Dr. Marianne Schlosser on the Ordination of Women to the Priesthood

Dr. Marianne Schlosser, professor of theology at the university of Vienna and member of the International Theological Commission, has seen it necessary to distance herself from the preparatory group responsible for the topic of women in the Church for the "synodal way" of the German Church, which focused too much on the issue of ordination. One of the prominent advocates for women's ordination in the working group was Sr. Katharina Ganz, Superior General of the Oberzeller Franciscan sisters. Marianne Schlosser recently (the exact date of the letter is not indicated in the text published online yesterday, September 23, 2019) wrote the following open letter to Sr. Katharina Ganz, defending and explaining the Church's teaching on this point. Translated by Fr. Joseph Bolin from the German original, put online by Die Tagespost (removing the headings, which appear to have been added by the press):

Dear Madam Superior General, esteemed colleague!

You recently sent me a link to your interview in the FAZ 13.09.2019.

As the topics you discuss are on concern to many people, I would like to comment on a few points and have decided to do so in the form of an open letter, because a letter to the editor would not provide the space for a differentiated opinion. I write with the awareness that I am not alone in my view, but to give a voice to many others who do not usually make themselves noticed by their vocality.

Already the headline, "Women must pose the question of power", rather unsettled me. You associate the "question of power" mainly with the sacrament of Holy Orders and see in the fact that the Roman Catholic – as also the Eastern Churches – does not entrust women with the apostolic ministry, a violation of the equal rights of men and women.

Honestly: I do not want to have anyone above me in the Church, man, woman, or collective who or which holds such a notion of "power" or of the sacrament of Holy Orders. "Christ freed us to freedom" (Gal. 5: 1). There is to be no power in the Church other than the authority of Jesus Christ – and we know what it is supposed to look like ("You know that the powerful … but with you it should not be like this …" Mark 10 , 43, Luke 22:26).

I certainly will not deny that there is a de facto abuse of office and the rank associated with it. And it is painful to me that, even to the present, religious nuns are sometimes as a matter of course treated by clerics and others as servants and do not receive the esteem due them. You do not even have to look to Africa or South America for that.

Maybe it would be "just" that not only men should be allowed to be able to abuse power. It would not, however, make the situation better.. You admit yourself that this expectation would be quite unworldly. Not to mention that de facto "power" is not exercised only by persons who hold an office … I fear that Augustine was right when he considered the hunger for power, i. e. the temptation to rule over others, to be inherent to the human being – not the male sex! As long as he / she does not convert, i.e. take on the mind of Christ (Phil. 2).

Especially in the context of the recent abuse scandal by clerics, the old question has once again come into the limelight: Does the Church (who is that?) need women as priests? Meanwhile, it sounds rather the other way around: women need access to the ordained ministry; they have a right to it.

I do not want to insinuate anything of anyone. But if someone needs an office for themselves, then the abuse of the associated position is inevitable. Anyone – man or woman – who thinks they have a right to it is, mistaken. That's why it is, in my judgment, a mistake to use the language of equal rights in this context. Gregory the Great, a truly experienced shepherd, was of the opinion that it was better not to ordain people who press for ordination. For he who is so convinced of him- or herself that he/she has never been driven to terror by fear or at least a shadow of self-doubt in the face of what lies ahead in such an office, one man doubt his / her special vocation to follow the Good Shepherd. This necessarily means, after all, a kind of "expropriation" of one's own plans and interests – which as a rule also involves resistance within oneself.

That is it which one would need to increase awareness of, so that the church grows together into a "fraternal" community. The fact that your patron saint and model, Francis, not only had a very high esteem for priests, "because of their ordination" (as he writes in his "Testament"), but could also himself be downright authoritarian, cannot, incidentally, be totally overlooked.

A position of responsibility brings with it a special danger, as the whole spiritual tradition knows. To not confuse responsibility with patronizing, patience with with indifference, modesty with submissiveness, affability with conformity, etc., requires a great spiritual maturity.

