Statement on married priests likely in final list of proposals
By John L. Allen Jr.
At least four of the small language groups in the Synod of Bishops have
voted in favor of propositions calling for further study of the viri
probati, meaning the ordination of tested married men as priests, according
to sources who spoke to NCR Oct. 17.
Sources told NCR that propositions calling for further
consideration of the viri probati, in one way or another, came from two
of the three English groups, one of the three French groups, and the German
On the other hand, at least one group adopted a proposition against the
Last week, the roughly 350 participants in the synod broke into 12 small
groups organized by language to discuss proposals for propositions, which will
eventually be presented to the pope. While summaries of the small group
discussions have been made public, the specific propositions they adopted have
not. The propositions are styled as confidential recommendations to the
|Read more NCR coverage of the synod on the Eucharist|
Final draft rebuffs Latin Mass; priest shortage,
divorce squarely on churchs pastoral agenda
Posted Oct. 20, 11:00 a.m.
Gregory: Little change expected but synod had honest talk of pastoral realities
Posted Oct. 19, 11:00 a.m.
Draft propositions do not recommend changes in church discipline
Posted Oct. 18, 11:00 a.m.
Womens voices heard through interventions of 12 synod auditors
Posted Oct. 17, 12:15 p.m.
Statement on married priests likely in final list of proposals
Posted Oct. 17, 12:00
Outreach to Latin Mass Catholics proposed for final message
Posted Oct. 15, 9:32
Report #11: Problems acknowledged, synod bishops seek middle ground solutions. Posted Oct. 13, 1:15
Report #10: Despite frank talk, few breakthroughs expected from synod. Posted Oct. 12, 11:00 a.m.
Report #9: Key synod themes seem clear, but consensus may be elusive. Posted Oct. 11, 11:00 a.m.
Report #8: Inculturation of liturgy sparks debate at this and past synods of bishops. Posted Oct. 10, 11:30 a.m.
Report #7: Bishops of Global South link Eucharist and
justice, local cultures. Posted Oct. 8., 9:52 a.m.
Report #6: Discussion of celibacy and marriage clergy continue to hold center stage. Posted Oct.
7, 10:21 a.m.
Report #5: Environment, social justice emerge as eucharistic themes. Posted Oct. 6, 10:30 a.m.
Report #4: Divorced, remarried Catholics topics of frank synod discussions.
5, 3:00 p.m.
Report #3: Priest shortage continues to roil synod of bishops. Posted Oct. 4, 2:01 p.m.
Report #2: Movements appeal for changes to make Eucharist more accessible. Posted Oct. 4, 2:00 p.m.
Report #1: Priest shortage takes center stage on synod's first day. Posted Oct. 3, 3:04 p.m.|
|Read The Word From Rome columns|
The final set of propositions; The case of viri probati; Some worry the synod lacked theological heft. Posted Oct. 21, 2:07 p.m.
Latin Mass a non-issue; Interview with Bishop Skylstad; Scola's 17 questions to
guide the synod. Posted Oct.
14, 10:46 a.m.
The synod so far; How to report on a synod; A view from Moscow; Document on homosexuals in seminaries will not create an absolute ban; Catholic left and right square off. Posted Oct. 7, 11:55 a.m.
Preview of the synod on the Eucharist. Posted Sept. 30, 8:05 a.m.|
Sources discussing the content of the draft propositions spoke to
NCR on background.
The first draft of the propositions will be presented Tuesday morning,
then discussed in small groups organized by language Tuesday afternoon and all
day Wednesday. Those groups will propose amendments or deletions. On Thursday,
the bishops and experts designated to prepare the final list will begin to
Some sources believe the support of four groups represents sufficient
momentum that a proposition mentioning the viri probati will survive,
while others believe the final document will contain a more generic reference
to pastoral problems created by the priest shortage.
Further consideration of viri probati
I think what everyone agrees is that the priest shortage is not
caused by celibacy, one participant said Oct. 17. The crisis runs
The same participant said that the synod has neither the
consensus, nor the data at hand, to make a clear recommendation on the viri
probati. Married priests would raise all kinds of problems, from seminary
formation to financial support.
Based on that, he said, the most the synod might do is call for further
consideration of the viri probati, especially in specific situations
where isolated communities cannot be reached by existing priests on a regular
Since the synod is a consultative body, it is up to the pope to decide
what to do with the propositions eventually submitted for his consideration.
The final vote on the propositions will be Saturday morning. Oct. 22.
Ironically, despite repeated calls on the synod floor for greater
respect of Sunday as the Lords Day, the bishops and experts
involved in preparing the first list of propositions worked most of Sunday to
put together the first draft. Today, their results are being translated for
distribution tomorrow morning.
By the time of Saturdays vote, the propositions are supposed to
have been fashioned in such a way to make them acceptable to the vast majority
They asked us to put them together in such a way that there was a
99 percent probability that they would pass, one expert working on the
propositions told NCR Oct. 17.
During this week, work also continues on the final message. One bit of
drama there is what will happen to the language in the first draft, read to the
synod on Saturday, concerning divorced and civilly remarried Catholics.
As prepared by the committee for the message, chaired by Cardinal Marc
Ouellet of Quebec City, the draft message treats divorced and remarried
Catholics who are barred by existing rules from receiving the Eucharist. The
section says that while some Catholics in that situation associate their
suffering with that of Christ, most cant see it that way and hence
experience frustration in the life of faith. The bishops dont want such
people to be outside the church, the draft says, and asserts that your
suffering is our suffering. It concludes by expressing the wish that all
will pray together to correctly follow the command of God.
That leaves it very open, one participant said Oct. 17.
It creates the possibility for further consideration.
During the discussion following presentation of the draft, some bishops
expressed concern that such language might make the churchs commitment to
the indissolubility of marriage seem ambiguous. Some proposed taking it out
Many participants are anxious, therefore, to see what form the language
will take in the next draft, to be presented later in the week.
New movements and other matters
On other matters, one source told NCR that several of the
propositions that emerged from the small groups contain veiled
references to movements such as the Neocatechumenal Way, especially in
terms of their potential to divide parish communities. In general, this
participant said, there is appreciation among the bishops for the enthusiasm of
the movements and their work with the young, but also concern about the
possibility of parallel structures within parishes.
I suspect there will be a proposition affirming the primacy of the
parish as the main focus of community, this participant said.
Sources told NCR that several draft propositions also address the
question of Eucharistic services in communities awaiting a priest.
On the floor, much of the talk about these services was negative,
in terms of confusing people about the difference between these services and a
Mass, one participant said. In the groups it became more
In the end, this participant said he believes the final proposition will
acknowledge the legitimacy of these services as a pastoral response to the
priest shortage, but will also call for proper catechesis about the differences
with the Mass.
Finally, sources told NCR that three or four groups
passed draft propositions seconding calls made on the synod floor for practical
help for homilists, including the idea of a new manual for
homilists to be prepared by the Vatican that would provide draft homilies keyed
to the scripture readings and the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
Some bishops, however, have expressed reservations about the idea,
wondering if instead of encouraging homilists to be creative and responsive to
the pastoral realities of their communities, such a manual would simply be seen
as a crutch. Others argue that if the primary purpose of the homily
is to break open the Word of God, then a manual coordinated not
just to scripture but to the Catechism may be counter-productive.
John L. Allen Jr. is NCRs Rome correspondent. His e-mail
address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
October 17, 2005, National Catholic Reporter