Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Cardinal Mahony and the Pastoral Provision

Last Sunday, Cardinal Mahony ordained William Lowe to the priesthood, the first married and former Episcopalian priest to be ordained in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles by way of the Pastoral Provision established under Pope John Paul II. From Cardinal Mahony's statement:
We all welcome Father Lowe and his wife Linda to this unique offering of their gifts to build up the Body of Christ, His Church. They both bring with them their own experience of the Christian tradition, and their love for the Catholic Church and its ministries.

The priestly ordination of married men who were formerly Lutheran or Episcopalian clergy is neither as unusual nor as recent a development as it is popularly perceived. The practice of ordaining such persons in Germany goes back at least to the pontificate of Pope Pius XII [1939-1958]. This practice is not so much an example of relaxing the discipline of priestly celibacy as it is an instance of an extraordinary act of compassion on the part of the Church in regard to someone whose whole life had been spent in both preparation for, and the exercise of, pastoral ministry.

Thus, the individual’s reception into full communion with the Catholic Church does not carry with it the requisite that he renounce or reject this vocation; but, instead, the self-offering of the person who is received into the Church leads to the completion, the “consecration,” so to speak, of their earlier ministry.

The person thus brings with him and offers to the Church the particular gifts and talent for pastoral ministry he had partly developed in another part of the Christian family. Again, this is not a precedent that implies any diminishing of the value of celibacy in priestly ministry, but an instance in which the Church acts in an exceptional way to strengthen and ennoble the gifts brought its newest members.

We all welcome Father William Lowe as he begins to share in the Roman Catholic Priesthood, and we offer Father Lowe and Linda our prayers and support as they begin this new leg of their faith journeys.
Archdiocesan statement here. I haven't been able to find out where Fr. Lowe will serve or in what capacity, but it's interesting nonetheless. We are fortunate to have here in Texas a number of priests ordained under the same Pastoral Provision, former clergyman from other Christian denominations. And as I've mentioned before, here in Houston we have a personal parish of the pastoral provision, a parish of the Anglican Use: Our Lady of Walsingham Catholic Church.

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