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German Priest Shortage Used as Pretext To Undermine Priestly Celibacy


As has been recently reported, Germany now has to face the effects of the lowest numbers of newly ordained Catholic priests ever attentively recorded. In 2015, there were only 58 new priests ordained for nearly 24 million German Catholics. This fact has caused the well-known German journalist Alexander Kissler to wonder whether such a shortage of priests is not actually intended in Germany. For,  he pointed out in an 18 August 2016 article in the German journal Cicero that the new parish reforms are more and more excluding the priest from his unique and exclusive role and are replacing him with new forms of purported participation and diverse collaborations.

Moreover, a new statement coming out now from the largest lay organization in Germany, the Central Committee of German Catholics (Zentralrat der Deutschen Katholiken – ZdK), seems to strengthen Kissler’s suspicion. That is to say, Thomas Sternberg, the president of the ZdK has now proposed – in a 29 August interview with the German newspaper Augsburger Allgemeine – to loosen the requirements for a disciplined priestly celibacy in order, he said, to increase the number of Catholic priests in Germany. “If it does not work any more otherwise – if we are losing personnel in the field of pastoral care – and if it is the case that celibacy is an obstacle [sic], then it has to be slackened, because it is less important,” Sternberg explained. In his eyes, to have “imported priests” from other countries cannot be a solution in the long run. Sternberg explicitly mentioned in the interview the case of the “viri probati” – married men with tested and proven, virtuous lives – who could possibly become ordained priests. He added: “We already now have very good and engaged deacons – these are married men. Why on earth should they not also become ordained as priests?” According to Sternberg, “this could be decided upon very quickly.” Additionally, Sternberg also proposes to discuss the idea of female deacons. “In my view, nothing stands against it,” said this German lay Catholic leader who is also an active politician in the Christian Democratic Union (CDU). Female deacons could help in the field of the anointing of the sick, as Sternberg has now also proposed.

In the context of this interview, the head of the German lay organization ZdK also discussed the larger idea and process of promoting more participation and a more synodal structure of the Catholic Church. Sternberg quoted as model the Protestant churches in Germany, saying: “The Protestant churches have a synodal structure up to the top of the hierarchy. They are used to the fact that the faithful and the church leadership make decisions together.” For him, the issue essentially is about “real participation.”

It is important to note that Sternberg does not at all discuss where the “burden of proof” lies – and should lie – before so swiftly engineering and implementing these innovative ideas and novel processes. With these comments, the German leader of the ZdK shows himself willing to propose a speciously expedient solution to a deeper problem. Instead of strengthening the unique importance of the sacrificial and sacramental priesthood, he effectively proposes to offset and bypass this priesthood and thereby attenuate and gradually weaken it. Instead of strengthening the unique hierarchical communion and order of the Catholic Church as it was divinely established by Jesus Christ Himself, Sternberg all too facilely proposes a further “remedial” Protestantization of the Church – or even a “Lutheranization of the Church,” in the words of Alexander Kissler.

29 thoughts on “German Priest Shortage Used as Pretext To Undermine Priestly Celibacy”

  1. One almost wishes that the Evangelical (Lutheran) Church in Germany would establish an Ordinariate for obviously progressive Lutheran-minded Catholics to join en masse – and see how many would like to join, assuming some amicable arrangements on division of property and assets.

    “Almost,” I say. We surely don’t want anyone to leave the Church. But as Maike’s reports seem to indicate, many have already left doctrinally.

    • The only problem is that these Catholic Lutherans will want to keep the fine Catholic Churches and those Bishop keep their palaces, salaries and Seven Series BMWs. Not sure an amicable agreement on property would even be possible for people whose faith is barely supernatural, and mostly just a form of social welfare and activism. The influence of the German Catholic Church is baleful.

      • As I say, I don’t want anyone to leave.

        But the leaving is coming, one way or another. If it comes to that, I’d happily part with the BMWs, palaces, much of the liquid assets and social agencies. I’d try to hold on to as many of the best churches and cathedrals as possible, though. Let them have all the ugly modernist ones built in the postwar they like, certainly. Some regions are worse than others.

        The resulting entity would, like the Evangelical Church, become a giant real estate holding company before long anyway. They can ask the Anglicans for lots of great advice on how to navigate that.

  2. Sternberg quoted as model the Protestant churches in Germany, saying: “The Protestant churches have a synodal structure up to the top of the hierarchy. They are used to the fact that the faithful and the church leadership make decisions together.”

