Monday, August 30, 2010

Former Riverview priest pens book about life journey

by Aloma Jardine
Times & Transcript

A cruise ship seems an unlikely place for a spiritual epiphany, but as Jeff Doucette set sail from England for Europe and Russia he experienced a moment of truth.

"(The ship) pushed away from the white cliffs of Dover and that in itself was spectacular, but it was also the turning point for me. When we pushed away from shore, it was a moment I realized there was no going back," he says.

It was the beginning of the end of his life as a priest.

Jeff, whose last congregation was Immaculate Heart of Mary in Riverview, has just finished the first draft of a book about his experience called Ring Around the Collar: My Journey from Priesthood to Married Life.

"It's not a book about revenge or a tell-all tale," he says. "It is what makes someone choose this lifestyle and what happens along the way that makes them want to leave that."

Jeff decided to become a priest when he was about 25.

"People are always asking for this major call story, 'Did you hear voices in the night? Was there some kind of major revelation?'... But it was part of who I was, it was the next progression for me," he says.

"I went to church when I was young and I was probably one of the few that enjoyed it. I was a church rat. I was an altar server, I was in the youth group, I directed our church choir. I was always involved."

When he asked himself what he really wanted to do, the priesthood seemed a logical choice.

Entering the priesthood is not something one does lightly.

Besides the vows, it is a major commitment of time. It takes five or six years of study including a year-long internship before you become ordained.

Jeff was ordained in 1994 and began his career in the Diocese of Edmundston. He moved on to the Moncton Archdiocese in 1998, serving a number of parishes.

He loved the work, but he struggled with it too.

"I think the biggest thing was I hated at the end of the day coming home to a dark, empty rectory," he says.

"I know my buddy (Father) Phil (Mulligan) used to say there is nothing as lonely as eating in a restaurant by yourself. I would say, 'For me, it is coming home at night to an empty rectory, coming from a meeting that has not gone too well and you have nobody to talk to about it.' That feeling of loneliness is a killer.

"There are always ups and downs in ministry, in any type of work that you do, but ministry should be different. It is a people ministry... You could go and visit with families, but at the end of it you kind of left and ended up going back to that rectory and it was dark and quiet. It was something I struggled with and wrote articles about and tried to get people in the diocese in dialogue about. There is something not right about this ...

"At the very end of it I found myself saying, 'There has got to be more than this.'"

It was 2006 when Jeff found himself on the deck of the cruise ship, staring at the cliffs of Dover as the ship slipped from shore.

"I could see my entire priesthood. I was moving away from the shore and was seeing the cliffs and the mountains and it was such a metaphor for what I was living. There was beauty there but also great struggle," he recalls. "I just knew I was at a crossroads and I was almost sure at that point that I didn't want to continue."'

When Jeff returned to Canada he had a heart-to-heart with Moncton Archbishop André Richard and told him he needed a sabbatical.

"André was shell-shocked, he didn't see this coming," he says. "He said, 'Maybe we can get you counselling.' I said, 'What do you mean, counselling? I don't need counselling, I need a year away.

"I need to go somewhere where I can sit down, listen to my heart and know if I am willing to continue.'"

The archbishop agreed to his request and Jeff headed to Ontario to the L'Arche Daybreak community in Richmond Hill.

L'Arche was founded in 1964 by Canadian humanitarian Jean Vanier as a place where people with developmental disabilities could live together in a family-like setting with the help of assistants who live with them in the home.

"I think that was such a pivotal and incredible time for me," Jeff says. "It was scary though because you are leaving everything behind.

"You are leaving security. I had no expenses. My house was paid for, my food, my lights, my cable, everything.

"I wasn't in any type of relationship with anybody. I was faithful to my vows of celibacy even though I thought it was stupid, I couldn't live with myself if I had broken them, but I just knew that I couldn't live alone."

At L'Arche Jeff found a group of people who accepted and loved him unconditionally for who he was.

