Sunday, January 14, 2007

Fr. Dwight Longenecker in the Times

Also at Titusonenine, a link to a column by the Diocese of Charleston's most recently ordained priest in the Times (UK) on his journey into the full communion of the Catholic Church. Fr. Longenecker was ordained in Greenville, SC last month, and is the third married Catholic priest in the Diocese.
The reaction to the married men on both sides of the Atlantic has been almost universally warm-hearted and generous. There have been a few grumbles from traditionalists. There have also been grumbles from liberal Catholics who want married priests, but not this type of married priest — ones they perceive to be “dangerous conservatives”. There have also been hard feelings from some Catholic priests who left to get married and would very much like to return to ministry.

What exactly is Rome up to? Is it feeling the heat from all those who are pushing for married clergy? Is this a safe way to test the water? Is it getting ready to relax the rule about clerical celibacy? Probably not. Three years ago there were discussions about this issue and Rome came down in favour of the status quo. In November Pope Benedict met Vatican officials to discuss the matter again, and again they decided to retain clerical celibacy.

The best way to understand what the Catholic Church is up to is to reflect on the words of John Paul II to Cardinal Basil Hume when he was faced with the large number of convert Anglican clergy. The Pope was reported to have said: “Be generous to these men.” That’s all. It’s quite simple. The Catholic leadership is watching the situation in the Anglican Church very carefully, and wants to offer every gesture of generosity and support to those who wish to become Catholic.
Congratulations again, Father!

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