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The results of the historical research of Alfons Cardinal Stickler into the apostolicity of the tradition of clerical celibacy and continence,i the corroboration of his conclusions by Frs. Christian Cochini and Roman Cholij, and the theological analysis of the intrinsic relation between the sacramental signs of marriage and of priestly orders proposed by Archbishop J. Francis Stafford of Denver at a recent Roman conference,ii are all in practice controverted by the effective condonation of the noncontinent exercise of their orders by post-conciliar married deacons who having lived in ignorance of any obligation to abstain from conjugal relations after their ordination, have now have been absolved of any obligation to continence, and in fact, if widowed, may apply for dispensation from what has been a diriment impediment to remarriage and, if remarried, continue in the exercise of their orders.iii
This anomalous departure from the ancient tradition of clerical continence appears to have its inception in the discussions of the restoration of the permanent diaconate during the second Vatican Council.iv However, it cannot be shown to have been authorized by the Council, whether tacitly or overtly, nor by Pope Paul VI in the documents by which he formally instituted the restored permanent diaconate and permitted the ordination to it of mature married men, nor by the 1983 Code of Canon Law.
Further, it is not unlikely that the practical condonation of the use of marriage by such deacons has led to a comparable condonation of the use of marriage by converts from among Protestant clergy who have later been ordained in the Roman Catholic rite; it is evidennt enough the noncontinence of married deacons is no more anomalous than the noncontinence of married priests.
Therefore, the restoration of the permanent diaconate and the ordination of married men to the permanent diaconate in the wake of Vatican II requires a further examination for, if the effective condonation of clerical noncontinence in married deacons and married priests in the Roman rite is in fact legitimate, that legitimacy can rest upon no other grounds than the documents underlying the restoration of the permanent diaconate. In what follows, we shall show that those documents provide no justification or warrant for diaconal noncontinence.
The concluding sentence of Lumen Gentium §29 reads:
De consensu Romani Pontificis his Diaconatus viris maturioris aetatis etiam in matrimonio viventibus conferri poterit, necnon iuvenibus idoneis, pro quibus tamen, lex caelibatus firma remanere debet.v
It is as well to note at the outset that it is the significance of “lex caelibatus” which is in issue. Granted that the canonical requirement of consecrated celibacy for those in major orders, (the “lex caelibatus”) is waived for married candidates (men “in matrimonio viventes”), and is retained for presumptively unmarried, because more youthful, candidates for the diaconate (“pro juvenibus idoneis”), the meaning of this waiver of the “lex caelibatus” granted the more mature candidates for the diaconate must be determined. Specifically, does the waiver legitimate, for those candidates who are married, the continuance of conjugal relations with their wives after their ordination?
The language of Lumen Gentium itself cannot be said to do so. The waiving of the “lex caelibatus” refers simply to dropping the juridical prohibition of married candidates for higher orders; the dropping of the requirement of nonmarriage for an older candidate says nothing about a removal of the obligation of clerical continence after his ordination, unless his continuing in conjugal relations be thought inseparable from his marriage. Since continuing in conjugal intimacy is not thus integral to marriage, and that as a matter of canon law, such a reading of Lumen Gentium cannot be defended.vi
Similarly, Austin Flannery’s translation of Lumen Gentium §29 offers no justification for diaconal noncontinence:
Should the Roman Pontiff think fit, it will be possible to confer this diaconal order even upon married men, provided they be of more mature age, and also on suitable young men, for whom, however, the law of celibacy must remain in force. (387)vii
Neither do the reports of the conciliar discussions and debates concerning the restoration of the permanent diaconate justify the equation of the waiver of celibacy with a waiver of clerical continence, although some evidence of a conciliar confusion of the obligation of consecrated celibacy with the obligation of continence, whereby the waiver of the one might be thought to be assimilated to the waiver of the other, begins to surface in them.viii
Herbert Vorgrimler’s commentary on Lumen Gentium §29 relates the procedure decided upon in the third session for the restoration of the permanent diaconate; he affirms, as in line with the conciliar decision, that the “duty” of celibacy is not to apply to married deacons:
Only two points are laid down with regard to the way it (the restoration of the permanent diaconate) is to be done: the competent authority is the episcopal conference, with the consent of the Pope; the duty of celibacy is not to be imposed upon men of more mature age, although it remains for younger men.ix
The phrase used by Vorgrimler, that of a “duty of celibacy,” is entirely misleading; §29 of Lumen Gentium speaks of a “law of celibacy,” not of a “duty.” This is not mere quibbling: such a misreading reveals a certain lack of reflection upon the relation of major orders to consecrated celibacy on the one hand and to continence on the other. In fact, it amounts to a confusion over the meaning and therefore the interrelation, of celibacy and of continence, and of their respective relations to major orders. In the first place, major orders are a diriment impediment to marriage; e.g., we read in “Sacrum Diaconatus Ordinem” that
Post ordinem receptum diaconi, grandiore etiam aetate promoti, ex tradita Ecclesiae disciplina ad ineundum matrimonium inhabiles sunt.x
As Paul VI here affirms, ordination to the diaconate makes subsequent marriage impossible: an unmarried deacon cannot marry, and a married deacon, upon the death of his wife, cannot remarry. The language here is not disciplinary: it speaks of a simple sacramental incapacity, the sort that is termed a diriment impediment. Canonists are accustomed to speak of major orders as a diriment impediment to marriage only when celibacy is formally embraced as a condition of ordination. However, the inability of a married major cleric to remarry upon the death of his wife can only be due to precisely such an impediment: i.e., one which as inherent in his exercise of his orders simply nullifies any such attempted marriage. It is of course true that this impediment is not absolute: a cleric may be laicized and, in consequence of such laicization, of such removal from the exercise of orders, he may be granted a papal dispensation from the law of celibacy. Nonetheless, in the absence of such dispensation, the “lex caelibatus” binds even the laicized cleric, and simply precludes a subsequent marriage.
This inhibition upon the marriage of major clerics is not mere Roman rigorism. The reasons for it rest upon the meaning of ordination itself, and finally derive from the nuptial relation between Christ and the Church which is celebrated in the Eucharistic sacrifice. A diriment impediment to marriage, an inability to marry, a sacramental incapacity, is inherent in the exercise in persona Christi of major orders. However, this impediment is distinct from (a) celibacy, and (b) continence.
Celibacy denotes the unmarried status, the absence of the marital bond.xi Concretely, celibacy is thus merely a matter of fact: the absence of a marital bond. However, “consecrated celibacy” denotes a specific commitment to the unmarried state, as alone consonant with ordination to a major Order, whether that be in prospect, or already received.xii Heretofore, in the Latin rite, consecrated celibacy has been canonically requisite to the reception of major orders. The institution of the married permanent diaconate is by way of exception to this canonical and liturgical tradition.
The noncelibate state, on the contrary, denotes the presence of a marital bond, and the consequent incapacity to enter upon another marriage prior to the death of one’s spouse. Prior to the approval of the admission of married men to the permanent diaconate by Vatican II’s Lumen Gentium, noncelibate men, as has been seen, were barred by canon law from receiving major orders. However, noncelibacy — which is to say, the existence of the marital bond — has never been understood to be a diriment impediment to such ordination.
Continence is deliberate abstention from sexual relations. Its first reference is to abstention from marital relations; by extension and a fortiori, it denotes abstention from all extramarital sexual relations. Abstention from marital relations may be temporary, in accordance with the Pauline counsel in I Cor 7:5, or it may be permanent, as required by the reception of major orders, a sacrament transcending but not annulling marriage.xiii Cochini has shown such clerical continence to have been required of married men by an tradition which can only be of apostolic origin.xiv Married men who, with the consent of their wives, were ordained as bishops, priests, or deacons, were thereafter held to continence: only in the Eastern Church has this obligation not been observed, and Cholij has shown the inadequacy of the supposed conciliar foundation of that rejection of clerical continence. The Code of Canon Law continues to require the consent of the wife of the candidate for the permanent diaconate.
The canonical clerical celibacy proper to the Latin rite, which has been dropped for the “more mature” candidate for the restored permanent diaconate, is the unmarried status heretofore canonically requisite for ordination to any of the three major orders.
The sacramental character of Orders is thus analogous to the vinculum of sacramental marriage, in that ordination to a major Order simply renders the ordained man, whether married or unmarried, incapable of contracting marriage apart from laicization and papal dispensation. Thus, such ordination bars the cleric arctius altari conjungi from attempting or entering into marriage, quite as an existing marriage bars one from entering into another marriage.
It is then evident that one cannot accurately speak of a “duty” of celibacy any more than one can speak accurately of a “duty” of marriage. Quite as marriage connotes the obligation of fidelity, clerical (here, diaconal) celibacy connotes the duty or obligation of continence. But as marriage is distinct from fidelity, so celibacy is distinct from continence. As marriage is not the same as fidelity to marriage, neither is celibacy the same as the continence which, analogously, is fidelity to major orders. However, such casual reference to celibacy as a “duty” precisely suggests or connotes this identity, and so induces the confusion between celibacy and continence which seems to have governed much of the discussion of the celibacy of the permanent diaconate at Vatican II.
To speak of clerical celibacy as a “duty” further implies that clerical celibacy is not a committed state, but is only a continuing moral responsibility which one might fail to meet, as one may fail to meet the duty of marital fidelity. Such language further suggests what could not be affirmed, the merely “functional” status of clerical celibacy: that is, to speak of a duty of celibacy is to intimate that celibacy, with its connoted moral obligation of clerical continence, is not integral to major orders.
Therefore, while it is entirely proper to speak of a celibate major cleric’s duty of continence, it is quite misleading to speak of his celibacy as a “duty.” Duties are positive moral — and therefore free — concomitants of a positive office, or munus, which arise out of that office. Because they arise out of an office or munus such as orders, duties consist in continuing fidelity to that office, but they are not identified with the office, and should not be spoken of in such a fashion as to blur that fact. Once ordained, an unmarried deacon, priest, or bishop is not free to be noncelibate, for a man exercising major orders simply cannot marry: such a cleric cannot be married apart from dispensation. But he is certainly free to be continent, for otherwise continence would not be a matter of fidelity; therein lies the particular obligation, the “duty,” of the major cleric — here, the deacon.
Vorgrimler informs us that two points, viz., the authority competent to admit married men to the permanent diaconate, and the married (non-celibate) character of the permanent diaconate, were those most debated at the second and third sessions:
For the course of the voting, see the historical introduction to this commentary by G. Philips. In view of the interventions and the results of the voting, the text was considerably revised by the Theological Commission (relatores: B. Kloppenburg, O.F.M., and P. Smulders, S.J.), and adopted into the draft of July 3, 1964 in a form which differs substantially from the present text only in two points. One is concerned with the authority competent to admit married men to the diaconate. Here the Theological Commission was ordered to insert the words De consensu Romani Pontificis. The second point was whether young men who wished to be deacons were obliged to celibacy or not. The council decided in favor of celibacy, but it should be noted that as many as 839 Fathers rejected celibacy in such cases. The official relator, Bishop Jiménes L. Henriquez [sic], was not in favor of young married deacons. (227; emphasis added)
In the first place, if Vorgrimler’s recital of a conciliar discussion of the “obligation” of celibacy is accurate ad litteram, this usage again reveals the acceptance of a certain suggestio falsi within the conciliar discussion, wherein “celibacy,” which in the technical language of canon law simply refers to the unmarried state, is discussed as though it were an obligation: viz., the word is used by the conciliar Fathers as though it were associated with “continence” in such wise that a noncelibate or married diaconate is one which is noncontinent, i.e., a diaconate which contemplates the continuing use of marriage by the married ordinatus. If on the other hand, Fr. Vorgrimler may be thought to be reading his own confusion on this point into the conciliar discussion, it does not appear that that discussion contained anything which might have worked to correct such a mistake. As we shall see, this confusion of celibacy with continence, and of noncelibacy with noncontinence, did in fact obtain among the bishops, and nothing in the record of the conciliar discussion of Lumen Gentium §29 evidences any recognition of the confusion, nor any clarification of it.xv
Further on in his commentary on this passage, Vorgrimler has observed that
It is also noteworthy that the tasks of the deacon include liturgical functions, but that his role in the celebration of the Eucharist, which is one of the most outstanding features of the diaconate in the Eastern Churches, receives no mention. (229)
Vorgrimler’s report of a lack of conciliar interest in the liturgical dimension of the diaconal office, particularly in the celebration of the Eucharist, is consistent with Michael Novak’s report.xvi Gérard Philips’ historical survey,xvii cited by Vorgrimler supra, contains the following observations:
Here (relative to the priesthood) the whole assembly was perfectly unanimous. But when the votes were taken on the diaconate, the difference of viewpoint emerged more strongly than ever. In principle, the revival of the permanent diaconate was accepted by 1903 votes against 242. But the next day, 29 September, the question came up as to whether the local authorities, with the approval of the Pope, could decide on the actual revival, and here almost a third of the voters expressed themselves in the negative. (702 against 1523). But the nub of the controversy was whether this form of diaconate could be entrusted to married men of mature age. Here the two thirds majority was slightly larger, 1598 ayes against 629 noes. The next clause was the only one which was rejected by the assembly. The draft envisaged the possibility of young men who were not bound by the law of celibacy being ordained deacons. Here a large majority of the Fathers flatly said no: 1364, against 839 ayes. (130).
Philips’ account says nothing of the noncontinence of the married men ordained to the permanent diaconate: again, the same silence characterizes Novak’s fuller treatment of the conciliar debate.
A confusion of celibacy with continence, of marriage with noncontinence, and so a confusion of the institution of a noncelibate (married) diaconate with the formal permission for the diaconal use of marriage, is evident on both sides of the debate. The only possible inference from Philips’ account is that the minority of bishops — 839 out of 2203 is no inconsiderable fraction —, who voted against holding even the younger and unmarried deacons to the “lex caelibatus,” could hardly have understood the universally noncelibate, viz., married, diaconate which they contemplated for the younger men nonetheless to oblige such men, once married, to abstention from the use of marriage. There would not have been sufficient point to such a proposal to gain the support of eight hundred and thirty-nine bishops. The minority bishops could only have had in view, and were understood by their conciliar adversaries to have in view, the establishment of a novel diaconate: one whose members, because they could marry after ordination, need not be continent after ordination. But there is no conciliar clarification of the minority’s obvious identification of noncelibacy with noncontinence. One can hardly avoid concluding that the majority of the conciliar Fathers shared this confusion with the minority.
The latent, or tacit — but in any case evident — confusion among the conciliar Fathers of clerical celibacy with clerical continence, and so of married clergy with clerical noncontinence, which this vote manifests, could not but have carried over into the conciliar approval of the ordination of married candidates for the diaconate, to whom the “lex caelibatus” would not apply.
For it does not appear that the conciliar Fathers ever considered a married diaconate to which the lex caelibatus would not apply, to be the mere tautology that it is. For the conciliar bishops, the waiver of the lex caelibatus with respect to married deacons was quite uncritically understood to connote the legitimation of conjugal intercourse. The vote on the waiver of celibacy for the younger deacons could only imply that more than a third of the bishops voting were in favor doing what had never been formally discussed: legitimating subsequent marriage or remarriage by a man in full exercise of major orders.
As Gérard Philips observes, “a large majority of the Fathers flatly said no” to the minority proposal of the dropping of the law of celibacy for the younger candidates for the diaconate. We may be quite sure that in the minds of the minority, the noncelibacy which they would permit the younger candidates did not carry the implicit qualification that as married deacons they would live in continence. Rather, for reasons which we shall later explore,xviii the minority view of the restored diaconate had so accepted a dissociation of celibacy from major orders, at least with respect to the diaconate, as to no longer consider ordination to the diaconate a diriment impediment to subsequent marriage.
Given this dissociation, they could hardly be concerned for the continence of married deacons. But again, insofar as one may judge from the conciliar documents, as well as from the reports of those present, there was no significant discussion of this underlying point of view. It would seem to have passed unchallenged by the majority, who simply held to the ancient tradition. For there is no record of such a subtlety entering into the conciliar discussion. In the view of the minority at least, the relaxation for diaconal candidates of the lex caelibatus was identically the relaxation of the traditional requirement not only of married continence for those in diaconal orders, but was also the dismissal of the tradition which had found in major orders a diriment impediment to marriage.
But what of the majority? We can only conclude that they rejected what they understood the minority to approve: the admission to the diaconate of unmarried candidates, who subsequent to ordination might marry and enter into marital relations.
It is important to emphasize that an approval by the conciliar Fathers of the subsequent marriage of unmarried deacons would have for them to have flatly rejected the liturgical and doctrinal tradition of clerical celibacy which Stickler, Concini and Cholij have rightly judged to be apostolic in its origins — and more, to have done this without any conciliar discussion of so radical a step.
Yet further, that step — the conciliar approval of a view of diaconal orders in which ordination to the diaconate would not be a diriment impediment to marriage — would not only have amounted to a conciliar approval of the noncontinence of married clerics across the board; its dissociation of celibacy from major orders would have instituted a drastic alteration in the sacramental doctrine of Roman Catholicism, one extending to the Eucharist itself, which for reasons which cannot here be explored, would thereby have ceased to be the offering of the One Sacrifice.xix
Therefore, the majority of the conciliar Fathers, whose views found expression in Lumen Gentium §29, were aware of the doctrinal significance of clerical celibacy, if inarticulately: for the majority, the celibacy required of the younger candidates to the diaconate connoted a continuing obligation to continence, and most certainly was associated with recognizing, in ordination to the diaconate, a diriment impediment to subsequent marriage. The majority’s rejection of a noncelibate youthful diaconate, one whose members might later marry, is otherwise unintelligible. This rejection of the minority approval of a noncelibate and noncontinent youthful diaconate cannot but have had consequences for what the majority understood the opening up of the diaconate to married men to entail, but these consequences seem never to have been explored at the Council.
Consequently it is manifestly important to clarify the terminology used in the conciliar approval of the restored permanent diaconate, and in the papal legislation implementing that restoration. Specifically, it is necessary to avoid what the conciliar Fathers did not avoid, the confusion which would identify the “lex caelibatus” with the obligation to continence and, eo ipso, would identify relaxation of the “lex caelibatus” with a relaxation of the obligation of continence in those ordained to major orders.
We have seen that “celibacy” and “celibate” do not identify respectively with “continence” and “continent.” A celibate priest or deacon is unmarried; he is expected to be continent, but a sinful noncontinence does not nullify his celibate state. A noncelibate priest or deacon is one who is married; his noncelibacy does not imply or warrant his noncontinence, in law or in fact.
Thus the celibacy and the continence of those in major orders are in the same positive correlation which links marriage to fidelity in the married;xx a married deacon or priest cannot be celibate — this is a matter of definition. Nonetheless, he should be continent, for the reasons adduced by Cochini and Cholij, and resumed in Archbishop Stafford’s recent lecture.xxi It is then evident that those men who are candidates for a liturgical office by which they will be arctius altari conjungixxii are held to continence, and precisely by such ordination, whether they are celibate or married. No other reading of Lumen Gentium §29 is internally coherent, nor could it be made consistent with the later papal legislation instituting the restored diaconate.
Three years after the Council, Paul VI began to lay down the norms for the permanent diaconate: first in “Sacrum Diaconatus Ordinem,”xxiii, then in “Pontificalis Romani Recognitio,”xxiv and finally in “Ad pascendum”xxv. Moreover, the Pope had earlier spoken to the same subject, if only briefly, in “Sacerdotalis Caelibatus.”xxvi
“Sacerdotalis Caelibatus” is then the first in time of these documents; it bears only in passing upon the diaconate but, because “Sacrum Diaconatus Ordinem” follows immediately upon it, what it has to say on that subject is of no little interest. We quote §13 of “Sacerdotalis Caelibatus,” in full, and the final paragraph of §42:
§13 Porro hi contradictorum veluti concentus non solum perantiqua et grandia testimonia sive Pastorum Ecclesiae, sive magistrorum pietatis opprimere videtur, sed etiam viva in nostrisque oculis haerentia exempla, ab innumerabili cohorte edita sanctorum ac fidelium Dei administrorum, qui in re vera sacrum caelibatum demonstrant sibi causam itemque indicium eius fuisse doni, quo se totos laetissimosque Christi mysterio tradiderunt. Quae utique egregia exempla, non minus nostris quam praeteritis temporibus posita, placate constanterque adhuc loquuntur. Quapropter Nos, quibus praesentes res semper curae fuerunt, teneri non possumus, quin nec opinatam hanc mirificamque veritatem animadvertimus, qua docemur nunc etiam in Dei Ecclesia, ubicumque terrarum ea sancta tabernacula statuit, innumerabilem multitudinem sacrorum administrorum — subdiaconorum, diaconorum, presbyterorum, episcoporum — voluntarium Deoque sacratum caelibatum caste et integre servare.
§42 Ceteroqui Ecclesiae primores ab hac utenda potestate minime abstinere ex eo colligitur, quod recens Concilium Oecumenicum sapienter censuit, ut sacer nempe diaconatus ordo provectis etiam aetate viris, in matrimonio viventibus, posset conferri. (emphasis added)
The italicized phrase is perhaps a term of art, although the 1983 Code of Canon Law avoids it; first appearing in Lumen Gentium §29, immediately afterwards in “Sacerdotalis Caelibatus,” and then in “Sacrum Diaconatus Ordinem,” it imports a continuing condition or status which will not cease upon ordination: this can only be the marriage bond itself. To interpret it otherwise, as warranting the continuing use of marriage by a married deacon is to rest the use of marriage by a deacon upon a highly debatable exegesis of a rather obscure canonical phrase, and to suppose that such a drastic departure from tradition could rest upon such a debatable exegesis.
Such a putative papal rejection of the tradition of diaconal continence would require more foundation than the documents instituting the permanent diaconate can provide. This is particularly the case when, as here, the implication of a papal dismissal of the requirement of diaconal continence would have clear doctrinal import, as is shown to be the case by Cochini’s establishment of the apostolic origin of the tradition of clerical celibacy.
The third of these documents, the “Sacrum Diaconatus Ordinem,” is Pope Paul VI’s formal statement of the rules governing the restored permanent diaconate. In it, a paragraph confirming the existing law relative to the diaconate, except insofar as specifically altered (“nisi aliter cautum fuerit”), prefaces the numeration of the new regulations; viz:
698 Principio igitur quae in Codice Juris Canonici de diaconorum juribus et officiis, sive omnium clericorum communibus, sive eorundem propriis, statuuntur, ea omnia, nisi aliter cautum fuerit, confirmamus et in eos etiam valere edicimus, qui stabiliter in diaconatu sunt mansuri. Pro quibus praeterea haec alia, quae sequuntur, statuimus.
There follow thirty-five headings of regulations respecting the restored permanent diaconate; of these, the second, eleventh, sixteenth, twenty-fifth, and twenty-sixth bear upon the requirement, or not, of diaconal continence.
The second paragraph contains a clear if unattributed paraphrase of the final sentence of Lumen Gentium §29; it merely changes the order of phrases in that sentence. However, even as altered, this text deals only with celibate and noncelibate candidates for the diaconate, and says nothing which could be read to authorize the noncontinence of married deacons. The law of celibacy, imposed on unmarried candidates for the diaconate, obviously does not hold for married candidates: once more, “celibate” means “unmarried,” and it is simply as a matter of definition that married candidates are not celibate.
