Picture of Eileen Rettig
Re: Part Three of the Course, Fifth Assignment, Question 2
by Eileen Rettig - Monday, 6 August 2012, 6:58 PM

Several changes since the Second Vatican Council have had positive effects with the Catholic Church. One of these positive effects is the reinstitution of the permanent diaconate as part of Holy Orders. Married men study for several years, are ordained and assigned to assist the parish priests. In Mobile, the program includes three years of study with priests of the diocese who have at least Masters level degrees. An interesting component of the program is that the wives of these men are an integral part of the program. Some have speculated that within a generation the Church will allow women to be ordained as deacons and the first of these women will come from the ranks of the wives of deacons, as it appears to have been in the very early years of Christianity. This revival of the permanent diaconate helps with the shortage of priests the Church is currently experiencing because the deacons can officiate at Baptisms, Weddings and funerals. They do not have the power to celebrate Mass but they frequently preside at Communion Services when a priest is unavailable. They cannot sacramentally forgive sins so they cannot hear confessions or anoint the sick.

Priests have been encouraged to change the attitude of power and authority that it has developed over centuries to a model of service to the community they serve. Members of the clergy have been charged with being more active in social issues while members of the laity have been asked to be more active in the ministerial roles within the Church. This means some priests take part in or lead prayer vigils to protest capital punishment when a human being is being executed. It also means that lay people can be found doing readings at Mass, taking Eucharist to the sick and homebound or helping to plan special liturgies.

The blurring of some of these ministerial roles has led to some serious questions about the future of Holy Orders. If married men can become deacons, why does the Church continue to insist on celibacy for priests and bishops? With the real possibility of women becoming permanent deacons, why does Rome refuse to allow women to be ordained priests?

One of the great tragedies of the contemporary era is the uncovering of multiple incidents of sexual abuse of children, especially boys by members of the clergy. To compound matters, some bishops routinely transferred these pedophile priests when parishioners began to complain and then denied anything wrong had happened. In response to this issue and in a possibly misguided attempt to prevent a recurrence of these sad events, the Vatican has ruled that men who have homosexual proclivities may not be ordained. If priests are to lead celibate lifestyles a homosexual priest would be required to abstain from sexual relations the same as a heterosexual priest.

As Dr. Martos stated at the end of Talk Twelve one thing is certain: the priesthood, along with the Catholic Church and her Sacraments will continue to evolve as they have since her founder walked this earth.

GRADE 4 (Analytical and evaluative.)

(Edited by Dr. Joe - original submission Thursday, 2 August 2012, 10:30 PM)