Married men to be ordained? Not a solution says Cardinal Simonis


Some prelates expressed grave concern over a lack of priests in their various parts of the world, resulting in a separation from the Eucharist.

Bishop Arnold Orowae, Coadjutor of Wabag, Papua New Guinea, particularly stressed this point saying that "Experiences of injustice, violence, corruption, poverty, etc., show that there is a separation between the Eucharist and life. Thus the real saving and transforming presence of Jesus in the Eucharist should not be understood vaguely and taken lightly but Catholics should be serious in their faith, with due respect and adoration."

"How", he asked however, "can this be true for communities who live in the remote villages that do not have the opportunity for frequent celebration and reception of the Eucharist?"

“This poses the question, what kind of priest do we need in our situation? Does one need years of intellectual formation in philosophy and theology to give needed service to the poor people in the remote areas who may not equal his intellectual capabilities?” he asked.

"The issue here", he said, "is not having more vocations, but justice and equality for all the children of God, having the right to make the Eucharist the center of their lives by celebrating and receiving it as often as they can."

"Should the Church", he asked, "allow for mature Christian men who are strong in faith, very committed, and have the respect of the people, to be easily trained to preside at the Eucharistic celebration, which will make it easy for the people to participate in the Eucharist, so that the importance and centrality of the Eucharist becomes true for the people?"

Archbishop Anthony Sablan Apuron O.F.M. Cap., of Agana, Guam seemed to agree but suggested alternative ideas.

"In the Pacific," he said, "the scarcity of priests and the aggressiveness of the evangelistic sects are challenging the very survival of the Catholic faith. In my experience, the only answer to this double predicament is to 'form communities based on faith,' as Pope Benedict told the youth in Cologne."

He also suggested that "the Church needs to make clearly visible the signs of the Eucharist: maybe the Church needs to restore the 'breadness' of the bread which becomes the Body of Christ to be eaten by all, and wine drunk by all which becomes the Blood of Christ. These signs fully and powerfully represent the reality that they signify and not just approximate them. ... I urge leaders of the Church today, to do everything possible to help people come to really know Jesus Christ through the signs of the Eucharist and the reality they signify."

Cardinal Adrianus Simonis from Utrecht, Netherlands, had prepared a text that ended being an unexpected answer to that question. The Dutch Prelate warned, in deed against the “ the external influences of a secularized and individualized world.”

“Shouldn’t  we keep reminding that this fundamental institution of our life, as a gift and a sacrifice?” said the Cardinal; he added : structural changes like for instance the ordination of married men doesn’t seem to be the solution.”

“ Isn’t celibate priesthood, or religious life, a witness of this fundamental institution? That means that we sould live more in the Eucharist to prepare the way to rediscover the value of the Eucharist.” He concluded.

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