The National Catholic Review

Ah youth.... 

A report from The Catholic Herald in the UK.

As a young priest, Pope Benedict put his name to a document calling for the Church to seriously investigate the obligation to priestly celibacy. Joseph Ratzinger was one of the signatories of a 1970 document calling for an examination of priestly celibacy which was signed by nine theologians. The memorandum was drawn up in the face of a shortage of priests and other signatories included Karl Rahner and the future cardinals Karl Lehmann and Walter Kasper. The German newspaper Die Sueddeutsche reported about the document today.

The memorandum, which was sent to the German bishops reads: “Our considerations regard the necessity of a serious investigation and a differentiated inspection of the law of celibacy of the Latin Church for Germany and the whole of the universal Church.” According to the Sueddeutsche, the document said if there were no such investigation, the bishops’ conference would “awaken the impression that it did not believe in the strength of the Gospel recommendation of a celibate life for the sake of heaven, but rather only in the power of a formal authority”. If there weren’t enough priests, the document said, then the “Church quite simply has a responsibility to take up certain modifications”.

The signatories who had drawn up the document acted as consultors to the German bishops’ conference in a commission for questions of Faith and Morals.

The document’s release coincides with a renewed debate on priestly celibacy after prominent German politicians called for the Church to change the teaching on priestly celibacy in the face of a serious lack of priests.

Comments

Liam Richardson | 1/29/2011 - 9:53am
It seems that something might have gotten garbled in translation here, and copy/pasting of a garbled version extends the garbling.
Contrast the quotation passage in this coverage:
http://ct.dio.org/comment-and-dialogue/item/1610-off-the-cuff-tracking-the-pope%E2%80%99s-words-on-celibacy.html
‘He then turned to marriage and developed another rather surprising thesis: that celibacy has more in common with marriage than with the single lifestyle — which, he said, is increasingly fashionable today.
But this not getting married is something totally and fundamentally different from celibacy, because not getting married is based on the desire to live only for oneself, to reject any definitive bond,” he said.’
If this is a more accurate depiction of what was said (that’s an open question), then the Pope is NOT talking generally of singlehood but of a fashionable rejection of marriage by those who could get married but avoid it because they want to avoid the ties that bind in marriage. (Chaucer, btw, depicted a very sophisticated variation on this theme in the Franklin’s Tale, where the couple pledge that their marriage will not entail making undue demands on each other – a rationalized, etoliated echo of mutual self-sacrifice, not the real thing. That Chaucer’s psychological insight was amazing….)
I would like to think this is what the Pope intended. Because the other approach is, simply, a calumny. And stupidly so.
John Flaherty | 1/29/2011 - 5:41am
Some of you really don't like the Church's discipline too much, do you?
Funny how the more traditionally-minded orders and dioceses are tending to grow somewhat, while the not-quite-rebellious are noticeably not-quite-falling-apart....
JIM MCCREA | 1/28/2011 - 9:21pm
The laugh of the week:

“Not getting married is based on the desire to live only for oneself, not to accept any definitive bond, to have life at every moment in full autonomy, to decide at every moment what to do, what to take from life; and therefore a ‘no’ to commitment, a ‘no’ to definitiveness, a having life only for oneself,” he explained.Celibacy, on the other hand, “is a definitive ‘yes,’ it is allowing ourselves to be taken in hand by God, giving ourselves into the hands of the Lord, into his ‘I,’ and therefore it is an act of fidelity and trust,” said the Holy Father. “It is the exact opposite of this ‘no,’ of this autonomy that does not want to be obligated, that does not want to enter into a bond.” 

Self-serving claptrap.
JIM MCCREA | 1/28/2011 - 9:18pm
 "In 2 millennia of Church history renewal has never come from relaxing standards. It has always involved higher standads and greater sacrifice."

In light of the new Ordinariate as well as centuries of history with a married priesthood in the non-Latin Rites of the CATHOLIC Church, how do you justify that self-serving statement?
Anonymous | 1/28/2011 - 4:28pm

I have to read the whole statement to see where it came from and the full context. But that is such a terrible thing to say, and I'm surprised that Ratzinger, who is undeniably intelligent, would resort to such a crude and hurtful characterization. There are a hundred reasons why people don't marry, including bad luck, an inability to find someone, financial resources, a vocation to the single life, etc.  And there are a hundred bad reasons why people get married and/or join the clergy.  

Our diocesan pastor also seem to relegate single people to non-entity status, however, so maybe this is some kind of clerical bias, i.e., single people don't matter or are "selfish."  He only refers to "parish families" when he speaks, even though when I look around in church there are invariably 15 people sitting by themselves.  

