Saturday, December 31, 2005

Judge rules church property subject to bankruptcy settlement

Associated Press
Dec 30, 2005 - 10:08:02 pm PST

PORTLAND -- A bankruptcy judge ruled Friday that the Archdiocese of Portland, not its parishes, owns church assets, dealing a major blow to its efforts to protect church property from lawsuits filed by alleged victims of priest sex abuse.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Elizabeth Perris, in a pair of opinions, ruled that church property and real estate are under the control of the archdiocese, not its individual parishes, as attorneys for the archdiocese had argued.

In a related ruling, Perris approved questions that attorneys for the victims plan to ask Archbishop William Levada on Jan. 6 when he becomes the highest-ranking Vatican official to testify in a deposition.

The archdiocese became the first in the nation to declare bankruptcy when it filed for protection from creditors in July 2004, just before the scheduled start of jury trials for victims seeking more than $155 million in damages.

Since then, the archdiocese has been trying to protect church buildings and real estate from being included in settlements with alleged victims, arguing the property is owned by the 124 individual parishes and a handful of schools -- and not the archdiocese.

Perris, however, ruled it was clear the archdiocese held title to all property and controlled church assets she noted were worth an estimated $98 million, including real estate.

The archdiocese, Perris wrote, has the "authority to convey real property without limitation."

Attorneys for the victims praised the ruling, saying it should allow the bankruptcy case to move forward.

"It's a clear victory," said Erin Olson, who represents some of the victims.

Attorneys for the archdiocese said they were considering an appeal.

"We believe strongly the decision is not supported by the facts of the law and that it infringes on the archdiocese's and parishioners' rights to the free exercise of religion," said Howard Levine, a lawyer for the archdiocese.

Perris rejected arguments that accepting the jurisdiction of a federal court might violate First Amendment rights to the free exercise of religion by forcing the church to ignore canon law on ownership.

"There is no First Amendment impediment to this court's jurisdiction," Perris wrote.

Perris ruled the case is about property -- not religion.

"Who owns the property is, quite simply, not a theological or doctrinal matter," Perris wrote. "The religious organization's internal law is not relevant to the dispute."

In her separate ruling on the deposition scheduled Jan. 6 in San Francisco, Perris ruled that attorneys for alleged victims can ask how much Levada knew about sex abuse claims when he was archbishop in Portland from 1986 to 1995.

Perris said the attorneys can ask Levada about "policies, practices and procedures regarding the manner of responding to allegations of, or to any information suggesting, that a member of the clergy has or may have engaged in sexual misconduct."

Pope Benedict XVI last May made Levada the highest-ranking American in the Vatican by naming him to take over the pontiff's old job as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith at the Vatican, responsible for protecting church teachings and for reviewing all sex abuse claims against clergy.

Levada also served as auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles in 1985, when he was assigned to review a report warning U.S. bishops about the extent of clergy sex abuse. In 2002, he was appointed to an eight-member commission of U.S. bishops and Vatican representatives who finalized rules for dealing with abuse.

Vatican lawyers had tried to limit the scope of the questions planned at the deposition.

But the judge "has basically allowed us to ask everything we wanted to," said Olson, who will question Levada with Kelly Clark, another Portland lawyer who represents alleged abuse victims.

The deposition also can include questions about legal advice Levada received from Robert McMenamin, former legal counsel to the archdiocese.

Attorneys for alleged victims have said they believe McMenamin advised Levada to be more aggressive about dealing with abuse claims during his tenure in Portland.

The ruling on the property issue, meanwhile, could force the archdiocese to sell off church properties to pay settlements or court awards to sex abuse victims. However, Perris left open the question of whether the sale of individual church properties could pose an unfair burden on the practice of religion under the Religious Freedom and Restoration Act of 1993.

Her ruling supports an earlier decision in the bankruptcy of the Diocese of Spokane in Washington state, which sought protection from creditors shortly after the Archdiocese of Portland.