Here we place in sequence, for purposes of comparison, once again the final sentence of Lumen Gentium, §29, and the excerpt from “Sacrum Diaconatus Ordinem” which depends upon it:
Lumen Gentium, §29: De consensu Romani Pontificis hi Diaconatus viris maturioris aetatis etiam in matrimonio viventibus conferri poterit, necnon iuvenibus idoneis, pro quibus tamen lex coelibatus firma remanere debet.xxvii
699 “Sacrum Diaconatus Ordinem,” ¶2: In petenda ab Apostolica Sede approbatione exponendae sunt tum causae, quae novam huiusmodi disciplinam aliqua in regione constitutendam suadeant, tum rerum condiciones, quae veram boni eventus spem afferant; itemque describendus erit eiusdem disciplinae modus, utrum videlicet agatur de diaconatu conferendo iuvenibus idoneis, pro quibus … lex caelibatus firma remanere debet, an viris maturioris aetatis, etiam in matrimonio viventibus, an utrique candidatorum generi. (original emphasis)
To repeat, the reference in the latter excerpt to Lumen Gentium §29 is by way of italicization, not citation, and so can be said to be implicit. It can be read only as warranting or authorizing the ordination of deacons “in matrimonio viventibus,” which is to say, the ordination of married men to the diaconate. Nothing whatever appears in that text to authorize the novelty of a continuing exercise by them of conjugal relations subsequent to their ordination. It cannot be said to have been instituted by the Pope even tacitly, as by indirection. It is therefore evident that the condition of such a drastic change in the diaconate, as restored by Vatican II and Paul VI, viz., the “nisi aliter cautum fuerit” set forth in “Sacrum Diaconatus Ordinem” at 698, quoted supra and again here, simply is not met:
698 Principio igitur quae in Codice Juris Canonici de diaconorum juribus et officiis, sive omnium clericorum communibus, sive eorundem propriis, statuuntur, ea omnia, nisi aliter cautum fuerit, confirmamus et in eos etiam valere edicimus, qui stabiliter in diaconatu sunt mansuri. (emphasis added)
The eleventh paragraph of “Sacrum Diaconatus Ordinem” requires the permission of the wife before the ordination of the married candidate to the permanent diaconate:
700 ¶11. Grandioris aetatis viri, sive caelibes sive etiam matrimonio conjuncti, ad diaconatum vocari possunt: hi vero ne admittantur, nisi constet non solum de uxoris consensu, sed de eiusdem etiam christiana morum probitate illisque dotibus, quae viri ministerium nec impediant nec dedecorent. (emphasis added)
Once again, we here see celibacy contrasted not with noncontinence but with marriage, and the contrast evidently is understood as exhausting the possibilities. This paragraph quite clearly restates the traditional requirement for permission from the wives of married ordinands who, by their husbands’ ordination and consequent continence, would find themselves comparably bound to continence: we shall see that the moral demands placed upon the wife by her husband’s ordination are sufficiently alluded to in the “nisi constet non solum de uxoris consensu, sed de eiusdem etiam christiana morum probitate illisque dotibus, quae viri ministerium nec impediant nec dedecorent.”
Paragraph sixteen is yet more difficult to account for, if one supposes the use of marriage by the married permanent deacon to be licit:
701 ¶16. Post ordinem receptum diaconi, grandiore etiam aetate promoti, ex tradita Ecclesiae disciplina ad ineundum matrimonium inhabiles sunt.
The phrase, “grandiore etiam aetate promoti,” can only refer to those candidates for the diaconate who are “viri(s) maturioris aetatis, etiam in matrimonio viventibus,” (“sive caelibes sive etiam matrimonio conjuncti”) i.e., the older candidates for the permanent diaconate, to whom the law of celibacy does not apply. Here, we are informed that, whether married or not, once ordained the older deacons are incapable of marrying, or of marrying again.
It is impossible to understand why a second marriage should be excluded “ex tradita ecclesiae disciplina” if, contrary to that traditional discipline, conjugal intimacy in an existing marriage is acceptable. The paragraph clearly refers back to the ancient tradition which found such a remarriage, with its implication of reinstituted conjugal intercourse by one in higher orders, entirely immoral and in fact impossible. This interpretation, the sole possible one, of course invokes again the traditional law of continence for married deacons.
The twenty-fifth paragraph is as follows:
702 ¶25. Diaconi, utpote qui Christi et Ecclesiae mysteriis inserviant, a quovis pravitatis vitio se abstineant Deoque semper placere studeant, ad omne opus bonum pro hominum salute parati.9 (Cfr. 2 Tim 2,21) Ob receptum ergo ordinem, longe aliis excellant oportet in vitae liturgicae actione, in studio precandi, in divino ministerio, in oboedientia, in caritate, in castitate. (original emphasis)
First to be remarked of this paragraph is the Pope’s emphasis upon the traditional liturgical responsibility of the permanent deacon, a matter we have seen to have been largely ignored by Lumen Gentium §29. Secondly, we note that the “castitas” to which the preceding quotation makes reference is the traditional equivalent of that “pudicitia” which from the earliest years had described the continence required of those ordained to the episcopacy, priesthood, and diaconate.xxviii
The twenty-sixth paragraph of this papal document takes for granted the liceity of permanent deacons “in matrimonio viventium,” once again contrasting that state not with continence, but with celibacy. A single diaconal spirituality is said to be incumbent upon both celibate deacons, and those who are married, viz., those “in matrimonio viventes:”
702-03 ¶26. Episcopalis Conferentiae erit efficaciores normas statuere ad spiritualem vitam alendam diaconorum, tam in caelibatu quam in matrimonio viventium. Curant tamen locorum Ordinarii, ut omnes diaconi:
1) assidue legendo attenteque secum meditando Dei verbo vacent;
2) frequenter vel etiam cotidie, quantum fieri potest, Missae sacrificio actuosi intersint, SS. Eucharistiae sacramento reficiantur idemque pietatis causa invisant; (emphasis added)
Again, we note the stress which Pope Paul VI has placed upon the Eucharistic focus of the restored diaconate. Here the Pope makes the first clear reference, whether in Lumen Gentium or in “Sacrum Diaconatus Ordinem,” to the ordained deacon as “in matrimonio vivens.” The only use of such language in Lumen Gentium or in “Sacrum Diaconatus Ordinem” related to married candidates for the diaconate. If in fact “in matrimonio vivens” does imply ongoing conjugal relations, surely here was the place to have made it clear, for the contrast, constant heretofore, of celibacy with marriage, not with noncontinence or with the use of marriage, has excluded a reading of “in matrimonio viven(te)s” which would imply the liceity of marital intercourse after ordination to the diaconate.
The earlier paragraph (11) of the same document, in which we have read that the consent of the wife of the married candidate for the diaconate is prerequisite to his ordination, only confirms the equation of “in matrimonio viventes” with the reality of marriage bond itself:
700 ¶11. Grandioris aetatis viri, sive caelibes sive etiam matrimonio conjuncti, ad diaconatum vocari possunt: hi vero ne admittantur, nisi constet non solum de uxoris consensu, sed de eiusdem etiam christiana morum probitate illisque dotibus, quae viri ministerium nec empediant nec dedecorent. (emphasis added.)
According to the tradition which Cochini and Stickler have cogently argued to be of apostolic origin, it was precisely the post-ordination use of marital relations by the married deacon which was described as an impediment to the diaconal ministry at the altar, and as indecent. Consequently, the addition of this ad cautelam proviso must be read as meant to guard the consequently continent modality of life required for the admission of married candidates to diaconal orders: that they be continent thereafter, and this with the wife’s consent and with her foreseen moral support.
This interpretation is the simplest reading of the language of paragraph 26, “tam in caelibatu quam in matrimonio viventium.” Once again, it is to be noted the paired opposites are presented as exhaustive; further, if “in caelibatu (viventes)” simply means “unmarried,” as opposed to “in matrimonio viventes” as the equivalent of “married,” nothing in this paragraph (26) can be shown to warrant a noncontinent married permanent diaconate. If on the other hand “caelibatus” does not exhaust the alternatives to “in matrimonio vivens” this needs to be shown, whereas that it does not has only been assumed — unwarrantably — by those who suppose the married deacon to be permitted conjugal relations simply qua noncelibate.
It must be therefore be concluded that at this point in the documentation there has appeared no warrant for the novel understanding of the diaconate whereby the ordination of married men to the permanent diaconate would no longer oblige them to subsequent continence. Because they are married, such deacons are by definition not celibate, but this says nothing as to their freedom to continue to engage in marital relations. The relaxation of the “lex caelibatus” for the permanent diaconate does not in any manner imply the relaxation of the obligation of continence for those in major orders. It is intended merely to open up candidacy for the permanent diaconate to a group of men formerly excluded from such orders by the fact of their married state, their noncelibacy.
It is further to be noted that conjoined to paragraph 26 supra is a subsection exhorting precisely the close association of the deacon with the Eucharistic sacrifice which has been — and remains — the liturgical ground for clerical continence. In fact, whatever the silence of the Fathers at the Council on the point, “Sacrum Diaconatus Ordinem” clearly assigns to the restored permanent diaconate the liturgical responsibilities within the Church’s Eucharistic worship which have been traditional to the diaconate as such:
701 ¶22. Secundum memoratum Concilii Vaticani II Constitutionem, diaconi est, quatenus loci Ordinarius haec ipsa expedienda commiserit:
1) inter actiones liturgicas episcopo et presbytero adesse in omnibus, quae rituales varii ordinis libri eidem attribuunt;
3) Eucharistiam asservare, sibi ceterisque distribuere, eam in viaticum morientibus offere, atque eucharisticam benedictionem, quam dicunt, cum sacra pyxide populo impertire.
Further, the prefatory pages of “Sacrum Diaconatus Ordinem” leave no doubt that the restored permanent diaconate is indeed the sacramental Order of the apostolic tradition, ordination to which confers a specific character, by which the deacon is ordered to the service of the altar. This service of the altar had been further spelled out in earlier introductory paragraphs, among them following, which assign and confirm the traditional liturgical duties of the diaconate:
697-98 Sacrum diaconatus ordinem iam inde a prisca Apostolorum aetate catholica Ecclesia magno in honore habuit, quemadmodum ipse Gentium Doctor testatur, qui diaconos una cum episcopis nominatim salvere jubet1 (Cfr. Phil 1, 1) atque Timotheum docet, quaenam virtutes animique dotes ab iisdem sint expetendae, ut suo digni ministerio aestimentur.2 [Cfr. I Tim 3, 8-13.] (emphasis added)
Porro Oecumenicum Concilium Vaticanum II, perantiquam huiusmodi morem servans, honorificam diaconatus mentionem in Constitutione, a verbis Lumen Gentium incipienti, fecit ibique, cum de episcopis et presbyteris egisset, tertium quoque sacri ordinis gradum celebravit, eius dignitatem illustrando atque officia percensendo. Verum hinc probe intellegens haec munera, ad vitam Ecclesiae summopere necessaria, in disciplina Ecclesiae latinae hodie vigenti in pluribus regionibus adimplere difficulter posse, hinc tantae rei commodius consulere exoptans, sapienter decrevit, ut diaconatus in futurum tamquam proprius ac permanens gradus hierarchiae restitui posset.3 (Cfr. n. 29; A.A.S. 57  p. 36.)
Quamvis enim nonnulla diaconorum munera laicis viris, in terris praesertim missionali opere excolendis, revera committi soleant, eos tamen juvat… qui ministerio vere diaconali fungantur…per impositionem manuum inde ab Apostolis traditam corroborari et altari arctius coniungi, ut ministerium suum per gratiam sacramentalem diaconatus efficacius expleant.4 (Cfr. Conc. Vat. II, Decr. Ad Gentes, n. 16; A.A.S. 58  p. 967) Qua profecto ratione optimo quasi in lumine collocabitur propria huiusce Ordinis natura, qui non tamquam merus ad sacerdotium gradus est existimandus, sed indelebili suo charactere ac praecipua sua gratia insignis ita locupletatur, ut qui ad ipsum vocentur, ii mysteriis Christi et Ecclesiae stabiliter inservire possint.5 (Cfr. Conc. Vat. II, Const. Dogm. Lumen Gentium, n. 11: A.A.S. 57  p. 46.)
In 1972, norms for admission to the diaconate were promulgated in “Ad Pascendum;” these include:
6. The special consecration of celibacy observed for the sake of the kingdom of heaven and its obligation for candidates to the priesthood and for unmarried candidates for the diaconate are indeed linked with the diaconate. The public commitment to holy celibacy before God and the Church is to be celebrated in a particular rite, even by religious, and is to precede ordination to the diaconate. Celibacy taken on in this way is a diriment impediment to entering marriage.
In accordance with the traditional discipline of the Church, a married deacon who has lost his wife cannot enter a new marriage.26
26Apostolic Letter Sacram Diaconatus Ordinem, n. 16: A.A.S. 59 (1967), p. 701.
“Ad pascendum,” A.A.S. 64  534-540; tr. Documents, 439
The language bearing upon the continence expected of the ordained deacon, married or unmarried, remains indirect. For example, the celibacy attaching to the office of the priesthood, and of the unmarried deacon, is said to be a diriment impediment to marriage. We have earlier seen that the married deacon is unable to remarry (“Post ordinem receptum diaconi, grandiore etiam aetate promoti, ex tradita Ecclesiae disciplina ad ineundum matrimonium inhabiles sunt”). If there was there no explicit mention of a diriment impediment, it is understandable enough, for it is ordination to the diaconate which is the ground of the impediment: the language quoted here is sufficiently explicit as to its reality. In the end, the obligation of consecrated celibacy is of sacramental, not merely of juridical provenance: thus before affirming that diaconal orders constitute a diriment impediment to marriage, “Ad Pascendum” speaks not of an illiceity but of an incapacity in the deacon with respect to subsequent marriage.
That the requirement of diaconal continence is left intact by Vatican II and Pope Paul VI is yet further manifest in the spate of scriptural and patristic references in “Sacrum Diaconatus Ordinem” and again in “Ad Pascendum” — these references to Phil 1:1, to I Tim 3, to 2 Tim 2, to Ignatius Martyr, to Polycarp, to Irenaeus, to Justin Martyr, to Tertullian, to the Didascalia Apostolorum, to Hippolytus’ Traditio Apostolica, to Leo the Great — invite the application to the renewed permanent diaconate of all that had been understood by the patristic tradition to pertain to the diaconal office.
With the publication of Cochini’s research, anticipated by the work of Alfons Cardinal Stickler and confirmed by that of Roman Cholij, the burden of going forward with the evidence rests upon whoever would deny that the apostolic tradition of continence is integral to the apostolic and the patristic understanding of the diaconal Order, and consequently that the tradition is liturgical and therefore is doctrinal. It is not at all a mere disciplinary usage, as Cochini and Cholij have shown.
As prelude to the list of “norms” set out in “Ad Pascendum,” Pope Paul VI recited his extensive consultation with “experts,” as well as with the episcopal conferences. It is inconceivable that he would have ignored the scholarship of Fr. Stickler who, raised by Pope John Paul II to the archiepiscopate in 1983 and to the Cardinalate in 1985, had already at the time of the Council a stellar reputation as a Church historian, and who as we have seen had published a paper directly on the continence of the diaconate in 1964 and another in 1970, well prior to “Sacrum Diaconatus Ordinem” and “Ad Pascendum.” Cochini has written:
Fr. Stickler was an expert at the Second Vatican Council, which decided, as we recall, the restoration of the permanent diaconate in the Church. His study, “The Continence of the Deacon, Especially during the First Millennium of the Church,” published in 1964, was written as part of studies aiming to bring to the Council Fathers elements of reflection borrowed from history. The author points out that one must understand celibacy in the early Church not only as meaning a prohibition of marriage, but also in the sense of perfect continence for those who were already married. The Western Church Tradition is studied in the light of the teachings of the councils, of the Fathers, and of the Roman pontiffs who always preserved (or restored) its essential features. The author opines it is on the basis of motivations inherent in the very nature of the Order and of the sacred ministry that this uninterrupted tradition demands a perfect continence on the part of those who have been married before receiving sacred Orders.
Apostolic Origins, at 43.
The doctrinal point raised by Fr. Stickler — viz., that continence is integral to the diaconal service at the altar — seems never to have been expressly contested by the Fathers in the Council. This impression is confirmed by the conciliar reportage, supposing it to be accurate, of Vorgrimler and Philips, supra, as well as that of Henri Fesquet.xxix Similarly, Michael Novak’s fuller account of the debate over diaconal celibacy never touches on this point. The only debate was over marriage versus celibacy for the diaconate; the continence which the tradition has required of married deacons simply did not arise as a topic of discussion.
In connection with this reportage, it is noteworthy that Stickler’s name, that of a peritus at the Council who had addressed this much-discussed subject expressly in the 1964 article cited by Cochini, supra, is not found in the index of Vorgrimler’s Commentary, in which the quotations supra from Vorgrimler and Philips appeared; neither is he mentioned in Fesquet’s book, nor in Novak’s, nor in the Actus Synodalia. It can hardly be supposed, then, that his well-known position had been controverted by the conciliar Fathers: such a controversy could not have passed unnoticed, whereas we have both Vorgrimler and Philips as witnesses to its absence from the conciliar discussion. We must conclude that Stickler’s point of view was never opposed at the Council, and more likely, that the question of whether or not the married permanent deacon was to be continent was not raised at all. As has been seen, it does appear that a large minority of the conciliar Fathers took for granted the noncontinence of the married diaconate: otherwise, the minority approval of waiving celibacy also for the younger candidates for the diaconate is without point.
Cochini has shown that the continence of the diaconate was from the earliest records considered to be on the same level as that of the priest and the bishop, and that this requirement of continence in those serving the altar did and does not rest upon such early legislation as that promulgated by the Councils of Elvira (305) and of Carthage (390) (which, bye the bye, are cited neither by “Sacrum Diaconatus Ordinem” nor by “Ad Pascendum”) but rests rather upon a liturgically-grounded apostolic tradition which links celibacy and marital continence to the intercessory Eucharistic role of the higher clergy, whose rank reflects the level of their direct responsibility for the celebration of the Mass. Following I Tim 3:8-13, this continence was from the earliest times held consistent with the ordination of married men to the episcopate, the priesthood and the diaconate, who were held to strict continence thereafter. Such ordination of married men was predicated upon the prior consent of the wives of the candidates, for of course ordination imposed continence upon them as well as upon their husbands, even to the point of forbidding the widows of deacons, as well as of priests and bishops, to remarry quite as it forbade widower bishops and priests to remarry; we have seen this requirement reaffirmed in §11 of “Sacrum Diaconatus Ordinem” and also in the 1983 Code of Canon Law. The ordination of younger, unmarried men to the diaconate required then as now a life-long commitment to celibacy and obviously to continence.
It is only with the Council in Trullo, at the end of the seventh century, that this discipline lapsed in the Eastern Churches; Cochini has detailed the circumstances of this deviation, and Cholij, a priest of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, has seconded Cochini’s conclusion that it is indeed a deviation, as has also Henri Crouzel.xxx
In the light of Lumen Gentium’s omission, stressed by Vorgrimler, of any mention of participation in the celebration of the Eucharist as among the duties, liturgical and otherwise, of permanent deacons, it might have been asked whether the “permanent diaconate” envisaged by the Council had not suffered a sea change from that of which the apostolic tradition has demanded celibacy. For an instance of such change exists: Cochini and Cholij both record a change in liturgical responsibility in the reverse direction, which affected the subdiaconate in the West from the fifth century onward to Vatican II. From its primitive standing as an exterior service or ministry akin to that of an acolyte, lector or porter, the subdiaconate had by the fifth century became directly involved in the celebration of the Eucharistic mystery. Thereupon it was recognized by the Pope as a major Order, and its candidates were committed to continence, despite the considerable inconveniences involved in the drastic demand this novelty placed upon married subdeacons. The abolition of the subdiaconate as a major Order, and its consequent dissociation from celibacy by Pope Paul VI in “Ministeria Quaedam,” §4,xxxi can only reflect a shifting of the liturgical responsibilities of the subdiaconate away from direct responsibility for the Eucharistic celebration. In Rahner’s view, just such a shifting of responsibility, from liturgical to practical responsibilities, would appear to have long since overtaken the permanent diaconate at the time of its recommended reinstitution by Lumen Gentium and Ad Gentes Divinitus, and its actual institution by “Sacrum Diaconatus Ordinem” and “Ad Pascendum.”
However, if only because the conciliar motives for that reinstitution of the permanent diaconate, as set forth in Lumen Gentium, §29 did not touch the diaconal exercise of a direct responsibility in the offering of the Eucharistic sacrifice, it is evident that no change in the liturgical responsibilities of the permanent diaconate was in contemplation at the Council. What may have been assumed by many of the Fathers present there is another matter.
In any case, Paul VI, in “Sacrum Diaconatus Ordinem,” explicitly reaffirmed the liturgical and particularly the Eucharistic responsibility, and the correlative Eucharistic spirituality, of the restored diaconate. The Pope was equally insistent upon the traditional hierarchical rank of the permanent diaconate, and upon the indelible sacramental character which the ordination to it, by the imposition of hands, effects.
There can be no doubt that the Pope has restored the permanent diaconate in the sense of the traditional, sacramentally-conferred, hierarchical Order, an Order which he describes in the traditional language of “altari arctius conjungi.”xxxii It is this closeness to the altar, inseparable from their liturgical office, that Cochini has shown to be the basis for the ancient tradition requiring continence of deacons, as it is required of bishops and of priests.
Yet further: it must be kept in mind that the Nota Explicativa which Pope Paul VI added as an appendix to Lumen Gentium bars the reading into that document, by way of a supposedly latent implication, of any novel doctrinal affirmation:
the sacred synod declared as binding on the Church only those matters of faith and morals which it has expressly put forward as such.xxxiii
It is impossible to find in the documents of Vatican II any intent or indeed any intimation of an intent to teach a novel interpretation of the sacrament of orders; in fact, the conciliar intent to attach the renewal of the permanent diaconate to the biblical and patristic tradition is evident.
Thus, the post-conciliar proliferation of married and noncontinent deacons, in the face of an evident apostolic tradition denying the liceity of such a practice, demands a solution which can only be an explicit recognition of the binding character of the apostolic tradition of diaconal continence. The pastoral problem has no other answer, for any alternative would undercut the nature of the diaconate itself, as arctius altari conjungi. Further, the implications of the noncontinent married diaconate for the celibate priesthood cannot be ignored: if a noncontinent diaconate, “altari arctius conjungi,” is legitimate in the Latin Church, all that remains for the legitimation of a married and noncontinent priesthood and episcopacy is negotiation of the terms of the surrender of all sacramental realism. In the final analysis, we are dealing with a matter which puts in issue the point upon which the Reformation turned, and which was resolved at Trent: the Mass as the celebration, or not, of the Eucharistic sacrifice. If the apostolic doctrine on that point is to be upheld, so also that which is strictly conjoined to it, the celibacy of those who serve the altar upon which the One Sacrifice is offered and the One Flesh of the New Covenant instituted.
The contemporary fact of the married deacons — and perhaps of married priests as well — in full exercise at once of their marital intimacy and their orders is an obvious surd in Roman Catholic life and worship, for the coincidence of conjugal relations with responsibility for service arctius altari conjungi has been illicit since apostolic times for reasons going to the heart of the Church’s Eucharistic worship in truth. Consequently, there is every reason to deny that the restoration of the permanent diaconate in any sense legitimates the noncontinence of deacons “in matrimonio viventes.”
