recapitulates the infamous paragraph 111 of the sham synod’s final document:

“Many of the Church communities in the Amazonian territory have enormous difficulties in attending the Eucharist. Sometimes it takes not just months but even several years before a priest can return to a community to celebrate the Eucharist, offer the sacrament of reconciliation or anoint the sick in the community.

We appreciate celibacy as a gift of God to the extent that this gift enables the missionary disciple, ordained to the priesthood, to dedicate himself fully to the service of the Holy People of God. It stimulates pastoral charity, and we pray that there will be many vocations living the celibate priesthood. We know that this discipline ‘is not demanded by the very nature of the priesthood’ (PO 16) although there are many practical reasons for it. In his encyclical on priestly celibacy, St. Paul VI maintained this law and set out theological, spiritual and pastoral motivations that support it. In 1992, the post-synodal exhortation of St. John Paul II on priestly formation confirmed this tradition in the Latin Church (cf. PDV 29).

“Considering that legitimate diversity does not harm the communion and unity of the Church, but rather expresses and serves it (cf. LG 13; OE 6), witness the plurality of existing rites and disciplines, we propose that criteria and dispositions be established by the competent authority, within the framework of Lumen Gentium 26, to ordain as priests suitable and respected men of the community with a legitimately constituted and stable family, who have had a fruitful permanent diaconate and receive an adequate formation for the priesthood, in order to sustain the life of the Christian community through the preaching of the Word and the celebration of the Sacraments in the most remote areas of the Amazon region.”

Notice the classic Modernist two-step:  Priestly celibacy is a gift. Priestly celibacy is just wonderful. Priestly celibacy is even traditional.  Indeed, Paul VI and John Paul II affirmed the tradition of priestly celibacy. Let priestly celibacy continue! 

Followed by: Now let’s get rid of priestly celibacy in the Amazon, so that we can open the door to getting rid of it anywhere else a married priesthood strikes the local bishop as a good idea.  For, after all, this wonderful gift of priestly celibacy “is not demanded by the very nature of the priesthood.”   As if one could dispense with a tradition of Apostolic origin in the Roman Rite — in imitation of the priestly celibacy of Christ Himself — merely because it is ontologically possible to ordain a married man, as is the discipline in certain Eastern rites.

It is no wonder that, in anticipation of his coup against priestly celibacy, Francis and his collaborators bullied Benedict XVI into retracting his co-authorship with Cardinal Sarah of From the Depth of Our Hearts, wherein Benedict writes:

“The ability to renounce marriage in order to place oneself totally at the Lord’s disposal is a criterion for the priestly ministry… As for the concrete form of celibacy in the ancient Church, it should also be pointed out that married men could only receive the sacrament of Holy Orders if they had committed themselves to sexual abstinence, that is to say, to a Josephite marriage. Such a situation seems to have been quite normal during the first centuries.”

As for Cardinal Sarah’s contribution to the book, he rightly protests that priestly celibacy “is a liberation. It allows the priest to establish himself coherently in his identity as spouse of the Church. The project of depriving communities and priests of this joy is not a work of mercy. I cannot in conscience, as a son of Africa, support the idea that the peoples on the road to evangelization should be deprived of this encounter with a priesthood lived to the full. The peoples of Amazonia have the right to a full experience of Christ the Bridegroom. They cannot be offered ‘second class’ priests.”

But “second class priests” is exactly what Francis has in mind, as the married “elders” to be ordained in the Amazon will not only be married without a commitment to abstinence, as in the early Church, they will also lack anything like a proper seminary formation.

In a further broadside against the coming subversion of ecclesiastical law, Cardinal Sarah writes:

“Priestly celibacy is not a simple canonical discipline. If the law of celibacy is weakened, even for a single region, it will open a breach, a wound in the mystery of the Church. There is an ontological-sacramental link between the priesthood and celibacy. This link reminds us that the Church is a mystery, a gift from God that does not belong to us. We cannot create a priesthood for married men without damaging the priesthood of Jesus Christ and His Bride, the Church.”

Nor does Cardinal Sarah buy the argument that what Francis is planning would be only an “exception” to the still-normative discipline of celibacy.  Just as I maintain here, Sarah warns that the “exception” will quickly become the rule:

“The ordination of married men, even if they were previously permanent deacons, is not an exception, but a breach, a wound in the coherence of the priesthood. To speak of exceptions is an abuse of language or a lie (…).

“Moreover, the ordination of married men in young Christian communities would forbid the fostering of priestly vocations of unmarried priests. The exception would become a permanent state prejudicial to the proper understanding of the priesthood.

So, the Church is about to be made the victim of yet another Modernist con job: the affirmation in principle of what is denied in practice, thereby stealthily denying in principle what is disingenuously affirmed in practice.  Let us praise the “gift of celibacy” even as we toss it aside!

Only God can rescue the Church from this ruinous pontificate.  For that rescue we can only hope and pray, while offering whatever opposition is possible according to our station and our God-given right as members of the Mystical Body of Christ.  (Cf. CIC 1983, Canon 212)


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