"It was a place where I was able to say, 'I don't want to be a priest anymore,' and when I was able to say that and work through that, it was the most incredible feeling of liberation," he says.

"I was able to become more Jeff, more true to who I was called to be."

But while Jeff was ready to let go of the church, the church wasn't quite ready to let go of him.

"It was one of the most horrible experiences. It's not like you go to your boss and give your two weeks' notice," he says. "In the Catholic Church there is a process and only the Pope can sign off at the very end."

Jeff had to speak with a psychologist and have them submit a report.

He had to get people to write on his behalf explaining why they felt he should be allowed to leave.

He had to answer a huge list of questions explaining why he wanted to go.

"Some of the questions I laughed at. Some were just insulting," he says.

One by one the letters of support were returned as inadequate.

"There has to be something wrong with the priest in order for Rome to let you go," he says. "Rome finally wrote back and said, 'We don't see why you want to leave so we are going to wait five years and check back in with you.'

"The church could not find any grave fault to let me go. Nothing had happened."

Except by the time the lengthy process finally got to this point something had happened - Jeff had fallen in love.

Jeff and Sandy Lovisck met at L'Arche.

"At the time when Rome said no, she said, 'Why would that matter to you, Jeff? I love you, what does it matter what the church says, if they decide to let you go or not let you go? What is most important is that I love you.'" Jeff says.

The couple decided to go ahead and get married, dispensation or no dispensation, and were wed in a July 2008 ceremony surrounded by members of the L'Arche community.

"That wedding day was a piece of heaven," Jeff says. "The music was done by people from L'Arche, four of the guys with disabilities were my groomsmen.

"It was not a grand style wedding, but people went away saying, 'I've never been to a wedding like that.' It was so full of joy and so full of life."

Jeff forwarded his marriage licence to Rome, again seeking a dispensation.

"Right away, there you go, Rome had its reason. All of a sudden I was a horrible person," he says.

The dispensation came, but with it came conditions.

Jeff could no longer preach, he couldn't teach in any capacity, he couldn't serve communion or work as a parish administrator or even read in church.

Essentially, he was reduced to a lower status than any ordinary parishioner.

"It's like that Dixie Chicks (documentary) Shut Up and Sing. All I could do was sing, but that is just not me," Jeff says.

If he was going to attend church, he needed to be able to contribute to it in some way.

Jeff's hunt for a new congregation brought him to Westminster United in Whitby, Ont., which has welcomed him with open arms. The church is thrilled to have someone with his experience and Jeff has been able to preach when the minister is away and lead Sunday worship.

He officially became a member of the church in October.

As much as the Roman Catholic Church doesn't want to deal with it, Jeff says it is going to have to take a look at the requirement that priests remain celibate.

"When I left (Moncton), I had four parishes and was helping out in two other parishes because Father Peter (McKee) was dying of cancer," he says. "I thought there is this small community in Riverside-Albert that will have to close because they don't have enough priests.

"Why is that? Let's seriously ask that question. The white elephant is killing us all, running us down in the living room."

Jeff says the Canadian bishops brought up the matter with Pope John Paul II and some of the Latin American bishops spoke openly about the issue at a recent summit of bishops, but such discussion has usually been quickly shut down.

Jeff says living out the life described in the gospel - forgiving your enemies, giving away your possessions to those in need - is already so difficult in a world focused on riches, success, and fame, that "to expect people to go in without all of the resources available, I don't think is fair," he says. "And I think one of those resources is the option to be able to marry.

"I'm not saying that everybody should be able to get married, but people need to have that option.

"Some will choose not to get married, some will choose, yes, that is something very vital to who I am as a person, I think that would help me in ministry."

Sandy and Jeff recently celebrated their second wedding anniversary. Jeff says his marriage has given him the companionship he missed coming home to that dark rectory night after night.

"You have that support, that other person to bounce things off," he says.

It was a friend back in Moncton who suggested he turn his story into a book.

