Footnotes to Fr. McLucas Paper
1.The Vatican signaled early on its growing indifference towards celibacy within Holy Orders by permitting widowed permanent deacons to remarry. This contradicted an ancient practice that even the Eastern Church, which permits a married clergy, does not allow.
2. John M. Haas, a convert and former member of the Episcopal clergy, in a pamphlet entitled Marriage and the Priesthood (New Rochelle, NY: Scepter Press, 1987), voiced caution in regard to what had become an institutionalized policy by the Vatican’s “Pastoral Provision” of 1982: “I knew full well that there were occasions when the Holy See permitted the ordination of married men to the priesthood. It was allowed…out of pastoral considerations for Protestant clergymen who later came to the Faith. But through my reflections I came to see why this was historically the exception rather than the norm.”
3. During the late 1980s, the Holy See requested the Commission on the Authentic Interpretation of the Code of Canon Law to review the possibility of formally admitting women to these ministries. At one point, some months after their deliberations began, I asked a member of the Commission about the pending decision. He replied that the Commission’s response had been on the desk of the Secretary of State for some time. Though unable to reveal the decision of the Commission, he seemed to indicate his own position (and possibly that of others in the group) when, after my pressing him for an opinion on the matter, he replied that women could not be admitted ministries because they were preparatory steps toward the priesthood. I expressed my surprise and asked about Ministeria Quaedam (Pope Paul’s 1972 decree that separated the ministries from their intrinsic connection to the priesthood and opened them up to laymen). He gave no reply. The implication was that there were some in Rome who considered that decree very problematical. The outcome has followed a well-worn Vatican path of recent times. The findings were shrouded in silence, the same treatment rendered to the decision of a Vatican commission that had determined the traditional Mass had never been abrogated. Present speculation has it that the Vatican plans to admit women to these ministries. What seems more likely (and calamitous) is that Rome will create a non-sacramental but formal order of Deaconess that would incorporate the roles of pastoral administrator ind assistant, lector and acolyte.
4. This is not an unimportant development, though it drew little notice. It is difficult to understand why the Vatican would see a problem with terminology without seeing the more important one of concept. This has been a pattern, however, that has governed post-Conciliar Vatican policy: endorse a substantial change in traditional practice, but avoid the use of any term that would indicate a deviation from traditional language.
5. Deacons in the Latin Rite who distributed the Eucharist prior to the decree, Ministeria Quaedam, were always celibate and in a transition period awaiting priestly ordination.
6. Interestingly, the question of why priests are not displaying greater discontent over the assumption of their duties has been raised by a layman. See Joseph H. Foegen, “Questions for Pastors,” Homiletic and Pastoral Review (November 1995).
7. Even during those periods in the history of the Church which witnessed an active diaconal office, the deacon was celibate and was utilized mainly as a direct assistant to the bishop. He was not an ordinary minister of the Eucharist. The creation of the married permanent diaconate eliminated the entwined and inseparable relationship among priesthood, celibacy and exclusive Eucharistic stewardship that had been the norm in the Western Church.
8. Even though there are many priests, the usage of the phrase, “exclusive intimacy,” for that which existed between the priest and the Eucharist is appropriate. Each priest was aware that every brother priest received the commission to be the guardian of the Presence of Him Whose priesthood they all shared. It was precisely this unique relationship with the Eucharist that was a key link in the bond among priests. The acquisition of this privilege by lay ministers has seriously contributed to the decline in priestly camaraderie.
9. This liturgical mutation was captured vividly in a video cassette, Leading the Community in Prayer: The Art Presiding for Deacons and Lay Persons produced by Liturgical Press in 1989. It displayed on the jacket a picture of a woman “presiding” at a Communion service, dressed in an alb, with a male server holding the book, as she extends her hands in prayer.
10. Bronislaw Malinowski, Sex, Culture, and Myth (New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1962).
11. It is not being suggested that literal biological fatherhood is a prerequisite for “paternal certainty.” It is being conveyed is that for a man to assume the role of a father, there must be no question that, in all things other than genetics, the one with whom he enters into a paternal relationship is unambiguously “his” child. This would have application to the spiritual fatherhood of the priest who is “Father” in the order of grace rather than nature.
12. This phenomenon is not confined to the managerial model. Often, other secular identifications are adopted, i.e., “priest-therapist,” “priest-educator,” etc. These new roles may explain why priests are encouraging women to appropriate roles heretofore reserved to their office. Women, being nurturers by nature, are more than willing to cooperate. The result for the heterosexual celibate, however, is the exchange of his sense of spiritual fatherhood for that of a “professional bachelor.”
13. David Blankenthorn, Fatherless America (New York: Harper Collins, 1995).
14. This is hardly to suggest that every case of aberrant sexual behavior is caused by the present ecclesial environment. The ecclesial structure, for a variety of reasons that would require an entirely separate discussion, is also attracting the walking wounded.
15. It does not follow that a married priesthood, in se, protects the sacred prerogatives of a priest more effectively than a celibate one. When celibacy and bachelorhood become ecclesial synonyms, however, there is a corresponding occlusion of paternal sensibilities that would have developed and matured had the mutation not occurred. Grace builds on nature (thus it can preserve the authentic masculine and paternal sensibilities of the married priest through the natural environment of family life), but it also transforms nature, and preserves the masculine and paternal in the priest who properly orders celibacy towards the Kingdom (as opposed to allowing it to degenerate into nothing more than the single “alternative lifestyle”).
16. It should be noted that the Council of Trent posits that, “It has always been the custom in the Church of God that lay persons receive Communion from priests.” Council of Trent, sess. XIII. cap. VIII, De usu admirabilis hujus sacramenti. “Semper in ecclesia Dei mos fuit, or laici a sacerdotibus communionem acciperent.”
17. Catholic World Report Vol. 7 (October 1997).