Ottawa Group Issues Powerful Call to Open Ordination
Bishop Killaloe in Ireland, Minnerath in Belgium Agree
On February 10, a group of Canadian Catholics calling themselves the 'Ottawa Statement Group' issued a powerfully worded open letter to Quebec's Cardinal Marc Ouellet, who chaired the committee preparing the final statement from the Synod on the Eucharist. Ouellet a member of the post synodal committee charged with developing the Apostolic Exhortation which will be the Pope's statement following the Synod.
The Canadians are wondering if Bishops at the Synod have effectively written off the Catholic Church in the West: 'The rejection by the Synod of any openness and of all change faced with a continuously deteriorating situation has been seen as an immense deception by millions of Catholics ... It is as though the Church, under the pretext of conserving the law on obligatory celibacy, is ready to sacrifice the Christian West. One no longer counts the number of churches closed due to the lack of priests in most of the countries of Western Europe. The same situation exists in America. In Canada, the number of parishes without priests is a truly a scandal.'
The statement asks Ouellet to 'raise the question of the ordination of married men, thus opening the way to addressing a problem that
has become scandalous.' It also praised the vitality of women in the Church and asked; 'while waiting for the removal of present unhappy obstacles, one [should be] equally open also to the study of the
ordination of women. Is it not women who to a large extent are at the heart of what remains of the vitality of the Church here and elsewhere? One can no longer remain mute faced with the scarcity of priests.'
The Ottawa Statement Group is a group of Catholics engaged over the last ten years in active involvement with the problem of the shortage of priests.
In early January Bishop William Walsh of Killaloe Ireland told the Dublin Sunday Tribune the church is able to find room for both celibate and married priests. "I have known some very fine priests who have left the priesthood because they found the challenge of celibacy not life-giving for them. Men like that are a great loss to the ministerial priesthood," he said. Walsh noted that celibacy was discussed at October's World Synod of Bishops and this indicates the possibility of change. (NCR 1/6/06)
Meanwhile French Archbishop Roland Minnerath who served as secretary-general to Synod on the Eucharist, spoke in favor of married priests in his new book To the Burgunds Who Believe in Heaven and to Those Who Don't Believe. Minnerath, a canon lawyer from Dijon in Burgundy, noted that historically "Celibacy was convenient for the priestly vocation, but was not dogmatically bound. Ordaining a married man does not cause any doctrinal problems." Minnerath is said to be close to Benedict XVI. (NCR 1/20/06)