From the "More Rage, Less Monkey" file...
In a previous post, Fr. Hamilton shared with you, our faithful readers, a letter he was sending to a group called HOPE, that is active in the Archdiocese. This group is VOTF and Call to Action lite. Same agenda, same nonsense. The bishop has gone so far as to prevent them from meeting on diocesan property, but I am still waiting for the throat crushing.
Anyway, so that you would not think that I am a big wuss, I decided to post my letter. Mine is of a different tenor than Fr. H's. Mine is more Rage, less Monkey. As someone invested with the teaching office of Christ due to my ordination to the Priesthood, I feel it is my obligation to shake people ever now and again.
Comments are welcome, but I am taking this draft to the bishop to look over. So it will probably will go out on Friday.
March 9, 2004
I read with interest your recent letter to the priests of the Archdiocese. I apologize for not responding sooner. That is how the life of a busy pastor goes.
Frankly, I was a little nervous about responding to your letter. I was not, as your letter implied, nervous that the ordinary would find out about this communication. I was nervous that my acknowledgment would lend credence to both your proposal and your methods. Permit the opportunity to comment on both.
As to the methods of this survey, I cannot express how offended I am. Your suggestion that I need the cloak of anonymity to approach my archbishop concerning controversial matters is simply astounding. If you are not aware of this, but on the day of my ordination to the diaconate, I made a promise of respect and obedience to my archbishop. I renewed that promise the night I was ordained a priest of Jesus Christ. For the last three years, and again this year, I intend to renew that same promise of obedience and respect to my archbishop. People who respect one another say things to each other directly, face to face. I don’t need an anonymous survey to discuss things with him. I can bring any concern, problem, or difficulty to him at any time.
As to the purpose of this survey, again I am offended by your action. If a group of my brother priests in Milwaukee want to open a discussion concerning mandatory celibacy, I can respect that. I might not agree but I can respect that. They must live by this regulation and therefore, they are the ones to open that discussion. But sir, I don’t know you from Adam. You don’t share the hardships and joys of the office of priesthood with me or my brothers in this diocese. I am shocked that you would make this proposal for me. It would be equivalent in my mind if I opened a discussion on your behalf to permit polygamy. This is why, I suspect, that you and the group you represent do not have the best of motives or intentions when it comes to this topic.
As my sainted mother used to say, “Only thieves and thugs hang out in the shadows.”
As to the question of a discussion of mandatory celibacy, I found this most amusing. What do you think I did with those seven years of formation in the seminary? Do you think that the question of living chaste celibacy a.) never crossed my mind and b.) never was discussed? Every year when I was in the seminary, we discussed, prayed about, and practiced this discipline and I have come to love the gift and charism of celibacy. We don’t need the discussion because it has already taken place in the intimate depths of the soul.
A discussion of mandatory celibacy is not needed; a renewal of its meaning is. Divesting the Western Church of this charism would destroy the iconic character of ministerial priesthood. The ministerial priest is a three fold icon. He is first the icon of Christ the Bridegroom. His celibacy chastity signs in his flesh the covenantal love of Christ for His Church, for whom he gave up his life. He is also the icon of Christ the High Priest. By his celibacy, he signs in his flesh a dedication of his life, above and before all else, in service to God. Through his configuration to Christ both through the sacramental character and an outward conformity, the ministerial priest is the perfection of the priesthood of Aaron and the Levites. He is the icon of Christ, our eschatological future. In heaven there will be no marriage or giving in marriage. When one looks at a celibate ministerial priest, or a consecrated religious, he should see that glory of our future where all will be directed to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, in a perichoretic gift of self.
In closing, if any of my comments need further elaboration I would be more than happy to meet with you or your group and spell out these matters in greater detail.
In Christ, Our True Savior,
Rev. Shane Tharp
Pastor, Sacred Heart, Alva.
cc: Most Reverend Eusebius J. Beltran