The novelties will continue until morale improves…

At what point can we officially write off the entire German-speaking Church?

Switzerland: “Very constructive dialogue” between bishops and the wives of priests

The president of the Swiss Bishops Conference spoke for the first time in years with the wives of Catholic priests. The meeting took place on Monday in Fribourg and proceeded in a “pleasant, amiable atmosphere,” a spokeswoman for the Association of Women Affected by Celibacy [Ahem!] (aka “Zöfra”) told the press agency Kipa. Simon Spengler, spokesman for the Swiss Bishops Conference, told us that the meeting was brought about by Zöfra and proceeded positively.

“They sought out and asked the bishops to receive them in a deep discussion, which has in fact now taken place. In years past there were encounters at times, but more recently, for various reasons, contact had been broken off. There were grievances on both sides, and now, thanks to the initiative of Zöfra, the dialogue is underway again.”

The encounter was not arranged for the entire Swiss Bishops Conference, but with its executive committee. Among those present on the bishops’ side were the chair Markus Büchel, vice-chair Charles Morerod, as well as the auxiliary bishop of Basel, Denis Theurillat. Büchel invited the Zöfra delegation so that they could “submit their concerns directly to the bishops,” Spengler stated.

“That resonated very positively with Zöfra and it led to a very constructive discussion between the Zöfra representatives and the bishops’ executive committee.”

This was the first discussion with Zöfra since 1997. The outcome of this week’s encounter will be discussed at the next plenary session of the Bishops Conference, added Spengler. The Association of the Wives of Catholic Priests [Ahem!] brought various requests before the bishops’ conference.

“For example, they wanted a permanent correspondent [aka an “Inside Man”] at the bishops’ conference, instead of always having to speak with individual bishops. The conference must deliberate whether or not it can satisfy this wish. In any case it was decided that contact would be maintained. The most important thing is that a clear signal was sent to the Zöfra representatives that the bishops take their pleas seriously.”

In addition Zöfra asked that bishops would do away with some restrictions involved in laicizing priests living in a relationship with a woman, leaving more pastoral care to laicized priests. One thing not discussed at the meeting, Spengler said, was a general discussion of doing away with priestly celibacy.

“That wasn’t the case. It had to do with concrete cases, such as how to help a priest who lives in a situation out of conformity with the Church, that is, one who in fact lives with a woman and is torn in two directions. That holds for the partner as well as for the community, so that all interests are recognized and the man can stand without fear before the bishops in light of his situation.”

Gabriella Loser Friedli, spokeswoman for Zöfra, said that, as far she knows, such a meeting was “a first for the world.” As a rule, bishops do not respond to letters from organizations with the same focus.

(rv/kipa 17.07.2014 mg)

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About The Codgitator (a cadgertator)

Catholic convert. Quasi-Zorbatic. Freelance interpreter, translator, and web marketer. Former ESL teacher in Taiwan (2003-2012) and former public high school teacher (2012-2014). Married father of three. Multilingual, would-be scholar, and fairly consistent fitness monkey. My research interests include: the interface of religion and science, the history and philosophy of science and technology, ancient and medieval philosophy, and cognitive neuroscience. Please pray for me.
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2 Responses to The novelties will continue until morale improves…

  1. Tony Jokin says:

    I think the thinking is something like this….

    Any sins or heresies are tolerated as long as the offender holds at least one or more articles of the faith. If the offender holds even one article of faith, it is common ground for dialogue which can result in a nice compromising solution. The more articles of faith held by the offender, the more reason one has to hope for the possibility of finding an accommodation that allows the offender to continue in their state of life. For these reasons, no idea or action should ever be pointed out as immoral (other than the opposition to what is said here). There is nothing that is so sinful or steeped in heresy that the Church cannot find an accommodation to normalize that sin or heresy [It used to be that there was no sin or heresy so grave that the Church cannot forgive if repented and one promises to amend their ways. But times have changed and doctrinal development has presented this novel solution where repentance or amendment are actually not necessary]

    My only question in all this is as to why Christ himself didn’t adopt such methods or even teach the first Apostles to practice those methods. Condemnations and warnings recorded in Scripture against those who teach error or practice immorality were completely unnecessary by Christ and the Apostles (and the Catholic Church for almost 2000 years). God himself didn’t seem to care about looking at individual cases to find accommodations when he gave the ten commandments and other laws to Moses. We should have seen Christ engage in charitable dialogue with all those who opposed them and stressed the need for looking at individual cases rather than throw out condemnations and hurtfully point out immorality or heresy.

  2. Tony:

    That’s a very valuable reminder. If the Church’s pastors are striving to be like Jesus, they cannot prop up a truncated “nice Jesus” at the expense of His full Kingship. He is the Victim who reigns. Brood of vipers, and all that. Dialogue CANNOT be an end in itself, but that is the loop the V2 mindset has left us in.

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