Switzerland: Bishop in favor of married priests

Source: FSSPX News


In the first part, the Bishop of Basel quoted three of the main concerns for the faithful: the lack of pastoral force, and principally of priests, the drop in Mass attendance and the presence, or rather the absence, of young people in the Church. It is difficult to give clear responses to these anxieties, and even less formulae to face up to them, but Bishop Koch emphasized the importance of youth meetings, at national and international level, and the work accomplished by youth organizations. Even so, he declared himself worried by the “compensatory gratifications”, such as drugs, which prevented young people from looking where they ought, to make sense of their lives. Because they have not perceived the transcendence of God, many take refuge in an “artificial transcendence”.

Asked about the questions addressed to the Swiss Bishops Conference by the Catholic synod of Lucerne (see DICI n° 87), Bishop Koch considered obligatory celibacy as a “question of discipline”, that the Church “can change if she wishes”. For the Swiss prelate, the social grounds which justified the discipline of ecclesiastical celibacy in the 12th century, as rights of succession, “are no longer topical”. The real question today, according to him, is the following: “Is the obligation to renounce marriage the only possibility to prove a genuine vocation?” “A marriage honestly lived in the Christian faith” would equally constitute a sign of priestly vocation. “This is why we must look for new possibilities to witness to such a vocation,” said Mgr. Koch, making it clear that he can quite imagine that in the future there will be married priests.

So would be ordained viri probati, that is “men who have proved themselves in marriage, in the Church at professional and social level”. It is the duty of the Church to nourish the sacramental life of her believers. For Bishop Koch, it is obvious that the Eucharist goes beyond the obligation of celibacy. The sacramental needs constitute a sufficient grounds for modifying the requirements for access to the priesthood.

As regards the ordination of women, the Bishop of Basel considers that when a woman feels called to the priesthood, it is proper to listen to her. If it is a genuine vocation, the Holy Spirit will act (!). This question of women priests belongs, according to Bishop Koch, to the universal Church and could only be deepened at the time of a council. Will such a council take place? “Yes and no,” he replies. Subjects such as ministries in the Church have to be treated as a whole. What is more, “to carry out the decisions of a council takes 100 years”.

Between the universal Church and the local Church, it would be useful, according to the Bishop of Basel, to institute an intermediary authority. This could be a Church organization on a continental or regional level. If these “regional” Churches inclined towards “more freedom of decision, we could achieve a good balance between the universal dimension and the actual situation of the life of the Church”.