Unfortunately, the behavior of public officials is at times an anti-testimony.

But where would the suggestion you made at the end of your interview lead, to separate "the sacrament of Holy Orders" and "power"? Who should then exercise "power" with which qualification, with what right? The time of the prince-bishops, who were laymen according to canon law, is over.

The Church binds the delegation of authority and special responsibility to criteria, including a lengthy education and an examination of the character and religious qualifications of a candidate in order to minimize risks. And the rite of consecration expresses confidence in believers' prayer that the Holy Spirit will not remain idle.

Is this just a spiritual castle in the air, far from reality, an all too power-filled reality?

As long as the office of leadership ("munus regiminis") – even if that were just a distant ideal! – is dialectically connected with the "diakonia Christi" (Jn 13: 13-16; Lk 22,27), that is to say, with the alienation of oneself, if need be unto the giving up of one's life, there is at least hope that some, many, if possible all of them – hope that one will not lose sight of the summit, even if one were to relapse. If, on the other hand, you declare the summit non-existent, you will remain in the fog of the valleys.

As for the possibility of women's access to Sacred Orders, especially to the priesthood, you assume that John Paul II's "Ordinatio sacerdotalis" does not the degree of ultimate binding force expressly claimed by the document itself (n.4), that it lacks the formal explanation pronouncement as dogma.

However, it has now been repeatedly explained (most recently by Cardinal Ladaria on May 29, 2018) that, and why!, this letter is binding as an expression of the ordinary Magisterium.

(1) Response ad propositum dubium concerning the Teaching Contained in "Ordinatio sacerdotalis", 28 October, 1995; (2) Concerning the Reply of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on the Teaching Contained in the Apostolic Letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, 28 October 1995, http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_19951028_commento-dubium-ordinatio-sac_en.html; (3) In response to certain doubts regarding the definitive character of the doctrine of Ordinatio sacerdotalis, 29 May 2018., Luis F. Ladaria, S.I., Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/ladaria-ferrer/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_20180529_caratteredefinitivo-ordinatiosacerdotalis_en.html)

By no means everything that is "de fide", that is to say to be accepted in faith, is formally dogmatized. But if some circles insist on it, they might achieve just that …

That would at any rate be easier than the opposite way. For that would not only rescind a document of the papal Magisterium (which could scarcely be formulated more emphatically!), but abdicate a tradition of the whole church, which was not merely practice, but a practice that had undergone reflection.

In such a case one would have to in my opinion even ask the question, whether a church that had for 2000 years discriminated half of the faithful – and the more fervent half at that! – can be really the church of Jesus Christ, led by the Holy Spirit. Of course, the question is relevant only if one maintains – and I believe we both do – that the Church together with its basic structure is built on the will of Christ – otherwise it would not matter anyway; in that case nobody needs something like a sacramental ministry.

You then declare frankly that certain theological arguments do not convince you.

I do not deny that in the course of reflection on the sacrament of Holy Orders and its recipients, less judicious or viable arguments were brought into play. For good theologians (like Thomas Aquinas) they were however never the main reason.

But fundamentally: what degree of persuasiveness can theological arguments achieve in so far as they rest on the historical revelation of God? If there really is revelation, if the eternal truth of God has become man in Jesus Christ, then this is given to us as an event. In other words, that and how God acts in the history of salvation cannot be demonstrated with "conclusive reasons," because this action is rooted in the freedom of God. The theological arguments can only show the inner coherence, the connection with the whole of revelation. There will always be leeway for assent to the argument. This also applies to the question under discussion here.

You ask why the representation of Christ as the Bridegroom of the Church, that is to say, of his actions, especially during the celebration of the Eucharist, cannot assumed by a woman, since men are also present in the pews. Literally, challenged by your interviewer's provocative question, you said, "Why should sexual masculinity be a necessary condition to represent the man Christ when, conversely, the church is to be the bride of the Bridegroom of (sic) Christ? Then the church should consist only of women. "

Yes, if that were the church's argumentation, I would also not find it convincing! For one thing, the sacramental representation of Christ does not simply depend on nature, "the Y chromosome." Otherwise every man, qua man, could represent Christ.