In the Washington case, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Patricia Williams said Spokane Bishop William Skylstad agreed to abide by federal law when he voluntarily entered the diocese into bankruptcy, and cannot claim that ownership must decided by church law.

West Coast Bankruptcy Ruling Can Have Widespread Implications

John Shuster Writes:

There are a lot of upset Catholics in Oregon this morning.

Their wonderful archbishop Vlasny has gambled away their future. His previous sex abuse handling experience in the diocese of Winona counted for nothing. The priests in good standing of the Archdiocese of Portland also helped to cover up sex crimes against children for decades because they did not act to support victim survivors and their families when they could have done so definitively. Well, those violated children grew up to be adults and now they're back in force, with lots of friends and supporters, and they're achieving the justice and reconstructive compensation they deserve.

The Portland archdiocese voluntarily became a business when it incorporated itself in the State of Oregon. Vlasny and his dream-team lawyers voluntarily chanced a bankruptcy/First Amendment legal scheme to stop public disclosure of all the details of the cover-up and to water down the probable millions in payouts.

Well, Vlasny gambled and he lost. Big time. I believe Catholics would have preferred to deal with the raw truth of the sex abuse atrocity in their own archdiocese rather than be in the current position where they are about to lose their parishes to liquidation.

Judge Perris has made it clear that Canon Law is not the law of the land in the USA. Vlasny has learned that being a big rich religious organization with churches and hospitals and universities and credit unions and billions in diversified investments is not a license for the Roman Catholic clergy to enjoy sex crimes against children then act like it is no big thing to handle when the truth comes out. All the good works of the Roman Catholic church throughout all of history do not minimize or justify the violation of even one innocent child. It doesn't work that way in the eyes of God. We married priests won't let this atrocity slide into the past. We'll stand with the survivors and their families until the last survivor dismisses us from duty.

This morning, small parish communities in Tillamook, Seaside, Cottage Grove, Corvallis, Sandy, and scores of others are all wondering if they'll have a church to go to in the near future. Will St. Anthony's in Waldport become the new Assembly of God church? Will Catholics have to drive by their old churches every day and be reminded of what is no longer theirs, even though they built them and sustained them for generations? All they will have is their memories of the good times and a deep and depressing feeling of loss - not unlike most survivors of clergy sexual abuse.

The Vatican, with its district manager bishops, had the international spotlight opportunity to do the right things for survivors in 2003, but they continued the cover-up as best they could with expensive public relations firms, abdicated their moral authority, and instructed their local bishop managers to bring in the hardball lawyers and go the legal route. The secret-laden clergy of Portland has finally lost the big wager and now the little people like those at St. Rose of Lima in Monroe, Oregon will have to pay with their spiritual lives. Joseph Ratzinger and his Vatican machine approved of all of this, but he doesn't have to worry. He not only has diplomatic immunity, he's sitting on THE mountain of Roman Catholic money, replete with international art work, safe in his own little country.

The Vatican and its hierarchy set things up from the beginning so that they own and control everything in every arch/diocese - legally. Now they know that in America the law goes both ways. They, their sexual jolly roger bishops and clergy have poisoned it all for the little people who had no choice but to trust them with the future of their parishes. This morning, for so many Oregon Catholics, a big part of the magic is gone. Reality has arrived in an undeniable and unavoidable manner for Mr. and Mrs. John Q. Catholic. And there's little they can do at this late point in the legal process. Instead of following the church's public relations program of blaming survivors for their courage and integrity, perhaps they will start questioning their own church leadership's true motives for gambling away their religious past and future. Perhaps Catholics in other arch/dioceses around the world can learn a lesson here and act before it is too late for them.

