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Orthodox Positions

Should priests marry? Some already do. Also: Robin Givhan looks bad. Gary Sheffield in right field. Oklahoma City politics. Plus much more.

4.20.05

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ROCKIN' ROBIN
Re: George Neumayr's From Slob to Snob:

Well wonder what Robin thinks of the left's hero Michael Moore? If she wants to talk about slobs, she could have a ball with him.
-- Elaine Kyle
Cut & Shoot, Texas

I find Howard Dean fits this scenario reversed. He hasn't had an idea in his head since his campaign. His rise as the "Dean of the DNC" has not improved his rhetoric and it appears he still has no ideas that are of any value. We don't hear anything from his vitriolic, antagonistic speeches except hate.

Howard Dean, a.k.a. Dr. Dean, I assume in a past life should have taken the Hippocratic Oath.

I didn't think anyone could be more obnoxious than Terry McAuliffe but Howard Dean definitely has made the grade. I think Dean must have mistaken his oath and instead took the "Hypocrite Oath." Definitions in the dictionary fit his persona perfectly: "a person who puts on a false appearance of virtue or religion, one who affects virtues, qualities, or attitudes he does not have, a phony, lip server, faker, fraud."
-- Jane McNair
Connecticut

Mr. Neumayr's remarks about the Washington Post reporter highlight the irrelevance of that writer's -- and thus, the Post's -- view.

But John Bolton and his supporters should take heart. After all, if a writer and his or her paper start criticizing one's hair and moustache, it must mean they're truly grabbing into thin air for anything discrediting. It's akin to the New York Times last year including some reference to Abu Ghraib in a food column or restaurant review.

Makes the writer and newspaper look juvenile. Makes for some rather fulsome copy on their part, too. Wastes some precious natural resources, also.
-- C. Kenna Amos Jr.
Princeton, West Virginia

Didn't Robin Givhan also do a piece of Katherine Harris during the 2000 Florida recount. Mocked her make-up and such? Consider the source.
-- Paul Higdon
Lexington, Kentucky

Right on, Mr. Neumayr, if I may borrow a phrase that expressed liberal agreement back in the '70s. I was thinking along the same lines last week when I read a liberal criticism of President Bush not ranking high on a list of "sexy celebrities." After logging more than 35 years in American high schools, I can authoritatively say that the Times needs some 16 year-olds with newspaper experience to compile the ever popular "Most and Best" list, you know, the one that, like, is the like staple of like every high school newspaper. I can see it now: Bill Clinton -- Best Smile; Robert Byrd -- Most Likeable; Hillary Clinton -- Most Likely to Succeed; Ted Kennedy -- Bad Boy; Sandy Berger -- Most Trustworthy; Barbara Boxer -- Friendliest. I could go on, but what would be the point? I mean, after all, aren't all the cool kids at school liberals? How could Whoopi Goldberg, Alec Baldwin, and Janeane Garofalo be wrong? I take my hat off to liberals. They can't think of anything worth dying for, but they'll kill to be in with the "in crowd."
-- Joseph Baum
Newton Falls, Ohio

FAN FOLLIES
Re: Paul Beston's Fan Rule:

Paul Beston has it just right. Narcissus lives in sports. Perhaps this is a reflecting lesson for all of us.
-- James Crystal

After watching, (and rewatching on ESPN) the tape of the incident, it appears that the fan never took his eye off of the ball. It appears that he accidentally hit the ballplayer. The ball was moving quickly and, so, was his arm. He should have been escorted from the ball field and he was.

The ballplayer, however, hit the fan immediately, even before throwing the ball. This appears to be an arrogant response towards what Sheffield believes to be an attack. Artest-like, if you ask me and some kind of punishment is due Sheffield, too.

Without season-ticket holding fanatics, would Sheffield be a factory worker or a truck driver?
-- Ed Puma

Thank you, Mr. Paul Beston, for drawing an insightful connection between the relationship of sports fans' unruly behavior and modern athletes' lack of sportsmanship. And I thought I was the only one who saw Muhammad Ali as the Father of the End Zone Dance...

While Ali's athletic accomplishments are legion, his penchant for self- promotion at the expense of his opponents (e.g. The Mummy, The Gorilla, The Washerwoman) has now morphed into on-field self-celebration for the most routine of plays, depicting a clear lack of respect for fans and officials, as well as opponents. Quite naturally, the sentiment is returned by overwrought or over lubricated sports fans. It's hard to imagine such self-possessed presences as DiMaggio, Nicklaus, Favre or Joe Louis having cups of beer tossed in their direction in any American city for moon-walking around a beaten foe.

