Monday, November 16, 2009

Open Letter to American Bishops from CITI Ministries

This letter was published as a 1/4 page ad in the Washington Post, 11/15/2009. The contact information for CITI at the bottom of the ad also included an alternate CITI blog started by Louise Haggett at Not sure what's up with that...

Your Excellencies:

What a blessing we have received from the Holy Spirit during this "Year of the Priest," to welcome back into full communion many of our Anglican brothers and sisters along with their clergy and families. Certainly this was a gift of the Spirit, recognized by the Vatican, to accept after four and a half centuries, the validity of their sacramental oneness with us.

As the whole church prays for the growth in vocations to the clerical and religious life, the Holy Spirit responds to our prayers by adding a significant number of clergy to our ranks.

Because of this visible grace granted to Jesus' Church we ask you, during your upcoming meeting, to consider extending this same welcoming hand to your own brother priests who for many and good reasons have accepted to fulfill God's calling by living a non-celibate life. Many of these men are known personally to you, and known to lead good and holy lives. We, the lay members of CITI (Celibacy Is The Issue), ask, no plead, for your help in petitioning the Vatican in providing the opportunity for these thousands of good and holy men to return to full ministry in our church with your blessing and to serve us for His greater honor and glory and to allow optional celibacy for all priests.

As lay people we recognize and appreciate what we are asking on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of good Catholics, who are poorly served due to a current shortage of priests. There are also "new needs" that exist among the unchurched who have sought out married priests for spiritual and pastoral support. Perhaps God is answering our prayers for vocation by giving us this opportunity to welcome back these men. We know that not every Catholic will readily accept the return of these valid priests and their families; nor will they readily accept the Vatican's decision to welcome back our Anglican brothers and sisters. Yet we believe that this is what Jesus had in mind when we read at the end of Matthew's gospel: "Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age." Matt 28:19-20

And we lay people, believing in Heb 5:6 ("You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.") again ask you, as successors to the non-celibate Apostles, to petition the Vatican, as a group, to welcome back these worthy workers in the vineyard of Jesus.

In behalf of the lay members of CITI Ministries, I am,

Jerry Siegmund
South Carolina Board Member

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