Secondly, there seems to me to be a misunderstanding of the notion of representation, a probably widespread misunderstanding.

In the "symbolic" language of the Old Testament as well as the New Testament, the people of God as such, composed of men and women, is "feminine" (in the sense of "receiving") in relation to God, and all together form the "body", none of the members is the head. Moreover, every creature is receptive in relation to God, every soul – as the mystics of both sexes say – is the "bride of the word of God," which must first be received so that mortal man may "bear fruit that remains."

This also applies to those members of the Church who are ordained to the priesthood. Even a priest is and remains "receiving" in relation to God, remains a member of the body of Christ. One can also say with Pope Francis that he must not forget the "Marian" dimension of Christianity, which is the first and fundamental vocation of the Church, the "Prae" before the "Petrine" vocation. Therefore, only a baptized person can be ordained, and ordination cannot replace baptism.

That a priest can "represent" the "vis-à-vis" of the church, that is, Christ as head and bridegroom, is only possible because of the sacrament of ordination. This enables him to "re-present" something he can never become. The persons in the pew, on the other hand, do not "represent" the church – at best in the sense that the whole may be present in one part – they are it by reason of their membership in the body of Christ through baptism (cf Can. 204 – § 1).

But why cannot this sacrament of representation be conferred on a woman?

A sacrament always includes institution by Christ, i.e. the linking of a visible object or operation with a new meaning and an effect guaranteed by Christ Himself. In principle, he could have ordered it differently, he could have completely foregone the sending of the apostles, or he could have left everything (and not just a lot) to later development in the believing community. But if something is to be a "sign", then it must point to the designated content in the best possible way (significance). Oil or wine have a different significance than water. At a "wedding dinner" we think of something other than a birthday party, however lavishly it might be celebrated. This aspect is not playing around with pictures, but relevant, because the sacraments are by definition "perceptible signs" for an invisible reality.

And it seems to me very reasonable that a woman is not a significant sign for the bridegroom of the church. Likewise, a man is not a significant sign of the Church as bride. So religious women often receive a ring on the day of profession, whereas that is unusual for monks – although they both live the bridal love for Christ, they are a visible sign of it in different ways.

The reasonableness of the argument is based not only on a natural preconception – just as the sacraments are not merely religious variants of natural rites – but on the connection between the reality of creation and the historical revelation of God; One could also say that the reality of creation and its symbolism is used for the communication of salvation. Christ "interprets" creation when he establishes the sacraments. The symbols used in the Scriptures as the deposit of the self-communication of God are therefore not simply "pictures" that could be replaced as desired. Rather, they are the way the unfathomable divine mystery of Christ's love is made accessible to us. That the relationship between Yahweh and his beloved people be described as a marriage bond, that the Gospels designate Jesus as the "Bridegroom," that Paul speaks of the Bride Church (2 Cor 11: 2; Eph 5), who owes her life to the Bridegroom, or that the eschatological fulfillment, the joy without end, whose sacramental anticipation is the Eucharistic celebration, resembles a wedding feast (eg Rev 22), is not arbitrary imagery, but expresses that humanity, indeed the individual, will be wooed by God's love. Not the other way around.

That this reasoning seem strange to not a few people, because premises of thought have changed, says nothing about the truth. It could also be the premises that need testing and metanoia. The content of faith is not simply what one just finds obvious. Karl Rahner once wrote in an "open letter" (in the context of the priestly way of life): "Christianity is still a highly unfashionable thing; also in that area about which I have so long tried to write. Thank God it is. "

Greetings in Christ,

Marianne Schlosser

Cardinal Schönborn on Women's Ordination, April 14 2019

On April 14, 2019, Cardinal Schönborn of the Archdiocese of Vienna gave a televised interview with the ORF (in German) with Gaby Konrad and Gerold Riedmann. Here the translation of the part where he was asked about the ordination of women. Surprisingly, but perhaps because he was asked more insistently, he seems to more explicitly advocate the ordination of women as deaconesses than he does the ordination of married men to the priesthood in the Latin Church in the same interview, though he certainly suggest support for the latter as well.