Let's hope that for every potential chest-thumping, jersey pulling, pelvis thrusting Ali clone, there are enough youth, high school and college coaches who take some time to teach the "quaint courtesies" of sportsmanship to put some dignity back on the field and in the bleachers.
-- Deane Fish
Altamont, New York

And when fans are within arm's reach of a player, and vice versa, wrestling matches can be expected. Why not a 6-foot space between the fan and player?
-- unsigned

NOT THE MARRYING KIND?
Re: Jeremy Lott's Don't Let Them Marry:

In response to your article on the economics of a married priesthood, you fail to consider that along with the salary, meager as it is, comes housing costs and food costs. Education can also be included, including post-secondary education, because of the large network of Catholic Colleges and Universities.

Also, with respect to the vow of poverty, it is true that some priests take the vow of poverty, but only those that become members of an Order, such as the Jesuits. Regular Diocesan priests, those that serve in parishes at the direction of the local Bishop, do not take a vow of poverty. Thus, Father Andrew Greeley can keep the money he has earned from his novels.

As to the issue of transfers, a diocesan priest could only be transferred within the diocese.

The economic issues for Diocesan priests are not as great as you think. Salaries can be increased. There is already a significant benefit structure available, especially for college education, something that Protestants cannot offer. There are no housing or food costs. And, what is wrong with the wife working outside the home?

The only constraint is time. However, as a full-time attorney, I do not have a lot of spare time either. While I can sympathize with someone who is married to the Church, it is also said that the law is a jealous mistress.

Priests who choose to become members of orders can be treated differently. They take vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. It could be the choice of any order to eliminate the vow of chastity and permit its priests to marry. As part of the vow of poverty, priests who are members of Orders are required to turn their earnings over to the Order. However, those same priests may also pull income, salary, out of the Order. They would need to for personal expenses, anyway. Thus, their income could reflect their own earnings. That, however, would be the decision of the Order, itself.
-- Daniel V. Kinsella
Chicago, Illinois

With respect to Mr. Lott, there are far more pressing issues facing Catholicism and religion in general than the issue of priests marrying. The Church has never endorsed a married priesthood and that should be the end of that, period, so in that respect, we are in agreement. The issues facing the church today are those facing every moral person. Those include the sexual issues of promiscuity, homosexuality, the issue of abortion, and the general decline in morality. As of this writing a new Pope has been chosen and the main scream media is livid over it. The new Pope is a traditionalist along the lines of the late Pope. The hopes of the immoralists of finally destroying the Catholic Church have been dashed. Liberation theology has taken another hit with the ascent of this man. Maybe, we will finally see a return of not only traditional Catholic teaching, but also of traditional Catholic morality. While I do not agree with everything the church stands for (outside of Biblical morality), I am free to chose my own religion, practice it as I see fit, but where the Church, I, and the Bible agree, I have no problem. If priests want to marry, let them become Protestants. After all, that is what Martin Luther did when he had issues with the church.
-- Pete Chagnon

With regard to Jeremy Lott's article of 19 April 2005, "Don't Let Them Marry," I need to point out that Mr. Lott refers only to the Tradition of the Latin or Western Church, and does not speak at all to the Tradition of the twenty-one Oriental Churches in communion with the Church of Rome, or of the myriad Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox and Assyrian Churches that are not. Speaking as a Byzantine Catholic, a member of one of those twenty-one Eastern Catholic Churches, I note that our unbroken Tradition for twenty centuries has been to ordain married men to the diaconate and presbyterate for service in the parish churches. From the fourth century onward, monastics have been ordained to these offices, and it has been from the celibate, monastic clergy that the Eastern Churches traditionally have selected their bishops.

This bifurcated clergy has served us very well. At the parish level, married men are called out from the community to serve as ministers of the Church at the Holy Altar. They remain close to the people they serve, share in their daily lives, and establish bonds of affection and affinity that make the parish priest a true father to his congregation. Contrary to the common usage among the Protestants, or even among Jews, the wife and family of a married priest share totally in his ministry. The wife of a priest in particular is more than a social hostess, but rather has a special charism as mother of the parish. The Presbytera, Matushka, Pani-Popadje, or Khouria (as she is variously called) has a special responsibility to look after the material and spiritual well-being of the women and children of the parish. The children, particularly the sons of priests, often follow their father into his ministry, so that in some parishes, one finds a priest being assisted at the altar by his elder son, a deacon, and his younger son, the subdeacon, and possibly a third son as acolyte.

Mr. Lott echoes a lot of Latin Catholics in dismissing the ability of a married priest to balance the demands of ministry and family. It can be difficult, but then, so are the demands of balancing any vocation, such as medicine, law, or soldiering with the demands of family life. The priests of the Eastern Churches have been doing it for two millennia. It works. Mr. Lott and other Latin Catholics seem to ask, "How can a priest cope with the demands of ministry and support a family?" We would turn that around, and ask, "How can a man bear the burdens of the ministry without the support of a family?"