I believe our little married priest Home Masses will become a bit more popular in the days ahead. Disillusioned Catholics will be able to enjoy the pure Roman Catholic liturgy that was closest to the original unincorporated church gathered around the memory of Jesus. They will be able to rely on a married priesthood of integrity they can trust with their children and vulnerable adults. We're not about big money and big corruption. We're about local small parish community and living the love and values of the carpenter of Nazareth who always did the right thing no matter what. The religious leaders of his time had Jesus killed, but God brought him back from death. That is the source of our hope and one of many reasons for our perseverance in service to the families of our Roman Catholic community world-wide.



Friday, December 23, 2005

Irish Bishop Speaks out on a Married Priesthood

From the Irish Examiner

By Caroline O’Doherty and Michael Brennan
THE Catholic Church was staying silent last night on comments from one of its bishops that priests should be allowed to marry.

Bishop of Killaloe (beside Shannon Airport) Willie Walsh voiced his opinion which is in direct conflict with the Vatican in a newspaper interview in which he said celibacy was meaningless if it had a negative impact on priests and the church they served.

"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 told the Sunday Tribune.

"Unless in some way celibacy is a generous gift to others and to God, it is meaningless. If we see celibacy simply as abstaining from sexual intimacy, then it is negative, not life-giving."
Bishop Walsh said for some priests, celibacy was a gift that allowed them to give more generously to their vocation but others found the loneliness and isolation too much to bear.

He said the priesthood should be open to both married and celibate priests and urged a full debate within the Church on what he described as a "very serious question".

It is not clear if he will face sanction from the hierarchy in Ireland or Rome.

Staff of the Catholic Communications Office did not return calls yesterday and there has been no public response.

Speaking from his residence in Ennis, Co Clare last night, Bishop Walsh would not say whether he had been contacted by any member of the hierarchy or had received any official reaction.

He confirmed that his views were accurately reflected in the interview although he was concerned at the headline, which he felt suggested he believed all priests should marry.

Bishop Walsh is regarded as one of the more liberal clerics in Ireland and his views have often stirred controversy, though he has not previously challenged Church teachings directly.

Galway-based Redemptorist priest Fr Tony Flannery, who has also been outspoken on the issue of celibacy in the priesthood, backed Bishop Walsh's decision to speak out.

He said the bishop would not fear sanction from his superiors as he had never displayed any interest in the careerism that had forced other clerics to stay silent.

"One of the great strengths of Bishop Walsh is the fact that he has never sought power in the church," Fr Flannery said.

"He has that sense of closeness with his people. He's very much in touch with them because he listens to them and then he has the courage to be the spokesperson to talk out without fear or favour."

© Irish Examiner, 2005, Thomas Crosbie Media, TCH

Friday, May 20, 2005

Reflection on the Dual Calls of Marriage and Priesthood

Jim Lovejoy wrote recently:

Jackie reminded me that this is a special day for me... I had almost forgotten.. We went out for lunch.. to celebrate!

This coming January Jackie and I will commemorate our 35th anniversary of marriage. Today is my 49th year of ordination to the priesthood. The Institutional Church sees this as a contradiction. We do not!.What we see as a contradiction is the Church's insistence on mandatory celibacy for all priests.

The priesthood and maririage are my vocations....just as doctors have a vocation to medicene and to marriage; lawyers have a vocation to the legal service and to marriage; actors have a vocation to the stage or the theater and a vocation to marriage.That is very normal to most people The Church insists that celibacy is a gift, yet it is forced on those who feel called to the priesthood. How can celibacy be a gift if it carries a pricetag? Would you give your child a birthday gift but tell him or her that it comes with a pricetag...?

