VATICAN CITY (CNS): Despite a rule the Vatican insists is still in force, it has stopped suspending married men ordained to the priesthood for service in the Eastern Catholic Churches in North America and Australia.
In fact, the ordinations are occurring regularly, although they are not great in number and they are celebrated quietly.
“Rome will allow the ordinations, but it does not want a bishop to ordain married men, then splash pictures all over the place,” said a professor familiar with the ongoing debate.
Fr Kenneth Nowakowski, who is rector of Holy Spirit Seminary in Ottawa and spokesman for the Ukrainian bishops of Canada, said the Ukrainian Bishop of Saskatoon “is the only current ordinary who has not ordained a married man to the priesthood” for the Ukrainian Catholic Church in Canada.
When asked if the married priests had been suspended, as was often done through the 1990s, he replied, “not that I am aware of”.
Msgr Lucian Lamza, an official in the Congregation for Eastern Churches, said on May 22 the Vatican’s ban on the ordination of married men for the Eastern Churches in the West “remains unchanged”.
The ordinations “are against the norm”, he said. “But, of course, these priests can validly celebrate the liturgy and sacraments”, since the ordinations are sacramentally valid.
The ban dates back to 1929 when the Vatican, at the request of the Latin rite bishops of the United States, ruled that married priests could not serve the Eastern rite Churches outside the Churches’ traditional homelands. The ban was applied to Canada in the 1930s and to Australia in 1949.