In fact, the Eastern Churches do not see the fundamental choice facing a man as one of marriage vs. ordained ministry, but of monasticism vs. marriage. The monastic vocation is the personal calling from God, the one that calls for man to give up all and renounce the world for constant prayer, asceticism and spiritual warfare. The monastic, not the priest, is the exemplar and touchstone of Christian discipleship (a point Pope John Paul II emphasized in his Pastoral Letter Orientale Lumen). And there is more to being monastic than mere celibacy. Celibacy, in fact, is a very difficult burden in and of itself, and the Eastern Churches traditionally have been quite leery of celibates trying to live out their vocation without the support of a structured community--a monastery. For that reason, they have been quite reluctant to appoint monastic or even widowed priests as parish priests, doing so only for lack of a married priest.

Regarding the economic aspects of sustaining a married priesthood, Mr. Lott is on somewhat firmer ground. Whereas the typical celibate Catholic priest receives a stipend of some $15-20,000 a year (supplemented by a housing allotment and sometimes a car), the typical Orthodox or married Eastern Catholic priest receives a salary of $40-75,000 a year, plus benefits -- social justice doctrine demands nothing less than a living wage). By way of comparison, rabbis habitually make more than $100,000, while the rabbis of some large, prestige synagogues can make three times that much.

This imposes a considerable burden upon the parish, and money is often a critical issue in Eastern Catholic and Orthodox parishes. But, considering that the typical Orthodox or Eastern Catholic parish is quite small by Roman Catholic standards (a parish of 1000 people would be very large, indeed), somehow they manage to get by. Partly this is accomplished by cutting salaried staff to the bone and having only one full-time employee: the pastor himself. Volunteers and part-time workers take up the slack. This not only makes for greater involvement of the parishioners in the life of the Church, it also helps cut back on the paid church bureaucracy that is a perpetual drag on Roman Catholic parishes. However, Roman Catholics who advocate married priests ought to consider carefully the economic demands the institution makes on the parish.

Logistically, married clergy are inconvenient to bishops who like to move their clergy like chessmen. But is it a good thing to have so much turbulence in a parish? Probably not. The stability of the married clergy leads to stability within the parish, and that is a good thing.

There is one element of the bifurcated Eastern clergy that is often overlooked by those who would relax or change the discipline of the Latin Church: the necessity of a vigorous and dynamic monasticism as a counterpoise to the secular married clergy. The temptation of married clergy is a slide into worldliness. The temptation of monasticism is an equally damaging slide into excessive rigorism and unworldliness. Having the two institutions--monasticism and married clergy--in dynamic tension, moderates the excesses of each and ensures the holism and balance that Eastern Christianity values so highly. If Latins want a married parish clergy, then in addition to the practical aspects, such as money and logistics, they must also consider the spiritual requirements, and in particular, the need to revitalize monasticism within the Latin Tradition.

In the meanwhile, it would do Mr. Lott well to study not merely the experience of Protestant ministers, but also of the truly ordained priests of the Eastern Catholic and Orthodox Churches, who have been bearing witness to Christ -- often under the most horrific conditions, even unto death -- for centuries. This is our way, this is our Tradition. It may not be for the Latin Church, but as long as the Catholic Church is both Latin and Eastern, married priesthood is an integral part of the Catholic Tradition.
-- Stuart Koehl
Falls Church, Virginia

In writing about the married priesthood, Mr. Lott totally ignored the experience of the Eastern Orthodox Church. In the Orthodox Church, married priests (the "secular" clergy) are the norm; Bishops are chosen from the celibate ranks (though widowers can be and do often become Bishops). Now, I recognize that the Western Church has a venerable tradition of celibacy for the priesthood. I am not arguing that the Roman Catholic Church should necessarily change its rule of celibacy merely to accommodate modernists seeking ways to "fix" the shortage of priests. The shortage has its roots in the liberalization, modernism, and in some circles, the post-modernism of the current Catholic Church. And Mr. Lott does correctly point out the problems faced by married clergy, particularly in this current urbanized age. It is often difficult to raise a family on the salary of an Orthodox priest, particularly if the parish is small and does not consist of very affluent people. In the old country, married priests and his parishioners all lived in the agrarian village, and he and his family were supported by the village in a variety of ways. Nowadays, the typical American Orthodox priest, often with three or more children, in order to survive, has a working wife. So, yes it is difficult, but is not impossible, or undesirable. And while I believe a married priesthood is superior in practice to a celibate one, as I mentioned earlier, I think Rome needs to first fix various doctrinal problems and modernistic practices that have crept in since Vatican II and as a result of the Post-Conciliar "reforms." Instituting a married priesthood as some kind of fix-all to the ills of the Roman Catholic Church is merely putting the horse before the cart. Perhaps restoring the married priesthood to the Western Patriachate of Rome is desirable in the future, but Rome first needs, in my opinion, to seek union with the Eastern Orthodox Churches by correcting it's medieval doctrinal mistakes made over the last 1,000 years or so, and by tamping down and rooting out the soul destroying liberalism rampant in various Catholic Churches, particularly in American, Europe, and South America. Solve those problems first, and then maybe the married priesthood can and should be considered.
-- Richard C. Hornung
Lynnwood, Washington

