Friday, November 14, 2014

"Francis gives the passport to married Eastern priests. Valid in the whole world."

Well this is pretty huge: the Holy Father has lifted most restrictions on the ministry of married Eastern Catholic priests worldwide. A decree from the Congregation for Oriental Churches was published back in June. Magister has a piece on it in his (Italian only) blog. In the US, in my understanding, married men were being admitted to presbyteral orders quite regularly, if in exception to the 1929 restriction on married men being ordained in the U.S. (which sparked a huge schism in the Ruthenian Church.), on a "case-by-case and exceptional basis," since 2008.

The document refers to Anglicanorum Coetibus (Pope Benedict XVI's 2009 historical and rather radical outreach to dissatisfied Anglicans: under those norms, married men could remain married and not only be ordained priests [a dispensation from the requirement for celibacy in the Latin Rite granted under John Paul II under the "Pastoral Provision"], but also have the rights and privileges belonging to Ordinaries -- i.e. juridical equivalents of Bishops, without the sacramental ordination into that rank of Holy Orders). It also provides a history of the restrictions in the US and the American continent of married Eastern Catholic priests.

The three modalities of exercise of the faculty to ordain married men by Eastern Churches outside their historical territory (where they already enjoy this faculty by tradition and law) outlined by "Pontificia Praecepta Pro Ecclesiis Orientalibus" are:

- in Eastern jurisdictions (Eparchies, Metroplitanates, Exarchies), the hierarchy has the right to ordain married men according to the tradition of their respective Church, but should inform in writing the local Latin bishops (where the candidate is from) and avail of any relevant information and opinion. 

- in areas without a local Eastern hierarchy, the faculty is given to the Ordinary who has their care, as long as the local Episcopal Conference is informed 

- in territories where Eastern Catholics do not have any administrative structure and where their care is directly the responsibility of the Latin hierarchy, this faculty is reserved to the Congregation for Eastern Churches which will exercise it in individual and exception cases, after having ascertained the opinion of the local Episcopal Conference.

[These are very rough and quick translations of the Italian]

The decree is dated June 14, 2014. However, this is the first I'm hearing of it -- and Magister published this blog only today. 

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