I am torn between, on the one hand, pity for these men whose priesthood and ministry was tainted from the onset by bad formation and poor leadership and, on the other, contempt for them as arrogant quislings.
From Vatican Insider:
Germany: Catholic priests administer communion to divorcees
The wait is over. It is now time for action: this is what the more than 150 priests and deacons of the Archdiocese of Freiburg, in Germany (161 at the time this article was written) must have thought, as they issued an open declaration on the internet, stating that they regularly administered communion to divorced couples who had remarried.
In their manifesto, the priests – who account for approximately a seventh of the clergy in Freiburg, led by Archbishop Rober Zollitsch who is also President of the German Episcopal Conference [his name just keeps cropping up when] – stated they were fully aware they were violating the rules laid down by the Catholic Church: “With our signature, we declare that in our pastoral activity regarding remarried divorcees, we are allowing ourselves to be guided by mercy,” they wrote, quoting the salus animarum suprema lex (the salvation of souls must always be the supreme law) principle.
In going against the dictates of the Catholic Church, “we take account of the conscious decision made by the individuals involved and the real life situation that follows.” [“real life situation” is now an excuse for doing anything you want to do, I guess.] “In our communities, remarried divorcees take communion and receive the sacraments of reconciliation and the anointing of the sick, with our approval,” the parish priests declared, adding that those who divorce and remarry also participate in parish councils and play an active role in the catechesis and community activities.
The issue of remarried divorcees is a delicate issue, particularly in German speaking countries, but in others as well. The issue was brought before Benedict XVI by the then federal president Christian Wulff, himself a divorcee, during the Pope’s visit to Germany last November. The issue is one of the five critical points which the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith highlighted in a recent notification regarding a book published by a nun in the U.S. [Farley.]
During the recent Word Meeting of Families in Milan, Pope Benedict XVI admitted that the situation of remarried divorcees is “one of the great causes of suffering for the Church today”: “we do not have simple solutions – he said -. Suffering is great and all we can do is help parishes and individuals to help these persons endure the suffering of this divorce.”
In their manifesto, the priests in Freiburg referred explicitly to the Memorandum entitled “Achieving a necessary turning point” [“turning point”… otherwise… “revolt”? “revolution”?] which was launched by hundreds of theology professors in March 2011 and published in the book “An opportunity for reconciliation?” by the theologian Eberhard Schockenhoff which deals with the issue. Over 300 members of the Freiburg clergy signed a petition supporting the Memorandum.
In a communiqué, the Archdiocese of Freiburg said the priests’ initiative had been “blown up by the media and this is “neither useful nor constructive.” Though it may be possible for a priest to make a “conscious,” “responsible and well-grounded” choice in certain concrete cases, this can in no way become a “general and undifferentiated” practice that goes against the universal Church doctrine.
Is this really “blown up” by the press? I suspect it is not, and that this revolt will breed more revolt, as rotting meat attracts flies and maggots.
What they are doing is scandalous, for it will breed more revolts elsewhere, about this and other issues. This isn’t just about how the Church ministers to the divorced and remarried. This is a deeper problem.
One of these days these priests are going to die and go to their judgment. I hope that they are simply so screwed up that they are not fully culpable for these bad decisions and the scandal they cause.
In the face of this sort of revolt, what does one do?
As Pope, I suppose you soldier on and suffer.
Imagine what a faithful bishop or the Holy Father is faced with when things like this happen. What to do? Will action make the situation worse? Will inaction make it worse? Do you impose an interdict? Suspend the clergy involved with the resulting exacerbation of the shortage of priests?
You almost get the sense that a huge shortage of priests would be less bad than having priests like those guys.
You might add some small and planned mortifications to your daily routine to offer up for the Holy Father’s intention.
Lord Jesus, come back now. Please?