Archive for category Priests

Now is the time for married priests / National Catholic Reporter

“At the Last Supper, Jesus said, ‘Do this in memory of me,’ not ‘have a celibate priesthood.’ The need for the Eucharist trumps having a celibate priesthood.”

It is time for the Catholic bishops to stop hoping for an increase in vocations to the celibate priesthood and to acknowledge that the church needs married priests to serve the people of God. We cannot have a Catholic Church without sacraments, and a priest is needed for the Eucharist, confession, and anointing.

“At the Last Supper, Jesus said, ‘Do this in memory of me,’ not ‘have a celibate priesthood.’ The need for the Eucharist trumps having a celibate priesthood.

“For at least 50 years, the Catholic Church in the United States has seen a drop in the number of priests. According to CARA reports, in 1970, there were 59,192 priests in the U.S.; by 2016, there were only 37,192. Meanwhile, the number of Catholics increased to 74.2 million from 51 million. That means the people/priest ratio grew from 861 Catholics per priest in 1970 to 1,995 per priest in 2016. These numbers include all priests both religious and diocesan, as well as retired priests. When the priests currently over 65 years of age die, these numbers will be even worse.”

By Thomas Reese, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

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Stem parish closures and mergers pleads U.S. priests group / National Catholic Reporter

An association of nearly 1,200 U.S. priests is in the final development stages of issuing an urgent ‘plea’ to the U.S. bishops to ‘formulate a plan now to meet this emerging crisis’ of parish closings and consolidations.

“In a working draft it calls a ‘Proposal for Pastoral Care In & Thru Priestless Parishes,’ the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests exhorts the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and ‘dioceses nationwide’ to quickly address the issue.

“Core to the plan is ‘new and more specific exploration’ of lay ecclesial ministers to oversee non-sacramental aspects of parish life and administration, according to a proposed plan cover letter contained in an email to NCR.”

By Dan Morris-Young, National Catholic Reporter — Click here to read the rest of this story.

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Brazil may soon have married priests, says Leonardo Boff / National Catholic Reporter

Pope Francis may soon fulfill the Brazilian bishops’ special request to allow married priests to resume their priestly ministry, liberation theologian Leonardo Boff said in a Dec. 25 interview in the German daily Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger.

“‘The Brazilian bishops, especially the pope’s close friend Cardinal Claudio Hummes, have expressly requested Pope Francis to enable married priests in Brazil to return to their pastoral ministry,’ Boff said. ‘I have recently heard that the pope wants to fulfill this request — as an experimental, preliminary phase for the moment confined to Brazil.’

“With its 140 million Catholics, Brazil needs at least 100,000 priests but it only has 1,800, which is a ‘catastrophe,’ Boff said …”

By Christa Pongratz-Lippitt, National Catholic Reporter — Click here to read the rest of this story.

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Priests ask American bishops to discuss, act on four issues / Association of U.S. Catholic Priests

The largest association of U.S. Catholic priests is asking the U.S. bishops who begin their annual fall meeting today (Nov. 14) to discuss four issues confronting the Church and society. They are racism, non-violence, ordination of women deacons and the ordination of married men to the priesthood.

The priests’ request was made in the form of a letter, dated October 25, to each of the bishops. It was signed by Father Bob (Bernard R.) Bonnot on behalf of the Leadership Team and the one-thousand-plus members of the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests.

Racism in Church and Society

The AUSCP thanked the bishops for their January 2016 statement that called for confronting the poison of racism, and noted that the priests in their June 2016 assembly had made this effort a goal of the members. “We are committed to find ways to make anti-racism ‘a habit in our Catholic communities,” Bonnot said.

Non-Violence as a Strategy for Church and Society

The priests cited a statement jointly issued by the Vatican Office for Justice and Peace and Pax Christi: “An Appeal to the Catholic Church to Re-Commit to the Centrality of Gospel Non-Violence.” Bonot said, “Our Church remains far from putting [non-violence] forward as our primary response to conflicts.” He said the priests are committed to use their voices to encourage priests, members of the faithful and others “to make non-violence our first response,” and that the priests “urge you to be part of that international effort.”

Ordination of Women as Deacons and Married Men as Priests

The AUSCP began asking the bishops to consider these options in 2013, echoing groups such as FutureChurch and Voice of the Faithful. The AUSCP in 2015 asked the bishops to establish a committee to study the question of ordaining married men to the priesthood, echoing the request of the National Federation of Priests Council in the 1970s. Bonnot noted that Pope Francis has called for fresh consideration of women as deacons.

“AUSCP sees these proposed ordinations as matters of prudence that can help address the pastoral needs of the faithful. By 2019, half of active diocesan priests are able to retire, so the number of priests available to serve full-time will rapidly decline. Many now retired priests are aging out of service. We AUSCP priests, mostly 50 and above, urge you as a bishop, with our bishops collectively, to give us reason to hope that there is relief on the horizon. We are also concerned that this shortage will thrust young priests into crushing responsibilities before they are adequately prepared,” (the letter said).

The letter also asked the bishops to consider taking steps that would enable lay men and women to preach at Mass, noting that “not all priests are gifted in this matter,” and many pastors cannot speak well in the languages of their congregations.

“The national elections will be over when you meet,” Bonnot said, “but the issues confronting our society and Church will remain. Our voices in addressing those issues are important for the faithful and for all citizens.”

For comment or more information
Father Bob Bonnot, AUSCP Leadership Team Chair: auscpbonnot@gmail.com(link sends e-mail), (330) 397-1257
Sister Jackie Doepker, Executive Secretary: office@uscatholicpriests.org(link sends e-mail), (872) 205-5862

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Minnesota Diocese admits responsibility so AG drops criminal charges in cases

National Catholic Reporter said today that Ramsey County has dropped criminal charges against the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis after it revised an existing civil-claims settlement to admit wrongdoing. According to County Attorney John Choi, the text added to the settlement documents takes direct responsibility. It reads:

“Curtis Wehmeyer was a priest in this Archdiocese. The Archdiocese admits that it failed to adequately respond and prevent the sexual abuse of Victim 1, Victim 2, and Victim 3. The Archdiocese failed to keep the safety and wellbeing of these three children ahead of protecting the interests of Curtis Wehmeyer and the Archdiocese. The actions and omissions of the Archdiocese failed to prevent the abuse that resulted in the need for protection and services for these three children.” 

The amendment also requires newly installed Archbishop Bernard Hebda to participate in at least three Restorative Justice sessions convened by the Ramsey County Attorney’s Office, extends court oversight of the diocese until 2020, adds a county-appointed representative to the diocesan review board, strengthens child protection, and sets up ongoing counseling services. (Note that VOTF also offers restorative justice options in our Healing Circles.)

You will find the full story here.

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U.S. Priests Want Married Men to Be Ordained, Support Worker Pensions, Immigration Reform and Opening Up Bishop-Selection Process / Religion News Service

A proposal to ask American Catholic bishops to request church approval to ordain married men as priests was approved June 25 by the 230 priests attending an assembly of the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests this week in St. Louis.

“The group also announced support for full payment of worker pensions, asked that lay people have a role in the selection of diocesan bishops, and made plans to help Catholics learn more about Church teaching in regard to immigration rights and responsibilities.

“In recommending a call for the church to ordain married men, the association cited published reports that Pope Francis would welcome such a request from bishop’s conferences around the world.”

By Religion News Service Religion Press Release Services —  Click here to read the rest of this press release and see contact information for the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests.

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