Anglicans and Optional Celibacy

On October 22, the Vatican announced it will establish special ordinariates for Anglo-Catholics who disagree with ordaining women priests and gay priests and bishops. Many commentators believe the surprise move from Rome could lead to greater acceptance of a married priesthood in Roman Catholicism. FutureChurch issued a media release requesting married priests for everyone, not just Anglican converts.

In the release, Sr. Chris Schenk said: "Overall the decision is a mixed bag. On the one hand it is a positive that Catholic structures will apparently have flexibility to accept married priests. But it is sad that the decision comes at the expense of women and gays in ministry. We have gay priests in the Catholic Church right now who are ministering very effectively."

Some experts estimate that from one-third to one-half of Catholic priests are gay (Cozzens, Changing Face of the Priesthood). Sixty-one percent of US Catholics believe women should be allowed to be priests (2005 National Catholic Reporter survey) and 83% believe it is morally wrong to discriminate against homosexuals (Contemporary Catholic Trends Survey). "Ordinary Catholics may not be as sympathetic to conservative Anglo-Catholic beliefs as they expect, and this could create some tension," concluded Schenk.

Optional Celibacy Campaign Goes International

The FutureChurch website now has the capacity to send electronic and paper postcards in German, French and Spanish, with a Portuguese translation under construction. In October, theologian Anthony Padovano of CORPUS carried information about our new international effort to leaders in the European Network and the International Federation for a Renewed Priestly ministry. They promised support in whatever ways are possible. If you have concerned Catholic friends in other countries send them to http://www.futurechurch.org/fpm/optcel/ and encourage them to circulate the link to their address book.

Caucus at Call To Action

On November 6, over 40 people attended FutureChurch's caucus to discuss our Optional Celibacy: So All Can Be at the Table campaign. We discussed how to leverage support locally, nationally and internationally to move the option of a married priesthood forward. Some of the ideas presented included encouragement of priests who are willing to move in this direction to speak out, to send a delegation to the USCCB, and translate resources into Portuguese, since on any given Sunday in Brazil, 80% of the Catholic worship services are run by lay people because of the dire shortage of priests in that country. Caucus participants suggested networking relationships between Brazilian and US parishes. One participant volunteered to translate our material into Portuguese.

The Year for Priests

To celebrate the Year for Priests, FutureChurch has created a Novena to the Holy Spirit for an Inclusive Priesthood to be prayed on the first Friday of every month during the Church's Year for Priests. For free copies of the novena, email emily@futurechurch.org.

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