Gaby Konrad: In your estimation, from a closer perspective, has he (the pope) gotten mired down with his reforms?
Schönborn: That depends on what one expected of him. In my estimation, there is a group in the Church and in Society, for whom the pope has already gone to far. These are the in some respects very severe critics from the traditionalist camp, who suspect nothing good. There are those who anticipated enormous reforms, which the pope cannot deliver.
Gerold Riedmann: Because the system resists too strongly?
Schönborn: No, because here one has problems with doctrine. These are the well-known topics, are they not? There are still no women bishops, still no women priests.
Gerold Riedmann: Why?
Schönborn: Exactly. This question was inevitable. That's why I posed it myself.
Why? Because we have a two thousand year old tradition, which not even the pope can set aside at breakfast with a stroke of the pen; that requires developments, and developments, in a institution as large as the Catholic Church, require a long time. We dare not forgot, the protestants have had women pastors for less than a hundred years, among the protestants for less than a hundred years, the Orthodox by no means. The usage has now developed among the Anglicans, and always with enormous controversy. So someone who expected that Pope Francis would clarify this question now, is of course disappointed.
But if one looks at what this pope has already achieved, well just look at it. The climate Summit of Paris, we are allowed to say it, the climate Summit of Paris would finally not have came about, if the pope had not massively fought for it. Those are, for me, the immense reforms that this pope is driving. The Amazon Synod, that is now coming in October.
Gaby Konrad: We intended to come to that topic. But perhaps before that to the issue of women. You yourself said, for you, in your opinion the issue of women is decisive for the Church's future. If we now make a thought experiment, and the pope would ask you for your personal opinion, at a Council, and would ask you, what do you personally believe? Can women become priests? What would you answer?
Schönborn: I would say, that at any rate women need a greater place in the Church. That is, in many respects that have more place, since in most cases there are more women in the Church than men. Aside from those who are at the altar.
Gaby Konrad: In the pews?
Schönborn: Sorry, what's that?
Gaby Konrad: In the pews there are more women than men.
Schönborn: There are more women than men sitting in the pews. That's a fact. In our parish councils are 52% women. But women are less represented in positions of leadership. That is, incidentally, a problem in all religions. There was recently a meeting of representatives of the religions in Austria with the President of Austria, and the representatives sat in the first row, and those they had brought with them in the second and third row, and in my speech of thanks I said to the president: "if I look at the first row, I get the impression that the second half, or the other half of humanity is missing." Among the Muslims, the Jews, the Buddhists, the Christians, everywhere there only men sitting in the first row. I think we have world-wide a problem or topic: women in the religions.
Doris Wagner, in the movie "female pleasure", of which I only saw the trailer and read about it… it concerned the fate of five women, five religions, five cultures. This is a world-wide topic, the Catholic Church in many respect is not coming in last in this movement.
Gaby Konrad und Riedmann simultaneously: But?
Schönborn: But,
Gerold Riedmann: I only wanted to take up her question. Can women become priests? That is one question. You answered somewhat evasively. Asked again: should women become priests?
Schönborn: I have said very clearly. I wish that they could become deaconesses. That is the degree of ordination that they also historically have had. Let us try and see [Schönborn spoke this sentence in English]. Ok? Let's see.
Gerold Riedmann: That means?
Gaby Konrad: Women have to first prove themselves?
Schönborn: Sorry?
Gaby Konrad: Women have to first prove themselves as deaconesses, and then we'll see how it further goes.
Schönborn: No. Institutions don't work at the touch of a button. That's a fact. And before we get our nose bloody running into the limits that exist, let's see what is possible. I ask myself again and again, why women have until now had now place in Vatican diplomacy. There is no reason, why women cannot be in all possible positions of leadership – in our diocese, women are as a matter of course in all possible positions of leadership. Let's start there.

