Monday, February 28, 2005

Priestly celibacy

I was reading the following article on priestly celibacy ...

Shrinking number of priests versus the increasing number of permanent deacons
Answered by Peter Howard, STL

... and found this part quite interesting:

"We often think WE become deacons and priests, when it is precisely CHRIST Who calls men to follow Him and participate in HIS Priesthood, NOT "our priesthood". There are many excellent reasons for Christ's perfect decision to live celibate and ask His followers to live celibate and those reasons are found right in Sacred Scripture. Celibacy, for example, was found in the Old Testament during two events: Temporary celibacy for men who were in battle and when there was a theophany. You [find] this in the story of Uriah and David in 2 Samuel 11 and when David ate the loaves of the perpetual presence in 1 Samuel 21 where the condition to eat the holy loaves of perpetual presence was that David and his followers "kept themselves from women."

Well, in the priesthood, they are in a perpetual battle against evil and they are at a theophany as they administer the sacraments, especially when they act in the person of Christ at the Mass and when Christ works through them to administer absolution in the sacrament of Penance. They are perpetually united to the High Priesthood of Christ by the nature of their priestly character which, like our Baptism, is an indelible mark making them a "priest forever".

Therefore, celibacy is a gift because it allows priests to love with an undivided heart and moreover, to love as Christ loves -- totally and without ties to the world. And since celibacy is a gift from God, He will protect it, but priests must be faithful to Christ or, like the Apostles who falied to "watch and pray" in the Garden, they will abandon their call to stay with Christ and gave into temptation and fear."

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Attending Protestant Services

I've been asked whether it is permissable for a Catholic to attend Protestant services. Some have indicated that this was a sin. I disagree.

Some schismatic Lefebrvists in the past have insisted to me that this was a sin because the Church prohibited it, quoting from Pope Pius XI, Mortalium Animos, 1928:
"it is clear that the Apostolic See cannot on any terms take part in their [pan-Christian] assemblies, nor is it anyway lawful for Catholics either to support or to work for such enterprises; for if they do so they will be giving countenance to a false Christianity, quite alien to the one Church of Christ."

I assert that this canonical discipline is not entirely immutable. Such disciplinary norms were necessary in 1928, and are certainly still necessary today insofar as Catholics are prohibited to "give countenance to false a Christianity." Likewise, the 1917 Code of Canon Law, canon 1325 forbade Catholics to engage in debates or conferences with non-Catholics without the permission of the Holy See. That the law explicitly stated that permission could be given by the Holy See shows that this was never meant to be immutable dogma, but a canonical discipline that can be dispensed or abrogated in certain situations. The 1917 canon seems to be at least partially abrogated by Paul VI, NOSTRA AETATE, 1965:

"The Church, therefore, exhorts her sons, that through dialogue and collaboration with the followers of other religions, carried out with prudence and love and in witness to the Christian faith and life, they recognize, preserve and promote the good things, spiritual and moral, as well as the socio-cultural values found among these men."

... as well as the 1983 Code of Canon Law, canon 755.

Can. 755

§1. It is above all for the entire college of bishops and the Apostolic See to foster and direct among Catholics the ecumenical movement whose purpose is the restoration among all Christians of the unity which the Church is bound to promote by the will of Christ.

§2. It is likewise for the bishops and, according to the norm of law, the conferences of bishops to promote this same unity and to impart practical norms according to the various needs and opportunities of the circumstances; they are to be attentive to the prescripts issued by the supreme authority of the

Pope John Paul II affirmed in his encyclical letter Ecclesia de Eucharistia, number 30:
"It is unthinkable to substitute for Sunday Mass ecumenical
celebrations of the word or services of common prayer with Christians from the aforementioned ecclesial communities, or even participation in their own liturgical services. Such celebrations and services, however praiseworthy in
certain situations
, prepare for the goal of full communion, including eucharistic communion, but they cannot replace it”.

Note that the "ecumenical celebrations of the word or services of common prayer" and even "participation in their own liturgical services" are called "praiseworthy in certain situations." So situationally dependent, such services are not prohibited, nor sinful, but "praiseworthy." Yet it is emphasized that they "cannot replace" Sunday Mass.

Moreover, if by "active participation" in Protestant services, one gives "countenance to a false Christianity" which means the appearance of approval to doctrines and practices contrary to the Catholic faith, then such active participation in this sense is prohibited. In such instances, we act contrary to our faith which we are obliged to profess always, in our words and deeds. The Catholic profession of faith is fundamentally different than Protestant ecclesiology, epistemology, and with regard to many theological doctrines and liturgical practices. We must always avoid countenance to Protestant beliefs and practices which are contary to Catholicism.