The Fathers at Vatican II, and Paul VI in his implementation of Lumen Gentium, §29, were intent upon the restoration of the third hierarchical Order; it is evident from the opening paragraphs of “Pontificalis Romani Recognitio” that there was no intent to introduce a novelty:
Pontificalis Romani recognitio non tamen generali modo a Concilio Oecumenico Vaticano II praescribitur,1 sed etiam peculiaribus regitur normis, quibus eadem Sacra Synodus ritus Ordinationum, sive quoad caeremonias sive quoad textus2 dimutari iussit. (original emphasis)
Sed ex Ordinationis ritibus illi imprimis considerandi sunt, quibus per Sacramentum Ordinis, vario gradu collatum, sacra Hierarchia constituitur: sic ministerium ecclesiasticum divinitus institutum diversis ordinibus exercetur ab illis qui iam ab antiquo Episcopi, Presbyteri, Diaconi vocantur.3 (original emphasis)
In recognitione autem ritus Ordinationum Sacrarum, praeter principia generalia, quibus integra instauratio Liturgiae, iuxta praescripta Concilii Vaticani II, regi debet, summopere attendendum est ad praeclaram illam doctrinam de natura et effectibus Sacramenti Ordinis, quae in Constitutione de Ecclesia ab eodem Conciliio pronuntiata est, nam textus et ritus ita ordinari oportet ut sancta, quae significant, clarius exprimant, eaque populus christianus, in quantum fieri potest, facile percipere atque plena, actuosa et communitatis propria celebratione participare possit.4 (original emphasis)
1Conc Vat. II, Const. de Sacra Liturgia, Sacrosanctum Concilium, n. 25: A.A.S. 56 (1964) p. 107.
2Ibid., n. 76: A.A.S. 56 (1964) p. 119.
3Conc. Vat. II, Const. dogm. de Ecclesia, Lumen gentium, n. 28: A.A.S. 57 (1965) pp. 33-34.
4Conc Vat. II, Const. de Sacra Liturgia, Sacrosanctum Concilium, n. 21: A.A.S. 56 (1964) p. 106.
After reading language such as this, it is impossible to believe that the restoration of the permanent diaconate by the Council and the Pope contemplated making any alteration in the sacrament of orders. Some at least of the conciliar Fathers must have been aware of the doctrinal weight of the traditional obligation of diaconal continence; Fr. Stickler’s articles would not have passed unnoticed. While the Fathers agreed at the Council to permit a married permanent diaconate, and while there is reason to suppose that the commentators we have cited (Vorgrimler, Philips, Novak, Fesquet), and with them a minority of the Fathers, understood the phrase “in matrimonio viventibus” to connote or denote permission for the continuing use of marriage by married deacons, there is no indication in the records of the conciliar debates that the Fathers ever approved a noncontinent married diaconate. In fact, the evidence is all to the contrary effect. The reasons for the confusion at the Council over the meaning of diaconal celibacy are not apparent on the record.xxxiv
Married bishops, priests, and deacons are no novelty in the Church, but the use of marriage by men in major orders is precisely the novelty which Stickler understood it to be; we have seen Stickler repeat this conviction, which the research of Cochini and Cholij has since corroborated.
Finally, the theological development of the doctrine of “Pastores Dabo Vobis” presented by Archbishop Stafford’s lecture provides further reason for agreeing with Cochini’s affirmation of the patristic origin of the Latin tradition of clerical celibacy; it does appear that the sacramental signs themselves of marriage and of orders intimate the impropriety of noncontinence in anyone who is “altari arctius coniungi,” as we have seen the diaconal office described by Paul VI in “Sacrum Diaconatus Ordinem.”
Vorgrimler has pointed to the large minority of bishops at the Council who voted to relieve even the unmarried deacon of any consequent obligation of celibacy. We can hardly suppose so large a number of the world’s Catholic bishops to be intent upon dismissing an apostolic doctrine, and yet the perduring tradition of clerical continence can have no other ground — but this is precisely what does not appear to have been suspected by that minority of Fathers who voted against diaconal celibacy at the Council. The minority of the Fathers — a sizable minority — quite clearly intended to dispense even the young unmarried deacons from both celibacy and from continence in marriage. The only alternative to this conclusion is that the minority read “celibacy” strictly, to mean unmarried simply, so that the dropping of the requirement of celibacy for unmarried deacons meant permission for them to marry after ordination coupled with the obligation to live continently thereafter — but for the reasons which have been set out, that alternative appears to be excluded: in brief, it is pointless.
When the majority reaffirmed the requirement of celibacy traditional for unmarried deacons, and at the same time approved the ordination of married men to the diaconate — thus approved the ordination to the permanent diaconate of men who were not celibate — they did not thereby license the use of marriage by such deacons; had they done so, there would have been no possible basis for their firm refusal to drop the requirement of celibacy for younger candidates for the diaconate.
In sum, there is every reason to insist that the sacrament of orders remains as it has been, and that the current practice — one cannot speak of its canonical institution — of a noncontinent diaconate is an aberration which will not attain a permanent standing in the Church.
Donald J. Keefe, S.J.
St. Joseph’s Seminary, Dunwoodie
1Alfons Stickler, “La continenza dei diaconi specialmente nel primo millenio della chiesa,” Salesianum 26 (1964) 275-302; “Tratti salienti nella storia del celibato,” Sacra Doctrina 15 (1970) 585-620; “Il celibato ecclesiatico” in L’Osservatore della Domenica, supplements to nos. 103, 109, and 115 of L’Osservatore Romano for May 6, 13, 20, 1979; “L’évolution de la discipline du célibat dans l’Église en Occident de la fin de l’âge patristique au Concile de Trente,” in Sacerdoce et célibat.
iiArchbishop (now Cardinal) J. Francis Stafford, “The Eucharistic Foundation of Sacerdotal Celibacy,” Origins 23/12 (2 Sept., 1993) 211-216. The then-Archbishop Stafford delivered this address at a conference on the priesthood, held under the auspices of the Vatican Congregation for the Clergy on May 26-28, 1993, at the Gregorian University in Rome to mark the first anniversary of the papal encyclical, Pastores Dabo Vobis. His essay relies upon Christian Cochini, S.J., Origines apostoliques du célibat sacerdotal. Préface du Père A. Stickler; coll. Le Sycamore (Paris: Éditions Lethielleux; Namur: Culture et Vérité, 1981). Page references hereafter to Fr. Cochini’s chef d’oeuvre will be to its English translation, The Apostolic Origins of Priestly Celibacy. With a Preface by Father Alfons M. Stickler. Translated by Nelly Marans (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1990) [henceforth, Apostolic Origins]. This latter edition is furnished with an index, unfortunately lacking in the original. See also Roman Cholij, Clerical Celibacy In East And West. Foreword by Alfons Cardinal Stickler, S.D.B., Librarian and Archivist of the Holy Roman Church; Preface by Michael Napier of the Oratory (Leominster, Herfordshire: Fowler Wright Books, 1989) [henceforth, Clerical Celibacy]. At the time of his writing, Fr. Cholij, a priest of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, was secretary to the bishop of the Ukrainian-rite Catholics of London. As Cardinal Stickler observes, Fr. Cholij’s book is a most valuable supplement to Fr. Cochini’s work, the more so in that although himself a member of a rite (Ukrainian) permitting the ordination of married men and their subsequent exercise of marital rights, Cholij agrees with Cochini that this concession rests upon a mistaken interpretation written by the Quinisext Council (In Trullo) into the Greek translation of the canons of the Council of Carthage.
Fr. Cochini’s book originated as a doctoral dissertation for the Institut Catholique (Paris), while Fr. Cholij’s study was written as a doctoral dissertation in canon law at the Gregorian University in Rome. Cochini’s dissertation, defended before a board headed by Jean Cardinal Daniélou, S.J., was at the latter’s urging, with the approval of Henri Cardinal de Lubac, and under Fr. Alfons Stickler’s guidance, later expanded into the present work. Its invaluable contribution to the theology of Orders seems to have been little regarded in this country, although since its appearance in English translation it is being widely read. Its distinguished author is now a missionary in Taiwan.
iii During the summer of 1998, American ordinaries received two documents, written in close association by, respectively, the Congregation for Education and the Congregation for the Clergy. The document from the Congregation for the Clergy was published in English as “Basic Norms for the Formation of Permanent Deacons,” Origins 28/11 (Aug. 1998) 181-91. In it we read:
For married candidates, to live love [sic] means offering themselves to their spouses in a reciprocal belonging, in a total, faithful and indissoluble union in the likeness of Christ’s love for his church, at the same time it means welcoming children, loving them, educating them and showing forth to the whole church and society the communion of the family (§68, 188a; emphasis added.
An English translation of the document issued by the Congregation for Education was published in the same number of Origins as “Directory for the Ministry and Life of Permanent Deacons,” ibid., 191-204; it contains the following passage:
In particular, the widowed deacon should be supported in living perfect perpetual continence.192 He should be helped to understand the profound ecclesial reasons which preclude his remarriage (cf. I Tim 3:12), in accordance with the constant discipline of the church in the East and West.193 (§62, at 200b; emphasis added).
192Cf. Canon 277.1.
193Sacrum Diaconatus Ordinem, III, 16; Ad Pascendum, VI; Canon 1087. Provision is made for possible exceptions to this discipline in the June 6, 1997, circular letter of the Congregation for Divine Worship; and the Discipline of the Sacraments, Prot. No. 26397, 8.
The circular letter referenced in the footnote quoted supra (193) was published in English as “Deacons’ Remarriage: Laicizing Priests,” Origins 27/11 (Aug. 28, 1997), 169, 171-72, wherein we read:
1. The competence1 to treat of cases of dispensation from the obligations of sacred ordination and of vows in the above mentioned institutes, such dispensation being inseparably connected with dismissal from the clerical state, lies with this congregation. (at 169b; emphasis added)
1Cf. Secretary of State, Letter 230.139 (Feb. 8, 1989).
On the next page of the English tr. of the circular letter the following language appears:
6. As a consequence of the new disposition concerning the permanent diaconate and of the norms issued by the Holy See5 and by numerous episcopates regarding formation, lifestyle and ministerial activities entrusted to deacons, a difficulty that arises from the impediment preventing “married permanent deacons, widowed after ordination” from contracting a further marriage [sic]. Such a second marriage after ordination could in fact be attempted only under the pain of canonical nullity.6 (at 171a-b)
5Cf. Vatican II, Lumen Gentium, 29; Paul VI, apostolic letter Sacrum Diaconatus Ordinem (June 18, 1967): A.A.S. 59 (1967), pp. 697-704; apostolic constitution Pontificalis Romani Recognitio (June 18, 1968): A.A.S. 60 (1968), pp. 369-373; apostolic letter Ad Pascendum (Aug. 15, 1972): A.A.S. 64 (1972), pp. 534-550; Code of Canon Law, Canons 236, 276.2 and .3; 1035.1; 1037; 1042.,1; 1053.3; John Paul II, “Catechesis” from the Oct. 13, 1993, general audience address: Insegnamenti XVI, 2 (1993), pp. 1000-1004; Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1554.
6Ad Pascendum, VI, and Canon 1087 in connection with Canon 1078.2.1.
7. For some time it has been evident that because of this prohibition grave difficulties have arisen for those who have been widowed after ordination but are desirous of remaining in the diaconal ministry.
8. With a view to establishing a new practice modifying the current norm, which requires three cumulative and simultaneous conditions which would constitute motivating exceptions for the granting of a dispensation from the prohibition of Canon 1087, this dicastery has requested and has obtained from the Holy Father that any one of the three following conditions taken singly are [sic] sufficient for a favorable consideration of the dispensation from this impediment, namely:
—The great and proven usefulness of the ministry of the deacon to the diocese to which he belongs.
—That he has children of such a tender age as to be in need of motherly care.
—That he has parents or parents-in-law who are elderly and in need of care (§8, at 171b).
And finally, at the end of the circular letter:
9. The Cardinal Secretary of State, in a letter (No. 4092.629) of Feb. 27, 1997, has communicated the approval given by the Holy Father on Feb. 10, 1997, to these above-mentioned new criteria regarding the dispensation from celibacy for priests under the age of 40; and in a letter of March 22, 1997 (No. 4092.629) [sic], permission was given for the new conditions under which dispensation may be granted from the impediment to a second marriage on the part of the permanent deacons who have been widowed after ordination. It was further established that this circular letter be sent to diocesan and religious ordinaries informing them of these new measures for future reference.
10. Diocesan and religious ordinaries are therefore kindly requested to give due attention to these instructions should they have occasion to forward petitions for dispensation to this congregation.
Vatican City, June 6, 1997
Archbishop Jorge Medina Estevez, Pro-Prefect
Archbishop Geraldo M. Agnelo, Secretary
The first passage quoted, (§68) excerpted from the document published by the Congregation for the Clergy, clearly knows nothing of, or ignores, the traditional requirement that married men in major orders be continent in their marriage after ordination: the propriety of sexual relations between married deacons and their wives is even insisted upon. As will be shown, the liceity of this departure from tradition was never discussed during the Council by any of the bishops concerned for the married diaconate. Further: it is evident that with their promulgation by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, the new norms annul the diriment impediment to marriage constituted by prior ordination to major Orders. The “diriment” character of that impediment has been summarily negated; the impediment of Orders has been treated as though it were of merely canonical provenance and standing, and its dispensability thereby taken for granted. The “great and proven usefulness of the ministry of the deacon, etc.,” now trumps “the constant discipline of the church in the East and West” which has required that “such dispensation (be) inseparably connected with dismissal from the clerical state” — this inseparable connection of its dispensation with dismissal from the clerical state is that which makes the impediment of Orders to be a diriment impediment. The constant tradition of the Church, East and West, has been denied doctrinal significance, and this without any discussion of the subject by the bishops at Vatican II or elsewhere, and in the entire absence of any competent theological inquiry into the matter other than that provided by Stickler, Cochini and Cholij, whose unanimity contradicts the assumptions of both Congregations and of the Secretary of State.
It is to be noted that the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, while asserting that “this dicastery has requested and obtained from the Holy Father that any one of the three following conditions taken singly are sufficient for a favorable consideration of the dispensation from this impediment, etc.,” relies for this assertion of papal permission upon a document which on this point is at best ambiguous, for we have read in the circular letter that:
in a letter of March 22, 1997 (no. 402.629) permission was given for the new conditions under which dispensation may be granted from the impediment to a second marriage on the part of permanent deacons who have been widowed after ordination.
In the first place, the protocol number assigned this letter of March 22nd is the same as given the letter received the previous February 27th concerning the dispensation of laicized priests: both numbers may be in error, and one of them must be. However that may be, in the footnote citing both of these letters from the Secretary of State we have read that:
The Cardinal Secretary of State, in a letter (No. 4092.629) of Feb. 27th, 1997, has communicated the approval given by the Holy Father on Feb. 10, 1997, to these above-mentioned new criteria regarding the dispensation from celibacy for priests under the age of 40; and in a letter of March 22nd, 1997 (No. 4092.629) [sic], permission was given for the new conditions under which dispensation may be granted from the impediment to a second marriage on the part of the permanent deacons who have been widowed after ordination.
Here the Congregation clearly asserts, in the active voice, that the Cardinal Secretary of State has communicated to the Congregation for Divine Worship a papal permission to dispense, under certain circumstances, laicized priests under the age of forty from their canonical incapacity to marry. In this direct statement there is nothing startling, for while the laicization of a priest does not imply such dispensation, and while its discretional grant by the Pope to priests who have been thus dismissed from the clerical state may be more or less rare, such a dispensation presents no novelty. However, in the Congregation’s circular letter we find incongruously associated with this dispensation granted to laicized priests, another and entirely different situation. For it is to be noted that the description in the Congregation’s ‘circular letter,” of the Secretary of State’s letter of March 22nd, couched in the passive voice, makes no mention of any papal approval of the dispensation which may be granted by the Secretary of State to widowed deacons from the canon law and the ancient tradition which have barred their remarriage. Rather, in that same passive voice, we read that, in the March 22nd letter, “permission was given” to the Congreation for Divine worship to grant such dispensations: it does not say by whom permission was given.
Where, as here in the case of widowed deacons, a papal permission to dispense from a diriment impediment is not clearly asserted, as it was in the circular letter’s immediately prior discussion of the dispensation of laicized priests, that permission cannot be presumed, as the circular letter presumes it.
In the absence of a clearly and responsibly affirmed papal permission, who has the canonical authority to grant such a dispensation from a traditionally diriment impediment? Within the ambiguous context of the Congregation’s ‘circular letter,’ which touches its jurisdiction, the question does not arise. Viz., we read:
1. The competence1 to treat of cases of dispensation from the obligations of sacred ordination and of vows in the above mentioned institutes, such dispensation being inseparably connected with dismissal from the clerical state, lies with this congregation. (at 169b; emphasis added)
1Cf. Secretary of State, Letter 230.139 (Feb. 8, 1989).
The second clause of the quoted sentence is clearly a continuing limitation placed upon the authority of the Congregation for Divine Worship. The limitation is stated in the present tense, as a fact in being at the time of the writing of the letter. And in fact, nothing in the following paragraphs of the letter recite any expansion of this jurisdiction by the Pope, who alone can dispense from diriment impediments. There is only the general statement by the Congregation in paragraph 8, which we have read supra, stating that:
8. With a view to establishing a new practice modifying the current norm, which requires three cumulative and simultaneous conditions which would constitute motivating exceptions for the granting of a dispensation from the prohibition of Canon 1087, this dicastery has requested and has obtained from the Holy Father that any one of the three following conditions taken singly are [sic] sufficient for a favorable consideration of the dispensation from this impediment, namely:
—The great and proven usefulness of the ministry of the deacon to the diocese to which he belongs.
—That he has children of such a tender age as to be in need of motherly care.
—That he has parents or parents-in-law who are elderly and in need of care (at 171b).
This is curious: the “motivating exceptions” apply to all dispensations from “the prohibition of Canon 1087”, which applies to everyone in major orders, not merely to deacons: it reads:
Can. 1087 – Invalide matrimonium attentant qui in sacris ordinis sunt constituti.
Yet we have seen that the circular letter’s application of these exceptions to the dispensation of priests from “the prohibition of Canon 1087” requires their prior laicization, in such wise that these exceptions can have no bearing on their case. Viz.: the first condition expressly concerns deacons who will remain in the exercise of their orders, while the second and third “conditions” for granting dispensations from Canon 1087 likewise can have no application to the previously unmarried and now laicized priest, unless it contemplates condoning the contumacious attempted marriage of the previously laicized priest under the age of forty who, unable for some reason to meet his responsibilities for his young children, or parents, or parents in-law, now seeks a dispensation from Canon 1087, which condonation can hardly be presumed. Nonetheless, we have seen that the next paragraph of the circular letter expressly applies these new conditions to priests:
9. The Cardinal Secretary of State, in a letter (No. 4092.629) of Feb. 27, 1997, has communicated the approval given by the Holy Father on Feb. 10, 1997, to these above-mentioned new criteria regarding the dispensation from celibacy for priests under the age of 40; and in a letter of March 22, 1997 (No. 402.629) [sic], permission was given for the new conditions under which dispensation may be granted from the impediment to a second marriage on the part of the permanent deacons who have been widowed after ordination.
The clarification of this confusion must be left to canonists: it defeats common sense.
The puzzlement over the reality of an intimated papal approval of the new conditions which would permit the novel remarriage of widowed men in major orders without their prior laicization, which in fact underwrites the encouragement given them by the Congregation for Education and the Congregation for the Clergy to live in marital relations with their wives, might easily be resolved, were the subject letter of March 22nd letter from the Cardinal Secretary of State to the Congregation for Divine Worship available for public or even episcopal inspection. However, such correspondence is not available in any published collection insofar as a reasonably diligent search can discover. Thus, even were its protocol number accurately cited in the English tr. of the circular letter in Origins, it would be without value to anyone seeking that information.
One cannot but wonder why these two letters from the Secretary of State, disparate in time as well as in subject matter, were so closely associated by the circular letter from the Congregation for Divine Worship. They were dealt with separately by the Secretary of State, and no reason appears for their being lumped together four or five months later by the Congregation for Divine Worship: we have seen the muddle which this close association has permitted and perhaps forced. Further, such a clear departure, in the case of the widowed permanent deacon, from an ecclesial tradition whose authority is nonetheless cited in the first section of that circular letter, needs some rather more solemn form of communication than can be provided by a circular letter.
In this connection, it should not pass without remark that the title given this circular letter by the editor of Origins simply reverses the letter’s order of treatment of its subject matter, which deals first with the dispensation of laicized clergy, and only then with the dispensation of widowed permanent deacons. This was hardly inadvertent: the editor recognized the relative unimportance of the former subject, and the high significance of the latter, and thus testifies further to the incongruity of their being bundled together in the circular letter.
Not only is the situation anomalous which results from the novel dispensation granted widowed permanent deacons from what has been the diriment impediment of Orders to marriage: it clearly invites a comparable nullification of the celibacy and continence required of the priesthood by a comparably ancient ecclesial tradition, and by the canon law. This outcome might be thought acceptable on the ground that several Eastern Churches in union with Rome nonetheless permit the marriage of their priests prior to ordination. They do not of course permit the re-marriage of their priests after ordination without having first dismissed them from the clerical state. The Eastern practice since Trullo provides no grounds for the re-marriage of widowed permanent deacons.
Once the widowed deacon’s re-marriage is admitted as consistent with his continuing in the exercise of his orders — i.e., with remaining in his clerical state — not only is there undercut the continent fidelity traditionally essential to the spirituality of Orders; there is also invoked by this anomaly a Protestant interpretation of the Eucharist.
Given that the permanent deacon is in major Orders, and thereby arctius altari conjungi, his capacity to remarry while in the exercise of his Order implies either that the diaconal Order is no longer arctius altari conjungi, or that the Eucharist is no longer the offering of the One Sacrifice of the Second Adam for the Second Eve. For by this remarriage of widowed deacons the nuptial symbolism of the sacrament of Orders has been dismissed without any discussion of that symbolism, or even any exhibition of interest in it, and this on the level of universally-distributed proclamations by two of the Vatican dicasteries.
The anomaly of diaconal remarriage may continue to be ignored, as it has been by documents issuing from three Vatican dicasteries and the from Vatican Secretary of State: it does not thereby cease to insert confusion into the sacrament of Orders, a confusion which touches the Church’s worship in truth. Catholic sacramental worship is utterly dependent upon the truth, the authenticity of its sacramental signs, whose institution is of God, not man, but whose safeguard must be the Magisterium.
iv4Actus Synodalia Sacrosancti Concilii Oecumenici Vaticani II, Vol. III, periodus tertia, Pars I, Sessio Publica IV. Congregationis Generalis LXXX-LXXXII (Rome: Typis Polyglottis Vaticanis, 1973) [hereafter, Actus Synodalia], 259-69, esp. 266ff.
vA.A.S. 57  36.
viCodex Juris Canonici, C. 277 distinguishes clearly between celibacy and continence:
§1. Clerici obligatione tenentur servandi perfectam perpetuamque propter Regnum coelorum continentiam, ideoque ad caelibatem adstringuntur, quod est peculiare Dei donum, quo quidem sacri ministri indiviso corde Christo facilius adhaerere possunt atque Dei hominumque servitio liberius sese dedicare valent.
§2. Debita cum prudentia clerici se gerant cum personis, quarum frequentatio ipsorum obligationem ad continentiam servandam in discrimen vocare aut in fidelium scandalum vertere possit.
