Tuesday, February 28, 2006
The article by Monsignor Candreva in the magazine America dated February 27 of this year concludes with this hope: "I hope that the above reflections can help assure my brothers in the priesthood who may feel that the instruction [sic] makes them 'second-rate' that any of us who honestly made our ordination promises, who have faithfully accepted the burden of celibacy, and who have, no matter how we may have failed the Lord and his people, risen up through the grace of the sacrament of reconciliation to continue to carry our cross, can look forward with founded hope to being embraced by the Lord at the end of our journey." America identifies Monsignor as a canon lawyer and retired priest of the Dicocese of Rockville Centre, N.Y.
America attaches the following sub-title to Candreva's essay: "The Vatican's document regulating admission to seminaries and ordination revives an almost extinct legal device." No doubt, Monsignor is right, in a way, that "Prohibiting men with certain characteristics from being ordained to the priesthood is nothing new in church [sic] discipline." But does Monsignor see this as no more than a matter of (1) regulating (2)admission to (3) seminary or ordination as (4) a question of discipline or legal device? There is a theology that is being applied, if clumsily, in the Instruction.
"Purposive interpretation," as we say in the law, would be of value here. Failing that, a return to the "almost extinct legal device," the "impediment," might be necessary. Or are there no "impediments" to the sacraments?