"I'm 46 years old; you don't usually write biographies that early, and I was a priest, I'm not Tiger Woods," he says. "But when I sat down, it just poured out of me."

The first draft done, Jeff is in the process of looking for a publisher.

"I'm excited about it," he says. "It is a story to be heard - not because it is me - I think in today's society we need books like this to help us dialogue.

"It is something the church doesn't do well. It is scared of dialogue. They are so used to saying, 'This is what you believe, now go believe it,' that when someone says, 'Why?', they panic...

"It is kind of my hope that this book will be a journey of all of us being open to where God is calling all of us."

Jeff has no illusions that the book will change anything in the church.

"It would be naive of me to think I am on a crusade to change Rome's mind," he says. "This is my story and Rome is part of it. I am not angry at Rome, I don't have a vendetta against them, but they are part of my story and I think people should know what it takes for priests to leave."

Jeff now works at a youth homeless shelter for 16-to-24-year-olds in Ajax, Ont.

In a way, it is a continuation of his work.

"We say, 'Are you hungry? Come on in, we'll give you something to eat. If you need a bed, don't worry, we have one for you,'" he says. "It is a continuation of the training I did, it is gospel stuff.

"That will always, always be a part of me. I work also still a bit with the developmentally disabled and there is that sense that I am just ministering in a different way...

"It is part of the fibre of who you are, you don't just turn it off. I know some (priests) who, when they left, left church, but it is part of who I am. I need that connectedness, I need to stay rooted to this God I can't see."

Jeff doesn't rule out one day entering the ministry again in a different denomination.

"Never say never to anything," he says. "I'm not God. I try to live my life open to the Spirit. I think when you do that, anything can happen.

"When I get up there and preach, I love that with a passion. Sandy says I just love the attention," he adds, laughing.

"Who knows what's going to happen? But I am open to all the potential possibilities... I'm not a priest anymore, but I still continue to function as I did before. I'm still Jeff, I just live differently now. I don't live with a collar around my neck."


Friday, August 27, 2010

Colombian priest with two girlfriends resigns

Remember how we said that if you're a priest who is involved with a woman and you don't want to get caught, don't neglect to pay child support? We can add: Don't two-time her! And now, the latest clerical soap opera from Cali...

El Pais

Father Rodrigo Carvajal Vargas, 73, chaplain of La Merced, resigned yesterday, after being accused of cohabiting for 20 years with a separated woman.

The public complaint was made by professor Nohelia Quintero, who stated that she had also had a romantic relationship with the priest for the last three years.

"I am making this situation public because I thought that a man who is consecrated to God would be faithful to me. He promised me that he would separate from his first woman, with whom he has lived for 20 years," Nohelia declared.

The teacher added that she met the priest three years ago in the chapel of La Merced.

"We started to flirt until I got it going and asked him to go out with me; that's where we gave each other our first kiss. Just as some women are attracted to uniforms, I'm attracted to cassocks," the woman added, stating that the apartment where she lives in the El Cabey neighborhood was bought with the cleric.

For his part, the coadjutor archbishop of the Archdiocese of Cali, Darío de Jesús Monsalve, said that Rodrigo Carvajal Vargas, the priest in question, resigned on Wednesday morning in a message he sent to his office.

Carvajal was pastor of the Church of La Merced, located near the Archdiocesan Curia, both in the historic district of Cali, which is the capital of the Valle del Cauca department.

"His resignation was accepted," Monsalve said, calling the case of Carvajal, who had allegedly been cohabiting for twenty years with a separated woman without anyone noticing it, sad.

Moreover, it appears that he had been carrying on a parallel relationship for the last three years with another woman, also separated, who publicized the priest's marital life [sic] through Mario Fernando Prado's 'Sirirí' column in El País last Tuesday.

[Translator's Note: If you read Spanish, you'll also want to read this column, which adds considerable background to this telenovela...]

The coadjutor archbishop said that a disciplinary process would be opened against Carvajal to hear him and the people who want to make complaints or clarify this case, to identify what type of fault is involved, and make a determination."