In light of these reflections, I am saddened by two recent events. The one was the report that a certain bishop had refused to allow a married priest (who did not get a dispensation from celibacy.... perhaps because he could not accept the Church's insistence that he "never reveal to anyone that he was a priest"... as a requirement for receiving the dispensation). to have a funeral Mass at the time of his death or be buried in a Catholic cemetery....... and yet another bishop found it fitting that he celebrate a funeral Mass for a convicted pedophile priest... because, all things considered he was a "good pastor"

I do not object to anyone having a Mass celebrated on their behalf..... even a pedophile priest... because after all, isn't that why Christ suffered and died.... for all of us as sinners.?? What I do object to is the singling out of married priests as beyond redemption.. After all is said and done, we never left the Church. We simply made the choice to receive another Sacrament, that of marriage. God willing, we had children. We raised Catholic families. Like so many others, we worked hard to provide for our families; we participated as best we could in bettering our communities and the world around us... and mystery of mysteries, we continue to love and support the Church...... because we believe that the Church is the people he sanctified by His Blood.

We have serious doubts about the hierarchical structure, ormulated by men and perpetuated, from time to time, by acts of violence and intolerance (e.g. The Crusades, The Inquisition, The Sale of Indulgences, etc.), but despite this, we trust the Holy Spirit to prevail in the last analysis.

Yes, this is a special day for me. I was ordained a priest, I am a priest, and I always will be a priest and I thank God that I will someday appear before Him, and not before any pope or bishop to have my integrity judged!!!!!

Jim Lovejoy, married priest

Saturday, March 05, 2005

The Chicago ROMEOS

A few old men gather and shine

The Romeos continue to meet Wednesdays at Gulliver’s on Howard. They are men of habit, eating much the same items each week for lunch. They are mostly Democrats, relieved to be old enough to avoid George Bush’s reform of Social Security. Indeed, on the day of Mr. Bush’s State of the Union message, they were all talking about what they could watch in preference to Dubya’s vague and glossy speech.

I have written about the Romeos before, but for those who missed them, they are largely a group of resigned priests, most of whom served the church for many years before being “reduced to the lay state” as the dispensation reads. (They used to get angry at the designation. Now they just laugh while taunting each other with barbs such as “traitor,” “renegade” and “reprobate.”)

You can easily tell the Romeos when they all stop at the cash register to ask the owner’s wife how her ailing husband is feeling. He’s been sick for months. Nancy runs the large restaurant and takes care of him -- a sad situation. Once a priest, always a priest. The Romeos can’t resist healing people.

“Romeo” -- in case you’ve forgotten -- is an anagram, meaning “Retired old men eating out.” Most resigned from active ministry years ago. All are married. All are connected to the church they love. Most are involved with their parishes, but virtually none are linked to their chancery office, which needs to view them as profane, unholy, unhallowed, iniquitous, foul, nefarious, heinous, blameworthy -- lost to shame and blind to virtue -- while their ordinaries paid fortunes to mouthpieces who covered the sickening crimes of some of those who remained “faithful.”

Now, these outsiders who were once insiders spooned their soup and talked about Bob McLaughlin, a much-loved priest who had pastored the archdiocese’s cathedral for a dozen years. His funeral was mobbed. McLaughlin knew how to work the curb.

Jim, a Romeo, and one of the three founders of WEORC, a group founded in 1972 and dedicated to helping priests in transition, counted 92 priests who were vested, not counting those who came in just black suit and collar. Bob’s brother, Ed, now a retired pastor, delivered a magnificent homily that prompted thunderous applause. The archbishop followed with a carefully worded eulogy that masked the frictions between McLaughlin and the cardinal. McLaughlin put people above rigid policy. One priest called the cardinal’s eulogy “the end of liberalism” in Chicago. Others viewed the liturgy as a referendum by clergy and laity -- a clear glimpse of just what the faithful wanted in their priests.

However, the Romeos wondered aloud if the core administration got the message. They wanted to believe that people took precedence over rules, but they concluded that more often than not company policy won the toss. Now, they wondered aloud if any of the bishops possessed the moral leadership of a Martin Luther King. Informed that an estimated 40 bishops had clandestinely campaigned for President Bush, they suggested that it might have been many more. They mused that the next pastoral letter would be a screed against SpongeBob, who was said to be tinged with gayness.

