Catholic Culture Overview
Catholic Culture Overview

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

By Diogenes ( articles ) | Jan 06, 2006

Vision Book Cover Prints

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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