"It's the normal procedure that is followed when complaints such as these become known," Monsalve noted, indicating that the rights of both the priest and those who have been affected by his behavior will be respected.

Monsalve also stated that Fr. Carvajal has been suspended and will face diciplinary action, in accordance with canon law.

The trial would be conducted by the church tribunal of Cali, the coadjutor archbishop continued, adding that "if the accusation of cohabiting or living in a common-law relationship holds up, there is a law in Canon Code that is very clear, and a canonical punishment."

It is, he added, "suspension of his power of governance, i.e. his priestly faculties are suspended."

The Catholic hierarch also observed that Carvajal could possibly ask Church authorities for forgiveness.

"It's a possibility, but I can't anticipate it," the coadjutor archbishop of Cali said.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Catholic priest reveals active sex life

The current issue of DNA Magazine, a gay men's magazine out of Australia, features an interview with a homosexual Catholic priest who spills the beans about himself and his colleagues. While the article is restricted to authorized users, a summary "teaser" has been posted on Seeking Media:

A gay Catholic priest has revealed that up to half of priests, both gay and straight, are sexually active.

"I have not been able to keep my vow of celibacy," the priest says, speaking exclusively to DNA Magazine's Nick Cook in the current issue.

"Sometimes I need to be held and cared for - and I enjoy the sex.

"I know that for a large part of the world it means I'm not a good priest, but without it I'd be a worse one."

To protect the priest's identity he is known in the story as ‘James'.

James says he strongly opposes the Church's stance towards homosexuality.

"I'm speaking out because far too many people have suffered under the Church's teaching on homosexuality. I just can't accept it and I haven't for years," he says.

When asked if he thinks he's the only sexually active priest James says, "I know I'm not.

"I suspect that anywhere up to, if not more than, 50 percent of Catholic priests are not, or have not always been, celibate.

"I know of priests who have had long-term relationships with women.

"Celibacy is for some people but it's not everybody. That's why I think celibacy imposed is wrong whether you're gay or heterosexual."

James is out to a number of other priests and his bishop knows that he is both gay and sexually active.

"My bishop is a good man. He himself would have issues with the Church teaching on this."

As part of the story DNA went to a Mass for gays at St Joseph's Church in the Sydney suburb of Newtown and spoke to Father Peter Maher, who happily hands out communion to gay men despite the Church ruling that those who are sexually active are living in mortal sin and should not receive it.

When told about James' circumstance Father Peter simply shrugs. "Whether a priest is gay or not makes no difference to me," he says, stating that he knows a number of gay priests.

He adds: "There are plenty of priests who have failed to live celibate... That would not change my opinion of the priest at all."

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Should the Catholic church scrap its celibacy rule?

Owen Bowcott
The Guardian

Stephen was eight years old when he first heard his father disown him. The two were out for the day together when Stephen fell into a game of cricket with some local children, and another parent asked whose child he was. Stephen's father swiftly denied he was his. The child was "the son of one of my parishioners", said the dog-collared priest – a description that was truthful as far as it went, but omitted a vital detail. To Stephen, it felt like an outright dismissal. More than 30 years later, being the half-acknowledged son of a Roman Catholic priest has cast an enduring shadow over his life.

Stephen (not his real name) is now in his 40s and has never approached his paternal family, has never reached out to cousins and other relatives, for fear of shaming his parents. "I didn't have a [close friendship] with my father," he says, "and I have not found personal relationships that easy since then. None of his family in Ireland knew I existed, so you could argue I have been denied another family."

His experience is far from unique. It's been estimated that there are at least 1,000 people in Britain and Ireland whose fathers were priests at the time of their conception. And in May this year, dozens of Italian women who have had relationships with Roman Catholic priests or lay monks sent an open letter to the Pope calling for the abolition of the celibacy rule. The letter argued that a priest "needs to live with his fellow human beings, experience feelings, love and be loved". It also pleaded for sympathy for those who "live out in secrecy those few moments the priest manages to grant [us], and experience on a daily basis the doubts, fears and insecurities of our men".