I come away with the feeling that these are men at peace. Their wounds don’t hurt as much. Once barred from ordination class reunions, they are now welcomed, together with their wives. (The anal priests are dying off, but the young obsessives are increasing.)

It was an outline of the battle between red and blue Catholics. The conservatives are small in number, but together with the bishops they wield immense power. Now, however, they can only bark. The laity pay less and less attention.

It would be wonderful if the Romeos were invited back to breathe some life into the faithful. Each one still has enough priest in him to change the world.

Tim Unsworth writes from Chicago. His e-mail address is

Friday, January 28, 2005

Bishop backs push for overhaul of celibacy laws

The Catholic Bishop of Canberra and Goulburn, Pat Power, is supporting calls for celibacy laws to be relaxed to encourage people to become priests.The National Council of Priests has asked the Vatican to consider allowing Catholic priests to marry.Bishop Power believes action must be taken to attract more people to the Church."Generally among priests and certainly among the lay faithful I think there is a recognition of the real need that we have for more people to be available to serve as priests," he said."If it is limited to a celibate clergy that is going to exclude quite a number of otherwise good candidates."Bishop Power acknowledges there has been strong resistance from the Vatican in the past but says it is time for change."To what degree are we prepared to read the signs of the times, to what degree are we prepared to listen to the pleas of our people and if we're going to continue to be blind and deaf in those areas well I think we're heading down the wrong path."

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Some questions you may have about Married Priests and their ministry

“Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things. Love never ends.” (1 Cor. 13)

1. We do not regularly attend a Roman Catholic Parish in the area, and I cannot find a Roman Catholic Priest who will marry us. Being married in the church means a lot to us. What can we do?

There are several options. Most Roman Catholic parishes will require that you have at least some connection to a Roman Catholic Parish. If you live in this area and are open to doing so seek out a parish where you feel comfortable, meet with the pastor and explain that you would like to join the parish and have plans to marry. If you now live in another area and are active in a parish there, ask your local priest to connect you to a parish here. If you still have parents or relatives living in this area who belong to a parish, ask them to speak to their priest about your request.
Unfortunately, because of the increasing rigidity and harshness of many purport to 'rule' the church, many Catholics are turned away by their parishes when they seek the help of a priest to marry them, baptize their children, or seek some other assistance.

All Catholics who approach a priest for a sacrament, or help of any kind should, be welcomed and listened to with kindness. If you have been turned away by priest in your parish for any reason, please contact a married priest if you still need or want the help of a caring, compassionate, non-judgmental minister.

2. One of us is (or both of us are) divorced and we do not wish to use the annulment process. Our priest has told us that we cannot be married in the church. Can you help us?

Unlike the Roman Catholic Church, other Catholic Churches (such as the Episcopal Church and Eastern Orthodox Churches) teach that second marriages may be blessed. I believe that the sacred bond that is formed in the Sacrament of Marriage is a living bond, capable of growth and maturity, requiring the care and sustenance of both parties to the marriage. Humanity has been redeemed in Christ Jesus, and in Jesus’ Resurrection we know death to be conquered, sin to be forgiven, and the chance for New Life given to all.

Married priests welcome divorced people seeking the sacrament of marriage as welcomed God's children seeking happiness and an opportunity for new life. They will gladly bless your second marriage in the name of God’s people.

3. If you witnesses our marriage will it be legal in the eyes of the state? Will the Church recognize our marriage?
Married 'Rentapriests" are all ordained Catholic priests. Most of them were forced to leave the active priesthood in the institutional church because they fell in love and chose to marry. They have been called back to ministry by CITI Ministries, a lay Catholic organization founded specifically to address the shortage of priests throughout the world, and especially in the United States. Because of that call they have the authorization of the International Council of Community Churches (a church body that recoginzes the validity of their ordination) to officiate at wedding ceremonies, and to engage in other ministry. Since they are recognized by the state as "ministers of religion", your marriage will be legal in the eyes of the state.