Catholics can, however, in certain situations "observe" Protestant services for educational and ecumenical purposes to deepen one's understanding of that particular ecclesial community, and to foster all that can lead to unity and harmony, all the while being careful not to give even the appearance of approval of a false Christianity. So, one must act prudently, weighing the ecumenical value against the risk of giving countenance to a false Christianity.

Pius XI's words are not contrary to ecumenism, but rather protect the Church from a false or misguided ecumenism which confuses the identity, purpose, and mission of the Catholic Church which possesses the fullness of truth and communion with Jesus Christ with something less.

The goal of ecumenism is to bring all into fullness of communion with Jesus Christ in "one, holy, catholic, and apostolic" church as we profess every Sunday. We do this through honest and charitable dialogue, fervent prayer, and challenging our Protestant brothers and sisters to seek the truth. Dialogue for the sake of dialogue is fruitless. It must be an honest dialogue seeking the truth and the intention of Jesus Christ.

The following excerpt from the Pontifical Council for Fostering Christian Unity is also significant:

"In liturgical celebrations taking place in other Churches and ecclesial Communities, Catholics are encouraged to take part in the psalms, responses, hymns and common actions of the Church in which they are guests. If invited by their hosts, they may read a lesson or preach." (Pontifical Council for Fostering Christian Unity, Directory for the Application of Principles and Norms on Ecumenism, Ch.IV , par. 118, Mar 25, 1993, approved by Pope John Paul II)

It is also important to note that in the same document, the Church continues to caution against indifferentism:
"Each party [of a mixed marriage], while continuing to be faithful to his or her Christian commitment and to the practice of it, should seek to foster all that can lead to unity and harmony, without minimizing real differences and while avoiding an attitude of religious indifference." (ibid, par. 148)

So, while in certain situations taking part in Protestant services is "praiseworthy," and "encouraged" we must always avoid "coutenance to a false Christianity."

Portions of the above answer comes from discussions with Peter Howard, STL, Dir, of Communications, Diocese of Colorado Springs, which can be read in full here:

Participation in Protestant Services (10 Dec 2004)
Participation in Protestant Services -- PART II (13 Dec 2004)

Does the Bible have errors in it?

There are some Christians, influenced by modernist Biblical scholarship, who assert that there are errors in Sacred Scripture. Although some recent liberal Catholic Bible scholars often take this view as well, the official doctrine of the Catholic Church teaches that everything the sacred writer asserts in Sacred Scripture is free from all error.

Here is the view from new Biblical theorists:
"[C]ritical investigation points to religious limitations and even errors [in Scripture.]" (Brown, R., The Critical Meaning of the Bible, Paulist Press, NY, 1981, pg. 16, Imprimatur: Bishop O'Keefe, NY).

"Well, critical investigations also point to religious errors in the Bible, for example, Job's denial of an afterlife."
(Brown, R., Theological Studies, March 1981, pgs. 18-19).
In contrast, MSgr. George A. Kelly, whose book also ironically carries the Imprimatur of the same Bishop O'Keefe of NY, asserts:
"If the Bible can err on truths that pertain to God's revelation of himself and to man's salvation, then Christianity itself comes across to modern-minded people as incredible.... This subject--the inerrancy of scripture--is probably the chief area of disagreement between the Catholic Church and her new biblical theorists [such as Raymond Brown]. ... Like the Church, scripture cannot be wrong about what God has revealed. ... " (Kelly, G., The New Biblical Theorists - Raymond E. Brown and Beyond, Servant Books, MI, 1983, P. 153-154, Imprimatur: Bishop O'Keefe, NY).
Taking the position opposed to Fr. Raymond Brown, MSgr. George Kelly quotes from Vatican II peritus Cardinal Augustin Bea:
"'In fact, we declare in general that there is no limit set to this inerrancy, and that it applies to all that the inspired writer, and therefore all that the Holy Spirit by his means, affirms' .... Certain scholars do not accept this. ... Brown insinuates a denial of inspiration and inerrancy as the Church defines
" (ibid., 155).
The Vatican II Constitution on Divine Revelation is called Dei Verbum (1965). It seems to me that in context with footnote 5 of Dei Verbum par. 11, Paul VI shows the intent of Vatican II's teaching on inerrancy, by which he cites and affirms the teachings of Pius XII's Divino Afflante Spiritu:

"it is absolutely wrong and forbidden ... to admit that the sacred writer has erred.... This is the ancient and constant faith of the Church." (Pius XII, Divino Afflante Spiritu, 1943)