For the sake of the Kingdom?
Whilst leaving church recently, my attention was drawn to a publication. The document was in the nature of a promotional pamphlet intended to communicate the mission of a national charity and elicit donations, or continued financial support for its objectives. The declared purpose of the organisation is to provide financial support for those formerly serving in other denominations who have been received into the Catholic Church. The ambition is simple enough: insulating ministers and their families from the financial hardship which might otherwise arise on departure from their former denomination. Within England and Wales such ordained ministers have been received following dispensations (e.g. following the Church of England Ordination of Women Measures in 1993). Other measures have included the establishment of the Ordinariate. However, within the testimonies section of the publication, there was as short report of one beneficiary. Aside from recording the chronology of his conversion and reception into the Catholic Church, little other personal detail was provided. The article made clear, however, that following a period of 5 years since reception into the Catholic Church, the former Anglican Deacon has been accepted to discern a calling to the Catholic priesthood at seminary. Nothing within this article is intended to question the suitability or quality of the particular beneficiary detailed in the publication. However, the publication raises serious question of more general principle. To grasp the importance of this situation, it apposite to note that eligibility for ordination remains dependent upon adoption of the celibate life (see CCC 1579). This practice within the Latin Rite is reflected in the obligations assumed by married permanent deacons relative to re-marriage upon the death of their spouse. It is difficult to see how the treatment of this candidate may be considered consistent with that tradition; especially when there is seemingly a renewed reliance upon the permanent diaconate elsewhere. More fundamentally, where does that leave the Church in connection with those who withdrew from ministry - whilst remaining in good standing - on account of the loneliness and emotional isolation experienced in the celibate life? Given the ontological change which occurs through the sacrament of ordination, there can be no doubt they remain priests; albeit dispensed from the obligations of their state. Does this case indicate a preparedness to re-awaken those candidates for sacramental ministry?