This week, there is news from Italy that Cardinal Beniamino Stella, Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, has disclosed some more information about possible plans of reform in the Church with regard to the question of the married priests. In an interview for a new Italian book on Pope Francis and his closest cardinal counselors, entitled “Tutti gli uomini di Francesco” (Saint Paul editions), by Vatican journalist Fabio Marchese Ragona, Stella makes some remarks concerning the larger context of Pope Francis’ own general plans.
Stella speaks here of the possibility of ordaining to the priesthood “old married men.” It is purportedly not about generally ordaining married men. As Andrea Tornielli’s Vatican Insider puts it in today’s report:
Instead, it is about responding to an emergency in certain areas, entrusting the guidance of communities – often impossible to reach by the priest – to older married men of proven faith, by ordaining them priests so that they may celebrate the sacraments.
That Stella himself speaks here also with the pope in mind becomes clear in another quote from Vatican Insider:
From that interview, however, the Pope’s intuition emerges, which exhorts the Church to “recognize the right moment in which the Spirit suggests something”. That is, it is not a question of being for or against something, but rather of carefully evaluating the different possibilities, without closures or rigidity. With regard to the shortage of vocations, in some areas of the world – think for example of the Amazon or the remote Pacific Islands, but not only [there] – [for] there is an acute suffering for a true “sacramental emergency,” which the few priests present are not able [on their own] to accommodate.
The Vatican Insider article also indicates that the upcoming Amazon Synod will probably deal with this matter, when it says:
It should be noted that Stella speaks of “sacramental emergency”: to open in favor of the ordination of the viri probati – only a hypothesis that will probably be discussed at the Synod on the Amazon – would be motivated by the supreme law for the Church [i.e., “the good of souls”]. [emphasis added]
Most importantly, Vatican Insider‘s journalist Andrea Tornielli – a close confidant of the pope himself – then further reveals that one of the sources of inspiration for these reform ideas is Bishop emeritus Fritz Lobinger (of South Africa) – whom Pope Francis had praised, already in 2015, in the presence of the German bishops during their Ad Limina visit in Rome!
From the study – Cardinal Stella observes in the interview – interesting perspectives emerge, whose real scope could be evaluated, such as the possibility of ordaining older men to celebrate the Eucharist in isolated Catholic communities”, according to the proposal that the emeritus bishop of Aliwal, in South Africa, Monsignor Lobinger, did [made] a few years ago; here, the focus is not on the ordination of individual probati viri, but on the maturity and responsibility of the Christian community, from which some “elders” may emerge and who, once they have received their ordination, would be responsible for ensuring the celebration of the Eucharist, the sacrament of reconciliation and the anointing of the sick”. [emphasis added]
Thus, Cardinal Stella – who has as Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy an important role in this matter – reveals to us the following: That the pope considers allowing married (older) priests in the Amazon region and in some Pacific Islands (and more); that they might follow ideas of Bishop Lobinger – who is also still publicly raising the idea of ordaining women – and that this most probably will also be discussed at the upcoming 2019 Amazon Region Synod.
As the German journalist, Giuseppe Nardi, has reported over the last couples of weeks, there were clear disclosures given – also by Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri – before and during the papal visit to Chile and Peru that part of the pope’s agenda is to meet with bishops of the Amazon region, in order to discuss the Amazon Region Synod, as a kind of preparatory pre-synod meeting. Giuseppe Nardi also related that this new Stella interview makes it clear that the pope wishes to go in the direction of ordaining married men. Moreover, Nardi also translated parts of a recent interview given by Bishop emeritus Erwin Kräutler who indicated, as well, that the upcoming synod will speak about the “communities without the Eucharist” and the possibility of ordaining married men.
Finally, on 11 January, we reported about a priest, Professor Paul Zulehner, who co-authored several books with Bishop Lobinger himself and who now predicts that, “before female priests, there will be married priests.” [emphasis added] He continued, saying:
I guess that the Latin American bishops will decide this at the Synod for the Pan-Amazon region in 2019. The pope probably will back them up. This will then put others under pressure to follow the example of the Latin Americans. This way, the Church will change.
We thus clearly see an immense promotion of the expanding progressivist agenda on all fronts, namely in the questions of married priests, homosexual unions, contraception, euthanasia, as well as abortion. When might the faithful Catholic world stand up now and say “Enough is enough!”?