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Excerpt of retired pope's essay on priesthood and celibacy

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VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The following is a short excerpt from the essay, "The Catholic Priesthood," by retired Pope Benedict XVI. The essay appears in the book "From the Depths of Our Hearts," a defense of priestly celibacy written by Cardinal Robert Sarah, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments, with the contribution of Pope Benedict. Ignatius Press, which authorized publication of the excerpt, will release the book in English in February.

In the common awareness of Israel, priests were strictly obliged to observe sexual abstinence during the times when they led worship and were therefore in contact with the divine mystery. The relation between sexual abstinence and divine worship was absolutely clear in the common awareness of Israel. By way of example, I wish to recall the episode about David, who, while fleeing Saul, asked the priest Ahimelech to give him some bread: "The priest answered David, 'I have no common bread at hand, but there is holy bread; if only the young men have kept themselves from women.' And David answered the priest, 'Of a truth women have been kept from us as always when I go on an expedition'" (1 Sam 21:4-5). Since the priests of the Old Testament had to dedicate themselves to worship only during set times, marriage and the priesthood were compatible.

But because of the regular and often even daily celebration of the Eucharist, the situation of the priests of the church of Jesus Christ has changed radically. From now on, their entire life is in contact with the divine mystery. This requires on their part exclusivity with regard to God. Consequently, this excludes other ties that, like marriage, involve one's whole life. From the daily celebration of the Eucharist, which implies a permanent state of service to God, was born spontaneously the impossibility of a matrimonial bond. We can say that the sexual abstinence that was functional was transformed automatically into an ontological abstinence. Thus, its motivation and its significance were changed from within and profoundly.

Nowadays some scholars too readily make the facile statement that all this was just the result of a contempt for corporeality and sexuality. The critique claiming that priestly celibacy was founded on a Manichaean concept of the world was formulated as early as the fourth century. This critique was immediately rejected, however, in a decisive way by the Fathers of the Church, who put an end to it for a certain time. Such a judgment (of consecrated celibacy) is wrong. To prove this, it is enough to recall that the church has always considered marriage as a gift granted by God ever since the earthly paradise. However, the married state involves a man in his totality, and since serving the Lord likewise requires the total gift of a man, it does not seem possible to carry on the two vocations simultaneously. Thus, the ability to renounce marriage so as to place oneself totally at the Lord's disposition became a criterion for priestly ministry.

As for the concrete form of celibacy in the early church, it is advisable also to emphasize that married men could not receive the sacrament of Holy Orders unless they had pledged to observe sexual abstinence, therefore, to live in a so-called "Josephite" marriage, like the marriage of St. Joseph and the Virgin Mary. Such a situation seems to have been altogether normal over the course of the first centuries. There were a sufficient number of men and women who considered it reasonable and possible to live in this way while together dedicating themselves to the Lord.

 

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Pope accepts Archbishop Chaput's resignation; Bishop Perez named successor

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WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia and has appointed Bishop Nelson J. Perez of Cleveland as his successor.

Archbishop Chaput, who has headed the Philadelphia Archdiocese since 2011, turned 75 last September, the age at which canon law requires bishops to turn in their resignation to the pope. Bishop Perez, 58, was installed as the 11th bishop of Cleveland Sept. 5, 2017.

The resignation and appointment were announced in Washington Jan. 23 by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

MORE TO COME

 

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US Bishops Publish Children’s Book Addressing Racism

'Everyone Belongs'

The post US Bishops Publish Children’s Book Addressing Racism appeared first on ZENIT - English.

Pope Appoints Bishop Nelson J Perez As New Archbishop of Philadelphia

Accepts Resignation Presented by Archbishop Chaput Upon Turning 75 Years of Age

The post Pope Appoints Bishop Nelson J Perez As New Archbishop of Philadelphia appeared first on ZENIT - English.

Egmont Revokes Decision to Suspend AIF — Declares Carmelo Barbagallo, Vatican’s New Financial Information Authority President

In Statement, Says This Constitutes "a Very Important Step," Demonstrating "Confirmed Trust of Egmont Group in Financial Information System of the Vatican"

The post Egmont Revokes Decision to Suspend AIF — Declares Carmelo Barbagallo, Vatican’s New Financial Information Authority President appeared first on ZENIT - English.

Bishop Basabe: Venezuela is Being Denied ‘the Basics of Life’

A Conversation With Aid to the Church in Need

The post Bishop Basabe: Venezuela is Being Denied ‘the Basics of Life’ appeared first on ZENIT - English.

