Dominicans warn Dutch brothers against Catholic schism

January 25, 2008

Windmills at Kinderdijk, Netherlands, Jasper JuinenThe Order of Preachers, better known as the Dominicans, is warning its Dutch province against sliding into schism by pressing its proposal to allow lay Catholics to say mass if they have no priest available to do so. The Dutch Dominicans have proposed that because the worsening priest shortage means many congregations there don’t have anyone to celebrate the eucharist.

The Dutch Dominicans caused an uproar last autumn when they mailed a booklet called “Church and Ministry” (“Kerk en Ambt“) to parishes across the Netherlands without informing the country’s bishops beforehand. In it, they said a congregation should be allowed to appoint any devout Catholic as a lay minister — “Whether they be men or women, homosexual or heterosexual, married or unmarried is irrelevant” — and did not need the local bishop’s approval. The bishops promptly denounced the booklet and the order’s Rome headquarters distanced itself from it.

Now, the order has produced its own report (here in French under “lire le rapport“). It is — not surprisingly — highly critical of the radical proposals. It says they “risk not only worsening the polarisation within the Dutch Church but also encouraging schism.” The The Dutch Dominican booklet Kerk en Ambtauthor of the report, French Dominican Father HervĂ© Legrand, said the Dutch must know “the concrete results of the ordination of a gay bishop in the Episcopal Church in the United States: nationally, the creation of new schismatic and competing dioceses, internationally, the split in the Anglican Communion.” Any congregation acting on these proposals would “dissolve into a sect,” he wrote.

The Dutch Dominicans have pledged to translate Legrand’s report from French into Dutch and distribute it to all the Dutch parishes that received a copy of “Church and Ministry.” They see this as part of a debate they want to continue. They stress the lay-led mass would be an exception, only when no priest is available, and that they do not want to create a schism. But they want to discuss the worsening shortage of priests.

Interestingly, Legrand commends them for discussing the priest shortage and says the Church might one day reconsider celibacy. But this could only be done by the whole Church, he said. Pope Benedict is firmly opposed to any such change.

Legrand’s report mostly refutes theological points brought up in “Church and Ministry” (which he said was so full of holes “that no Catholic theology faculty in the world would support it”). I don’t have the time to translate it and don’t know if an English version is planned, but at least being in French makes it more accessable than Dutch. Several weeks passed before Kerk en Ambt was translated into English last year, which caused some confusion as readers turned to dodgy computer translations to try to figure out Dutch articles on it. One blogger made a rough translation of a press release — not the full booklet itself — and then confidently declared that an accurate report on Kerk en Ambt was flawed! So much for computer translations…

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If they allow priests to marry much of the priest shortage for a time would be solved. AS a former priest, recently widowed, i think thiss the best solution at this time. I would love to be a week-end priest for a small community. Let the roman catholic church adopt the methods of the Orthodox church.

Posted by robert j. pohl | Report as abusive

I think Priest should not be married simply becos they have to stay special in the eyes of our Lord. They should be devoting their time to just that……and not be like us normal people who have so many distractions today and in life. We get married….have a wife, husband and children and we have to focus on the family and the good values we have to teach our children as christians….and that is plenty unless you are one of those selfish type of men who have no compassion.
A priest should never have all those extra activities becos he is to commit his life to the people who need help and prayer as CHRIST did as he sacrificed his life for us……
Priest who are married can never give their hundred percent to their wife and children and in the BIBLE a husband has to be there for his wife and child and therefore if you are amarried priest often your own family suffers some ofrm of neglect and often there are breakups…..That is not good especially since the divorce rates are shooting up all over the world.
Priest have to be free from the bondage of that type of life that is being a married priest cos they have then already experience sex..and all the common things normal Adam and Eve folk have experienced and that is not good they have to serve GOD like a pure nomad teaching preaching the LORDS word and helping so many helpless people along the way.
Married priest is not an option…..I dare say…..there can be lay men and lay women helping with communion but not Married Priest. Priests have be to different and special and only devote themselves to GOD and carry his word and do his work to help the world that is falling apart.

Posted by frantik6 | Report as abusive

We confuse church dogma with the importance of Church life. Many of the historical figures from the Bible were married, had families and were called on by God to perform extreme tasks in their lives. They lived under simple laws that were set down to manage the affairs of daily life.

Over time, the church created canon laws which set down rules for the the religious ordained. These laws were designed to place restrictions on conduct, behavior and to create a type of class of itself. The higher you are elevated in the church, the more prestigious your accouterments. You go from basic black, to black with purple, to purple, to red to white. Each level up you wear more embellishments and have more aides in attendance.

God’s Church never meant for our churches to be so focused on all of these unimportant trappings. The plan book He gave us simply states “where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matt 18:20)

But it is hard for any large governing body to change, especially if it means giving up authority and potentially, loosing prestige. But change is necessary. A religion that fails to change with the ages, will fall victim to stagnation and, eventually, obsolescence.

When I talk of change, it is not the message that must be changed – that remains pure and will survive passage of years. What changes I speak of are protocols, procedures, attitudes and stumbling blocks that have remained in place for no good reason. This is what will kill a church. It will drive people away to a different brick and mortar building (church – small c) so they can be in communion with God’s Church (Capital C).

Are they doing the right thing here? Time will tell.

Posted by Phil | Report as abusive