I have wonderful memories of serving God’s people as a Catholic priest in the Davenport Diocese, where many remain good friends and mentors. However, I fail to understand today’s Catholic hierarchy.
A female classmate at my Assumption High School class reunion last year asked me, “if the Catholic Church is willing to accept ex-Episcopal married male priests why won’t they accept ordained ex-female Episcopal priests?” I explained that the Catholic Church does not believe that Christ intended for females to be priests. Her response was less than complimentary.
I believe that the Catholic hierarchy has abandoned what Pope John XXIII termed an aggiornamento, meaning a “bringing up to date.” Pope Paul VI stated in Ecclesiam Suam: “We cannot forget Pope John XXIII’s word aggiornamento …We want to bring it to the notice of the whole Church. It should prove a stimulus to the Church to increase its ever-growing vitality and its ability to take stock of itself and give careful consideration to the signs of the times.”
In the “Aggiornamento” of the Episcopal Church women have been ordained priests for 37 years. There are also hundreds of us former Roman Catholic priests and nuns who are now Episcopal priests, deacons and bishops.
I sympathize with the grief of classmates, friends and family who are angry and disappointed in Catholic hierarchical leadership. I think it was G. K. Chesterton who wrote, “Jesus came to preach the Gospel and what happened was the Church.” As the body of Christ, we have the power to build bridges, not walls; to lead with respect and acceptance; to give thanks profusely. “Nothing can separate us from the LOVE OF GOD that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8.
Aloha in Christ
Rev. Tom Buechele+