Catholic Culture Overview
Catholic Culture Overview

priestless in Seattle

By Diogenes ( articles ) | Oct 28, 2005

Today's Seattle Times features a profile of CITI ministries, a group of Catholic priests who have left the ministry for marriage (or something), but still perform the odd ceremony.

John Shuster, for instance, celebrates Christmas Mass for friends each year:

"People come in. We sing carols. I get some pita bread and wine and have my chalice. I dress in my vestments. It's like the old midnight Mass Catholics used to go to."

Notice: pita bread. Unleavened, you know. The bread is licit, even if the celebrant isn't.

Shuster tells the Times that the Church is "losing good priests" (like himself, implicitly) because the celibacy requirement forces men to choose between marriage and ministry.

"We worked for all those years to gain the competency of being priests," he said. "It would be like going to medical school and learning how to be a surgeon, then getting married and having the whole medical community say you're not a surgeon anymore."

Hmm. An interesting analogy. Where should we begin?

By pointing out that med-school students aren't required to take a vow of celibacy? Too obvious.

By noting that doctors sometimes are stripped of their license to practice surgery, for violating the norms of their profession? Better.

Or by asking whether professional competence-- someone who has learned how to perform the ceremonies, someone who knows enough to order pita bread-- is what defines a good priest? Better still.

But maybe it would be better simply to ask whether the Curé of Ars would have anything to do with an outfit that advertises itself as Rentapriest.

Diogenes adds: In light of reader's comments (below), I gather that pita bread is not valid matter. (Sorry; I didn't know. Baking is not my area of expertise.) I guess the point is that since it's flat, pita bread looks like what you expect in a Catholic Mass. And that's the point of the rent-a-priest phenomenon, isn't it? The service is useful for those who want, say, a wedding that looks like a Catholic ceremony. If you're concerned about the reality... Well, you get real.

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