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|Eastern Churches United With Rome May Now|
Ordain Married Men Worldwide and Put them in
(Rome) While, according to indiscretions the Congregation for Clergy have considered a dispensation from celibacy for the Brazilian Amazon dioceses, Pope Francis has given married clergy, hitherto unnoticed by the media, a considerable rise.
It is now official. The Congregation for the Oriental Churches has published new provisions approved by Pope Francis that effectively allow the ordination of married men and married priests the pastoral care of Eastern Catholic Churches outside their historical territories. So far, there were for historical reasons and due to old union contracts requiring special provisions in the clearly defined historic areas of the Eastern Churches united with Rome. Specifically, these were the Middle East and parts of Eastern Central Europe.
Any further application was rejected by the Latin Church since the Eastern Orthodox practice contradicts the Latin understanding of the priesthood. Especially great were the resistors in America but also in Europe, such as reported by the Vatican expert Sandro Magister. The presence of married priests in the Latin areas would be a "Gravissimum scandalum" and would cause confusion. So far.
In "exceptional concrete cases" although there were sporadic approvals, but were limited by Benedict XVI in 2008. But now Pope Francis has allowed the Uniate Eastern Churches principle to be used and without any territorial limitation, to perform ordinations and married priests in the pastoral care of the faithful of the Uniate Churches. The document published by the Congregation of Eastern Churches is entitled Pontificia de Praecepta clero Uxorato ORIENTALI and was published a few days ago in the issue 6/2014 of the Acta Apostolicae Sedis (pages 496-499). The document was already signed last June 14 by the Argentine Cardinal Prefect Leonardo Sandri.
Prohibition Repealed in 1890
The question did not arise, as long as the faithful of the Eastern Catholic Churches lived in their historical settlement areas. That changed in the late 19th century. In the new document it states that there existed a problem of pastoral care of married priests there, who emigrated since in the 1880s, thousands of Catholic Ruthenians in the Lower Carpathian regions of Austria-Hungary and from the Western Ukraine in the USA. There was fierce opposition from the Latin Bishops against the establishment of married priests who adopted Congregation of Propaganda Fide on October 1, 1890 with the approval of Pope Leo XIII. a prohibition against the presence of married Ruthenian priests in the USA.
This prohibition was extended to the other Eastern Churches united with Rome and to all areas outside of America and Europe that did not belong to the catchment area applied to these historic churches.
The result was, according to the Congregation of Eastern Churches that an estimated 200,000 Ruthenian believers were converted to the Orthodox. If there were exceptions since then, it was so only after consulting the competent Episcopal Conference and with the approval of the Holy See. Since 2008, every decision was solely to the Holy See.
Reference to Anglican Personal Ordinariates
In the now published global permission, it is recalled that the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus of 2009, the married former Anglican clergy were also de facto approved for areas that the Uniate married clergy were previously denied. That this is merely a transitional arrangement for the returning to Rome of Anglican clerics with family, while for the "Anglican" Personal Ordinariates, no married men can be ordained priests, was not mentioned.
The document lists the new provisions granted by Pope Francis that "provide competent ecclesiastical authority the power to allow the pastoral ministry of the married oriental clergy outside their historic areas" and also assume the ordinations there.
First, where Uniate Eastern Church administrative units with their own hierarchs (Metropolitan, Eparch, Exarch) exist, they are directly granted the power to decide. They are allowed the competence to ordain as married priests, Eastern Rite candidates. The only condition is to inform the competent Latin bishop about it in the place of residence.
Second: In the diocese of the Eastern Rite faithful without their own hierarchs, the same jurisdiction is transferred to the Latin Ordinaries. As support, they have to inform the competent episcopal conference. Pope Francis himself was in his time as archbishop of Buenos Aires, also an Ordinarius of the faithful of the Eastern Catholic Churches of Argentina.
Thirdly, in the areas such as Italy, where the faithful of the Eastern Rite Catholic Churches are without territorial administrative units and their pastoral care is transferred to the Latin bishops, the previous rule applies. Special permits are reserved after hearing the competent Bishops' Conference of the Eastern Churches' Congregation.
The measure has had no impact on the Latin faithful. A crossing of the Latin rite in a Uniate Eastern Church is actually not provided for because they are ethnically and culturally linked to a particular people. One might consider the new rules as a practical facilitation for the Uniate churches, whose diaspora extends through migration, and extends across more countries. Nevertheless, beyond purely functional considerations, the question of meaning and justification of such unqualified accommodation for a practice that is explicitly rejected by the Latin Church. It is normal as it arises from an exemption and is to a certain extent, self-evident. Since the pressure of progressive circles for Pope Francis to the waiver of priestly celibacy has abruptly increased, these circles will in any case consider the measures as grist to the mill.
Text: Giuseppe Nardi
image: Settimo Cielo
image: Settimo Cielo
Trans: Tancred firstname.lastname@example.org