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'Rome's Command Silences the Hierarchy'

September 06, 1986

Having attended a Roman Catholic seminary for several years, I read with great interest the resignation of Father Sweeney from the Society of Jesus. It continues to fascinate me why the Catholic hierarchy refuses to face, in an honest manner, the question of equal opportunity to minister without regard to sex or marital status.

Most Catholics realize that it is ridiculous to hold, whether implicitly or explicitly, that sex and marriage are secondary callings that can impair one's spirituality or "availability" to do the Lord's work. Most want clergy who can speak to them as equals, applying the Gospel to their everyday lives. Their marital status is beside the point.

It is also unfortunate that the new Archbishop of Los Angeles has aligned himself with those who are limiting free inquiry into this matter. He has spoken quite admirably in the past on many contemporary social issues, applying the values of the Gospel in an intelligent manner. Don't those values apply to the institution of the Church as well? I understand his desire to obtain quality research to address the matter of vocations. But what if that research says that there really isn't a vocation crisis? Isn't it possible, given the arbitrarily restricted pool of candidates that the celibacy requirement creates, that we are seeing the realistic limits on the number of vocations that one can expect? In that case, the crisis is more accurately one of unholy stubbornness , not vocations.

STEVEN M. MUMMY

Santa Barbara

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