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Weigel on the form at the heart of the re-form

By Diogenes (articles ) | Jan 06, 2006

George Weigel makes some good points concerning the Doomsday Doc:

  • "Historically, we must remember that every great period of reform in Catholic history has included a reform of the priesthood and the consecrated life. Theologically, we must understand that there can be no 'reform' of any facet of Catholic life without reference to 'form': in this case, the 'form' in question is the priesthood understood as an iconic embodiment of the eternal priesthood of Jesus Christ."
  • "The challenge of living chastely in these circumstances is a tough one for everybody: single, married or celibate, lay or ordained. That is one important reason why the appropriate authorities in the Church -- pastors, diocesan vocation directors, seminary faculty, seminary rectors, religious superiors, and, above all, bishops -- must be as certain as humanly possible that a man is capable of living the demanding vocation of chaste celibate love before he is called to Holy Orders."
  • "That responsibility cannot be out-sourced to psychologists and psychiatrists. Why? Because, in the final analysis, it's a judgment of pastoral prudence, not a clinical judgment. The evaluation of clinicians can be helpful in forming a judgment about a man's capacity for living chaste celibate love in today's sexual free-fire zone. But the final call rests with the Church's pastoral authorities. And as the Long Lent of 2002 made unmistakably clear, it is a responsibility that cannot be shirked."
  • "Will this document make any difference? That is, will it help foster a genuine and enduring reform of the priesthood? That is entirely up to local bishops, in the case of the diocesan priesthood. A bishop must take the time and trouble to know his seminarians before he issues the canonical call to Orders. If a bishop's first real encounter with a man he is to ordain happens on the day of that man's ordination, something is seriously wrong."

Weigel is too genial to draw the conclusion explicitly, but one can fairly infer from his remarks that the first place reform needs to take place is in the episcopate (and, in the case of religious orders, among their superiors). It was the "form" of Christ the Good Shepherd that was de-formed by the ecclesiastics who brought on what Weigel calls our Long Lent, and this is primarily an episcopal office, and only secondarily a presbyteral one.

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  • Posted by: - Jan. 06, 2006 10:26 PM ET USA

    Medicus, this is true. Humans don't live forever, and hopefully the parents of future priests and bishops will guide them in genuine faith that can overcome this preoccupation with one's own disturbed desires which has dominated many priests and bishops in the west currently. The archbishop of my diocese had a state of the diocese report that was less spiritual than a George W. Bush speech, and that's not saying much. We need genuine conversion, not business managers as bishops.

  • Posted by: www.inquisition.ca - Jan. 06, 2006 9:16 PM ET USA

    Amen, Eagle. Amen!

  • Posted by: - Jan. 06, 2006 7:04 PM ET USA

    The bishops of the latter half of this century are children in the homes of Catholic families now. Now is a good start for parents working to avoid a continuation of the present crisis of faith.

  • Posted by: Eagle - Jan. 06, 2006 5:50 PM ET USA

    Father V is exactly correct. The crisis was, and remains, primarily a crisis in faith and fortitude within the episcopate. But if we, correctly, criticize the episcopate for allowing and empowering the abusers, then the identical criticism can be leveled at Rome for empowering the empowerers of the abusers. It appears that Rome looks at bishops not as chief shepherds but as nobles. As the king protected the nobles, so Rome protects the Bishops. This time, the reform must begin from the top.

  • Posted by: Lucius - Jan. 06, 2006 3:56 PM ET USA

    Yes. but Rome must lead the way because individual bishops are interpreting the gay doc in a way which neutralizes its import.These are saying the gay doc simply means one must live celibately whether homo or hetero. Rome has not contradicted this spin in a clear and unambiguous way.This right now is the greatest threat to the gay doc. We need the Pope to govern as bishop of the Catholic Church otherwise it will be more of the same: another unenforced document which will further erode authority.

  • Posted by: - Jan. 06, 2006 1:37 PM ET USA

    The responsibility lies with each bishop. There is no hope of reform if the individual bishop perceives himself as a corporate CEO, and is content with hewing to the middle ground in an attempt to avoid controversy. Reform will take guts, which are in short supply these days. As Christians we must maintain our hope that the Lord will bring reform about.

  • Posted by: Vincit omnia amor - Jan. 06, 2006 1:19 PM ET USA

    This is from a press release of one US Bishop: "This new Instruction needs to be viewed in the context of many other documents... The Instruction gives guidance on one issue to those involved in the preparation of our priests... There are other issues which are equally serious... Ultimately, the decision to ordain a man to Orders belongs with the bishop of his diocese..." Soooo, do you think the instruction will be properly received and implemented in his diocese? hmm? won't hold my breath.

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