Sorry to take this off topic but that Mr. Lake's cite to that statement really threw me.
JOHN SULLIVAN | 1/28/2011 - 3:51pm
John, do you think that Mr. Lake is insinuating that Joseph Ratingzer was speaking ex cathedra? This, of course, couldn't be since he wasn't Pope yet. I am afraid that this is not a joke, just another example of the absurdity of judgemental conclusions based on some perverse ideas on sexuality.
Anonymous | 1/28/2011 - 3:17pm

''Not getting married is based on the desire to live only for oneself''??   Is that a joke?  I realize that Joseph Ratinzger probably never dated or dealt with the difficulty of finding the right person, but that is still an astonishing indictment of the millions of single people in the world who live for many other people besides themselves.   A terrible statement.  
Ronald King | 1/28/2011 - 2:04pm
Celibacy should be a choice rather than a requirement.  Celebacy or marriage is a calling and either choice should be open for the priesthood.
ed gleason | 1/28/2011 - 2:03pm
MarkH... the $2.5 billion USA payout  and the walk away of  millions of Catholics  makes your 'everybody does it' sound real lame. Maybe we Catholics need to get a slogan something like the campaign bite..  "It's MANDATORY celibacy stupid'  ..... willfully celibacy is a virtue .. when 13 year olds in junior seminaries were forced into life time promises.. where is the willful embrace of virtue? In England the Church is ordaining married bishops and priests. What say you and other Trads about that?  Are 17,000 married deacons in the USA chopped liver? As a life long Catholic, I used to take pride in It's  consistency.. there is no consistency in what I see now .. it's all looks like 'play it by ear' and the dopey laity won't see behind the screen.
Christopher Butler | 1/28/2011 - 1:15pm
Apart from the benefit to the church of having a married clergy, there is a very serious benefit to the moral life of the clergy: integrity.
My life experience leads me to conclude that celibacy is a promise made far more often than kept.  A community founded on the Gospel must prize integrity in its leadership. 
Mark Harden | 1/28/2011 - 1:08pm
"If mandatory celibacy was lifted 41 years ago would not the wives and family of the married priests have so modified the clerical culture  that the episcopal cover-up of abuse would not, could not have happened?"

Right, because we see how married clergy in Protestant denominations has kept them from ever having any sexual abuse issues...
Vince Killoran | 1/28/2011 - 12:54pm
Why is married life "lowering standards"? 
REV JOHN HUGHES | 1/28/2011 - 12:07pm
Benedict XVI's portrayal of celibacy, (cited in comment No. 2 by Pete Lake) as an affirmation and a sign of faith go to the heart of the matter. In 2 millennia of Church history renewal has never come from relaxing standards. It has always involved higher standads and greater sacrifice.
ed gleason | 1/28/2011 - 11:45am
If mandatory celibacy was lifted 41 years ago would not the wives and family of the married priests have so modified the clerical culture  that the episcopal cover-up of abuse would not, could not have happened? Who is to blame  that this toxic clerical culture was hard wired in place..  due to his  'go along get along' career, Benedict xxvi needs to get this MANDATORY celibacy ended during his watch . delaying it to the next guy is cowardice. Cowardice is harsh, but these times scream for harsh words.
Peter Lakeonovich | 1/28/2011 - 11:39am
When I saw the headline, I thought the Pope called for Church to investigate celibacy.

When I read further, it turns out that it was not the Pope, but rather then Fr. Ratzinger.

Pope Benedict, on the other hand, has addressed this issue as Vicar of Christ.

See: http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/pope-rethinks-clarifies-and-reinforces-celibacy-asserts-vatican-analyst/


In a world where the “now” of the present and tangible seems good enough, “celibacy is a great scandal, because it shows precisely that God is considered and lived as a reality,” Pope Benedict told the gathered priests. “With the eschatological life of celibacy, the future world of God enters into the realities of our time,” even though the material world would have any hint of the transcendent vanish.The Pope contrasted celibacy with the modern notion of not getting married. The two are not at all alike, he said, and that is because celibacy represents a lifestyle of commitment, as does marriage. “Not getting married is based on the desire to live only for oneself, not to accept any definitive bond, to have life at every moment in full autonomy, to decide at every moment what to do, what to take from life; and therefore a ‘no’ to commitment, a ‘no’ to definitiveness, a having life only for oneself,” he explained.Celibacy, on the other hand, “is a definitive ‘yes,’ it is allowing ourselves to be taken in hand by God, giving ourselves into the hands of the Lord, into his ‘I,’ and therefore it is an act of fidelity and trust,” said the Holy Father. “It is the exact opposite of this ‘no,’ of this autonomy that does not want to be obligated, that does not want to enter into a bond.”  And, “as the criticisms show,” concluded Benedict XVI, “celibacy is a great sign of faith, of the presence of God in the world.” He prayed that the Lord free priests from the secondary scandals such as their sins and imperfections so that they may continue to live the “scandal” of celibacy. Thus, by demonstrating their faith and trust in God, they may bring people to God.

Truely, this is a man of God who knows what he is talking about when he talks about the celibate life, even from his early thinking on the topic as Fr. Ratzinger where the Church need to study the topic in order to reaffirm it.
JOHN SULLIVAN | 1/28/2011 - 10:10am
The discipline of priestly celibracy will, no doubt,be modified at some point becuase we are a sacramental church, and to not address this critical shortage of priests would be obstinacy of the worst order. The Holy Spirit is with us and change will come.
JIM MCCREA | 2/1/2011 - 4:57pm
"Funny how the more traditionally-minded orders and dioceses are tending to grow somewhat, -"

So are other conservative religious denominations.  There are many people who want, nay - need, to be told the who, what, when, where and how of their beliefs.   The struggle of the journey scares the bejeepers out of them.