The International Council of Community Churches and all other Christian denominations will recognize your marriage as relligiously both legal and valid, the institutional Roman Catholic Church will not. It requires that its members follow the "form" of marriage as established by Canon Law (i.e., you must be married according to the rules and custom laid out in Canon Law). Couples whose marriages are witnessed by married priests are not following the form for marriage of Roman Catholic Canon Law, so the Roman Catholic Church considers these marriages illicit.

4. We want to be married in an outdoor ceremony but our priest will only take part in a service in the church. Will a married priest perform an outdoor ceremony?

Married priests are happy to perform your ceremony at a reception hall, home, or other appropriate setting, inside or outside. (Getting married outdoors, in the cathedral made by God's own hands is also contrary to the form of marriage set out in Canon Law - go figure).

5. Will married priests perform ecumenical, interfaith, or non-denominational marriages, or witness gay commitment services?

Yes, as long as you ask God’s blessing on your marriage or commitment to each other, a married priest would be happy to help you.

6. What about other Sacraments that married priests celebrate, are they recognized by the Church?

They are recognized by the International Council of Community Churches and by some other Christian Traditions. The Roman Catholic Church would consider them "valid but illicit." Consequently, were you to come to a marred priest for the sacrament of reconciliation, for example, the church would consider your sins to have been forgiven – but would consider the celebration of that sacrament illegal. The same would hold for the Eucharist.

7. Where’s Christ in all this?

The good Lord admonished his disciples not to lay heavy burdens on other peoples shoulders, and taught that they should be free of the law – so that the spirit of God could reign in their hearts. When the disciples complained that others were curing in the Lord’s name – he reminded them that ‘those who are not against us are with us.’ And perhaps most telling of all, Jesus ate and drank with outcasts – tax collectors, sinners, and lepers - much to the chagrin of the religious authority of his day.

Catholicism – one of the great trunks of the Christian tradition – is bigger than the institution that has evolved around it. Catholicism is more than its corporate structure. It's more than the bishops – though we ought to respect them. It is more than the Pope, though he has claim on our loving attention. Popes, bishops, and priests may be the ones with legal title to the buildings, but they are just people. They can be woefully mistaken, or even malfeasant, as just a glance at recent headlines reminds us.

We are the Church -- you and I – the people of God. The church is the spirit within each of our hearts; it is our own holiness and evolving spirituality. It is our journey together – and on that journey each one of us has the right to feel welcomed at the Lord’s Table, where we recognize Him in the breaking of bread. Each has a right to God’s blessing in our great moments of happiness and sadness – at our weddings and at the loss of our loved ones, in our own sickness and death. Each has a right to help on the journey from those called to be helpers and guides in the way of the Gospel. Isn't that what the priesthood is all about?

When the hierarchy loses its way – as it has from time to time throughout history – it is incumbent on the rest of us to claim our rights and assume our responsibility as members of each other – the Body of Christ.

If you are alienated from the corporate church, you need not be alienated from your Catholicism. The Church – though not its current leaders – welcomes you just as you are. It welcomes you, through the ministry of married priests, in your second marriages, it welcomes you if you are gay, and it welcomes you if you are burdened down with some unspeakable guilt or shame. It welcomes you in His name, the one who has never ceased loving you – not even during the times when you felt farthest from Him.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Catholic Teaching - Once a priest, always a priest

Fr. Bob Scanlan, a married priest in Illinois writes the following to clarify the status of married priests in the Catholic tradition:


Church policy and beliefs are determined when all the bishops and cardinals meet with the Pope in a Council. We all know of the Nicene Creed. This came from the Council of Nicea in 325 A.D. In the City of Trent in northern Italy between 1545 and 1563 there was held a council which set policy and teaching once again and is referred to the Council of Trent. The most recent Council is the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council held from 1961 to 1965 in Rome. The policy from that council is referred to simply as Vatican II. This council changed the way we celebrate Liturgy; the role of all the baptized in the church; the role of the Catholic Church in relation to all other churches and many other issues.