The distinction between continence and celibacy is again recognized in C. 599:
Evangelicum castitatis consilium propter Regnum coelorum assumptum, quod signum est mundi futuri et fons uberioris fecunditatis in indiviso corde, obligationem secumfert continentiae perfectae in caelibatu.
The most recent examination of the historical articulation of this apostolic tradition, with an overview and criticism of previous studies of clerical celibacy, is provided by Christian Cochini’s study, cited in note 2, supra. In the foreword of Roman Cholij’s comparable work, Clerical Celibacy In East And West, also cited in note 2, supra, Cardinal Stickler has written that:
These two studies surpass, therefore, all the preceding ones which are often one-sided and even historically wrong, and will constitute in the future the new, scientifically certain basis for every safe statement in this delicate field with all its different and even opposed subjective meanings and objective difficulties.
viiVatican Council II: The Conciliar and Post Conciliar Documents, [henceforth, Documents] at 387.
viiiThe official summaries of the Conciliar discussion of diaconal celibacy may be found in Francisco Hellín, Concilii Vaticani II Synopsis in ordinem redigens schemata cum relationibus necnon Patrum orationes atque animadversiones 2. Constitutio Dogmatica de Ecclesia Lumen Gentium; ser. Studi sul Concilio Vaticano II (Città del Vaticano: Libreria Editrice Vaticana 1995), 310-315; see also “Relationes circa Caput III”, 2066-2067; 2077-2080.
ixThis may be found in Commentary on the Documents of Vatican II [henceforth, Commentary] at 22-30.
x“Sacrum Diaconatus Ordinem,” §16 (A.A.S. 59  697-704) at 701.
xiStickler has drawn attention to the more inclusive understanding of celibacy in the early Church; see note 1, supra, and Cochini, Apostolic Origins, at 43.
xii“Ad pascendum,” A.A.S. 64 (1972) 534-540; tr. Documents, at 439:
6. The special consecration of celibacy observed for the sake of the kingdom of heaven and its obligation for candidates to the priesthood and for unmarried candidates for the diaconate are indeed linked with the diaconate. The public commitment to holy celibacy before God and the Church is to be celebrated in a particular rite, even by religious, and is to precede ordination to the diaconate. Celibacy taken on in this way is a diriment impediment to entering marriage.
In accordance with the traditional discipline of the Church, a married deacon who has lost his wife cannot enter a new marriage.26
26Apostolic Letter Sacram Diaconatus Ordinem, n. 16: A.A.S. 59 (1967), p. 701.
xiiiArchbishop Stafford developed this point in the lecture cited in note 2, supra.
xivThe review article, “The Apostolic Origins of Clerical Continence: A Critical Appraisal of a New Book,” Theological Studies 41 (1982) 693-705, which Fr. Roger Balducelli, O.S.F.S., directed to the French original of Cochini’s study, applies an Enlightenment notion of historicity to Cochini’s conclusion of the apostolic origins of clerical celibacy, and on that rather fragile if commonplace foundation dismisses Cochini’s findings. This is to proceed rather by an ideologically-driven fiat than by a serious examination of Cochini’s argument. The Enlightenment’s rationalization of history is really not the last word on the subject.
xvI am indebted to a conversation with Edward N. Peters, J.D., J.C.D., Diocesan Director for Canonical Affairs for the Diocese of San Diego, for a clarifying insight into the failure of the conciliar Fathers to distinguish between celibacy and continence during their discussion of the renewal of the permanent diaconate. Their inadvertent melding of celibacy with continence may well underlie the post-conciliar divagation from the ancient apostolic tradition of diaconal continence.
xviMichael Novak, The Open Church: Vatican II, Act II (New York: Macmillan, 1962, 1963, 1964), 121-27; see also Ralph M. Wiltgen, S.V.D., The Rhine Flows Into The Tiber: The Unknown Council (New York: Hawthorn Books, 1967), 96-100.
xviiGérard Philips, “History of the Constitution,” Commentary, 105-137.
xviiiSee note 33, infra.
xixThe point is developed in Gerald Emmett Cardinal Carter’s “Do This in Memory of Me”: A Pastoral Letter on the Sacrament of Priestly Orders (Toronto: The Mission Press, 8 December, 1983); see also the comparable pastoral letter of Archbishop J. Francis Stafford, “In the Person of Christ, The Head of the Body: The Mystery of the Priestly Vocation,” Origins 18 (1988) 349-360, together with the address cited in note 2, supra.
xxAt bottom, as Cardinal Stafford has pointed out, this is the relation between the ex opere operato effect of the sacrament (the res et sacramentum) — which is the diaconal, priestly or episcopal character in the ordained, and is the matrimonial vinculum in the married — to the ex opere operantis effect, (the res sacramenti) of the sacramental sign — which in the ordained is celibacy, in the married is fidelity, and in each is the free fulfillment, the spirituality, of the respective sacramental sign — whether of Orders or of Matrimony.
xxiCf. note 1, supra.
xxii“Sacrum Diaconatus Ordinem,” A.A.S. 59  697-704, at 698.
xxiiiA.A.S. 59 (1967) 697-704.
xxivA.A.S. 60 (1968) 369-373.
xxvA.A.S. 64 (1972) 534-540; (Documents, 433-441).
xxviA.A.S. 59 (1967) 657, 697; §§ 13 and 42.
xxviiSee note 4, supra.
xxviiiCochini, op. cit., 236 (quoting Ambrose, De officiis III (PL 104b-5a), 247-48, and citing Origen, Eusebius of Caesarea, the so-called Canons of Hippolytus, Epiphanius of Constantia, and Jerome; et passim.
xxixHenri Fesquet, The Drama of Vatican II: The Ecumenical Council, June 1962 – December, 1965; tr. Bernard Murchland; American Intro. by Michael Novak (New York: Random House, 1967).
xxxHenri Crouzel, “Une nouvelle étude sur les origines du célibat ecclésiastique,” Bulletin de littérature ecclésiastique 73 (1982) 293-97. Cochini’s and Cholij’s works are cited in note 2, supra, et passim.
xxxiA.A.S. 64 (15 August, 1972) 529-534; Documents 427-32.
xxxiiSee note 22, supra.
xxxivThe reasons given by the bishops and their theologians at the Council for their advocacy of a noncelibate permanent diaconate sometimes simply assumed without discussion that diaconal celibacy is without intrinsic relation to the diaconate. This view appears in a highly pertinent document provided me by Fr. William J. O’Rourke, S.T.D., pastor of St. Steven’s Church, Quinebaugh, CT. Entitled “Formal Request to Restore the Diaconate as a Permanent Order Presented to the Fathers of Vatican Council II in 1962 by the Original Deacon Circle, Munich, West Germany,” it has more recently been translated and published by Patrick McCaslin and Michael Lawler as Appendix 2 of Sacrament of Service (Mahway, NY: Paulist Press, 1986). Its signatories stressed that
The diaconate, to which, according to St. Paul (cf. I Tim 3:12) the earliest Church councils and the custom of the Eastern Churches up to the present day, married men are admitted, had in the early Church its own specific nature: the basic fundamental was always the liturgical office, while the exercise of the other essential offices, namely the works of charity and the ministry of the word, varied in importance according to the needs of particular places and times. (at 146)
Further on, to the same effect:
The tasks of the restored diaconate would all have their source and center in the intimate connection of the deacon’s office with the Holy Eucharist. (at 146)
But the signatories and their theological advisor[s] evidently had no intimation of any causal link between that “intimate connection” and the tradition of diaconal celibacy, for they continue:
What of the question of celibacy? The celibacy of the priest plays an impressive part in witnessing to the reality of supernatural goods, especially in our day, when so much emphasis is placed on the goods of this world. This celibacy would also apply to deacons under the new plan, when they were members of religious orders. On the other hand, the Church is also stressing more and more today the witnessing power of the sacrament of matrimony as a sign of Christ’s union with his Church and as a means of sanctification in the world. As the diaconate of its nature does not require celibacy, it seems that there are rich potentialities for holiness in the married life for those who would also belong to the hierarchy of the Church as deacons. (at 148-49)
Obviously, this highly pragmatic rationale for a married diaconate can apply to the priesthood as well as to the diaconate. Further, we see here the confusion of noncelibacy with noncontinence in the allusion to the “rich potentialities for holiness in the married life.” It would strain the intention of the authors considerably to read into such language that transcendence of matrimony by major orders and the consequent obligation of the ordained to live in continence, which the apostolic and patristic tradition affirms.
The pragmatic mentality we have noted in the “Original Deacon Circle” surfaces again in the near-ultimatum presented the conciliar Fathers by Bishop McHugh of Panama: “Aut diaconatus instauretur uxoratus, aut non instauretur.” For Bishop McHugh, as for most of the bishops favoring the married diaconate, the justification for its renewal was pastoral and practical. The married diaconate was perceived as a means of bringing a more or less influential class of laity into closer association with the mission of the Church. Even Cardinal Spellman, although he had opposed the restoration of the permanent diaconate, had also treated the question of its restoration pragmatically, as a merely disciplinary matter, and Cardinal Döpfner of Munich, who rejected Cardinal Spellman’s objections to the restoration, evinced no interest in exploring the doctrinal content of the traditional requirement of celibacy in the diaconate, although he defended the sacramentality of the diaconate as a matter of doctrine.
Cardinal Döpfner was a major spokesman for the restoration of the permanent married diaconate; his argument, here as elsewhere, was clearly reliant upon the views of his famous peritus, Karl Rahner, whose viewpoint on the question is set out in “The Theology of the Restoration of the Diaconate,” Theological Investigations V, 269-314 (a translation of his contribution, “Die Theologie der Eneuerung des Diakonates,” to a massive collection of articles which he co-edited with Herbert Vorgrimler, Diaconia in Christo; ser. Quaestiones Disputatae 15/16 (Herder: Freiburg im Breisgau, 1962); see pp. 285-324). In this essay, Rahner displays a highly nominalist theology of diaconal ordination and diaconal orders. We find him simply reversing the order of sacramental causality, reasoning as though the sacramental sign were indefinitely plastic, continually informed by concrete facticity of the empirical situation, and not by the liturgical intentionality intrinsic to every sacramental sign and therefore intrinsic to the sacramental character received at ordination, the res et sacramentum which is the effect ex opere operato of the outpouring of the Spirit on the Church by the risen Christ.
E.g., we are told that
If one bears the distinction of office and of the rite of the transmission of office clearly in mind — and if one is quite clear in one’s mind about the fact that in the very nature of things a rite of the transmission of office can “demand” celibacy only if the office to be transmitted demands it — then it will be easy to answer the question with which we are now concerned. For the Church shows by her practice that she does not see any very close and necessary connection between the office of deacon and celibacy. For this office exists and is transmitted in the Church without celibacy being demanded. For, those men and office-bearers in the Church in whose case the desirability of a sacramental transmission of office is indicated here are de facto for the most part married men, and neither the official Church nor people in the Church have ever maintained or felt any incompatibility or inconvenience in the co-existence of this office in recent centuries or at the present time.
Throughout this widely-published article, Rahner expressly presupposes that the service rendered by the participation of married laymen in the Church’s mission is the concrete exercise of a factual if anonymous diaconate which, as anonymous, can only have arisen and been transmitted nonsacramentally: we have seen him speak nonchalantly of deacons as
those men and office-bearers in the Church in whose case the desirability of a sacramental transmission of office is indicated here. (emphasis added)
For Rahner, clearly enough, the meaning of the diaconal office is controlled by the pragmatics of its quite anonymous exercise. This entirely gratuitous presupposition controls his analysis. In view of the presupposed “de facto” situation, ordination to the diaconate, as he argues, must now conform to what that “diaconate” already is, by virtue of its supposedly de facto ongoing transmission and exercise by married laymen. Every significant question is begged.
Rahner’s reasoning discounts a priori the sacramental efficacy ex opere operato of ordination to the diaconate, and reduces the Church’s liturgical worship to that level of historical anonymity which will support the article’s major premise of an anonymously transmitted diaconate already in existence as a matter of hard fact: i.e., pragmatically. There is no reason for limiting his rational to the diaconate.
Consequently, for Rahner, the sacramental sign of diaconal orders is intrinsically empty, devoid of any intrinsic intelligibility and so without any intrinsic sacramental efficacy, for that intelligibility, and therefore that efficacy, according to Rahner’s postulate, have already been supplied ab extra, pragmatically and “anonymously” by the de facto historical situation.
To accept this rationale is to accept ordination sola fide; the diaconal Order can have nothing to do with the sacramental realism which specifies Catholicism, nor can any of those office-bearers in the Church in whose case the “desirability of a sacramental transmission of office is indicated”.
We need not here repeat nor enlarge upon the sharp criticism already made of Rahner’s sacramental theology: for a celebrated instance of that criticism, see William A. Van Roo, S.J., “Reflections on Karl Rahner’s “Kirche und Sakramente”,” Gregorianum 44 (1963) 465-500. The same sacramental nominalism as Rahner then endorsed now serves such organizations as CORPUS with respect to their dismissal of any need for priestly celibacy, and such organizations as the Women’s Ordination Conference with respect to their dismissal of any need for priestly masculinity, or indeed for the priesthood as defined by the Council of Trent.
Summarily, those theologians and bishops favoring the restoration of the permanent diaconate as noncelibate generally understood celibacy to be a merely disciplinary usage, advantageous under past circumstances but without intrinsic significance for the diaconate, and a matter therefore dispensable for practical purposes. The dropping of this supposedly extrinsic disciplinary requirement was dealt with by them simply as the quite acceptable and necessary price to be paid for supposedly pastoral ends — which were recited at length by some dozen contributors to the last section of the Diaconia in Christo. It is fairly evident that when celibacy is understood to be merely a disciplinary matter, its waiver is eo ipso the waiver of continence in the married deacon: any other view must derive from something more than an extrinsic disciplinary usage.
The conciliar Fathers’ unconcern for the doctrinal weight of the ancient tradition of diaconal celibacy, and for any doctrinal import which the restoration of the permanent diaconate as noncontinent might have, was not uncommon. While those favoring the restoration often stressed also the doctrinal character of the close association of the diaconate with the priesthood and the episcopacy, this association contributed little to the discussion. The novel association of the restored diaconate with marriage and the exercise of marital intercourse by married deacons was much more in view, however uncritically, as the language, already cited, of the “Formal Request” of the Original Deacon Circle reveals:
the Church is also stressing more and more today the witnessing power of the sacrament of matrimony as a sign of Christ’s union with his Church and as a means of sanctification in the world.
From the perspective afforded by the passage of more than thirty years, it may be said that the hopes placed in such a “diaconate” as Rahner, the authors contributing to the final section of Diaconia in Christo, and “The Original Deacon Circle” envisaged, have not been fulfilled, whether in the First World or in the Third. An anonymous diaconate is finally imperceptible, which is to say, fictive. An anonymous diaconate cannot but vanish from history, for it has no sacramental objectivity, no character given ex opere operato by the efficacious sacramental sign that is ordination to the diaconal service of the altar, and can only be imperceptible to, and thus without impact upon, the secularity of the world. If the restoration of the permanent diaconate is to be efficacious in those dioceses which elect it, such restoration can be realized only by a return to the Catholic tradition, and to a fuller appreciation of the sacramental, liturgical, and apostolic specificity of the diaconate than was in evidence among those discussing its renewal at Vatican II, or has been in evidence since.
Klaus Gamber, The Reform of the Roman Liturgy: Its Problems and Background, Roman Catholic Books 2006, 224pp pb. $24.95
Reviewed by Dr. Alcuin Reid
The news that Monsignor Klaus Gamber’s book The Reform of the Roman Liturgy: Its Problems and Background has been brought back into print by Roman Catholic Books is very good news indeed, for it is a seminal work which has done much to expose the extent of discontinuity in the post-conciliar reform. It stands alongside Archbishop Bugnini’s own book, The Reform of the Liturgy, as essential reading – though Gamber is certainly the more accessible of the two.
Gamber’s book is in fact two books. The first examines the overall work of the changes made to the liturgy in the 1960’s. He sees the question of whether or not the changes were an organic development as crucial. His conclusions speak for themselves: “Obviously, the reformers wanted a completely new liturgy, a liturgy that differed from the traditional one in spirit as well as in form; and in no way a liturgy that represented what the Council Fathers had envisioned, i.e., a liturgy that would meet the pastoral needs of the faithful” (p. 100). Gamber is clear and unequivocal: a large mistake has been made with regard to the liturgy, unprecedented in the Church’s history.
However, it would be wrong to align Gamber with traditionalists who draw a line at 1962, 1955, or even earlier, beyond which all change is anathema. Gamber is a critical liturgical historian, as shown by his precise and detailed discussion of the question of which way the liturgy should be celebrated, which comprises the second book in this volume. (A more recent and comprehensive treatment of facing east, including a critical evaluation of Gamber’s contribution, is to be found in Fr U.M. Lang’s Turning Towards the Lord.)
Gamber’s concerns are historical, doctrinal and pastoral. He readily accepts the appropriateness of vernacular readings, and even of the pruning of some of the later accretions to the Traditional Roman Rite (Psalm 42 from the prayers at the foot of the altar, the Offertory prayers, the last Gospel). These prudential decisions can be argued about, as they were at Trent. But he staunchly defends traditions integral to the Roman Rite throughout its history, e.g., facing eastwards and the Roman Canon, and deprecates “the cold breath of realism [that] now pervades our worship” (p.13).
Gamber speaks frankly of the destruction of the Roman Rite after the Council, the last example of which can be found in the Ordo Missae promulgated in 1965 as the reform called for by the Council. Significantly, Archbishop Bugnini dismissed this 1965 reform as insufficient because its alterations were merely “peripheral”, insisting that “radical” changes were what was needed.
It is Gamber’s brave but loyal ‘critical traditionalism’ that gives such importance to his writing. His theses are well documented, and his research is impressive. One hopes more of his writings will be made available in translation.
After reading Gamber (and also Bugnini) it is difficult if not impossible to maintain an uncritical acceptance of the new liturgy, even when it is celebrated devoutly and with the right intention. When we recall the doctrinal importance of the liturgy (lex orandi, lex credendi), we realise that the question of how we worship is central to our faith. What then is to be done?
“What we need today … [are] bishops like those who in the fourth century courageously fought against Arianism when almost the whole of Christendom had succumbed to the heresy. We need saints today who can unite those whose faith has remained firm so that we might fight error and rouse the weak and vacillating from their apathy,” writes Gamber (p.113). At tall order, certainly, but not beyond the possibilities of Divine Providence.
THE RHINE FLOWS INTO THE TIBER,
BUT THE TIBER IS PROTECTED BY AFRICANS.
Father Brian Van Hove, S.J., is the chaplain of the Religious Sisters of Mercy of Alma, MI. He offers the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass at the clinic every Wednesday morning. He entered the Society of Jesus in 1966 and was ordained a priest in 1982. He holds a doctorate from Catholic University in Church History.
June 5, 2016 Superior, Wisconsin
Posted by Ancestry Team on September 9, 2014 in Family HistoryMuch like fashion, baby names follow trends. These days, classic-sounding names like Olivia, Sophia, and Ava are in vogue, but some more traditional names that were once on top have completely fallen to the wayside.
Now, a name like Minnie (which you may come across frequently if you are digging around your Ancestry family tree in the late 1800s) is probably only associated with young people wearing T-shirts at Disney World. That said, female names seem to vary wildly in popularity, while many of the most popular male names over the years stand the test of time. There are some monikers like Ernest, Norman, or Bernard that sound retro but all still managed to rank within the top 1,000 names in 2013 according to the Social Security Administration.
So if you are looking through your family history hoping to come across a name that will make your little girl stand out, here are a few formerly popular names that are practically nonexistent now.
Betty: Throughout the 1930s, Betty was second only to Mary among girl names, but has been on a steady decline since 1940.
Ethel: Strong showing during the 1890s, hitting 8th place, slipped to 12th in the 1900s, then dropped to 80th the following decade and never recovered.
Tammy: This female moniker skyrocketed out of nowhere in the 1960s and landed in the 13th spot. But by the 1990s, it was no longer in the top 200 and has all but disappeared since then.
Dorothy: In the 1920s Dorothy was all the rage (way before The Wizard of Oz) and peaked in the No. 2 spot, but since then, this name has slipped significantly. While it still merits a place in the top 1,000, it was most recently ranked at 808. The similar Doris (13th in the 1930s) has also been ignored over the past 15 years, not even making the top 1,000.
Ida: This classic name was the 7th-most-popular female name during the 1880s, but then slipped into disuse in subsequent decades.
Mildred: The name peaked at 6th place during the 1910s and held strong through the 1920s, but then went on a rapid decline.
Edna: It never quite reached top 10 popularity, but it was a strong contender from the 1880s all the way through the 1920s before it started sounding old-fashioned.
Gladys: Managed to crack the top 20 at the turn of the century, but dropped off by the 1910s.
Florence: For almost five decades, Florence managed to stay in (or very close to the top 20), but by the 1930s, the name was losing favor.
Bertha: In the 1880s, this name was the 8th-most-popular female name for the entire decade and then took a slow downturn. Now we think of Bertha — and Bessie, which followed a similar popularity arc — as a name more regularly associated with farm animals!
An Exorcist Tells His Story
Fr. Gabriele Amorth, S.S.P.
Translated by Nicoletta V. MacKenzie
(San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1999)
paperback, 205 pages, no index
Upon the publication of the ad interim Rite of Exorcism, Father Gabriele Amorth wrote a criticism and a complaint in 1990 called in Italian Un escorista raconta (Rome: Edizioni Dehoniane; tenth and expanded reprint 1993) but only in 1999 did it appear in English.
The completion in 1998 and the appearance in 1999 of the Latin editio typica of the new Rite of Exorcism,1 mandated by the Second Vatican Council, have answered some of his questions. But the fact that it took thirty-five years for this revised rite to be completed by the competent authority is an unfortunate sign for Amorth of misplaced priorities in the church of our day.
Underlying his rather short and anecdotal essay of fewer than two hundred pages is the observation that today bishops and priests of the Catholic Church, influenced by rationalistic theologians, have abandoned their duty of pastoral concern for those suffering from demonic activity. Many bishops have never personally performed an exorcism, and therefore lack sensitivity to this issue. Other bishops simply do not believe in the devil. As a result, the faithful are left unprotected from these manifestations of evil which are permitted for a time by God.
Despite some preaching by the post-conciliar popes, Amorth attributes this abdication of responsibility to a loss of faith in the supernatural, which includes satanic forces.
Sometimes Amorth himself has had to “pick up the pieces” when other pastors, especially in Western Europe outside Italy, should have been more generous in exercising their traditional ministry. He is wrong (p. 15), however, in insisting that only Protestants today treat of the devil with any seriousness.2 There are Catholics, especially those associated with the charismatic movement in the United States and elsewhere,3 who have written on the topic and who are just as competent in the field as the Protestants. And perhaps Father Amorth would be disedified by certain Protestants who place so much emphasis upon deliverance ministry that it becomes an unbalanced kind of Christianity, reducing the centrality of charity. Catholics at their best are promoters of the spiritual and corporal works of mercy. That is why Satan hates orthodox Catholics so much.
