Thursday, March 3, 2011

Italian bishops deny married clergy to serve in Italy

For the American Eastern Catholic readers of this blog, this story will be a bit of déjà vu. The below is a snippet from the blog Orthocath:

Italian news sources are reporting that the Italian Episcopal Conference (CEI) has vetoed the idea of allowing married priests of the Romanian Catholic Church (one of the Eastern Catholic Churches in union with the pope of Rome) to exercise their priestly ministry in Italy.

Archbishop Lucian Mureşan
In an article entitled “Priests of a Lesser God: CEI — New Veto to the Presence of Married Catholic Clergy in Italy,” Italian news service Adista reported obtaining a copy of a confidential letter written last September 13 by Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, president of the Italian Episcopal Conference to Lucian Muresan, Major Archbishop of the Romanian Catholic Church. In it, Cardinal Bugnasco explained the position of the Italian Episcopal Conference regarding not allowing the presence of married Romanian Catholic priests in Italy. (The Romanian Catholic Church follows the Byzantine liturgical rite and retains many customs — such as a married priesthood — similar to Eastern Orthodoxy, from which it broke away in 1698 when it entered union with Rome. It is estimated there are 800,000 Romanian Catholics in Italy.) Cardinal Bagnasco, appointed by Pope Benedict XVI in 2007 to be President of the CEI, said that the Bishops’ Conference

“after having carefully examined the issue in light of the figures relating to the consistency of the ethnic communities from Eastern European countries and the situation of clergy in the Italian dioceses, believes that, at present and in general, there is not ‘just and reasonable cause’ to justify the granting of the dispensation.”

The letter from the Bishops’ Conference cited the importance of “protecting ecclesiastical celibacy” and the need to “prevent confusion among the faithful.” At issue is the concept that the free exercise of the right of Eastern Catholic Churches to ordain married priests is limited to their “canonical territory” or traditional homelands. Outside of their traditional territories, this right is seen as subject to regulation by the Pope...
Complete post here.


  1. This looks like another hatchet job by the press. I'd like to know what the bishops actually said.

  2. I'm sure there will be more on this story. I'll post whatever updates I find or are sent to me.

  3. Don't hold your breath. I think this was grossly misrepresented and hence will simply go away. If true as stated it would mean that the Italian Episcopal Conference effectively banned the Romanian Catholic Church from their country, which is, of course, untrue. There are too many things said in that story which are untrue.

    It pains me to say this, but the post from OrthoCath seems to be scandalous, calumnious, and lacking of the proper charity and respect due the office of bishop. He should take it down.

  4. I posted the story based on several Italian news sources. This isn't the first time this has happened in Italy. In 2002, the CEI asked the Ukrainian Catholic Church not to send married priests to serve in Italy. See:

    The Ukrainian and Romanian Catholics have not been banned in Italy. The CEI is asking that celibate priests serve in Italy. This is similar to what the situation was for Eastern Catholics in the USA for many years.

    You say there are "too many things in that story which are untrue." What did you have in mind?

  5. Update: For those interested, in the comments section of my blog article is a comment from the author of the Adista news release in confirmation of the story.