This group of women aren't the only ones questioning enforced priestly celibacy. The issue has been central to recent debate in the Catholic church, after a wave of clerical abuse scandals that have sometimes seen critics link sexual frustration to paedophilia. There has also been debate about the origins of celibacy in the early Christian church. In the face of these questions, Pope Benedict XVI, who is due to tour the UK in September, has defended the status quo. Celibacy "is made possible by the grace of God . . . who asks us to transcend ourselves," he has said; he has also argued that forgoing matrimony helps demonstrate a commitment to the priesthood.

For the reclusive partners and offspring of Catholic priests, lack of financial support and recognition is a longstanding complaint. The few support groups that have sprung up have made little headway in their efforts to alter church attitudes. And although Stephen has never felt inspired to confront church authorities or seek financial recompense, he says that his past has left him with an "undertow of regret and sadness" at his parents' renounced love.

"I don't know of any picture of my mother and father together," he says, showing me a black-and white photograph of the man he knew as "Dad". A handsome young priest stares out of the frame. The photo was taken in the 1950s, when his father was about to depart from his home in Ireland to minister to a large parish in Yorkshire. He brings out a letter on presbytery notepaper, addressed to him and signed "Love, Dad", and another addressed to his mother, which begins "My Darling". This accompanied a bottle of perfume sent to celebrate her 25th birthday. These candid letters suggest that, even if only subconsciously, his father might have been somewhat relieved to have been discovered and defrocked.

Stephen's parents met through the parish, where his mother's family were regular churchgoers. "He would have been a junior priest," says Stephen. "It was very risky. My mother was very guarded about it." Their long relationship culminated in Stephen being born in 1967. "By then, she was already 28," he says, "so she wasn't a gymslip mum. It looks like they had had a relationship for some time, and I suspect from the intensity of the [affair] that I was a wanted child rather than a mistake. But it appears that once my mother became pregnant she backed away from my father.

"I have it on reliable sources that he indicated his willingness to leave the priesthood, but she asked him not to. In some of his letters he talks about [the fact that] if she's pregnant it would be a good thing. Then afterwards he was very bitter that she kept him from his child. So it seems she ensured he stayed in the church."

Stephen's grandmother and maternal aunt knew the truth about his paternity, but the men in the family were never told. From the age of three or four, Stephen would be taken over to see his father most Saturdays, and initially, he says, "I didn't realise he was a priest, but one day, when I was eight or nine years old, I picked up his post in the hallway and it said 'Reverend . . .' My mother saw I was looking at the address and she broke down as she told me."

Pat Buckley, an excommunicated gay priest, has run what he calls an "independent ministry to disaffected and alienated Catholics and Christians" in Larne, Northern Ireland, since the mid-1980s. He runs a support group, Bethany, for women who are in relationships with priests.

"These problems have been hidden for centuries," he says, "but there's been so much in the news that people are getting a bit more courage to come forward." In 1992, for instance, there was uproar at the case of Eamon Casey, the then-Bishop of Galway, when it emerged that he had used diocesan funds to pay maintenance to the American mother of his love child; in the years since then, the church has been racked with controversy. "There are three common Irish names," Buckley continues, "McEntaggart, McAnespie and McNab, that translate as 'son of the priest', 'son of the Bishop' and 'son of the Abbot', so it's been around for some time."

Buckley believes that the Vatican wants to "hang on to celibacy for reasons of power and control. St Paul said in one of his letters that a bishop should be the husband of one woman. If a man does not have the experience of running a human family how can he run a church? Celibacy was unusual during the first 12 centuries of the Catholic Church. It was introduced [in the Middle Ages]. It's often very sad for the women and children in these relationships. A lot of them want some form of resolution, to sort out the baggage. Anybody who is abandoned by a parent suffers a very large injustice."