Some may claim that the emotionalism of the Italian context prohibits a more sober Anglo-American readership from identifying with what Amorth has to say. On the contrary, the growth of dangerous cults and sects in all countries affected by Western secularism affirms him. The occult thrives today alongside business in the decadent West, whether European or American. Among the victims of this phenomenon are women and children, the historical targets of a more emphasized pastoral care in the Church. Whether Amorth expressed himself well or not, and whether he succeeded as well as he should have or not, is beside the point.
A fact which establishes Father Amorth credibility is that he did not wish to become an exorcist. He did not aspire to it but was simply appointed by Cardinal Ugo Poletti (1914-1997) who made him assistant to Father Candido Amantini (1914-1992). For thirty-six years Father Amantini, a Passionist stationed at the church of the Holy Staircase, was chief exorcist of Rome. Amorth became his apprentice and then eventually his successor.
The author shows that he knows the traditional distinctions among the kinds of demonic activity—infestation, oppression, possession. But surprisingly, he explains that the rite of exorcism is diagnostic and intended to discern whether a person is possessed or not. The average reader might have thought it was only practiced after this had been determined. According to Amorth “the starting point and the first purpose (of exorcism), that of diagnosis, is all too often ignored.” (p. 44) The wise exorcist learns to detect the signs of an evil presence before, during, and after an exorcism.(p. 45) As to the question of an unnecessary exorcism, he maintains the best practitioners claim it never harmed anyone. The goal of exorcism is not just liberation but also healing, and the process may be slow in some individuals or communities. Yes, whole societies may be collectively affected by the world of the demons.
Exorcism typically works in tandem with psychiatry and not in opposition to it. Amorth maintains that church officials stated as early as 1583 that mental illness should be distinguished from diabolical possession. He never sees any conflict between exorcism and mental health, except that secular mental health professionals do not believe in exorcism, and therefore at times misdiagnose cases where true demonic presence is at work, whether by infestation, oppression, or possession.
For his work as exorcist Father Amorth believes in using the full assortment of signs and symbols found in the Catholic religious tradition. Exorcism is not a private devotion but a sacramental and a prayer of the whole church. As such it shares in the intercessory dimension of the universal Church. (p. 186)
Three of the most important signs which he uses, and to which he dedicates a chapter showing their role, are salt, water, and oil. Since he adheres very closely to the formal liturgy of the Church, he was disappointed that the 1999 revised Rite of Exorcism made no reference to oil in the Praenotanda. However, in the section on local adaptations made possible if requested by the episcopal conferences of the various regions throughout the world, there is clearly room for petitioning the Holy See to allow anointing with oil4 to be part of the official Rite of Exorcism in a particular part of the world.5 The same can be said for a restoration of the office of exorcist as part of minor orders or a revived ministry.(p. 187)
Father Amorth is a man of simple and naive faith who has not produced for us a literary masterpiece. He learned from Father Amantini, and perhaps priests ought to be afraid to try performing an exorcism without this type of apprenticeship, even if requested by their bishop, simply on the grounds of inexperience. It could be dangerous and unpredictable business. Deliverance ministry is not for the foolhardy. However, Amorth answers such an objection in the following way:
Often priests do not believe in exorcisms, but if the bishop offers them the office of exorcist, they feel as though one thousand demons are upon them and refuse. Many times I have written that Satan is much more enraged when we take souls away from him through confession than when we take away bodies through exorcism. In fact, we cause the devil even greater rage by preaching, because faith sprouts from the word of God. Therefore, a priest who has the courage to preach and hear confessions should not be afraid to exorcise. (p. 67)
In his introduction to An Exorcist Tells His Story, Father Benedict Groeschel asks the reader to keep an open mind. Skepticism on this subject is widespread, and some will refuse to read the book out of prejudice. In fact, on spiritual grounds, it is better not to cultivate any type of curiosity here, because curiosity can grow and become distorted and lead to no good. But for those seeking information on this traditional religious theme, Father Amorth’s testimony may serve as a point of departure. It is not the last word, but an introduction, especially for those who may be suffering from some unidentified evil presence. Amorth wrote the book with the hope of reestablishing the pastoral practice of exorcism in the Catholic Church. We will only know in the future if his influence along with the publication of the new rite have been successful.
Amorth followed this first book with a second, An Exorcist: More Stories (Ignatius Press, 2002). For some it may be astonishing to learn that with the publication of the new Rite of Exorcism, which Amorth calls “useless”, there was separately published a Notification from Cardinal Jorge Medina, then Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, that the old rite of 1614 can still be freely used with permission.
All of Father Amorth’s concerns about the ineffectiveness of the new rite were settled by that Notification. Since then, a scholarly analysis of this new rite of exorcism has been published by Daniel Van Slyke as “The Ancestry and Theology of the Rite of Major Exorcism (1999/2004),” Antiphon 10 (2006) 70-116.6
Published in The Catholic Faith, 6/1 (January/February 2000): 56-57. Revised for The Fellowship of Catholic Scholars Quarterly, vol. 29, no. 1 (Fall 2006): 53-54. Revised for the Saint Louis Review, vol. 67, no. 17 (25 April 2008) 14-15. Revised for this blog 2016.
Online St. Louis Review: http://www.stlreview.com/article.php?id=15239
1 De Exorcismis et Supplicationibus Quibusdam. Editio typica (Città del Vaticano: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1999). 84 pp. +Index.
2 He is also inconsistent on this point since, in more than one place, he admits there are still Catholic exorcists. In fact, he rejoices that they are increasing in number. (p. 17) This happens when an author does not revise his text but merely adds a new introduction years later.
3 Amorth is enthusiastic about the charismatic renewal, especially in Belgium, where it was led by Cardinal Suenens and in Assissi where there is a center. (p. 157 and p. 185). (Let it be said that some Americans are not enamored of “pentecostalism” which has been the subject of more than one formal canonical investigation in the United States. Here the work of Thomas S. Yoder of Ann Arbor is relevant. Also see Raúl Olmos, El Imperio Financiero de los Legionarios de Cristo, Una Mafia Empresarial disfrazada de Congregación (2016). Regnum Christi sponsors faith-healers and other pentecostalist features.)
4 Confusion in the Western world over the difference between sacramental oil blessed on Holy Thursday by the bishop, and the use of plain oil for simple prayer and blessing, has made the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments anxious in recent years.
5 “Signa et gestus ipsius ritus, si hoc necessarium vel utile iudicatur, attenta cultura et genio ipsius populi, de consensu Sanctae Sedis, aptare.” De Exorcismis et Supplicationibus Quibusdam, Praenotanda, #37b.
6 A legal study is by Jeffrey Grob, “A Major Revision of the Discipline on Exorcism: A Comparative Study of the Liturgical Laws in the 1614 and 1998 Rites of Exorcism.” University of St. Paul, Ottawa, 2007.
Hope they are having fun.
“guyaberas” are Teutonic!
The ever-informed Sandro Magister suggests that the next Synod of Bishops will treat “married priests”. After seeing what the last two synods did with non-negotiable matters such as extending Eucharistic communion to divorced-and-remarried Catholics—something that should never have been debated, but was debated, with negative consequences for the faithful’s understanding of Church teaching and discipline in several areas—I do not relish seeing a crucial-but-negotiable matter (such as married clergy) treated in a synod any time soon. But on the chance that Magistro is right let me suggest three areas that, in regard to married clergy, would require careful study.
1. Clerical continence. Western tradition, and the canon law that upholds that tradition, calls without question for a completely sexually-continent clergy. Yet, in the space of one generation (at most two) that shining observance has been inadvertently but completely forgotten, first among tens of thousands of married deacons and now among thousands of married priests. No coherent synodal discussion of clerical celibacy can take place without deciding, once and for all, whether “perfect and perpetual continence” (1983 CIC 277 §1) grounds that discipline. Naturally—and though I limit my contribution to this discussion to matters of law which, as we know, often protects truths it does not articulate—the canonical question of clerical continence will eventually turn, I suspect, on a deeper theological understanding of the character of priest as Spouse and on the nuptial imagery of his actions in the Eucharistic sacrifice.
2. Clerical celibacy. Besides the unspoken (unspoken because, until a few decades ago, it was so obvious) foundation that clerical continence provides for clerical celibacy, most defenses of clerical celibacy have turned on practical matters such as the higher costs of married clergy and the complications that married life bring to ordained ministry. While interesting, such secondary concerns do not persuade that clerical celibacy is itself a good to be pursued. Recently, however, canon law and ecclesiastical literature has begun to recognize celibacy itself as “a special gift of God” (1983 CIC 277 § 1), suggesting that clerical celibacy, besides working in support of the more central value of clerical continence, and besides offering some practical advantages to Church administrators, is a value worth studying, embracing, and sharing. Clerical celibacy qua celibacy, therefore, must be treated by a synod, and not just celibacy qua fence-around-the-law of continence, or celibacy qua cost-savings scheme for ministers.
3. Eastern approaches to married clergy. I say Eastern “approaches” to married clergy because there is not, contrary to popular impression, just one approach among Eastern Catholics. Not all Eastern Churches allow married clergy, and among those that do permit it, not all clerics marry. Still, Eastern Catholic Churches generally accept married men into holy Orders and allow those men to live more conjugato. Now, for reasons that go beyond canonical, Rome has long steered clear of directly addressing how a married, and essentially non-continent, clergy took hold in the East (though most eyes look back to the controversial Synod of Trullo) and asking, in that light, whether this practice should be merely tolerated, mutually respected, or positively protected. A synod purporting to treat of clerical celibacy in the Catholic Church must honestly address the divergence between East and West in this regard.
In sum, the degree to which a synod (if one is called) on clerical celibacy addresses, or avoids, clerical continence, celibacy in its own right, and Eastern observances, will be the degree to which a synod may be taken as competently considering clerical celibacy.
+ + +
Unus ex Patribus [in Coetu de S. Hierarchia] animadvertit in historia Ecclesiam fuisse reformatam quando in honorem restituta fuit lex coelibatus. Communicationes XVI: 177.
Too often writers claim that classic Irish religious culture was “Jansenistic” or pessimistic and that Ireland was nothing more than an island with a dark and dreary religious history. Harsh critics point to the recent “scandal” in Galway where nuns were said to have buried unbaptized babies near an orphanage during the first half of the twentieth century. The Associated Press published a correction for the factual errors in its stories of June 3 and June 8, 2014.1 Many people did not hear about this apology by the AP.
Erroneous claims can be examined and dismantled. Newer scholarship reveals a more accurate picture of Jansenism and Ireland. This essay accordingly offers a different picture of the possible history of “Jansenism” in Ireland, stressing the resolute nature of the Irish spirit not to be dominated by external, non-Catholic influences.
Medieval European Catholicism was “abbey centered.” Early monastic life had evolved into the great abbatial sees. The monastic ideal was the only one for the Christian, and the laity absorbed “the culture of the monastery” into their morals and piety. For the Christian West the thought of St. Augustine (d. 430) overshadowed other Church Fathers, and his dominance shaped monastic spirituality as well as popular Catholicism. Noted historian Eamon Duffy called the pre-Counter-Reformation church in Ireland “profoundly Augustinian.”2 Medieval Augustinianism was “rigorist” by its nature, and so the darker moments of the Church’s history in Ireland surprise no one.
When St. Columban (d. 615) traveled from Ireland to France as a missionary, he brought monastic “rigorism” or “Celtic religious austerities” with him. He was exiled from France to Italy for criticizing the immorality of the Frankish court and the laxity of the bishops.3 The Irish were not accused of laxity since popularized rigorism was ingrained. It became cultural. Rigorism was an attitude and an orientation, discipline but not doctrine. For examples of northern European countries finding somber religion congenial, take note of Scandinavia and The Low Countries at this time.
But now a question arises: if the Jansenists were the “Disciples of Saint Augustine,” was this identification congruent with existing Irish tradition? The question is answered by specifying the source and quality of the Augustinianism under discussion. Popular rigorism derived from tradition and monastic heritage ‒ the remote past ‒ was quite different from the “university, elitist” reform movement (1615-1789) of the Early Modern period on the European Continent. There are two different sources, one in place in Ireland and the other an outside, foreign phenomenon. Jansenism fit into the conditions of French politics and the logistics of academic Louvain, not the remote situation of Ireland.
Native Irish religion in the Early Modern period was resistant to change. Foreign invaders might bring a new religion, but the indigenous Irish held on to what they had as integral to their identity. Even if the bishops capitulated to the English Reformation, the simple folk did not. In 1540 King Henry VIII declared himself King of Ireland, and in 1560 the Established Church there was erected by law.
In 1542 Saint Ignatius Loyola, on behalf of Pope Paul III, sent a delegation to Ireland to assess the religious situation. The report by his two trusted companions was negative. The local chieftains quarreled among themselves and some of the bishops were personally corrupt, which meant the clergy were likely the same. The report given to the pope in Rome by legates Alfonso Salmerón and Paschase Broët saw no hope. 4 Despite this report, the ordinary Irishman resisted the Crown’s attempt to rip out his ancient roots. That is why Felicity Heal can assert that the Protestant Reformation in Ireland failed in the sixteenth century.5 Accordingly, observed Robert Trisco, “This was the time when close connections were forged between the Catholic religion and Irishness.”6
Evidence about the work of Jesuit and other missionaries indicates that the Irish adopted the “Tridentine reform” rather late. Trisco refers to the historical work of Michael Mullet and writes that only slowly and after the mid-eighteenth century did “the Irish Catholics embrace ‘the Tridentine agenda of the Counter-Reformation’” and “eventually came to equate this Catholicism with their post-Gaelic national identity and to form the most convincingly Catholic people in Western Europe.”7
The Jesuits, of course, were the implacable enemies of the Jansenists, but there is no history of a “Jesuit ‒ Jansenist” conflict taking place in Catholic, post-Reformation Ireland. In France the reform movement called “Jansenism” lasted one hundred and fifty years, approximately 1640-1790. By mid-eighteenth century Jansenism had waned in France. The “patriarch of the Jansenists” and their last serious spokesman, Paul-Ernest Ruth d’Ans, died in 1728.8 When juxtaposed with the robust agenda the Jansenists carried out at all levels of French Catholicism, there is no reason to believe Ireland was an outpost for Jansenism as we now understand it.
Another important note is that in the Early Modern period there were no formal seminaries in Ireland for the training of the clergy. Irish students went abroad to France, Rome, Louvain or even Spain. They may have been conversant with the Jansenist politics of the day, but they would have been hard pressed to import such matters into a land where the Catholic Church struggled to survive. There may have been a few Irish Jansenists, but there was no Irish Jansenism. The common people would have been uninterested. Their church did not need reform along French lines. Importantly, Jansenism was a non-Tridentine model of church reform. This description simply does not match with the Ireland of the Early Modern period.
Survivals of pre-Christian Celtic religiosity might have been abundant, and even if they displayed “cultural rigorism” one may hardly call that “Jansenism” which was a product of Continental intellectuals. If the Irish clergy educated abroad returned home with moral “rigorism,” it was surely no more rigorous than the older “rigorism.”9 Rigorism and Jansenism are not identical.10 At the peak of the Jansenists’ strength, Ireland was either isolated or resistant to such a movement. Raymond Gillespie wrote that the Irish forged a genuine lay spirituality instead of a passive receptivity to theological ideas.11
There is also the likelihood that ancient Celtic liturgical rites survived a long while in Ireland before the legislated Roman liturgical reform supplanted them.12 Liturgy develops when the Church is free. Irish liturgy tended not to develop in the same way as German liturgy because of the lack of political freedom—clandestine Masses will always be understated and hasty. Just ask yourself about the existence of the seaside “Mass-Rock” tradition. The existence of this improvisation excluded all lavish liturgical growth.
Resistance to change in Ireland was a defense against annihilation. Adopting either theological or moral or political “Jansenism” would have meant change, and the stubborn Irish mentality was antithetical to religious change in a climate of oppression. Both Jansenism and Tridentism assumed and required change. The Jansenist ideal was the imago primitivae ecclesiae. To many in the Catholic Church this resembled misguided Protestantism with its historically inaccurate desire to revive some primitive, spiritualized church. This drive for a pristine invisible church and its virtues explains the Jansenist penchant for liturgical cleansing and the simplification of rites:
An American scholar, F. Ellen Weaver, has analyzed the relevant documents, especially the ceremonial books and ritual books with their own notes, which pertain to this Jansenist interest in the reform of the liturgy. Nearly all the themes familiar in our own day after Sacrosanctum concilium were pursued by the Jansenist reformers – introduction of the vernacular, a greater role for the laity in worship, active participation by all, recovery of the notion of the eucharistic meal and the community, communion under both kinds, emphasis on biblical and also patristic formation, clearer preaching and teaching, less cluttered calendars and fewer devotions which might distract from the centrality of the Eucharist. Even the “kiss of peace” was practiced at Port-Royal, and a sort of offertory procession was found there and elsewhere among Jansenist liturgical reformers.13
The conclusion is that their program was a ‘thoroughgoing and more systematic Catholic reform envisioned by the Jansenists which Weaver calls their ‘lex docendi, lex orandi’—the law of teaching is the law of praying. In fact, the whole of their reform program was to seek its expression liturgically.
Even the eighteenth century Italian Jansenists of Tuscany and Pistoia centered their reform on liturgy:
Inside the parish church the service must be made congregational. And here doctrine entered. The liturgy was not an act done by priest for the people, it was ‘a common act of priest and people’. Therefore all the liturgy, even the prayer of consecration which was said secretly, should be said in a loud voice, and the congregation was to be encouraged to share. The reformers asked themselves whether logic must not demand liturgy in the vernacular instead of Latin, and plainly believed that in principle this would be right; but knew that in practice neither their people nor the Church at large would tolerate such radical departure from hallowed tradition. Nevertheless the people should be helped to understand by being provided with vernacular translations and by readings of the gospel in the vernacular after the Latin reading.’ 14
The obvious reason why the Jansenists received firm opposition to their liturgical ideas in Ireland is that such were understood to be staunchly Protestant. Today the same ideas are still rejected in some circles on the same grounds.
Despite Pope Paul VI’s deliberate insertion of §6-§9 into the General Instruction on the Roman Missal of 1969, an assortment of … (critics) continue to claim the reform was a Protestant conspiracy. They think the missal of 1570 is an immutable bulwark against Protestant influence, even though J.D. Crichton has rightly pointed out that this edition is nearly identical to the first printed one of 1474, several years before the birth of Luther. F. Ellen Weaver wrote that Dom Guéranger had a personal antipathy toward the Jansenist reform. In speaking of the innovations of Jacques Jubé of Asnières, she cites Guéranger as saying “it was an example of the deviations to which liturgy was liable when the Roman Mass books were not adopted.”15
Neither the popes, nor Archbishop Bugnini, nor Dom Botte, nor the Second Vatican Council, nor Dom Guéranger give the Jansenist liturgical reform movement any notice for being “ahead of its time” ‒ Jansenism is never mentioned either for its catholicity or its importance as an orthodox, or mostly orthodox, variant to the mandated liturgical reforms of Trent. Since the canons of Trent were introduced quite late in France, it had been left to individuals and small groups to conduct the Counter-Reformation by themselves in what looks to us now to have been an unsystematic way. Were it not for unfortunate political entanglements which are notorious, Jansenism might have been integrated into the mainstream of the church, not expelled from it. Though their liturgical ideas did not die, but resurfaced in Europe in different contexts, they were always tainted until well into the twentieth century. Jansenists have often been misunderstood or falsely blamed. Currently church historians are re-evaluating the sources and they are able to show that specific liturgical ideas … were flourishing in France and Italy during the early modern period when the Jansenists tried and failed to introduce them as reforms into the actual life of the Catholic church.”
Irish liturgical minimalism, for lack of a better way to describe the situation,16 was due to circumstances, not a clear reform plan such as the Jansenists and others proposed. We know more about historical Jansenism now than ever in the past.17 Research has uncovered the real face of this complex phenomenon. For too long, it was distorted by the victory of its foes. But whatever Jansenism was, it was not Irish. An Irish exile might have been involved with it, but in Ireland itself “Jansenism” would not have made sense. Some say without proof that “Jansenistic priests” took refuge in Ireland and spread their ideas to the people. But this hearsay remains hearsay. Any pastor will tell us how people have a way of doing what they want to do despite admonitions. The Irish clergy who were educated abroad may have been aware of Continental controversies, but importing these battles would have bewildered the average Irish Catholic.
Finally, while Jansenism was known for its “resistance to authority,” an Irish “resistance to authority” was not the same thing because the Irish resisted quite a different authority.18 In the penal era the threat was from outside. The threat was a hostile Crown seeking to destroy the one true Faith which held together the people of Ireland.
The threat to the Church today is from internal decline. The loss of faith plus aggressive secularism purveyed by the media are responsible. The Jansenists may be long gone but the enemy still lurks. For those wishing to remain faithful, defiance of secularism has a resource in orthodox liturgy. A bit of Catholic neo-rigorism might even help Ireland and other victims of secularism to keep their faith.
1. DUBLIN (AP) — In stories published June 3 and June 8 (2014) about young children buried in unmarked graves after dying at a former Irish orphanage for the children of unwed mothers, The Associated Press incorrectly reported that the children had not received Roman Catholic baptisms; documents show that many children at the orphanage were baptized. The AP also incorrectly reported that Catholic teaching at the time was to deny baptism and Christian burial to the children of unwed mothers; although that may have occurred in practice at times it was not church teaching. In addition, in the June 3 story, the AP quoted a researcher who said she believed that most of the remains of children who died there were interred in a disused septic tank; the researcher has since clarified that without excavation and forensic analysis it is impossible to know how many sets of remains the tank contains, if any. The June 3 story also contained an incorrect reference to the year that the orphanage opened; it was 1925, not 1926. See http://www.patheos.com/blogs/kathyschiffer/2014/06/associated-press-apologizes-for-its-coverage-of-the-irish-orphanage-story/
2. Eamon Duffy, Faith of Our Fathers: Reflections on Catholic Tradition (New York: Continuum, 2004). Review by Jason Byassee in The Christian Century (19 April 2005).
3. Western Monasticism: A History of the Monastic Movement in the Latin Church by Peter King (Cistercian Publications, 1999).
4. The Society of Jesus in Ireland, Scotland, and England 1541-1588: “Our Way of Proceeding?” by Thomas M. McCoog, S.J. in Studies in Medieval and Reformation Thought, Volume IX (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1996). Review by Michael L. Carrafiello in The Catholic Historical Review (1 October 1997).
5. Felicity Heal, Reformation in Britain and Ireland in The Oxford History of the Christian Church (New York: The Clarendon Press; Oxford University Press, 2003). Review by Rosamund Oates in Albion (22 September 2004). Also A Guide to the Irish Jesuit Province Archives by Stephen Redmond in Archivum Hibernicum, vol. 50 (1996): 127-131.
6. Catholics in Britain and Ireland, 1558-1829 by Michael A. Mullett in Social History in Perspective (New York: St. Martin’s, 1998). Trisco adds: “…this book can be recommended only to those who are already familiar with the general history of the Catholic Church in the islands from the time of the accession of Elizabeth I to the end of the penal age.” Review by Robert Trisco in Church History (1 December 2000).
7. Op. cit.
8. Ernest Ruth d’Ans: “Patriarche des Jansénistes” (1653-1728): Une Biographie by Michel Van Meerbeeck in Bibliothèque de la Revue d’Histoire Ecclésiastique, fascicule 87 (Brussels: Éditions Nauwelaerts, 2006).
9. The Irish are well known for their mirth as well as for religious “rigorism.” Persecuted people such as the Jews and the Irish see how funny the world is, perhaps due to their transcendent faith.
