Every second Saturday of the month, 4 pm - Divine Liturgy in English of Sunday - Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral of the Holy Family, Duke Street, London W1K 5BQ. Followed by refreshments.
Next Liturgy: Saturday 9th June - 3pm Great Vespers, 4pm Divine Liturgy for Sunday

To purchase The Divine Liturgy: an Anthology for Worship (in English), order from the Sheptytsky Institute here, or the St Basil's Bookstore here.

To purchase the Divine Praises, the Divine Office of the Byzantine-Slav rite (in English), order from the Eparchy of Parma here.

The new catechism in English, Christ our Pascha, is available from the Eparchy of the Holy Family and the Society. Please email johnchrysostom@btinternet.com for details.

Friday, 18 July 2014

Married Clergy, Monastic Celibacy: The Eastern Balance - Catholic Exchange

July 17, 2014, Benjamin Mann    

My perspective on celibacy is an unusual one. Shortly after I became a Christian, at age 21, I began thinking about forgoing marriage – even though I was strongly attracted to the prospect of marriage, and belonged to a non-denominational Protestant group with no formal concept of “consecrated life.” Nonetheless, from the witness of Scripture and tradition, I could see that the unmarried state was a great gift, and one that God might possibly desire to give me.

However, when I entered the Catholic Church, not long after my initial Christian conversion, I did so in the Byzantine Catholic (or “Greek Catholic”) tradition – one of the Eastern Catholic ritual traditions, in which parish clergy are normally married. For reasons I will discuss shortly, this is not currently the standard practice among Byzantine Catholics in North America. But it is allowed in some cases; and I myself was received into the Church by a married Byzantine priest, Fr. Chrysostom Frank.

So, on the one hand, I have always had a high view of apostolic celibacy: as a witness to the Kingdom of God, and as the source – for some people – of a greater freedom to serve the Lord. I believe I am one of those people; and so I am pursuing a celibate vocation, working toward becoming a monk at Holy Resurrection Monastery. On the other hand, I have felt quite at home for almost eight years in a parish led by a married priest together with his “matushka” (our term for a priest’s wife in the Slavic tradition).

The question of celibacy and marriage, and the balance between them, has been in the headlines recently – particularly in relation to the Eastern Catholic churches. In June 2014, the North American Orthodox-Catholic Theological Consultation – an organ of ecumenical work between the Catholic Church and the separated Eastern Orthodox churches – recommended that the Vatican lift all restrictions on the ordination of married men among the Eastern Catholic jurisdictions of North America.

This recommendation came on the 85th anniversary of the Vatican decree “Cum Data Fuerit,” which imposed clerical celibacy on the Byzantine Catholic jurisdictions of North America. Although married clergy continued to serve in the historic Greek Catholic homelands, they could not serve in Western countries; nor could married Greek Catholic men be ordained here, for fear that this would confuse the larger Roman Catholic population. This issue, and prior tensions related to it, caused two lasting schisms.

The once-total ban on married Byzantine Catholic priests in North America has been relaxed in recent years. Married clergy from overseas may now serve here, and the Greek Catholic jurisdictions in North America may ordain married men with approval from Rome on a case-by-case basis – an option that is increasingly exercised. There is talk of petitioning Rome to remove even this restriction, a proposal that has received new momentum with the recommendation of the Orthodox-Catholic Consultation.

It is clear to me that this should occur as soon as possible. A blanket permission for married Eastern Catholic clergy in North America would be an important act of ecumenical reconciliation between the Catholic Church and the separated Eastern Orthodox churches, which have always allowed the practice. It would also accord with the mandate of the Second Vatican Council, which called on all the Eastern Catholic churches to recover the fullness of their traditional ethos.

However, this conclusion does raise a further question. Apostolic celibacy – the choice to forgo marriage for the sake of God and his Kingdom – is still an essential part of the Byzantine Christian heritage, as it is part of every traditional, historic expression of the Christian faith. Thus, it is entirely legitimate to ask: if a married priesthood is fully permitted (as I believe it ought to be) among Greek Catholics in North America, where will the witness of apostolic celibacy come from in our churches?

This question is not hard to answer, if we look to tradition: alongside the custom of married parish clergy, Byzantine Christians have historically maintained the evangelical witness of celibacy in their monasteries. Monasticism began among Eastern Christians, and its later Western forms drew heavily from Eastern sources. Monastic celibacy is fundamental to our heritage – so much so that, out of respect for their presumed spiritual authority, the Eastern churches traditionally choose only monks to become bishops.

Read full article here: Married Clergy, Monastic Celibacy: The Eastern Balance
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