    Then why not just go ahead and join them then, Mr. Sternberg, rather than trying to make the Catholic Church more like the heretical Protestant “communities”? Who cares what the Protestants do, unless the ultimate goal (as I suspect) is to reach the point where “the faithful” have a say in defining dogma à la any Protestant denomination? (Of course, no one in the German hierarchy wants to actually leave the Church, as that would mean the loss of prestige, power, finances, etc., so they’re settling for trying to reshape the Church from within.)

    How can anyone doubt that the decimation of the priesthood in Germany (and the rest of the West, for that matter) is by design at this point? It’s no longer a conspiracy theory; the progressives are coming right out and telling us it’s what they want. They see it as the means to the ultimate usurpation of the sacramental priesthood by the laity and the total destruction of the sacraments as we know them. They’ve telegraphed this for decades by their actions; we (collectively) have just been in denial.

  3. The Catholic Hierarchy in Germany feel very comfortable under this Pontiff who has no intention of interfering with their expressed intentions of going their own way prior to the Synod on the Family as the Catholic Church in Germany was “not just a subsidiary of Rome”. Cardinal Marx is an advocate of Communion for the divorced & remarried & recently said the CC should apologise to the Gay Community. Whether the recent allegations about him of his mishandling of an abuse case will go against him or not, he & most of the other members of that episcopate are standing on quicksand. The outcome of the commemorations at Lund in October will be vital as to whether the CC can hold together or if a visible schism will be enacted.

    • This is just the inevitable result of the entire post-Conciliar notion of “collegiality”. It may have taken five decades to get here, but it had to come to this point. One can’t simply say “Well, we’ll delegate certain responsibilities to the respective bishops’ conferences and let them handle it, even if their decisions directly conflict with disciplines and doctrines of the universal Church” and then protest when the bishops logically conclude that they have free reign to do whatever the hell they want in their own countries.

      • Isn’t that just handing over Papal responsibility, & in many cases Papal Infallibility, which results in us being no different to Protestants, and we know where that has gotten them – divorce, SSM, married clergy, gay clergy, women clergy, dwindling congregations etc.

        We had a Universal Church where, no matter where you travelled, the Mass, Sacraments, Deposit of Faith, Tradition etc. were the same & the Ten Commandments & Church Law were for everyone. Now they will be gradually accompanying us all, telling us we will all get to Heaven as there is no Hell (that wouldn’t reflect the Gospels).

        If that’s it, there will be no need for the Papacy, Hierarchy, or priesthood & religious life. Best get it over with & close the Vatican! If PF really considered his options, he might just consecrate Russia & we would witness Our Lady’s Triumph after all.

  4. “The innovative ideas and novel processes” are not even novel in the Catholic Church anymore. One can simply attend a parish council meeting in just about any parish in the western world to see the laity in action. Almost to a man (or woman) they are sycophants to the progressive priest and deacons and are easily led to implement their agendas. As for the Protestants, well, anyone with eyes to see and ears to hear can recognize the ignorance of history (among other things) that allows for sects many and doctrines many.

  5. In his eyes, to have “imported priests” from other countries cannot be a solution in the long run.

    In case this fellow missed it, his country is currently “importing” hundreds of thousands of people. A handful of “imported priests” wouldn’t hurt anything.

    • I’m sure if the truth were known those screaming for an end to celibacy, women deacons/priests/cardinals, are all LGBT activists who would never dream of attending any Catholic ceremony but do want to see Christ’s Church perish. There are also those who want a more open church inclusive of everyone (especially of unrepentant sinners & deniers of transubstantiation) because they have family members who feel excluded because the Ten Commandments & the CCC list their sin as grave &, in many cases, intrinsically disordered & against the natural law.

  6. Thanks to the infernal Kirchensteuer, the German Church is fabulously wealthy and her princes are priests in name only. Everybody – including married men and women – wants a piece of the big, fat pie. Abolishing the Church tax would be a first step to cleansing the Augean stables that the German Church has become.

  7. Wow!

    Talk about undermining priestly celibacy, did you read 1 Timothy 3:2 where it says ” A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife”? Or how about Titus 1:5-7: ” …appoint elders in every city as I commanded you; if a man is blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children..”, not to mention 1 Corinthians 9:5: “Do we not have the right to be accompanied by a wife, as the other apostles and the brethren of the Lord and Cephas?”

    I think we should stop reading this Protestant claptrap.


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