Asia Bibi’s Lawyer Discuses Legal Pressures in Pakistan

'Too Many Religious Pressures for Cases of Blasphemy'

The post Asia Bibi’s Lawyer Discuses Legal Pressures in Pakistan appeared first on ZENIT - English.

Member of Parliament to Run London Marathon to Battle Religious Persecution

Will Raise Funds for Aid to the Church in Need

The post Member of Parliament to Run London Marathon to Battle Religious Persecution appeared first on ZENIT - English.

U.S. bishops' pro-life chairman asks Catholics to serve mothers in need

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WASHINGTON (CNS) -- In marking the "sorrowful anniversary" Jan. 22 of the Supreme Court's ruling legalizing abortion nationwide, the chairman of the U.S. bishops' pro-life committee said the Catholic Church's pastoral response to all mothers in need "will soon intensify."

The nation's Catholic bishops are being asked to invite the parishes in their dioceses to join a nationwide effort called "Walking with Moms in Need: A Year of Service" from March 25 of this year through March 25, 2021.

Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Pro-Life Activities, announced the new initiative on the National Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children. The new program has its own website: www.walkingwithmoms.com.

The archbishop noted that the special day of prayer marks the "tragic" Supreme Court decisions of Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton of Jan. 22, 1973. The rulings in the companion cases legalized abortion through all nine months of pregnancy across the country.

"The church will never abandon her efforts to reverse these terrible decisions that have led to the deaths of millions of innocent children and the traumatization of countless women and families," Archbishop Naumann said.

"As the church and growing numbers of pro-life Americans continue to advocate for women and children in courthouses and legislatures," he said, "the church's pastoral response is focused on the needs of women facing pregnancies in challenging circumstances. While this has long been the case, the pastoral response will soon intensify," with the yearlong service project "Walking with Moms in Need."

In "recognizing that women in need can be most effectively reached at the local level," Archbishop Naumann explained, the year of service "invites parishes to assess, communicate, and expand resources to expectant mothers within their own communities."

The U.S. bishops will be providing "resources, outreach tools and models to assist parishes in this important effort," he said.

"We pray that 'Walking with Moms in Need: A Year of Service' will help us reach every pregnant mother in need, that she may know she can turn to her local Catholic community for help and authentic friendship," the archbishop added.

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Hospitality is an important ecumenical virtue, pope says

IMAGE: CNS photo/Yara Nardi, Reuters

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Showing hospitality makes a person a better human being and a better Christian and is an important part of promoting Christian unity, Pope Francis said.

"Working together to live with ecumenical hospitality, particularly toward those whose lives are most vulnerable, will make us -- all Christians, Protestants, Orthodox, Catholics, all Christians -- better human beings, better disciples and a more united Christian people," the pope said Jan. 22 during his weekly general audience.

Christians today, like the people of Malta who welcomed St. Paul and his companions who were shipwrecked on their island, must show hospitality to and care for those who flee violence and persecution, he said.

"Unfortunately, they sometimes encounter even the worst hostility," he said. "They are exploited by criminal traffickers today; they are treated as numbers and as a threat by some leaders today; sometimes inhospitality rejects them as a wave carrying poverty or the very dangers from which they were fleeing."

In his audience talk, the pope reflected on the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which takes place Jan. 18-25. The theme for the 2020 celebration, "They showed us unusual kindness," is taken from St. Luke's account in the Acts of the Apostles of the hospitality shown by the people of Malta to St. Paul and his companions.

St. Paul and the other passengers of the ship were welcomed by the Maltese people, who gave them food and shelter "even though they had not yet received the Good News of Christ," the pope said.

The virtue of hospitality, he added, "means recognizing that other Christians are truly our brothers and sisters in Christ."

"We are brothers and sisters," the pope said. "Someone may tell you, 'But that one is a Protestant, that one is Orthodox.' Yes, but we are brothers and sisters in Christ."

The pope said ecumenical hospitality means showing God's love to others and "a willingness to listen to other Christians, paying attention to their personal stories of faith and the history of their community."

"I think about the past, in my land for example, when some Evangelical ministers came," the pope said, "a small group of Catholics burned their tents. This isn't Christian. We are brothers and sisters. We are all brothers and sisters and we must give hospitality to one another."

With so many migrants and refugees facing "risky voyages to escape violence, war and poverty," Pope Francis called on Christians to set aside their differences and work together to show them "the love of God revealed by Jesus Christ" and that "each person is precious to God.

"The divisions that still exist between us prevent us from being fully the sign of God's love for the world, which is our vocation and mission," he said.

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Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju

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Copyright © 2020 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at [email protected]