From the time of Jesus to 1916 there was no Code of Canon Law. In 1917 the first Code of Canon Law was written. Canon Law spells out how the church functions in the day to day operations. Laws are written from the decrees of the Councils of the Church. At times as customs change as people and cultures move through society laws need to be changed to keep up with the people and the customs. In 1983 the Code of Canon Law was revised and is the current code in place. It is assumed that in the future as the need arises this Code of Canon Law will be revised to keep current with the needs of the church.

In between councils church authorities from time to time write a Catechism or a day to day operation manual listing in simple terms what the church councils have decreed. Many of us grew up with the Baltimore Catechism which was written in a question and answer format. On October 11, 1992 Pope John Paul II issued the current Catechism of the Catholic Church which is the most current "operation manual" for the church.

So this brings us to the question of the married priesthood in the Roman Catholic Church. What is their status in the church? When they marry do they become laymen? Are they still priests? What does the church through the Councils say about married priests? What does the Catechism say about married priests?

The Council of Trent says "If anyone says a priest can ever become a layman again, LET HIM BE ANATHEMA." (Condemned) Denziger-Schonmetzer 964 & 1767. This book is a compilation of the teachings of the Council of Trent. So we simply say for our purposes "Once a priest; always a priest".

The 1983 Code of Canon Law sections 290 to 293 reaffirm this teaching of the Council of Trent

The current Catechism of the Catholic Church sections 1582 and 1583 once again reaffirm the consistent teaching of the Council of Trent.

Section 1582 states, "As in the case of Baptism and Confirmation this share in Christ's office is granted once for all. The sacrament of Holy Orders, like the other two, confers an indelible spiritual character and cannot be repeated or conferred temporarily." 74 Footnote 74 refers back to the teaching of the Council of Trent 1767.

Section 1583 states: "It is true that someone validly ordained can, for a just reason, be discharged from the obligations and functions linked to ordination, or can be forbidden to exercise them; but he cannot become a layman again in the strict sense, because the character imprinted by ordination is forever. The vocation and mission received on the day of ordination mark him permanently." 75 Footnote 75 refers back again to the Council of Trent 1774 and the Code of Canon Law sections 290 to 293.

When some people refer to a priest who has married as a "former priest or ex-priest" they are outside the consistent teaching of the Catholic Church and are simply wrong.


Rev. Bob Scanlan

Miami Herald prints article about MP cruies chaplains

Alexandra Alter's article in Sunday's Miami Herald entitled Priests Screened for Cruise Ships, (Sunday, January 16), misses the point. She criticizes Married priests serving as cruise ship chaplains because they do not have the official sanction of the Corporate Catholic Church. These married priests, all validly ordained, are ministering under the auspices of CITI Ministries/Rent-a-Priest (CITI), a lay Catholic organization that calls married priests back to ministry. The age-old Catholic teaching, defined at Council of Trent and codified in church law (Canon 290) is "once a priest, always a priest."

Married priests are quietly at work in the church - on every continent - ministering to people who have no priest to meet their spiritual needs. Married priests began their work as cruise ship chaplains when cruise lines found it impossible to find Catholic chaplains among priests still within the Corporate Catholic Church to meet the needs of Catholic passengers on holiday cruises. According to Canon Law, when no other priest is available, married priests must respond (Canon Law 843). Without married priests serving as cruise chaplains, many Catholic passengers would be unable to worship on Christmas or Easter, days of profound religious importance to all Christians.

Both the World Council of Churches and the International Council of Community Churches recognize and ecclesiastically endorse married Catholic priests as ordained Catholic ministers. Currently, CITI member priests work as Catholic chaplains in the military, minister in hospitals, celebrate the Eucharist for small, priest-less communities, and witness legal marriages. Like Jesus, they proclaim God's word despite the opposition of religious authorities who would silence them.