10. “Jansenism” by Thomas O’Connor in The Oxford Companion to Irish History. O’Connor writes: “The frequent claim that Irish Catholicism was Jansenist-influenced springs from the tendency to confuse Jansenism with simple moral rigorism.”
11. Raymond Gillespie, Devoted People: Belief and Religion in Early Modern Ireland in Social and Cultural Studies in Early Modern Europe (New York: St. Martin’s Press, New York. 1997). Review by Fergus O’Donoghue, S. J. in The Catholic Historical Review (1 July 1998).
12. +Attila Miklósházy, S.J. wrote that in Scotland the Celtic rites may have held out until the eleventh century. The implication is that in Ireland they were absorbed into the Franco-Roman rites earlier than in Scotland. +Attila Miklósházy, The Origin and Development of the Christian Liturgy According to Cultural Epochs (Lewiston, New York: The Edwin Mellen Press, 2006), Vol. II, 403-405.
13. F. Ellen Weaver, “Jansenist Bishops and Liturgical-Social Reform” in Church, State, and Society Under the Bourbon Kings of France, ed. Richard M. Golden (Lawrence, KS: Coronado Press, 1982). Quoted in Jansenism and Liturgical Reform by Brian Van Hove, S.J. in the American Benedictine Review, vol. 44:4 (1993): 337-351.
14. Owen Chadwick, The Popes and European Revolution (Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1981), 421.
15. F. Ellen Weaver, “Jansenist Bishops and Liturgical-Social Reform,” 64-65.
16. Sister M. Bertrand Degnan RSM, Mercy Unto Thousands (Westminster, Maryland: The Newman Press, 1957), 188.
17. See Jansenism: Catholic Resistance to Authority from the Reformation to the French Revolution by William Doyle in Studies in European History (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2001). The review by Jacques M. Grès-Gayer in The Catholic Historical Review (1 October 2001) must be read with care for a proper understanding of Jansenism. Grès-Gayer’s review is by itself a summary history of Jansenism.
18. Op. cit. Doyle quotes Weaver, Chadwick, Crichton and others.
Brian Van Hove, SJ
Adapted from “Jansenism and Liturgical Reform,” The American Benedictine Review, vol. 44, no. 4 (1993): 337-351 and also from “Jansenism, the Liturgy and Ireland,” Christus Regnat (Journal of St. Conleth’s Catholic Heritage Association), vol. 3, no. 1 (Christmas 2009): 15-18; [posted on Ignatius Insight 19 January 2010 to March 2015].
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A papal tradition has come to a bizarre end. For years, popes have sent out white doves as a symbol of peace after an annual meeting with young people from the youth movement called Catholic Action.
The anticipated avian emissaries were replaced this year by a bunch of colored balloons, set afloat from the balcony of the papal apartments.
Last Sunday, Pope Francis approached the window of the Apostolic Palace accompanied by a boy and a girl belonging to two different Roman parishes, but when the moment came for the traditional launch of the doves, balloons were released instead of the birds.
The reason? Last January 27 was witness to a macabre incident. In an episode worthy of Alfred Hitchcock, as the Pope’s entourage released two white doves, they were violently set upon by a black crow and a seagull, to the horror of onlookers.
Immediately, some in the media began speaking about possessed or diabolical birds, while others suggested evil omens. The rainbow peace flags flown in Saint Peter’s Square that day would have represented, according to some, a worldly or even satanic peace, foreign to Christianity. At the time, an expert in demonology, Vincenzo Scarpello, was called in, and did his best to assure readers that “we are in Rome, where pagan superstition of ornithomancy (the reading of bird omens) isn’t that far away, historically.” Scarpello shared his personal opinion that “if this was any kind of message, it would decry the persecution suffered by Christians throughout the world.”
According to Mel White of National Geographic, however, the doves were attacked by the other birds for a much more mundane reason: because they were white. In cities like Rome, White contends, there are thousands of pigeons, which are relatives of the doves, but the color of their plumage is usually between black, gray and brown. They blend in with the color of the asphalt and the facades of the buildings and are therefore not identifiable to the other birds. Cases of completely white plumage, White claims, are very rare.
White claimed that the birds were “freakish,” bred an unnatural white because the color “symbolizes peace, purity, serenity, and other good stuff.” But according to White, “There are no pure-white doves in the natural world.” The birds that were released were bred “for use as pets, and for release at weddings and other ceremonies.”
This year’s balloon launch, however, proceeded without incident. As they drifted off, the Pope said: “I thank you, and encourage you to continue walking the Christian path with joy, leading all to the peace of Jesus.”
Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter: @tdwilliamsrome.
Cardinal Valerio Valeri, prefect of the Vatican Congregation of the Affairs of Religious, ordered the first apostolic visitation of the Legionaries in 1956. He was prefect from 1953 to his death in 1963 at 79. He had been the apostolic nuncio to France accredited during the war to the Vichy government and then forced from France after liberation by Charles de Gaulle, to be succeeded there by Angelo Roncalli, the future Pope John XXIII.
Though by 1954 Maciel hoped his institute was close to definitive Vatican approval and Valeri was supportive enough in February 1956 to have approved the new name “Legionaries of Christ,” Maciel, aged 36 in 1956, was becoming incapacitated from addiction to narcotic painkillers Dolantin and Demerol. On January 3, 1956 Spaniard Legionary Father Rafael Arumí, 29, novice master at the Legionary College in Rome, found Maciel so unstable from drugs that he summoned from Mexico Father Luis Ferreira Correa, 41, rector of the Legionary apostolic school (minor seminary) at Tlalpan in Mexico City and Legionary vicar general. The crisis lasted for days. Arumí, Ferreira, and Spaniard Legionary Father Antonio Lagoa, 36, rector of the Legionary College in Rome, considered how to deal with the scandal and contemplated Maciel’s replacement as superior. Valeri was hearing such things from sources in Rome and Mexico and himself saw Maciel in poor condition detoxing in Salvator Mundi Hospital in Rome in spring 1956.
Two Legionaries took responsibility (treasonably, as Maciel saw it) for informing authorities: Ferreira Correa and Spaniard Brother Federico Domínguez, prefect of studies at Tlalpan, who as Maciel’s private secretary had observed him closely.
In a letter dated August 24, 1954, Domínguez, then 27, had reported Maciel’s shortcomings to the vicar general of the Mexico City archdiocese: he doesn’t follow the religious rule, recite the Breviary, or meditate. He disrespects confidentiality in matters of conscience. He uses “lies, distortions, exaggerations” and acts as if “the ends justify the means.” He lacks the spirit of religious poverty, travels first class, eats luxurious food rather than that prepared for the community, spends more time in the houses of women donors than in his own religious houses. He considers his desire for sexual gratification to be a urological problem. He gives himself narcotic injections and carefully conceals it. “Under the effect of the drugs, he makes magnificent plans of apostolate and [violating confidentiality] talks publicly about the private defects of those he is with. This is understood by the religious who don’t know what is going on as a proof of Father Maciel’s ‘spiritual clairvoyance.’”
Domínguez’s letter got back to Maciel, who then to help him discredit Domínguez sought out Belgian Benedictine Gregorio Lemercier, prior of the Benedictine priory he founded near Cuernavaca. Lemercier was an unlikely potential ally, a pioneer in the use of psychoanalysis in vocational discernment and religious life and a well-read exponent of liturgical renewal, who ten years later would himself fall foul of Vatican authorities. Maciel had miscalculated: if Lemercier first had the impression that Domínguez needed counseling, he soon gathered that Maciel himself was the problem and instructed Domínguez, then Ferreira, to report the drug and sex abuse they knew about before leaving the Legion, as they intended to do.
By summer 1956, four Mexican bishops knew at least something about the Maciel problem, the archbishops of Mexico City, Morelia, and Yucatan, and the bishop of Cuernavaca. Cuernavaca Bishop Sergio Méndez Arceo wrote cautiously on August 14 to Arcadio Larraona, Secretary of the Vatican Congregation of the Affairs of Religious, recommending Maciel’s removal and an investigation of three charges: “devious and lying behavior, use of narcotic drugs, acts of sodomy with boys of the congregation.” On August 31 Mexico City Archbishop Miguel Darío Miranda also wrote to Larraona agreeing that “immediate intervention is necessary” in the Maciel case and reiterating those three charges: “sins against the sixth commandment committed with members of the congregation,” drug addiction, and mendacity to achieve his ends.
Ferreira had on August 23 written at length to the Mexico City vicar general about a number of cases of Maciel’s “impurely touching” apostolic school boys and subsequent explanation, when the boys had told Ferreira of this, that he had been in pain and must have been unconscious. He told the story of Maciel’s drug crisis in Rome in early January and wrote of Maciel’s lies and evasions and his theory of having a urological problem that required emission of semen.
The three letters from August 1956 – those of Méndez Arceo, Darío Miranda, and Ferreira Correa – document an important point: the charge of sexual abuse was part of what triggered the original investigation of Maciel. Maciel never admitted that, claiming, as in his book-length autobiographical interview with Jesús Colina, Christ is My Life (Manchester, New Hampshire: Sophia Institute Press 2003 (English version)), that what he called the “slanders” against him involved only drugs and lies. The standard understanding of this is conveyed, for example, in the Wikipedia article, “Sexual abuse scandal in the Legion of Christ”: “In 1956 the Vatican had him removed as superior and investigated allegations of drug abuse… There are no records of any members reporting sexual abuse at that time.”
Things moved quickly. On September 20 Larraona had the documentation sent to Domenico Tardini, Secretary of the Roman Curia, suggesting the Pope be informed and that Maciel step down and find help. Maciel’s suspension, signed by Valeri and dated the next day, was relayed through the Apostolic Delegation in Mexico, as Larraona had asked, sidestepping Cardinal Giuseppe Pizzardo, Secretary of the Holy Office, a Maciel friend.
Maciel arrived in Rome by October 1 and on October 3 wrote to Valeri, accepting his suspension by the Congregation respectfully, “with absolute submission and unconditional compliance,” and agreeing “to go to a clinic, suspended for that time from the exercise of my responsibility of superior general of the Institute.” All the same he claimed good health, enclosing as evidence a certificate from papal physician Ricardo Galeazzi Lisi (who as it turned out would be dismissed from papal service later in 1956 amid talk of gambling debts and caused distaste in 1958 by selling photos and stories of Pius XII’s dying days) and declared himself the victim of calumny. Maciel was exiled to Spain, restricted from Rome. Legionary administration for the time being was taken up by Lagoa, as College rector; Arumí, as novice master; and Ferreira, as vicar general, assisted by Domínguez.
On October 13 Valeri appointed as apostolic visitator Anastasio (of the Holy Rosary) Ballestrero, general superior of the Discalced Carmelites. Anastasio was 43, born in Genoa in 1913, a Discalced Carmelite priest from 1936. He served as general superior from 1955 to 1967 and would become archbishop of Bari in 1973 and of Turin in 1977 and a cardinal made by Pope John Paul II in 1979.
The Legion geared up to obstruct the visitation. In August or September, Maciel asked Legionary José Domínguez, Federico’s brother, to help draft an official religious vow for Legionaries to take, never to criticize a superior and to report those who do. Maciel explained this “second private vow” in a long letter dated September 15, 1956, addressed to all the Legionaries of the Front of Mexico. He wrote:
The vow in question is a formal commitment contracted with God which consists in: First, not expressing externally, in any way, either orally, in writing, or by physical gestures, anything which might result in the detriment of the person or the AUTHORITY of the Superior. Secondly, notifying your Superior as a soon as possible if you should realize that another member of the Institute has faulted against the vow thus understood….
The Private Vow has as its specific purpose the safeguarding of the criterion and principle of authority in the Legion and the making of a more efficacious government through the absolute ADHERENCE to the Superior as authority and as a person in order to ultimately obtain a compact and internal union as Christ ardently desired in the last supper: “That they all may be one… (John 17.21)”…
The Private Vow guards against all external criticism, not only [of] acts of government and authority of the Superior but also his entire human personality: temperament, character, physical, intellectual and moral defects and his way of proceeding in any area outside the exercise of his authority. Consequently the Superior MUST SIMPLY BE RESPECTED regardless of any negative aspect whatsoever….
The fruits of the vow were intended to be the “COMPACT UNION between Superiors and subjects,” “THE PRACTICE OF CHARITY,” and “SELF DOMINION.” He wrote:
I am well aware that because of the strong conflicting forces of our nature it is not an easy vow to fulfill. But it is Christ who has wished to inspire this providential means in his Legion and who will give strength to each and every one who makes it up and who forms its ranks so that this vow may be held in esteem and fulfilled as something that truly constitutes the heart of the Legion…
Though there is evidence for its existence in some form as early as 1950, the trademark Legionary “vow of charity” was a heritage of the very moment that occurred between the Mexican bishops’ letters asking for intervention and the appointment of an apostolic visitation less than two months later. The private vow was taken by Legionaries until Pope Benedict reportedly put an end to it in 2007.
The language of persecution and martyrdom came easily to Maciel, who grew up during the Mexican Cristero war. In August he told Juan Vaca, Legionary seminarian from Mexico, aged 19, and future accuser, “You know they are enemies. The devil has managed to put them inside the Vatican to destroy the Legion. If they destroy it, they destroy the work of God and your vocation.” In October he told seminarian Alejandro Espinosa, future author of El Legionario (2003), “Remember: you saw nothing, you know nothing, you heard nothing!” Before leaving for Spain, Maciel issued instructions from the clinic he entered in outer Rome: “Don’t tell them what they cannot understand and will misinterpret as a pretext to destroy the Legion.”
José Barba, another Mexican seminarian and future accuser, remembers Maciel’s tearful farewell speech on October 10: “I have been attacked and am subjected to a great test by my enemies… The Legion is said to be a good work, but what is the chance that the Legion, the tree, the branches, and the fruits are good, but I, the trunk, am evil? What sense is there in that?”
After Maciel’s departure, days before the arrival of the visitators, Legionaries of the time remember Lagoa calling them into assembly hall to tell them to be prudent, quiet, and faithful. Documents were secreted. Legionaries suspected of wanting to cooperate were moved away from Rome. José Domínguez, fourth vow drafter, was removed to Naples.
Ferreira and Federico Domínguez, who had reported Maciel to authorities, were marginalized. Domínguez said, “None of my old friends would talk to me. It was circle the wagons… The Carmelite was not getting any information from the people there.” Vaca admitted that, at the suggestion of Maciel himself, he would stir laxative into Ferreira’s morning coffee. Ferreira developed severe diarrhea, and, unable to discover its cause and sick for months, returned to Mexico in December.
Even from exile, Maciel managed a “mischievous presence” to his institute, in Alejandro Espinosa’s phrase. He would secretly meet Legionaries once a month on the outskirts of Rome or in a bus and joke, “I’m on a bus, not on Roman soil. I’m not disobedient!” The administration of Lagoa and Arumí served in some respects as a dodge for Maciel to continue to run the congregation.
Anastasio conducted his investigation of the Legionary College in Rome from October to February 1957, assisted by his own Discalced Carmelite vicar general, Benjamin (of the Holy Trinity) Lachaert. He interviewed each seminarian briefly and studied the Constitutions and the founder’s letters. Carmelite Father Ippolito (of the Holy Family) visited the Legionary apostolic school (minor seminary) in Ontaneda (Santander) Spain in the first week of December.
Conflicted young Legionaries were agonized, bound securely by vow of charity to the Legion and Father Maciel. If Maciel was a saint, as they believed, if the Church had approved the Legion, why was the Church now investigating? A Mexican seminarian, 19, José Antonio Pérez Olvera, remembers the visitator’s threatening him with excommunication unless he told the full truth, but lying even so: “I felt proud of my fidelity to Father Maciel. He was above canonical right, above the Church, its precepts, its magisterium. He had breakfast daily with the Sacred Heart… Still, my conscience would not let me rest… Canonically I was excommunicated.” “I lied,” says Barba. “I lied,” says Vaca.
Anastasio did not develop evidence about drug and sex abuse sufficient to render judgment. But in four months he nevertheless learned enough to reach harsh conclusions in his report, dated February 11, 1957. In the report, he recognized that the seminarians were reticent, uncomfortable, and coached and that he hadn’t gotten the full truth. The institute was “juridical chaos” with structures in violation of canon law and spiritually fragile. Its young members had been “fanaticized” by the founder, “but it is substantially healthy and well-intentioned and offers hope insofar as it can be freed from fanaticism. Which seems doubtful.”
Anastasio therefore recommended: return Legionary headquarters and schools to Mexico from Rome and Spain; allow the Legion new members only at the discretion of the Holy See; add Mexican episcopal oversight; forbid new initiatives; name an appropriate new superior from outside the institute; revise the Constitutions radically, abolishing the idiosyncratic Legionary vows. “Maciel must be removed from office as fundamentally and solely responsible for the many serious juridical irregularities and administrative abuses. Silence about the rest appears prudent for internal and external reasons, at least for the moment.”
Anastasio had worked briskly, taking time from administering his own order, filed his report, asked to be relieved, and must have thought that the work was done. But two new and less critical apostolic visitators succeeded him (for what reason is unclear) and they neutralized his recommendations.
On July 10, 1957 to succeed Anastasio in Rome Valeri named Msgr. Alfredo Bontempi, 62, rector of the Nepomucenum, the Czech Pontifical College in Rome. Born in 1894 in Castelfidardo, a town in the Marches, Bontempi served as rector from 1950 until his death in 1963. He would be ordained bishop and granted a titular see in 1962. After six months of his own experience with the Legionaries, Bontempi told the Congregation of the Affairs of Religious on January 24, 1958, that the Legionaries had warmed to him and that he was impressed by the “spirit of piety” in their seminary. He noted that the library lacked the works of Congar, de Lubac, and Maritain; he liked the vow of charity; he had told Arumí that his report would reflect favorably on the founder because “the tree is known by its fruits.”
Also appointed that day was a new visitator for Legionary houses in Mexico and Spain, a Belgian Franciscan missionary to Chile, Polidoro van Vlierberghe, 48, who from 1961 would become apostolic administrator and territorial prelate of Illapel, Chile. Polidoro became mouthpiece for Maciel’s versions of events: Anastasio should have been more balanced; ambitious Ferreira and the Jesuits had intrigued against Maciel; accusations came from bad sources; the institute has borne its sufferings with faith. In January 1958 Anastasio criticized Polidoro’s perspective to Larraona — the Jesuits must be given a chance to respond to so serious an accusation, for one thing — but did not prevail.
Though a 1964 curial summary of earlier documents noted that “the conclusions don’t appear to correspond to the logic of the facts,” the Maciel case was concluded along the lines of a compromise proposed on September 10, 1958, by Redemptorist Domenico Mozzicarelli, an official in the Congregation of the Affairs of Religious who dealt with apostolic visitations. Even if Maciel’s removal seemed advisable, the Legion was built on his “mysterious” personality and no new superior could replace his “heroic mysticism” or his ability to fundraise. Because of “its great good mixed with bad” the institute should continue. A smoldering wick should not be quenched. So a compromise: leave to Valeri when eventually to restore Maciel, reserve the right to further visitations, appoint the counsel general and financial officer required by canon law, and absolutely forbid Maciel from giving spiritual direction, much less hearing confession, or otherwise intruding on the internal forum of members of the congregation. (This last in accordance with 1917 Canon Law Code canon 530, which strictly forbade religious superiors from coercing a manifestation of conscience from a subordinate under obedience.) The Congregation of the Affairs of Religious wrote Cardinal Clemente Micara on October 13, 1958 reinstating Maciel on roughly those terms. On February 6, 1959 Micara wrote Maciel.
Pope Pius XII died October 9 and Pope John XXIII was elected October 28. It has never been clear why the reinstatement of Maciel was issued in the papal interregnum or why it fell to Micara, Cardinal Vicar General of Rome from 1951 to his death at 85 in 1965, to deliver it, or why he delayed it for four months. In any event, another curial summary from 1962 states that in settling the Maciel matter the Congregation of the Affairs of Religious could not go further than the Mozzicarelli compromise because of the “recommendations and interventions of high persons.” Who those were we don’t know, but in his autobiographical interview, Christ is My Life, for helping him survive the visitation Maciel thanks Cardinals Micara, Pizzardo, Gaetano Cicognani (Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura), Giovanni Piazza (Discalced Carmelite Secretary of what is now the Congregation for Bishops), and Federico Tedeschini (Apostolic Datary).
So Maciel and the Legion were cleared and moved on. The discontinuity in Vatican administration in October 1958 may account for why Maciel was never held to the stipulated restrictions on his ministry. After Maciel’s reinstatement, Ferreira left the Legion to serve in the archdiocese of Morelia (Michoacán) Mexico until he died in 2001. Domínguez transferred to Maynooth seminary in Dublin, in fall 1957 also left the Legion, eventually married, and lived in Los Angeles. Lagoa, at 80 in 2001, and Arumí, at 79 in 2006, both died as Legionary priests. In 2003 Maciel eulogized Lagoa as “close to me in the great trials and tribulations of the Legion: he remained faithful, unmoved, and he unconditionally bore witness to his love for Christ by fulfilling his mission.”
The investigators of today’s visitation – not yet named officially, but reported to be Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput, O.F.M. Cap.; Alessandria, Italy Bishop Giuseppe Versaldi; Tepic, Mexico Bishop Ricardo Watty Urquidi, M.Sp.S; and Gregorian University Rector Gianfranco Ghirlanda, S.J. — may wish to apply the lessons of history as they begin their work. And if fifty years ago the Vatican ignored the conclusions of its first visitator and missed the chance to abbreviate Father Maciel’s damaging career, it may well consider the consequences for the future of doing a superficial job of dealing with the Legionaries now, though the second visitation will doubtless be held more accountable than the first.
How the first visitation ended is itself an issue for the second. High Vatican officials were among those who enabled Father Maciel’s double life by annulling the recommendations of Anastasio in February 1957 and Mozzicarelli in September 1958. Since 1997, when Berry and Renner began to report the efforts of Vaca, Barba, and others to bring Maciel to justice for the abuse they covered up for him under duress forty years before, the Legionaries relied repeatedly in his public defense on what they claimed was his Vatican clearing after thorough investigation.
Addressing the first visitation with Jesús Colina in Christ is my Life, Maciel spoke untruthfully when he said, “no official written document ever reached me.” He wrote a resignation. Or when he said, “I was denied any possibility of defense.” or “the accusations [were] amply proven false.” González in 2002 managed confirmation from the then Discalced Carmelite superior general that Fathers Anastasio and Benjamin did serve as apostolic visitators in 1956-8. Colina, director of the Legionary affiliated Zenit news service, was journalist less enterprising when in the interview he allowed Maciel to refer to Bontempi and Polidoro, his supporters, as the “two visitators.” For emphasis Maciel noted that in 2003 Polidoro was (at 94) still alive. (He would live to be 97 and died in 2006.) In a letter to the Hartford Courant December 20, 1996, according to Berry and Renner, the Legionaries stated falsely that visitator Anastasio had died, though he lived until June 21, 1998, to age 84.
That Pope Benedict abolished the private Legionary vow of charity in 2007, 50 years after Anastasio’s recommendation, does not in itself guarantee that the visitators will hear the whole truth when interviewing Legionaries. The March 31 words of current Legionary General Director Álvaro Corcuera did promise welcome and cooperation to the visitation, but the two Legionary camps that have emerged since the revelation of Maciel’s daughter on February 3, the “full disclosure” group and the “carry on with the charism” group, are clearly the successors of the camps of 50 years ago, the small “cooperate with the Vatican” group and the loyal “circle the wagons and lie” group. There has not so far been much, let alone full, disclosure. Committed curial Legionary supporters Cardinals Franc Rodé, prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, and Angelo Sodano, Secretary Emeritus of State and Dean of the College of Cardinals, are the successors in our day of Pizzardo et al.