Why not? Here's why not. By definition, liberalism knows no bounds:

"At issue is not just the life of a priest, but the whole of the Church's theology on sexual morality.... If the Church were to concede that human beings must have sex, then the unmarried would also need to be included, and so Rome would have to dispense with its teachings on premarital sex and homosexuality. Taboos on fornication, pornography, etc. would necessarily follow suit.

"Those who are married but no longer receive sexual fulfillment from their spouses would also have to have free recourse to fulfilling their needs, thus completing the nullification of the Sixth Commandment. Then, having fully adopted the tenets of the sexual revolution, the Church would need to embrace the cultural implements that sustain it, and lift its proscriptions of contraception and abortion. These have long been Left-wing targets; but why? It's not as if Catholicism is forced on anyone.

"Because Leftists bristle at the very idea of an enduring morality that neither bends with circumstances nor changes on the basis of popular will. For an ideology that operates by knocking down institutions or corrupting them from the inside, the notion of any organization maintaining the same resolute sense of right and wrong for 2,000 years is both incomprehensible and maddening. For the radical who believes he can re-create the world in his image, the Catholic Church stands as a constant, humiliating reminder of his limitations." -- Chris Weinkopf, "Why The Left Rails Against Priestly Celibacy"

Then there is what Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch anticipated over a century ago with prophetic precision:

"It is now no longer enough for the apostate to be able to live undisturbed according to his convictions, as he calls them; to him there is no well-being and no peace as long as his convictions have not become the only ones recognized as right and valid. He sees in the Law an intellectual slavery from which it is the godly task of a second Moses to redeem his unfortunate brothers. In Torah-loyalty, he sees superstition, backwardness, and at the same time a calamity which is to blame for all the miseries of the past. He sees in "liberation" from the yoke of the Law a goal so high and so humanitarian that every means which seems capable of bringing about progress toward this great goal must be employed. He has reached the stage of waging fanatical campaigns of persecution against those loyal to the Law."
-- Gordon Paravano
Sedona, Arizona

Okay, so there would be problems with married priests. What's new? I'll still argue that the celibacy requirement is what made the priesthood so attractive to the homosexual men who molested so many young boys. And I'll argue that it will happen again some day.

But also this bothers me -- if a celibate priesthood tries to make rules for me about sexuality, marriage, family and children I'll laugh right in their collective face. There simply isn't an ounce of experience to give them credibility.

If the Catholic Church wants to be of any use in this world of the 21st century, it needs to find out what the daily lives of people are really all about. And frankly, a celibate priest lives in magnificent isolation from the very knowledge that would be so useful. A married priest would never come up with the prohibition of contraception, much less justify it with so ridiculous an argument. And that's just one example.
-- Roy Hogue
Newbury Park, California

MCVEIGH'S HELP?
Re: Andrew Cline's No Terrorists on the Left:

Andy's entirely correct, but permit me to serve as Devil's Advocate. Up to the moment that McVeigh's handiwork fused, detonated, brought down the Murrah Building, and killed hundreds of innocent people, Bill Clinton and the Dems were on the run. Even genuine hero but horrendously lackluster Bob Dole would have cleaned Bill's clock. But thanks to McVeigh, Bill was able to convince the willfully ignorant electorate that the real danger was the NRA and militias and their acolytes Newt and company, and the 1996 election gave Bill a higher margin than 1992, albeit still not a majority. Justice demands a hotter place in Hell for McVeigh. Truly to Hell with him.
-- Frank Natoli
Newton, New Jersey

Yes, I have been following "memeorandum" quite closely. This page, as you may know, collects blog commentary from both the "right" and the "left" responding to various events of the day. The "right" has been quite vigilant pointing out current leftist terrorism consisting most prominently of the pieing of William Kristol and others. Thank you for taking up the cudgel.
-- Ann S. Beddingfield
Garrison, New York

NO PORN FOR ME
Re: James Bowman's Torremolinos 73:

I wouldn't ever see this film and I'm saddened that you would include a review of it on www.specator.org.
-- Bill Sikes

HIGH EXPECTATIONS
Re: Ben Stein's Reign DeLay:

Again THANK YOU for the fine article by Ben Stein concerning Tom Delay. Mr. Delay is an exceptional congressman and person. You won't ever regret or be "let down" by supporting him.
-- Robert Davis

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