There are, of course, many who defend celibacy, including Father Stephen Wang, dean of studies at Allen Hall seminary in London. In a blog post earlier this year, he wrote that "there are practical aspects to celibacy. You've got more time for other people, and more time for prayer. You can get up at three in the morning to visit someone in hospital without worrying about how this will affect your marriage . . . But celibacy is something much deeper as well. There is a place in your heart, in your very being, that you have given to Christ and to the people you meet as a priest."

For Stephen, his relationship with his father never really blossomed. He was provided with occasional financial support, small gifts of money, while his father carried on being a priest. He died in his 60s. "I saw him shortly before his death," says Stephen, "and spoke to him. He was in a pretty bad way . . . My mother went to visit him in hospital regularly and insisted she should be the one looking after him. I don't think she ever stopped loving him. When he died she was devastated.

"I was denied a father, my mother was denied a partner and my father was denied a son . . . My father and mother loved each other intensely, and she never recovered from it. My mother dedicated her life to me and her work. She never fell in love with anyone else. She started to drink and . . . that was another measure of the burden." She died four years ago.

Stephen is not a practising Catholic, but says there is no residual bitterness towards his father. "Some people might say he deceived the church, but I don't think he was a bad man." He can still recall an afternoon playing in the presbytery's garden, around the same time that his father denied his paternity.

"It was large and overgrown, and I would go down this path that led to the church and there was a statue of an angel. That day I bumped into a nun who was coming in at the gate. 'What are you up to?' she asked. 'What are you doing in a priest's garden?' I said I was visiting my father. She assumed I was going to visit the church and had meant to say 'Holy Father'. It's amazing what you can get away with."

Friday, August 13, 2010

New Campaign for Married Priests in Switzerland

I encourage all readers of this blog to support these young men's petition by clicking on the link in the first paragraph of the article. Then scroll to the bottom of that page and click on "Exprimer mon soutien" to get to the electronic petition. For those who don't speak French, here is a glossary for the required fields on the form:
Civilité = Title (a dropdown menu in order "Mr., Mrs., Miss")
Prénom = First Name
Nom = Last Name
Code postal / localité = Zip or postal code / Location (city)
Pays = Country (Americans should pick "Etats-Unis", British should pick "Royaume-Uni"; the rest of you are on your own)
Catholique-romain = Roman Catholic (check "oui" if you are, "non" if you aren't)
Then it asks for your e-mail address and comments which are not required fields. There is a verification code which you must type into the box underneath it ("Veuillez recopier le code").
This is an "opt-in" form so you must check "Je confirme soutenir la déclaration de Mgr Brunner" to say that you agree with Msgr. Brunner's statement that it should be possible to ordain married men ('viri probati').
Click on "envoyer mon soutien" to add your name to the petition and married Catholic men all over the world who would like to be ordained (but can't) will thank you. To my sisters: I know a lot of people are disappointed that this petition doesn't include women but let's not be stingy. We have to start somewhere and if we move this along, at least we are moving the Church forward.

by Laure-Anne Pessina (English translation by Rebel Girl)
Le Matin

Campaigning via an Internet petition for married men to be allowed to become priests (, that is the goal of Jura citizens Jean-Paul Miserez and Jean-Pierre Bendit who worry about the lack of priests in their region. Both practising Catholics who are active in their parish, they believe that a married man can have a family life and be available to the faithful. "It's worrisome for our Catholic communities to see that there are fewer and fewer priests to celebrate Mass. Moreover we have a large number of pastoral assistants and deacons who are proven and who have received the same training as priests," [Translator's Note: We disagree slightly with this assertion since there are some differences in training, obviously] Jean-Paul Miserez, an engineer surveyor who lives in Delémont, explains. The only problem is that the latter are not celibate and, in fact, cannot be ordained priests. "Ten years ago there were eight Masses a month in Courgenay. Today there are only two," Jean-Pierre Bendit, a microtechnology engineer, says ruefully.

