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Friday, June 22, 2012

WAACSA (Gauteng) MEETING 19 MAY 2012


This open workshop, which had been advertised in the Archdiocesan News, was held on Saturday morning 19 May at St Martin de Porres Church, Orlando West. Forty two people signed the registration sheet, and twenty two apologies were received beforehand.

Aims of the workshop:
  • To be informed about the history of celibacy in ministry
  • To explore the challenges of priestly celibacy in the church now, and appropriate answers

Dr Judith Coyle ihm, senior lecture in Liturgy and Spirituality at St Augustine’s College, the Catholic University in Johannesburg, gave an input on: THE HISTORY OF MINISTRY, ORDINATION and CELIBACY. This was followed by questions for clarification, and comments.

Paul Traynor, a laicized priest, then spoke on CELIBACY: A PERSONAL JOURNEY, sharing his own experience of almost 20 years of priestly ministry, and his difficult decision to leave the priesthood. A decade later he married. He now finds himself on the fringes of the Church, barred from serving in ministries open to other lay Catholics by the conditions of his dispensation from Rome. Ironically, he is a member of a parish with a married priest, with children – a former Anglican.

The participants then reflected on the two inputs and issues raised in the discussion, and were asked to form groups and discuss What is your message to the church?

Main points in the message to the church:

  • Priesthood is a vocation - celibacy is a vocation: not always the same vocation
  • Mobilise Catholics, get them to discuss allowing priests to marry
  • Hold a referendum, and publicise the issues in various ways
  • Need open discussion about bringing back married priests into the service of the church if they wish to serve in the ordained ministry
  • Give deacons choice of marriage or celibacy, and allow widowed deacons to marry
  • Consider future plans for ordaining community leaders
  • Call on Bishops to analyse the “pathologies” affecting the Church right now – we should be a compassionate church
  • Many priests seem to have developed a need to distance themselves from others (people in general)
  • What would Jesus say now? Why keep priests on a pedestal – world needs service
  • Some priests are honest about their celibacy and pay for it while others are not honest and lead a double life often known to community/parishioners ….
  • Research and make plans on how to treat and deal with women (and their children) who have been or are in voluntary or involuntary relationships with priests ….
  • We need a new climate – move from fear, repression and control to a compassionate church
  • Institutional change takes a long time; each person must contribute to goodness and not let wounds and hurt ossify us
  • No shortage of vocations if we returned to basics - shift mindsets back to Jesus as the Way of Life for ministry, worship, evangelization and service.

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