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)
Campaigning via an Internet petition for married men to be allowed to become priests (www.ordination-hommes-maries.ch), 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.