Cardinal Schönborn on the discipline of celibacy and married priests, April 14 2019

On April 14, 2019, Cardinal Schönborn of the Archdiocese of Vienna gave a televised interview with the ORF (in German) with Gaby Konrad and Gerold Riedmann, where, among other topics, he was asked about and spoke about priestly celibacy. Taken together with various other statements he's made, his position seems to be, in effect, that it would probably be, all things considered, good to under certain circumstances ordain older married men to the priesthood in the Latin Church, but that the decision to do so should be a decision of the whole Church. Here is, in translation, that part of the interview.

Konrad: As you already mentioned, this Amazon Synod will take place in the fall, and then a second hot topic will be handled. The discipline of celibacy could possibly be relaxed. What is your take on the matter? Is the discipline of celibacy good, or is it bad?

Schönborn: The discipline of celibacy is what it is. I have experience of both, because I am also responsible for Eastern Catholic Churches in Austria, and I have around 30 priests who are married. I experience both sides: very good families, priests with families. And I experience very good priests who live celibately. And I experience crises on both sides: unmarried priests who do not maintain celibacy, and married priests whose marriages fail.

Therefore I would say, very soberly, life is not simple. But, if one lives the state of being unmarried so, as it was lived by Jesus as a model – the celibacy of priests is related to Jesus's having lived unmarried – that can go very well. It can also, unfortunately, as we see, go very wrong.

I am very convinced that one form is possible, and it will surely be discussed at the Amazon-Synod: the so-called "proven, married men."

In the Archdiocese of Vienna we have 180 deacons, most of them married, with a job, with a family. And I can well imagine that in the future there will not only be married deacons, but also married priests, who have proven themselves in their profession, in their family, and who are active in their communities, that such men can also receive the laying on of hands for priestly ordination.

Riedmann: That is to say, a testing similar to what you spoke of in connection with women in the Church. The deacons have… without the deacons life in the local church would probably no longer be possible in the same way.

Schönborn: exactly.

Riedmann: To ordain these men as priests, is something you are in favor of.

Schönborn: Among the current deacons, married, with a job, so those who serve as deacons without a salary, there are certainly a great many, of whom one could say, they could perform priestly ministry very well. That is something that is being very earnestly discussed. It would of course create a two-class clerical system. The volunteer priests and the full-time priests. But why not?

Celibate and married priests – some accepted facts and disputed questions

There has been a fair amount of talk about the Amazon Synod and the possibility of ordaining married men, despite the contrary tradition and prevailing discipline of celibacy in the Latin Church, and in spite of all the arguments and motives that can be adduced for priestly celibacy. Occasioned by today's reading for Mass in the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite, I want to here lay out a few of the facts, less clear and disputed matters regarding celibacy in the Latin and in the Eastern Churches.

In 1. Timothy, chapter 3, St. Paul writes:

The saying is sure: If any one aspires to the office of bishop, he desires a noble task. Now a bishop must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, sensible… not quarrelsome, and no lover of money. He must manage his own household well, keeping his children submissive and respectful in every way; for if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how can he care for God's church?
… Deacons likewise must be serious, not double-tongued, not addicted to much wine, not greedy for gain… Let deacons be the husband of one wife, and let them manage their children and their households well;

There have been married clerics since the beginning of the Church. At the some time, we find esteem for celibacy by clergy from the beginning.