Baltimore Archbishop Edwin O’Brien, a Legionary critic, who himself served as an apostolic visitator of Catholic seminaries in America from 2005 to 2008 in an interview with National Catholic Reporter in April could not say he was confident that the Legionaries would cooperate fully with the visitation. “It depends on so many individuals being open, because it just takes a few to try to block it and to mislead,” he said.
To know history is to realize that Maciel’s fraudulence was already spelled out to Church authorities more than fifty years ago: the double life, excessive time spent with benefactresses, sexual abuse, coercive vocational pressure, cult of personality, arrogant superiority to the Church, financial irregularities, fanaticized members who need deprogramming. It is to recognize that many tropes in defense of Maciel are also more than fifty years old: it looks too good to be bad, it’s a new cross to bear, Maciel was unconscious or ill when he did it, judge the tree by its fruits.
History demonstrates what long institutional experience the Legionaries have of cultivating complaisant churchmen and resisting ecclesiastical oversight, covering up for their mysterious, charismatic founder, and justifying their institutional survival with effective fundraising and other goods mixed with bad. The visitators will have to be on their guard. What apostolic visitator Anastasio wrote in January 1958 remains true: “The problem of this visitation is precisely to try to avoid the passion pro and con. At least for now it’s necessary to prescind from personalities and judge deeds with a strictly juridical criterion.”
28 January 1956 Franciscan Callisto Lopinot, a consultor to the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith, writes to the Congregation of the Affairs of Religious that he knows from a Catholic doctor in Rome (Walter Behrens) that Father Maciel is addicted to narcotics.
February 1956 Cardinal Valerio Valeri, prefect of the Vatican Congregation of the Affairs of Religious, approves the new name “Legionaries of Christ.”
spring 1956 Valeri sees Maciel in poor condition detoxing in Salvator Mundi Hospital in Rome in the presence of Juan Vaca.
summer 1956 By June at least four Mexican bishops know at least something about the Maciel problem, the archbishops of Mexico City, Morelia, and Yucatan and the bishop of Cuernavaca.
14 August 1956 Cuernavaca Bishop Sergio Méndez Arceo writes to Arcadio Larraona, Secretary of the Congregation of the Affairs of Religious, recommending Maciel’s removal and an investigation of three charges: “devious and lying behavior, use of narcotic drugs, acts of sodomy with boys of the congregation.”
23 August 1956 Legionary Father Luis Ferreira Correa, rector of the apostolic school at Tlalpan in Mexico City and Legionary vicar general, reports in a long letter to Rev. Francisco Orozco Lomelí, vicar general of the Mexico City archdiocese, a number of cases of Maciel’s “impurely touching” apostolic school boys and his explanation that he was in pain and must have been unconscious. He reports the story of Maciel’s drug crisis in Rome in early January, specifying Dolantin, Sedol, and Demerol, and tells of Maciel’s lies and evasions and his theory of a urological problem that requires emission of semen.
31 August 1956 Mexico City Archbishop Miguel Darío Miranda writes to Arcadio Larraona agreeing that “immediate intervention is necessary” in the Maciel case and reiterating the charges: “sins against the sixth commandment committed with members of the congregation,” drug addiction, and mendacity to achieve his ends.
August or September 1956 Maciel asks Legionary José Domínguez, Federico’s brother, to help draft an official fourth religious vow, never to criticize a superior and to report those who do.
15 September 1956 Maciel in a long letter addressed to all the Legionaries of the Front of Mexico explains the “second private vow”:
The vow in question is a formal commitment contracted with God which consists in: First, not expressing externally, in any way, either orally, in writing, or by physical gestures, anything which might result in the detriment of the person or the AUTHORITY of the Superior. Secondly, notifying your Superior as a soon as possible if you should realize that another member of the Institute has faulted against the vow thus understood…
The Private Vow has as its specific purpose the safeguarding of the criterion and principle of authority in the Legion and the making of a more efficacious government through the absolute ADHERENCE to the Superior as authority and as a person in order to ultimately obtain a compact and internal union as Christ ardently desired in the last supper: ‘That they all may be one… (John 17.21)’…
The Private Vow guards against all external criticism, not only [of] acts of government and authority of the Superior but also his entire human personality: temperament, character, physical, intellectual and moral defects and his way of proceeding in any area outside the exercise of his authority. Consequently the Superior MUST SIMPLY BE RESPECTED regardless of any negative aspect whatsoever.
Maciel intends the fruits of the vow to be the “COMPACT UNION between Superiors and subjects,” “THE PRACTICE OF CHARITY,” and “SELF DOMINION.”
I am well aware that because of the strong conflicting forces of our nature it is not an easy vow to fulfill. But it is Christ who has wished to inspire this providential means in his Legion and who will give strength to each and every one who makes it up and who forms its ranks so that this vow may be held in esteem and fulfilled as something that truly constitutes the heart of the Legion.
20 September 1956 Larraona sends the documentation to Domenico Tardini, Secretary of the Roman Curia, suggesting the Pope be informed and that Maciel step down and find help.
21 September Msgr. Sapinelli, an official of the Congregation of the Affairs of Religious, asks Angelo Dell’Acqua, a deputy at the Secretariat of State, to send back to the Apostolic Delegation in Mexico City Maciel’s suspension as superior general. The document is signed by Cardinal Valeri. The relaying of Maciel’s suspension through the Apostolic Delegation in Mexico, as Larraona had asked, sidesteps Giuseppe Pizzardo, Secretary of the Holy Office, a Maciel friend.
3 October Maciel, having arrived in Rome by October 1, writes Cardinal Valeri, respectfully accepting suspension by the Congregation and exile to Spain, “with absolute submission and unconditional compliance,” and agreeing “to go to a clinic, suspended for that time from the exercise of my responsibility of superior general of the Institute,” though claiming good health and declaring himself the victim of calumny.
Legionary administration is taken up by Legionary Fathers Lagoa, Arumí, and Ferreira, as vicar general, assisted by Brother Domínguez.
10 October Maciel gives a tearful farewell speech to the congregation: “The Legion is said to be a good work, but what is the chance that the Legion, the tree, the branches, and the fruits are good, but I, the trunk, am evil? What sense is there in that?”
13 October Cardinal Valeri appoints as apostolic visitator Anastasio (of the Holy Rosary) Ballestrero, general superior of the Discalced Carmelites.
October 1956 to February 1957 Anastasio investigates of the Legionary College in Rome, assisted by Discalced Carmelite vicar general, Benjamin (of the Holy Trinity) Lachaert.
first week of December 1956 Discalced Carmelite Father Ippolito (of the Holy Family) visits the Legionary apostolic school in Ontaneda (Santander) Spain.
11 February 1957 Anastasio reports, concluding the Legion was “juridical chaos” with structures in violation of canon law and spiritually fragile; its young members had been “fanaticized” by the founder; “but it is substantially healthy and well-intentioned and offers hope insofar as it can be freed from fanaticism. Which seems doubtful.” He recommends: return Legionary headquarters and schools to Mexico from Rome and Spain; allow the Legion new members only at the discretion of the Holy See; add Mexican episcopal oversight; name an appropriate new superior from outside the institute; revise the Constitutions radically, abolishing the idiosyncratic Legionary vows. “Maciel must be removed from office as fundamentally responsible for the many serious juridical irregularities and administrative abuses. Silence about the rest appears prudent for internal and external reasons, at least for the moment.”
10 July 1957 Cardinal Valeri names Nepomucenum rector Msgr. Alfredo Bontempi and Franciscan missionary to Chile Polidoro van Vlierberghe as apostolic visitators for Rome and Mexico and Spain. Polidoro adopts Maciel’s versions of events.
15 January 1958 Anastasio criticizes Polidoro’s perspective to Larraona, but does not prevail. He writes, “The problem of this visitation is precisely to try to avoid the passion pro and con. At least for now it’s necessary to prescind from personalities and judge deeds with a strictly juridical criterion.”
24 January 1958 Bontempi tells the Congregation of the Affairs of Religious that he is impressed by the Legionary “spirit of piety” and has told Arumí that his report will reflect favorably on the founder because “the tree is known by its fruits.”
10 September 1958 Redemptorist Domenico Mozicarelli, an official at the Congregation of the Affairs of Religious, proposes the compromise that concludes Maciel case: leave to Valeri when eventually to restore Maciel, reserve the right to further visitations, appoint to the congregation the counsel general and financial officer required by canon law, and forbid Maciel from giving spiritual direction, hearing confession, or having access to the internal forum of members of the congregation.
9 October 1958 Pope Pius XII dies.
13 October 1958 Congregation of the Affairs of Religious writes Cardinal Clemente Micara, vicar general of Rome, reinstating Maciel on the terms of the Mozzicarelli compromise.
28 October Pope John XXIII is elected.
6 February 1959 Cardinal Micara writes Maciel, reinstating him.
19 June 2003 Legionary Father Antonio Lagoa, administrator of the Legion during the years of the apostolic visitation, who had died 5 September 2001 at 80, is eulogized by Maciel as “close to me in the great trials and tribulations of the Legion: he remained faithful, unmoved, and he unconditionally bore witness to his love for Christ by fulfilling his mission.”
It is sometimes suggested that the Jesuit connection to the visitation itself spells trouble for the Legion, but those who evoke the evil Jesuit perpetuate an unfair stereotype of which twentieth century conservative movementarians have been overly fond. Father Maciel himself complained of scheming Jesuits, but this is not to be credited any more than anything else he might have said.
Yet the names of the visitators have still not been announced officially, though reportedly they have been confirmed journalistically by Vatican sources. To Mexican press, as reported June 6 by La Journada and El Universal, two Legionary spokesmen, Javier Bravo, Legionary communications director for Mexico, and Osvaldo Moreno, stated that they have received no official word about when the visitation will begin or who the visitators will be. Until we know for sure who the visitators are and what, if anything, they will be doing, the word “transparency” used by Bertone in his March 10 letter announcing the visitation seems only a cruel sop thrown to Americans whom European ecclesiastics consider addled by democratic innovations like open courts and sunshine laws. There has been plenty of unofficial word. On the other hand, any thorough investigation of a worldwide congregation with branches of religious men, women, and laypersons is a massive project that will require some preparation.
For all their qualifications in religious life and formation, canon law, psychology, and education, none of the prospective visitators is a forensic accountant. If the visitation is now underway in some sense without the named visitators, it may be that the finances of Father Maciel personally and the Legion generally are now being audited as a necessary preliminary. Vatican visitors were said to have arrived at Legionary headquarters in Rome in early March, around the date of Bertone’s letter.
Nor is any of the prospective visitators a woman. This needs to be corrected if it signals unconcern for the welfare of the consecrated women of Regnum Christi, whose issues, such as their canonical status, their formation, the allegations of inadequate education and woman on woman abuse among them, should not continue to be overshadowed.
A woman, Mother Mary Clare Millea, superior of the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, is heading another current apostolic visitation, that of orders of American religious women. Her visitation has, by contrast, been transparent and briskly paced, though it is a project larger even than that of investigating the Legionaries and she is the sole leader. Mother Millea was officially appointed December 22, 2008 by Cardinal Rodé. The visitation was announced at a press conference in Washington, January 30, 2009 and its first phase by news release February 20. Millea’s May 19 letter gave information about timetable and procedure, which she expects to take a minimum of 2½ years. One can see documents and get news about that visitation on apostolicvisitation.org. One can join an apostolic visitation facebook group. By contrast, the Legionary visitation was officially decided upon March 10 and announced March 31. More than three months later we have heard only officially unconfirmed press leaks of the visitators’ names.
It may be that the same Vatican forces that protected and enabled Father Maciel for decades and even now are hoping to obstruct the apostolic visitation of the Legionaries are causing delay more than any desire for care and thoroughness. For all their qualifications, will the putative visitators be brave and independent enough to explore the two investigative frontiers that stretch beyond the tedious specifics of Father Maciel’s private life? One, the distasteful rumors that the Legion all along has been the instrument of a group of wealthy Mexican families, and two, the distasteful rumors that some in the Vatican were complicit with the Legion and do not want themselves to be exposed by the visitation. Such rumors corrode the very human credibility of the Church, as has the response to the pedophilia scandal generally, and a creditable visitation must confront them for the good of the Church.
Those who fear a whitewash of the Legionaries rather than a real investigation do have reason:
=Though properly concerned with the canonical legal rights of abusive priests and the need for bishops to be pastors and not police, Bertone and Ghirlanda in May 2002 opposed the American bishops’ policy of disclosure, giving canonical reasons for keeping scandal private. Ghirlanda argued that parishes need not be informed when an abusive priest is moved there. The instance of Jeremiah Spillane, the Legionary priest transitioning into the diocese of Venice, Florida caught trying to seduce a 13-year-old boy in 1997, would provide the visitation with a case study of the matter.
=The language in Bertone’s March 10 letter (“I am pleased to remember that many people benefit from the works of education and apostolate which the Legionaries of Christ carry out…”) signaled Legionary survival from the start.
=Not even a churchman as senior as Baltimore Archbishop Edwin O’Brien, when asked on April 3 by John Allen, could say he was confident that the Legionaries would cooperate fully with the visitation. “It depends on so many individuals being open, because it just takes a few to try to block it and to mislead,” he said.
=Though there has been some consolidation (in May both the closure of Gateway Academy High School in Missouri and a round of layoffs of media and development employees and benefits trimmings), there has also been some expansion (an agreement to acquire Southern Catholic College, the cornerstone blessing of the Magdala retreat center in Galilee). The Legionaries are certainly proceeding as if the visitation is no threat to their future.
Life-after-rc’s Visitation thread reports that members of Regnum Christi are being told to think the visitation is a sign of Benedict’s approval, that it means no serious consequences, that it will help them be more who they already are. Well, to be fair, the same euphemisms have also explained the women’s apostolic visitation: it is a “positive effort to support and promote congregations.” Relying on a traditional theological view that says the approval of a religious order by the Church is an infallibly rendered judgment, they are confident that they cannot be re-founded or reformed and Legionary formators are happy to repeat to their seminarians Cardinal Rodé’s infamous, “if you deviate from your charism, I’ll kill you.”
=Last month, on his trip to Israel, Pope Benedict held a meeting at the Pontifical Notre Dame Center in Jerusalem, care of which John Paul gave the Legionaries in 2004 to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Father Maciel’s ordination, and on May 11 blessed the cornerstone of a Legionary initiative, an extension of the center, the Magdala Center in Galilee. Legionary general director Father Alvaro Corcuera used a May 15 letter from Jerusalem to Regnum Christi members about his experience of the occasion to flatter Benedict and claim papal and curial support. Overall it documents the current Legionary tone of voice:
The first day of [Benedict’s] pilgrimage, with exemplary self-giving and dedication, here at the Notre Dame of Jerusalem Center he met with several Christian, Jewish, and Muslim leaders. He gave a message of unity and humility. His words strengthened people’s hearts, showing them that God is not a God of division, but of union. God is a loving Father who loves his children tenderly.
On that occasion God gave us a special grace… The Pope was very friendly; he blessed the cornerstone and was kind enough to give the gift of a beautiful tabernacle to this center, which belongs to the Holy See… Here, in person, we were able to pledge him our prayers, fidelity, and closeness. I told him that we were praying in a very special way at this time of his trip.
…On Thursday night, we went to Gethsemane to celebrate Mass and do our Eucharistic Hour, offering them for the intentions of the Church, the Legion of Christ and Regnum Christi, so that we will be what God wants us to be, and to thank him for the gift of our vocation. At Mass we read the text of Scripture that says that by his wounds we are healed (cf. Is. 53:5). Christ took off his cloak to cover us. When times come in which we want to say that we are unable to go on and we ask him if it is possible to take away the cup, Christ answers with an embrace. He draws us to his heart and tells us he loves us. What problem cannot be overcome when he holds us in his arms? It is our calling to welcome everyone without distinctions, and to be apostles of the good, of Christ’s embrace. To be apostles of the good, of everything that fills the soul with peace. How right the apostle St James is when he says that the man who does not sin with his tongue is a perfect man! (cf. James 3:2). And the fact is, when we are with Christ only good things come from our heart and our lips, bringing Christ’s authentic peace to everyone, without envy, rancor, or words that rob people of the marvelous gift of peace.
As we finished our Eucharistic Hour a married couple came up. It was providential. A group of pilgrims had arrived and were beginning their prayer. They told me that they were from Mexico, they were in Regnum Christi and they loved every day more the vocation God gave them, because it had helped them to discover Christ’s love and follow him more closely. What most impressed me is that they were the parents of a girl, full of God, who suffered an accident that left her unable to walk. Instead of resentment, I found nothing but love, a spirit of faith, prayer, zeal for souls, charity, kindness and self-giving. They told me that their vocation was to preach Christ, that they loved the Movement because they had discovered the one thing that we men and women need. How thankful we must be for so much love from God! The doctors had told them that their daughter would never be able to walk, and yet they told me that it is Christ who gives health, grace, love. And the daughter is starting to walk, but what is most important is that she is racing toward holiness.
…..Today, Friday morning, God gave us the grace of celebrating the Eucharist with the cardinals, bishops, and the Papal entourage, here in the Notre Dame Center. The consecrated women were present, and filled our hearts with their fervor and songs. The Gospel of the day was the one that sets the course for this second chapter in our history: “Love one another as I have loved you” (Jn. 15:12). That is the center of our life and what God is asking of us! This is our vocation, and our mission is to carry out this stage, living these words of Christ.
…..Mary’s closeness fills us with peace and fortitude. Humanly, we are aware of our weaknesses; however, Mary shows us that God carries out his works and his marvels, such as those we experience every day, in humility. How grateful we are to God for the charism we have received, into which we have to penetrate more deeply every day: knowing, living, and sharing God’s merciful love! We have all experienced its fruitfulness in our lives and so we are deeply grateful to him for it. May he grant us the grace of keeping and transmitting it faithfully. This is a time to explore deeply the one thing that is important so as to fill ourselves with Christ, and live and help others to live his commandment of love: this is how people will tell who we are.
In their press conference Javier Bravo and Osvaldo Moreno further demonstrated Legionary under-visitation spin. Bravo claimed that post-scandal defections from the Legion are few; that, with Mother Teresa’s Sisters of Charity, they are still the among the fastest growing congregations in the church; that “the charism of the Legionaries [the word they use to allude to their irreformable approval] comes from the model of the imitation of Christ. Father Maciel with his nature and his reality, with many successes, but also with his faults, was only an instrument. The congregation does not follow Father Maciel, but the model of Christ. The priests who are ordained do not seek to be like Father Maciel, they are following Christ.” The spokesmen echoed the language of Bertone’s March letter: “Even if he was the founder, the educational, social, and religious work goes beyond the figure of that priest.”
It is in a way comforting that when Legionary spokesmen mislead it is so easy to recognize. Bravo claims the Legionaries don’t need their founder as a model in the same breath he refers to Mother Teresa’s Sisters of Charity. But if they no longer take Maciel as a model, that is indeed authentic reform. The First Legionary General Chapter, for example, held in 1980 that “it has been ordained by God that the person and life or Our Father Founder cannot be separated from the life and spirituality of the Legion (469)” and that “the writings and conferences of Nuestro Padre should constitute, along with the Gospel of Christ, the principal source of inspiration… (184.1)”
The Legionaries act as if they can proceed without having to admit publicly or accept the consequences of anything. And they will get away with it if the visitation proves a whitewash. But it’s one thing for Benedict to send mixed signals, ordering a visitation one day and blessing a Legionary cornerstone the next, and another for him to allow the Legionaries, trying to maintain their statistical place as the Church’s foremost recruiters, to accept a new year’s class of apostolic school students, co-workers, novices, and vow takers before the questions of the visitation are settled.
Repeated statements, as by Bravo and Moreno, of “shock y dolor” at the February revelation dull the memory of how some Legionary superiors knew about it already by the summer of 2008 or how even Bravo himself, according to Proceso, said that the Legionaries knew the Vatican knew about it all even before Maciel died in January 2008. Bishops, theologians, recently former Legionary priests, concerned parents, all might prefer radical supervision or resolution before new classes are admitted, but their outrage will eventually cease to crash on the rock of Church administration.
Whether it is Father Reilly in St. Louis or Father Corcuera in Jerusalem, the Legionaries, all soothing, publicly downplay the possibility of hazard in the visitation. It’s unnerving to hear Legionary spokesmen, supposedly Catholic, defiantly paraphrase Nietzsche, as did Bravo when he said, “what doesn’t kill you makes you better.” (“Lo que no te mata te hace major.”) Legionaries whistle in the dark and claim it’s the music of the Holy Spirit. But maybe it’s just the music of Kanye West:
(Work it harder, make it better)
N-n-now that that don’t kill me
(Do it faster, makes us stronger)
Can only make me stronger…
1967 BA in philosophy, St. Fidelis College Seminary, Herman, Pennsylvania. 1968-9 studies psychology, Catholic University. 1970 MA in Religious Education, Capuchin College in Washington DC. 1971 MA in theology, University of San Francisco.
1971-1974 instructor in theology and spiritual director at St. Fidelis. 1974-1977 executive secretary and director of communications, Capuchin Province of St. Augustine in Pittsburgh. 1977 pastor in Thornton, Colorado and vicar provincial for the Capuchin Province of Mid-America, secretary and treasurer for the province from 1980, chief executive and provincial minister from 1983.
1988 appointed bishop of Rapid City, South Dakota.
1997 appointed archbishop of Denver, Colorado.
Archbishop Chaput is well known as outspokenly orthodox, particularly on pro-life, and a supporter of Pope John Paul. He has been a vocal opponent of American Catholics’ voting for pro-choice politicians and publicly criticized Notre Dame’s conferring an honorary degree on President Obama last month. He has energetically supported archdiocesan initiatives in the spirit of John Paul’s new evangelization.
In a radio interview with conservative evangelical Hugh Hewitt on August 20, 2008, he spoke about his archdiocese:
“…we’ve been blessed here. You know, the Holy Father came here for World Youth Day 15 years ago, and that really regenerated the spirit of the Church here. The diocese has about 525,000 Catholics at the northern part of Colorado. We have about 300 priests working here. Just nine years ago, we began a new seminary. Actually, we have two seminaries here. And I think in the last eleven years, we probably ordained 60 or so priests from that seminary for our own diocese and for other dioceses. So we’ve been blessed with vocations for the priesthood. We have a seminary, I think, that starts next week, and I think we expect it to be more than a full house. There’s a lot of new movements here among the laity, a lot of lay leadership. We have a new group called Endow, which is about promoting the thought of Pope John Paul II regarding the dignity of women, so it’s kind of a women’s support group that does wonderful work. We have Focus Fellowship of Catholic University Students, which is the Catholic version of Campus Crusade. We have a new graduate school of theology for the laity called the Yusen Augustine Institute, and we have our two new seminaries. So those are just some of the more obvious activities that are going on here. So we have a lot of enthusiasm for the faith.”
