L.A. Catholic brings to our attention the case of Los Angeles Archdiocesan priest Fr. William Messenger, who displays for our edification his essay called "Celibacy as Problem" -- published, four years after his ordination, in the National Catholic Reporter.
Not infrequently, the approach of the magisterium has been to ignore (deliberately or accidentally) the real questions behind the celibacy issue. Perceiving celibacy in terms of tradition vs progress, or restricting the question to its practical implications, combined with the Roman Church's hang-up with sex, the magisterium entrenches itself in the past, reiterating ill-conceived "principles" of little, if any, substance. ...
I, for one, did not choose celibacy. I chose priesthood and accepted celibacy because there was no choice. I do not consider myself to have been free. There was simply no other way to be ordained. And even in accepting celibacy, it was not a vow. The distinction between vow and promise is perhaps more important than is immediately evident.
So, if you're the Archbishop of Los Angeles, it's clear where you station Father Willie, right?
Right. You make him chaplain at the University of Southern California, where he not only is able to broadcast his hesitations and resentments about celibacy to the student population, but also posts on the chaplaincy website his deeply, deeply twisted heterodoxies on contraception, abortion, fem-friendly liturgy, and the use of glycerine-based moisturizers in rubbing-down diocesan contractors. In short, a perfect formula for bringing Christ to the lost sheep of the university flock.
Well guess what?
I will pass over in decorous silence the question of the responsibility Messenger's bishop shares for his assignment and his celebration of diversity. I will only echo Messenger's own observation that the distinction between a vow of celibacy and promise of celibacy is perhaps more important than is immediately evident.
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Posted by: Vincit omnia amor -
Jun. 02, 2005 10:11 PM ET USA
hmmm, could this from the chaplain website have given us all a clue: "BILL spent his first 16 years of priesthood in regular parish ministry...he received a Doctoral Degree in Ministry from the JESUIT School of Theology at Berkeley. Much of his priesthood ... PEACE and JUSTICE issues, and LITURGICAL GROWTH & DEVELOPMENT. BILL boasts perhaps the most diverse and unique collection of Mass vestments including an original USC TROJAN PRINT." Let's hope his vestments forever remain UNIQUE!
Posted by: Fr. William -
Jun. 02, 2005 12:49 PM ET USA
In this case, we pray the His Eminence, Cardinal Roger Mahony, will not only get the Message, but also the Messenger and the Medium... and retire for "health reasons or some other serious reason..." for Christ's sake and for the good of His Church.
Posted by: Dan 149 -
Jun. 01, 2005 9:44 PM ET USA
Don't tell my wife but... I for one did not choose monogamy. I choose marriage and accepted monogamy because there was no other choice. I wanted children but was not free to choose monogamy or polygamy. Since the Catholic Church will not marry polygamists, there was no other way to be married except to promise monogamy. It was not a free choice. I know it is called marriage vows but aren't they really promises? Didn't Solomon have hundreds of wives?
Posted by: Larry K. -
Jun. 01, 2005 7:48 PM ET USA
Another gem from the USC Catholic Community's website: an article on the 1988 election written by Messenger that contains this sentence: "The ascendency of Ronald Reagan was conceived by the American obsession with the phallus."
Posted by: Fiducia -
Jun. 01, 2005 4:13 PM ET USA
"The investigation consists of an interview of the alleged victim by a board of 13 lay persons." OK, it's important to give the accused the benefit of the doubt, but to make the accuser face a 13-member panel hardly sounds like a pastoral response to possible abuse.
Posted by: -
Jun. 01, 2005 3:15 PM ET USA
Uncle Dio also left out the priceless clerical newspeak reaction, in all its amoral, psychobabbling glory: "Both the archdiocese and the university have received a report about a serious violation of ministerial ethics and essential professional boundaries involving inappropriate physical conduct by our campus minister, Father Bill Messenger," Jenny Schwartzkopf, religious director of the Catholic Student Association, said in a press release.
Posted by: -
Jun. 01, 2005 2:55 PM ET USA
D, you left out the most telling response: "'It's good to see a pastor with a lot of the same views as college students - it makes it easier for college students to incorporate religion into their daily lives, and it encourages more students to attend mass,' said Brian Gendron, a member of the [USC] Catholic Trojans...[who] worries that students, who in college may be attempting to figure out who they are through religion, may be turned away from the church because of these allegations."
Posted by: patriot6908 -
Jun. 01, 2005 1:16 PM ET USA
Is it possible that Fr. Messenger and His Eminence are sipping theology from the same tap? His Excellency often seems to think that he is a liberal Anglican, so I am not sure what it is that he is sipping, but it seems to be similar to the ancient mead formula that Henry VIII also was wont to sip between spouses. With ever new possibilities opening up in the Anglican Church and a consequent flight by many of its adherents, there should be room for Messenger and His Eminence there right now.
Posted by: frjimc -
Jun. 01, 2005 12:46 PM ET USA
"I, for one, did not choose celibacy. I chose priesthood and accepted celibacy because there was no choice. I do not consider myself to have been free." After this tripe was published in 1981, why didn't the Archdiocese of Los Angeles get a rescript and declare his ordination null and void? After all, any sacrament has to be freely requested and accepted. A man or woman who is later found to have limitations on their freedom when entering matrimony routinely gets an annulment. Fair's fair.
Posted by: -
Jun. 01, 2005 11:26 AM ET USA
Of course, in choosing the priesthood you are embracing the Tradition of the Church, some of which is doctrinal and some of which is legislative. I can't imagine what he thought "priesthood" was. In addition, while the Church does not allow any priests to marry, she does allow for the ordination of married men in the Eastern rites and in exceptional circumstances in the Latin rite. He obviously didn't know what "Church" was either.