Some fairly certain points (for those accepting the Church's teaching and tradition)

  1. Some apostles were married; and in the first centuries, there were married bishops, priests, and deacons, as implied in the quoted task from 1 Timothy, and in the following first centuries of the Church. E.g., In the fourth century, the Father of St. Gregory Nazianzen's father, Gregory the Elder was a bishop; he was married and his wife was still living at the time of St. Gregory Nazianzen's ordination to the priesthood.
  2. Christ elevated marriage, and also proposed celibacy ("to make oneself an eunuch" spiritually) for the kingdom of heaven.
  3. The virginal or celibate way of life was esteemed from the very beginning in the Church. And specifically by at least some clerics (beginning with St. Paul the Apostle)
  4. Developed practice and law regarding continence and priestly celebration of the Eucharist differed in West and East. In the West complete continence was obligatory for all major clerics, while in the East some measure of continence was necessary in relation to celebration of the Eucharist.
  5. The discipline of the Latin Church and of the Eastern Catholic Churches is legitimate.

Matters where the historical data is less clear or is mixed

6. Whether the married bishops in the Church had children after elevation to the episcopate, and, if they had children, if they did so without violating a promise or (ecclesial or moral) expectation of continence after episcopal consecration
7. The reason for a connection between continence and the Eucharist, not just for clergy, but also for laity
a. Some Fathers deny that sexual intercourse makes one unclean, such that one needs to be purified before prayer (The Didascalia Apostolorum explicitly rejects the position that sexual intercourse would make one unfit to receive the Eucharist)
b. Some early Church writers (Tertullian, Origen), claim that intercourse requires purification before prayer; some Fathers suggest this or put it forward as the better thing to do, while finally leaving the matter to the conscience of married couples (St. Dionysus, St. Athanasius of Alexandria); later texts put it forth as morally obligatory (Timothy of Alexandria, St. Gregory the Great)
c. but in the course of time, the general consensus was that abstinence should be practice before reception of the Eucharist (and before celebration by a priest).
8. At least occasional continence, to devote whenself to prayer (see 1 Cor 7:5), in Lent, or when children were not possible, was an ideal of married christians (most well known is St. Augustine, but the position is also held by others such as Origen, Athenagoras, Clement of Alexandria, St. Athanasius, St. Gregory Nazianzen)

(Possible) points of dispute

9. Why continence (and celibacy) for the clergy was so esteemed since the early Church
10. Whether continence was, as a rule, expected of married clergy from the very beginning. And if it was, whether it should be expected (at least as an ideal) of married clergy now (in the West and in the East).
11. Whether the Church has the moral right to change the law regarding priestly celibacy in the Latin Church — or whether it is so strongly rooted in Christ and the Apostles, or deserves such respect as an extremely ancient and valuable tradition in the Latin Church, that the Church has no right to change it.
12. Whether changing the law regarding priestly celibacy in the Latin Church would do more good or more harm.
13. Whether changing the law regarding priestly celibacy in the Eastern Churches (making it more like the west) would do more good or more harm — there isn't much dispute about this because it has scarcely been proposed to change the discipline of the Eastern Churches to require celibacy as a condition for priestly ordination.
14. Whether, if both traditions and disciplines should be maintained more or less as they are, whether the differing disciplines are justified principally (1) because each is the tradition of the respective Church, (2) because the respective discipline is the most fitting discipline for that Church with a view to the its whole spiritual, ascetical and liturgical life, (3) because the Church as a whole is thereby more perfect in its variety and fullness, (4) because, practically, changing the discipline is difficult without causing a whole host of other problems, or (5) for some other reason?

My impression is that most articles in the media, blog articles or commentaries concern themselves with point 12, whether changing the discipline of celibacy would really bring the claimed benefits such as mitigating the shortage of priests or diminishing the incidence of sexual abuse by priests, or whether changing would not in any case bring many and greater problems with it than it would solve.

Even if no one proposes changing the discipline of the Eastern Churches, it might be good to consider point 13, whether it would do more good or harm to introduce the law of priestly celibacy into those Churches. Precisely because there hasn't been a lot of polemics about it, it may be easier to soberly take stock of what that sort of change might or would do to the Church.