Therefore the two petitioners are demanding a change, but -- careful -- they don't want to cause trouble. The petition doesn't address the marriage of priests or women's ordination, it's just about allowing married men to become priests. "An evolution without revolution is required," Jean-Pierre Bendit says. Their petition indicates clearly that it's not about fighting against celibacy for priests, "which has undeniable and uncontested merits", but to launch a debate, following the statements of Msgr. Norbert Brunner, president of the Swiss Bishops Conference. He has stated in an interview that it should be possible to ordain married men.

According to Jean-Paul Miserez, being married would also allow the priest to better understand the vagaries of marriage. And Jean-Pierre Bendit adds: «One could even envision father and son priests. It would create vocations among the young." A concept that Nicolas Betticher, Vicar General of the Diocese of Lausanne, Geneva and Fribourg, doesn't share. "You don't necessarily have to be married to understand marriage, just as you don't necessarily have to be celibate to understand celibacy. That argument is simplistic. There are childless people who are very good child psychologists, for example."

It's a petition that leaves Nicolas Betticher all the more skeptical given that a demand was already made in 2000 through the Swiss Bishops Conference, without any response from the Vatican. "What bothers me a bit about this approach, is that we're spending a lot of energy when we know that the Holy See doesn't seem to want to deal with this issue at the moment. Moreover it's a question that can divide the communities," he explains. Meanwhile, the petition, which recalls that up until 1139 priests could be married within the Catholic Church, has not stopped gathering supporters. "If we get to 1,000, that would be good," Jean-Pierre Bendit comments, "then, in October, we'll send everything to Msgr. Brunner and the Swiss Bishops Conference." It should be noted that in the Eastern rite churches, like in Lebanon, one finds married priests and so there are exceptions within the same institution.

Claude Ducarroz, Provost of the Fribourg Cathedral
Since 1975, Catholics in Switzerland have called for this issue to be studied. I share this concern and this demand. It stems from a reflex of faith and love for the Church. It would lead to a complementary way of being a priest.

Nicolas Betticher, Vicar General of the Diocese of Lausanne, Geneva and Fribourg
The Church is a worldwide family, we should follow the beat of the universal Church. It can be dangerous to think that in Switzerland we have the monopoly on faith, wanting to solve problems in light of our local situation.

Philippe Charmillot, head of the Noirmont and Bois Pastoral Unit
I welcome this initiative because it comes from the "grassroots". I experience the daily search for harmony between family life and service to the community. And I can reconcile the two, even being married and the father of four daughters.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Priest calls for end to mandatory celibacy

In a new self-published book titled I Want to be a Husband and Father For Life and a Catholic Priest Forever (XLibris, 2010), Fr. Eugene Weitzel, CSV argues that "the law of celibacy is a serious violation a priest’s basic rights. Most men and women, not only need to love God, but also to love a person of the opposite sex at the conjugal level. It is natural, it is healthy, it is most rewarding, and it is right. The Church did not enact and require the vow of celibacy to help priests grow spiritually, but for all of the wrong reasons. Elliminate it NOW."

Fr. Weitzel, a semi-retired Viatoran priest who is based in Illinois, has an S.T.D. in Moral Theology from Catholic University, has taught school and worked as both a hospital chaplain and a regular parish pastor since being ordained in 1959 says that he has never been unhappy as a priest but, he argues, “most priests...will be at their best when they encounter all of the joys and sadness, hurts and disappointments of married life. Marriage for them will be an enriching challenge. It is the best way for them to grow as a person, to achieve, to self-actualize, to become, to deepen their faith, and to draw closer to God.”

Fr. Weitzel is also the author of Pastoral Ministry in a Time of Change (Bruce Publishing Co., 1966), Contemporary Pastoral Counseling (Bruce Publishing Co., 1969). According to his author biography on XLibris, he has published two sacramentaries for visually handicapped priests and edited and contributed to three books on liturgy and moral theology.