On the clerical sexual abuse scandal he said in the interview:
“… the Church is rightly accused of not acting earlier, not speaking out clearly, and not acting clearly on the issue of the abuse of children. And I think we have to accept the criticism when it’s true. But why would that then be a reason for us not to act, or to be slow to act, or not to be vocal about damaging things that are going on today? You know, it’s a common technique used by those who don’t like what we say, to shove our sins in our face, and we should repent from those sins and be sorry for them. But the fact that we’ve been sinful shouldn’t give up permission to neglect our responsibilities, and therefore be sinful again today. So the Church should repent, and it’s always the place to begin, to be sorry for what we’ve done wrong. But if that paralyzes us, we’ll just repeat another wrong in another context and another time.”
On his politics he said:
“…people sometimes pigeonhole me as a conservative, and I hope what I am is a Catholic. And I preach the Gospel honestly without compromise, and that cuts to the right and to the left, because the truth is supposed to set all of us free from our parties and from our prejudices or whatever. So I think people who want to follow the Gospel will offend people on all sides of the political spectrum.”
Chaput last year published “ Render Unto Caesar: Serving The Nation By Living Our Catholic Beliefs In Political Life ” (2008) about integrating religious faith and public life.
About the book he said in the interview:
“… two reasons why I wrote the book. One is some Catholic political folks asked me to, people who ran for office, and were having struggles because of that. But more importantly, I’ve grown tired of so many people in our culture saying to believers that they ought to be quiet, that there’s no place in the public square for the voice of faith. I wanted to make a distinction between separation of Church and state, and separating our faith from our politics. You can embrace the concept of separation of Church and state, but that’s not at all the same thing as separating our faith from our actions, from our political actions.
…our engagement in the world around us, whether it be political in that broad sense, or in a more narrow sense political, is about loving our neighbor. That’s why it’s foolish for Catholics to think they can enter into the political world without bringing their faith with them, because we’re required by our faith to engage the world so that human dignity will be supported, and the common good will be served. It’s a more complicated way of just saying we have to love our neighbors as ourselves. And God commands us to do that, so we just can’t work towards our personal salvation, or you know, just wait for God to save us. God also throws us back into relationship with our neighbors if we truly love Him.
…to tell a believer that he must be silent in public is like telling a married man he must pretend to be single when he’s at work. And if he does that, he won’t be married very long, because he’ll find somebody else, or his wife will be very disappointed in the fact that he doesn’t love her publicly. And I think our relationship with God is a relationship as a spousal love. You know, He loves the Church as a bridegroom loves his bride, and that it’s important for us to let people know that, not in a way that’s in their face or offensive, but then also to live out the consequences of that, which is to love our neighbor. We can’t say we love God who we can’t see if we don’t love our neighbor who we do see. And that’s political life. Political life is about loving our neighbor.
I think people deliberately misrepresent where we stand in order to scare other people about us. I know that Catholics are even cowered by that kind of talk, you know, that we hear the phrase separation of Church and state, and that attracts us, because we know that our country has been strong because it hasn’t had an established religion, or an established church. And so we ourselves hesitate when people accuse us of mingling Church and state. But again, I want to make that distinction – faith and politics is not the same as Church and state. I wholeheartedly embrace separation of Church and state. I don’t want the state to tell the Church what to do, and the Church isn’t about the business of telling the state what to do. But the Church is busy about telling our members to be good citizens, and to work in the public square to create an atmosphere that serves the common good, and protects human dignity.”
On American Catholics’ voting for pro-choice politicians Chaput wrote in “Render Unto Caesar”:
“My friends often ask me if Catholics in genuinely good conscience can vote for a pro-choice candidate. The answer is I couldn’t. Supporting a right to choose abortion simply masks and evades what abortion really is, the deliberate killing of innocent life. I know of nothing that can morally offset that kind of evil… One of the pillars of Catholic thought is this – don’t deliberately kill the innocent, and don’t collude in allowing it. We sin if we support candidates because they support a false right to abortion. We sin if we support pro-choice candidates without a truly proportionate reason for doing so, that is a reason grave enough to outweigh our obligation to end the killing of the unborn. And what would a proportionate reason look like? It would be a reason we could, with an honest heart, expect the unborn victims of abortion to accept when we meet them and need to explain our actions as we someday will.”
and said in the interview:
“…it’s hard for me to come to the conclusion there are proportionate reasons. But here’s a case where I’m certain there would be. If you have two candidates running for the same office, they’re the only choices, both of them are pro-choice, but one is much better on the other issues than the other. I think that you can choose the lesser of two evils with a clear conscience. You don’t have to. You can decide not to vote, or you can vote for a third person who couldn’t be elected. But in those circumstances, you would be voting for a pro-choice candidate, but not because the person is pro-choice, but because the alternative is a worse situation. I also know that, and this is the second point, I know many good Catholics who have given a lot of serious thought to the abortion issue, and will still vote for a candidate who is pro-choice. They’ll try to discourage that person from holding that position, they’ll work really hard within their party to get the party to change its platform if it’s pro-abortion. But they’ve kind of examined all the issues, and weighed them together, and still feel that in a particular situation, that the candidate that they are going to vote for who is pro-choice is a better of the two. And the Church, you know, says you can do that if you have a truly proportionate reason. And I hope they work hard at it, and I don’t always understand how they arrive at their conclusion. It’s hard to imagine in my mind anything worse than the destruction of more than a million unborn children in our country every year through abortion. But I think that sincere people really do arrive at those conclusions sometimes.”
Chaput’s words here were in dialogue with those of Cardinal Josef Ratzinger, then head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, in a memo on denying Holy Communion to pro-choice politicians sent to Washington Archbishop Cardinal Theodore McCarrick and made public in July 2004:
“A Catholic would be guilty of formal cooperation in evil, and so unworthy to present himself for Holy Communion, if he were to deliberately vote for a candidate precisely because of the candidate’s permissive stand on abortion and/or euthanasia. When a Catholic does not share a candidate’s stand in favor of abortion and/or euthanasia, but votes for that candidate for other reasons, it is considered remote material cooperation, which can be permitted in the presence of proportionate reasons.”
Archbishop Chaput in 1999 established a new seminary in Denver, St. John Vianney Theological Seminary, dedicated to rigorous, orthodox training in the spirit of Pope John Paul. The seminary is affiliated with the theology faculty of the Pontifical Lateran University in Rome.
Archbishop Chaput has long had firsthand information about the Legionaries. Some ten years ago he received into his archdiocese three former Legionary priests: Revs. Philip Larrey, Jorge Rodriguez, and Donal Leonard. The three were motivated scholars, had had a part in the founding in 1993 of the Pontifical Legionary university in Rome, the Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum, but reportedly came into conflict with the leadership of the order, including Father Maciel himself, for not binding themselves tightly enough to the congregation’s rules of life. Chaput took them in, according to Paul Lennon , to benefit from their pastoral expertise in Spanish language and Hispanic culture and because he believed they were good men mistreated by the Legionary system.
Larrey holds a licentiate and doctorate in philosophy (1994) from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome and was dean of the faculty of philosophy at Regina Apostolorum. His scholarly interests include the philosophy of science and the history of Christianity. Currently he teaches philosophy at the Pontifical Lateran University in Rome and the University of California Education Abroad Program Rome Study Center.
Rodriguez holds a licentiate in philosophy and doctorate in theology from the Gregorian and was dean of the faculty of philosophy at Regina Apostolorum. Currently he is vice rector of the Denver archdiocesan seminary St. John Vianney.
Leonard holds a doctorate in philosophy, taught philosophy of religion at Regina Apostolorum, and currently teaches philosophy part time at St. John Vianney. His interests include myth (his doctoral thesis was on Joseph Campbell) and new age and non-Christian religions.
Chaput’s having taken in a group of unhappy Legionaries reminds one of how Cardinal Archbishop James Hickey in the mid-1980s made Washington, DC a haven for departing Legionary Fathers Peter Cronin; Declan Murphy; Paul Lennon, later of ReGain eminence; and Kevin Farrell. Bishop Farrell, ordained a priest in 1978, had been a Legionary priest for 15 years before coming to DC in 1984. He was appointed auxiliary bishop there in 2001 and bishop of Dallas in 2007, another source for the visitation of authoritative firsthand experience of the Legionaries.
Archbishop Chaput is another heavyweight appointment to the apostolic visitation: prominent, energetic, decisive, even a bishop close enough to the situation to have received departing Legionaries and kept them in academic positions in his own seminary. What did they tell him about Father Maciel and life in the Legion? Has he been entirely unconcerned up to now?
Will a conservative be willing to discipline conservatives? The Legionaries and Regnum Christi have been staunch pro-life allies. If Chaput dislikes Catholic public silence about abortion out of misguided politeness, does he dislike conservative distaste for holding the Legionaries accountable out of a misguided desire for keeping ideological alignment? Does loyalty to the memory of Pope John Paul require polite silence about his having privileged a sexual predator as a new evangelizer?
Does Chaput agree with Baltimore Archbishop Edwin O’Brien that “this is not about orthodoxy. It is about respect for human dignity for each of [the Legion’s] members.”?
Perhaps the sexual and spiritual abuse of religious is itself a pro-life issue of a sort, to the contrary the resistance of conservatives to the “seamless garment” image on the grounds that its misuse can trivialize the greater evil.
September 2004 appointed by John Paul rector of the Gregorian and reappointed by Benedict in 2007.
1993-2003 judge of the Roman Rota. Consultor of: Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life (from 1987), the Pontifical Council for the Laity (from 1990), the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples (from 1993), the Congregation for the Clergy (from 1997), the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts (from 1997), the Congregation for Bishops (from 1999), the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (from 2003).
Rev. Ghirlanda has a huge bibliography of many books and more than 100 articles. His interests include how canon law relates to Church structure and life, how it applies to lay persons, religious, seminarians, associations, the hierarchy. He co-authored a 1983 commentary “De christifidelibus” on canons 204-207, which introduce and codify in law the theological question, who are the members of the Church? He edited a 1994 volume “Punti fondamentali sulla vita consacrata” (“Fundamentals of consecrated life”).
Rev. Ghirlanda caused controversy in May 2002, a time when American bishops were preparing to vote on policy to address the clerical pedophilia scandal. As dean of the canon law faculty at the Gregorian, in Civiltà Cattolica, the Jesuit bi-weekly journal, semi-official because reviewed by the Vatican Secretariat of State, he published “Doveri e diritti implicati nei case di abusi perpetrati da chierici” (“Duties and rights involved in the cases of abuse perpetrated by clerics,” May 19, 2002, 341–353). Ghirlanda wrote, according to the summary in the New York Times that:
–Catholic bishops should not turn over allegations or records of sexual abuse by priests to the civil authorities,
–a priest who is reassigned to a new parish after being treated because of a history of sexual abuse should not have his ”good reputation” ruined by having his background revealed to the new parish and that it would be better simply not to place the priest in a new parish if the bishop lacks confidence about the priest,
–though American bishops have been sued in civil court for failing to remove abusive priests, “from a canonical point of view, the bishop or religious superior is neither morally nor legally responsible for a criminal act committed by one of his clerics,” but that if a bishop knew of accusations and failed to investigate, or if he failed to remove a known abuser from the ministry, then under canon law he would have some legal and moral responsibility.
The Times summary continues:
“[Ghirlanda’s] article takes issue with another practice that has become common for American bishops handling accusations of sexual abuse by priests. For more than 15 years, the bishops have been sending accused priests to clinics to be evaluated by therapists and to undergo treatment. Father Ghirlanda wrote that an accused priest should not be forced to take psychological tests because it is a violation of his right to privacy under canon law.
Father Ghirlanda, who is also an appeals court judge and a consultant to several Vatican agencies, said that under canon law a bishop is not responsible for the missteps of his priests. He wrote that the church was not like a corporation, and the relationship of bishop to priest was not that of employer to employee.”
The Jesuit journal America reported on Ghirlanda’s article:
“Recent statements… have underscored reservations in Rome over the direction U.S. bishops are taking as they formulate a national policy on clerical sex abuse. In particular, [Roman] officials believe it would be wrong to oblige bishops to report all sex abuse allegations to civil authorities, a policy that has been adopted by an increasing number of U.S. dioceses.
For these canon law specialists [like Ghirlanda], the crux of the issue is that bishops should be functioning as pastors, not policemen. They believe that when bishops start acting as reporting agents for the state, they compromise their own pastoral goals—one of which is to retrieve an errant priest and rehabilitate him spiritually.
[Ghirlanda] said bishops—unless clearly negligent in investigating and correcting abuse situations—generally are not morally or legally responsible for the actions of their priests. Although he was speaking from the perspective of church law, his point underlined Vatican perplexity over the U.S. legal system and the fact that dioceses have been sued because of the actions of a single cleric.
Father Ghirlanda also cautioned on three procedural matters: that it was not good pastoral practice to notify civil authorities of all priestly sex abuse accusations; that psychological testing should not be required of suspected clerical abusers; and that if he reassigns a past abuser to active ministry, a bishop should not tell parishioners of the past abuse.
Father Ghirlanda said the question of notifying civil authorities risks confusing the church’s investigative role with that of the state. “My position is this: If a bishop is questioned [by the state] he should respond. If he is not questioned, he should not report,” he said. Instead, he said, the bishop who receives a report of clerical sex abuse should conduct his own investigation, if necessary removing the accused priest quietly and temporarily from ministry. The bishop’s investigation should be undertaken with concern for the victim and the church community, but also for the accused priest, he said. “Even if a priest is guilty, the bishop remains the pastor of that priest.””
The US bishops did not accept Ghirlanda’s position. The San Francisco Chronicle reported May 19, 2002:
“Catholic bishops in the United States say they intend to continue turning over to secular authorities the names of priests accused of child sexual abuse, despite [the article by Ghirlanda].
“The bishops are determined to make sure that they don’t have people who would abuse children in the priesthood,” said Sister Mary Ann Walsh, the associate director of communications for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. “The church needs to be a safe environment for all Catholics, especially for children, and the bishops will do what has to be done to make sure it is a safe environment.”
Ghirlanda’s positions fly in the face of the general practice in the United States. Many bishops use psychological testing to evaluate priests, and virtually all seminaries in the United States require psychological testing of applicants. Most states — including California — require clergy to report allegations of child abuse to state officials for investigation, and Walsh said bishops adhere to those requirements.”
At their June 2002 meeting in Dallas the US bishops did vote to require themselves to report allegations of sexual abuse by their priests to civil authorities.
Ghirlanda’s article seemed part of a concerted Vatican effort to discourage the American bishops from adopting this policy. As summarized by Garry Wills in the New York Review of Books, August 15, 2002:
“To understand the risk involved in the Dallas strategy, one must recall the drumbeat of signals coming from Rome urging the bishops not to “give in” to the press or to prosecutors seeking to punish priests:
In February, Tarcisio Bertone, the close associate of (and occasional spokesperson for) Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger on the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith [[secretary of the Congregation at the time, now the Vatican Secretary of State, the one who announced the apostolic visitation of the Legionaries in March 2009]], told the magazine 30 Giorni that the civil authority has no right to demand that a bishop turn over his own priest.
On April 23, [Pope John Paul] urged the United States cardinals in Rome to remember that offending priests may experience “the force of Christian conversion, that radical determination to turn from sin and return to God, which reaches the depths of the human soul and can work an uncommon alteration.”
On April 29, Archbishop Julian Herranz, head of the Pontifical Council for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts, [[now retired, made cardinal in 2003, of Opus Dei]] addressing the Catholic University of Milan, said that the press in America had prodded bishops into making unwarranted settlements against the Church, which has no obligation to turn priests over to the secular authorities.
On May 16, Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga of Honduras, often mentioned as a candidate for the papacy, at a press conference in Rome, compared the treatment of Cardinal Law to Communist trials, Decius’s persecution of Christians, and the tactics of Hitler and Stalin. He said he would be prepared to go to jail rather than harm one of his priests, and that priests should be pastors, not agents of the CIA or FBI.
On May 19, Gianfranco Ghirlanda, a Jesuit canon law expert and judge on a Vatican court, the Signatura Apostolica, wrote in Civiltà Cattolica that any priest’s privacy should not be invaded by a requirement to take psychological testing, and that a bishop who is convinced that an offending priest has reformed may assign him to a new parish without telling those at his new post.
On June 1, the Jesuit priest Giovanni Marchesi wrote in Civiltà Cattolica that the Pope had shown courage in publicly addressing the pedophile problem, and that the press had taken unfair advantage of his openness to indulge in “a morbid and scandal-mongering inquisitiveness.” The press was trying to get even, said Father Marchesi, for the Pope’s criticism of the Gulf War, rather than addressing real problems in the world, like the crisis in the Middle East.
On June 10, a favorite of the Pope, recently made a cardinal by him, the Jesuit Avery Dulles, warned the bishops not to take positions in Dallas that the Pope would just have to reverse. Dulles is not a bishop, so he did not have a vote in Dallas, but he was allowed to sit on the floor by courtesy of the bishops, and he rose to attack the Charter before the bishops voted on it—he opposed the broad definition of sexual abuse, the “adversarial” relationship the Charter would create between bishops and priests, the “unconscionable” requirement to report allegations to civil authorities, and the willingness to open diocesan files even “without legal compulsion.””
Conservatives too responded to Ghirlanda’s article:
Leon Podles , author and blogger on sex abuse in the Church, wrote on May 18, 2002:
“Children who have been abused will often become self-destructive, even to the point of suicide. If a parish is not told that a priest has committed sexual abuse, parents have no way of knowing that a child’s erratic behavior may be a sign that he has been abused. Ghirlanda places a priest’s right to a good reputation, even when it is undeserved, above the safety of children.
Ghirlanda and Herranz reveal that a clericalist mentality is present at the highest levels of the church; the laity are unimportant, the priest is everything. His rights to a career and an undeserved good reputation are to be upheld, even at the cost of children’s innocence and sometimes even their lives (remember the suicides). This poisonous clericalism is enough to make a Protestant of a Breton peasant — and it may lead to a rupture in the American church, if Catholic parents realize that the Vatican and bishops disregard the safety of their children.”
Canon law professor Edward Peters wrote on May 30, 2002:
“The claim that bishops and religious superiors are neither morally nor judicially responsible for acts of their clergy seems difficult to reconcile with Canon 128 of the 1983 Code of Canon Law that states: “Whoever unlawfully causes harm to another by a juridical act, or indeed by any other act which is deceitful or culpable (actu dolo vel culpa posito), is obliged to repair the damage done. (British trans.)” The Americans render the operative phrase “with malice or negligence”. Either way, the canon (one, incidentally, that greatly expands the scope of ecclesiastical liability for malfeasance in office over its 1917 Code counterpart, Canon 1681) is a clear enunciation of the obligation of persons in the Church (there being no exemption for bishops in this regard) to make good harms unlawfully caused as a result of their actions or omissions.
The pertinent claim is that the some bishops (not all, but at least some) placed priests known to them to be pederasts or homosexually active in positions wherein they could and did sexually abuse minors. A man who knows his hound snaps at children must not allow such an animal to run free through the neighborhood…
Of course, in these dark days, some wish to impose to a “strict liability” standard on bishops in all priestly sex abuse cases, holding bishops financially responsible for harms caused by their priests notwithstanding the bishop’s lack of knowledge of the danger. This is wrong and unjust. Others, in cases of some genuine liability on the part of the bishop, wish to exaggerate that liability out of anger or greed. This is opportunism. Both approaches should be rejected.
But I believe it is a mistake to make the blanket claim that there is no canonical basis for episcopal liability for harms arising from priestly misconduct. There is a basis for such liability in canon law. Only a fair, case-by-case, examination of the facts will determine whether such liability is warranted in a given case, and if so, how much compensation should be awarded.”
George Weigel wrote in 2004 in “The Courage to Be Catholic” (127-8) that it was “no sin against charity” to call Ghirlanda’s positions “legalistic.” They were evidence of “a cast of mind in the Vatican that Americans find hard to understand, and that in fact makes it difficult for officials of the Holy See to come to grips with problems like the crisis of 2002 in the US… If current canon law is admirable in its assumption of innocence and in its concern to protect priests from the arbitrary exercise of ecclesiastical power, current canon law as interpreted by Father Ghirlanda and those like him is manifestly inadequate to deal with the problem of clergy sexual abuse. Something has to change.”
Another Ghirlanda Civiltà Cattolica article, “Gli Omosessuali e L’ammizzione Al Sacerdozio; Gli Aspetti Canonici” (“Homosexuals and admission to the Priesthood, Some Canonical Aspects” March 3, 2007, 436 – 449) made news in March 2007. If Ghirlanda in 2002 cautioned bishops who asked for psychological evaluation of a pedophile priest about the priest’s canonical rights, he saw a role for it in implementing the 2005 “Instruction Concerning the Criteria for the Discernment of Vocations with regard to Persons with Homosexual Tendencies.” According to a CNS summary of the article, he said that “in applying the Vatican’s directive against admission of homosexuals to the priesthood, seminary authorities should make use of psychological sciences to distinguish between ‘deep-seated’ and transitory homosexual tendencies… the use of psychology was a complex but necessary means of establishing the true nature of homosexual traits…. Psychological evaluations alone can never substitute for the informed decisions of bishops and seminary authorities, but such testing must be taken into serious consideration.”
Rev. Ghirlanda is among the most senior canon lawyers in the Church and indeed, as rector of the Gregorian, among the most senior scholars. As such, he is a spectacular appointment to an apostolic visitation that might well consider thorny canonical issues relating to a congregation and movement with a membership of men religious, consecrated women, and lay persons, and assess the academic competence of a congregation aspiring to teach and conduct many schools and universities.
At the same time, no one cheered by Cardinal Bertone’s use of the word “transparency” in his letter announcing the apostolic visitation in March is entirely happy to remember his and Ghirlanda’s signaling Vatican opposition to American bishops’ policy in May 2002.
Ghirlanda’s legal views on protecting the good name of pedophile priests in the end proved unpersuasive to the bishops and a range of Americans both conservative and liberal, who were content to see bishops cooperate with civil authorities in the matter of child abuse. Was Ghirlanda merely advocating proper due process for the accused? If so, let’s have due process in all aspects of the apostolic visitation. Will he be advocate for Legionary malefactors and for keeping their deeds private and discrete as preliminary to their carrying on with as little interruption as possible? If so, let’s have a complementary advocate on the visitation for the spiritual and physical victims of Legionary malefaction, who may well be among those who think that the Legionaries require thoroughgoing re-foundation. If George Weigel felt Ghirlanda’s interpretations of canon law “manifestly inadequate” to the crisis of 2002, will they prove adequate to the Legionary crisis of 2009, which involves not only sexual impropriety, but financial and spiritual impropriety as well?
The move of an abusive priest to a new assignment without informing those involved is itself an issue for the visitation in the US possibly to face. In 1995, a Legionary priest, Jeremiah M. Spillane, was transferring out of the Legion and into the diocese of Venice, Florida. According to the Tampa Tribune, he was recommended to the diocese as “a priest in good standing… Father Spillane has… manifested no behavioral problems that would indicate he might deal with minors in an inappropriate manner.” He was assigned to a church and high school in Sarasota, Florida.
In February 1997 he was arrested for attempting to commit a lewd or lascivious act and seduction of a child by computer, after arranging over the internet to meet a 13-year-old boy for sex, though this turned out to be a police sting. Spillane pleaded no contest to the charges and was ordered into a sex offender program. Spillane remains on the Florida list of convicted sex offenders .
Legionary Father Owen Kearns expressed public shock at these events, but it was never clear how Spillane could have progressed so quickly in the techniques of predation in his comparatively short time away from the Legion.
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