I believe it would be good for those discussing the matter of priestly celibacy on all one levels in the Church to consider the question raised in point 14. The answer one gives could be helpful in deciding various edge cases (e.g., should married Anglican clergy, having converted to the Catholic Church, be ordained priests, should those who, having been baptized into the Latin Church, have become members of an Eastern Catholic Church, be ordained priests, and the like). It could also be helpful in considering very long time goals, particularly if one's answer was based mostly on the practical difficulties of changing the discipline.

200th post – reflections on expressing faith and devotion in the liturgy

This post is the 200th post on this blog, and mostly coincidentally, there have been to date a total of 400 comments on 80 of those posts — thank you to all who have contributed to various discussions!

I have noticed in celebrating liturgy myself, and observing it celebrated in various places, that celebrating the Mass and other sacraments with actual, evidenced faith and devotion, and showing noticeably attention to the meaning of what one is saying, is a significant factor in disposing persons to participate in the liturgy with their hearts and minds, and to gain the most fruit from it. Although the celebration of the Eucharist, as a sacrament efficacious ex opere operato, when validly celebrated confers grace regardless of the holiness or devotion of the priest celebrating it, more grace is received according as the recipient is better disposed to receive it. And the manifestation of the priest's celebrating Mass with faith and devotion contributes a great deal to helping the persons attending the Mass to be disposed to celebrate well and receive the grace of the Mass. Unfortunately many priests give the impression of just getting through with the job of reciting their parts, at any rate, do not clearly manifest faith in and awe for the mysteries they celebrate. This is not a judgment or even an opinion about their habitual or even hidden actual faith with which they celebrate, but only about its visibility or lack thereof.

On this general point there might even be some general agreement between those who favor traditional celebration of the liturgy in Latin (preferably according to the usus antiquior), and those who favor the celebration of the liturgy in the vernacular and with practices that more readily allow the manifestation of personal faith and devotion (e.g., the use of free formulations where they are allowed, as they can more readily manifest actual personal faith than formulations given in advance can). The disagreement regarding this point, I think, mostly concerns one of two things:

(1) There is disagreement concerning the relative importance of the liturgy's disposing the people attending liturgy to acts of faith and devotion in comparison with its objective suitability to express the mystery being celebrated; some would hold that the objective suitability is much more important, and therefore adaptions, including almost all of the changes made in developing the Novus Ordo of the Mass, are at best tolerable for the sake of persons indisposed to appreciate the traditional Latin Mass; others would hold that the suitability of the liturgy to dispose the people present to partake with their mind and heart is by far the most important thing.

(2) There is disagreement regarding the way in which faith and devotion is best or most surely manifested. Some are of the opinion that actual faith and devotion is manifested precisely in the observance of relatively detailed rubrics such as those prescribed for the Traditional Latin Mass; the idea seems to be that only genuine and actual devotion will keep someone carefully following all of those rubrics rather than sloppily or carelessly celebrating the Mass. Others are of the opinion that actual faith and devotion is manifested especially through gestures, facial expressions, tones of voice, and the like; that though faith and devotion are not emotions, they are especially revealed in a manner quite similar to other emotions, through tone of voice and body language.

I have a lot of sympathy for the positions taken on both sides of these issues, and do not simply side with one over the other. It would not be possibly for me to do so honestly, and in any case my more greater concern is to help those on either side of such disagreements to better appreciate the true and valid points of those on the opposite side.

What occasioned these reflections now was my attending an ordination where the bishop towards the end of his homily remarked that it is ineffective to proclaim the Good News, the Gospel, with joyless faces. Yet, he himself did not really show joy in his face at any point of the liturgy, not even while speaking about the Church's joy on the occasion, but was formal and stiff, except where he showed vigor and sternness in attacking ignorance and errors regarding the priesthood that were prevalent in the late 60s, when he entered the seminary, and are still present today. The dissonance at that point between his statements about joy and the lack of joy on his face was so great it was somewhat humorous, though still somewhat saddening.

