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The Truth, the Young, and Married Priests

By Deacon Keith Fournier
© Third Millennium, LLC
Catholic Online

A CBS News Report on the eighth day of April, 2005 confirmed what I have long believed concerning the reason young people so loved Pope John Paul II. It is simple; they hunger for the truth. They are drawn to it as metal is drawn to an irresistible magnet.

One of the greatest encyclical letters from the rich treasury of John Paul the Great is called “The Splendor of Truth”. It reflects that hunger. In this brilliant exposition on the moral life, this giant in the chair of Peter used the story of the “Rich Young Man” to present the irresistible attraction and beauty of truth and our own response to its continuing call. He also presented the truth that every baptized Christian has a vocation.

Young people also respond to truth. They recognize it when it is lived and proclaimed in the lives of true and authentic Christians. That is why they were drawn to Pope John Paul II. In an age of relativism, nihilism, materialism, utilitarianism - and all of the multiple other “ism’s” of the age that deny that truth even exists - this wonderful Pope embodied it, proclaimed it and demonstrated it.

The reporter asked Catholic students in a Catholic High School - outside of the purview of their teachers, their parents, or any other “authority figures” - what they thought about this Pope’s “positions” on the so called “hot button issues” of our age; “whether married men should be priests”, “birth control” and “women priests.” These “questions” are the mantra of a Press which continues to take its lead from dissidents within the Catholic Church.

However, the answers are interesting.

As for women being ordained to the priesthood, the overwhelming majority rightly opposed it. As to artificial birth control being “allowed”, not one hand went up. They knew that the Church cannot change the truth that she proclaims about the dignity and beauty of human sexuality and conjugal love because it is not hers, it is the Lords. It is written in the Natural law and confirmed by Revelation. However, as to the question of whether married men should be allowed to discern a call to priesthood - the majority supported the possible opening of the order of priests to married men.

I want to share some thoughts on this interesting report, and, what it may reveal.

As to women being ordained to the priesthood, even though over half of these students were women, very few of their hands were raised. I was not surprised; these kids were real Catholic Christians. They “got it.” They understood their faith. They knew that the Church cannot change its doctrine. It is a treasure that has been handed down definitively from the Apostles and is protected in that passing down through the “Magisterium”, the teaching office of the Church, acting under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. The Church cannot and will not ever change its teaching on ordaining women to the priesthood. This is authoritative doctrine.

The most recent reaffirmation of the unbroken teaching was expressed by Pope John Paul in his 1994 Apostolic Letter, Ordinatio Sacerdotalis:

"Wherefore, in order that all doubt may be removed regarding a matter of great importance, a matter which pertains to the Church's divine constitution itself, in virtue of my ministry of confirming the brethren (cf. Lk 22:32) I declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church's faithful."

Priesthood is not a “job”; it is a “vocation.” The priest is called to be configured to Christ the High Priest and continue his priestly mission and presence upon earth. Efforts to cheapen the priestly vocation by reducing it to some sort of C.E.O. position that everyone should be able to have because of some perceived “right”, have failed. Priesthood is not about a “right” or even a “career” but rather, it is a response to a “vocation”, where the one responding hears the “voice” (vocatio in Latin) of the Holy Spirit to uniquely follow and re-present Jesus Christ, God Incarnate, who came among us as a man.

This coming as a man was not because men are somehow “better” but because He initiated God’s gift and redemptive action of love among us. Priests now stand in our midst making His presence real and tangible by initiating and dispensing both Word and Sacrament.

Jesus came to us, as St. Paul wrote, “born of a woman”. When God chose to save, redeem and recreate the whole world, he came among us, through a woman. This woman, Mary, calls us all through her example to respond with receptivity to God’s love. There is no more noble a vocation than to become the home of God Incarnate and to then bear Him for the world. Thus, Mary is the prototype of the dignity of every woman who says “Yes” to ...

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