Priestly Motto

"The greatest of these is love!" (1 Cor 13:13)

Each Christian has his or her own gifts and vocation in the Church. But it is love alone that gives life to our vocation and makes it bear fruit. This verse, which I have chosen as a motto for my priestly min­istry, designates the priesthood as a service of love, a ministry springing from love and aiming at love. As a priest I am called to make visible the saving love of Christ in the Christian community, to accompany and assist all in living their vocation to love.

Priestly Ordination

On the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart, June 15, 2012, I was ordained to the priesthood by  Christoph Cardinal Schönborn, together with five other men, in St. Stephen's Cathedral, Vienna.

6 new priests, with cardinal Schönborn and the rectors and religious superior.

More photos and downloads are available at www.priesterweihe.at.

Please say a prayer in thanksgiving for the grace of this vocation, and that the Lord make us holy and good instruments of his work!

Garrigou-Lagrange & Communicating Under Both Species

St. Alphonsus thinks it not improbable that more grace is given in Holy Communion under both species, and all theologians agree that if the ardour of charity is increased by receiving the second species, then greater grace is conferred accidentally by reason of the better disposition. Therefore a layman who wants to become a priest in order to communicate under both species so as to receive this greater grace is not to be dissuaded. (Garrigou-Lagrange, The Priest in Union with Christ, "The Priest's Communion", emphasis added)

I'm not sure exactly why Garrigou-Lagrange draws this rather strange conclusion (I highly doubt that St. Alphonsus would hold it), but it's perhaps a sign of some problematic approachs or views in many modern scholastics: an ultra-formal way of speaking about things; in regard to the moral life, an excessive concern with tidily categorizing all kinds of actions; in regard to the priesthood and other sacraments, a tendency to over-reify (admittedly, this last tendency was not limited to scholastics, nor were all subject to it).

Also striking is that he draws this conclusion despite remarking that in general nothing is lost by the fact that people only receive Christ's body under the species of bread, and not the Sacred Blood.

"Nothing is lost by this (that is, by the body being received by the people without the blood): because the priest both offers and receives the blood in the name of all, and the whole Christ is present under either species" (Summa Theologiae, III, q. 80, a. 12, ad 3). Under the species of bread there is also present, by concomitance, the precious blood. Thus the faithful are not deprived of any notable grace, and a fervent Communion under one species is far more fruitful than a tepid Communion received under both species.

Ratzinger et al. called for reexamination of clerical celibacy

I've translated the 1970 letter of Ratzinger and eight other theologians to the German bishops, which was republished in Pipeline 2/2010, under the title "A reminder to the signatories" (Den Unterfertigten zur Erinnerung), and which has been in a number of newspapers in the past few days.

Some of the parts of the letter that the newspapers for some reason or other aren't citing… :

I. … We are convinced that the freely chosen state of remaining unmarried in the sense of Matthew 19 not only presents a meaningful possibility of christian existence, one which is at all times indispensable for the Church as a sign of its eschatological character, but that there are also good theological grounds for the connection of the freely chosen unmarried state and the priestly office, since this office brings the officeholder definitively and completely into the service of Christ and his Church. In this sense we affirm what was recently said in the "Letter of the German Bishops on the Priestly Office" (See n. 45, par 4; n. 53, par 2). And in this sense we are also convinced that whatever the outcome of the discussion, the unmarried priesthood will remain an essential form of the priesthood in the Latin Church.


Such a positive stocktaking and working through of the problem must also occur because the reality of celibacy itself in the conditions of present-day publicity and society must be presented in an understandable and meaningful manner—so far as possible—granting all knowledge of very clear limits of this endeavor. It will remain a "scandal", but this does not excuse one from promoting and recommending it with the best reasons, in the event that an examination is seriously undertaken and can arrive at positive results (see above, section 1). If we know that celibacy is primarily a fruit of spiritual experience, we must still, as representatives of the science of theology, draw attention to this positive, clarifying, and unavoidable function of an examination.

Read the whole letter