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How a pilgrim Church might emerge
Wed August 5 2020  5:09pmFaith/Philosophy

It would be unreasonable and unjust to expect priests and bishops in 2020 to forsake their lifestyle and social status and become poor homeless pilgrims. Likewise, the vast majority of Catholic homes of today are incapable of becoming true domestic churches, with the husband assuming the role of pastor and priest. This will take time, probably several generations. But there are a few who could begin, and here's one way it could possibly play out:

Ordinariate: A body within the Church similar to a diocese with its own bishop or other head (its ordinary). It is in complete doctrinal union with Roman Catholicism but with its own internal norms and by-laws. The best known examples today are three Anglican ordinariates which have fully re-united with Rome while retaining their Anglican liturgy and married clergy.

A single bishop somewhere might request permission to form an ordinariate (see box). Or a priest could request to do so, and then request ordination as bishop, so as to be able to ordain men to the priesthood. The by-laws of this ordinariate that distinguish it from current mainstream Catholicism:

  • Married men within the ordinariate can be ordained priests, with careful vetting but without extensive formal education.
  • No priest in the ordinariate may accept remuneration for his priestly work.
  • No bishop or unmarried priest in the ordinariate may own property.
  • All adult members of this ordinariate must promise fidelity to defined Catholic teaching, especially ancient (e.g. Nicene) doctrines.

A couple clarifications: The married priest must be the husband of one wife, as the Scripture mandates. That is, no divorced or re-married clergy. The married priest doesn't earn money through his priestly ministry, but may own property and earns a living for his family through regular work or business.

This is a deliberate and radical return to ancient doctrine (orthodoxy) and practice (orthopraxy). Specifically, the ancient practice of married clergy (1 Tim.3:2, Tit.1:6), home churches (1 Cor.16:19, Col.4:15), and poor itinerant apostles (Lk.9:1-6, Mt.10:5ff, Acts) who work without pay (Mt.10:8,9). Well, concerning evangelical poverty and unswerving fidelity to Truth, there are too many biblical passages to which to refer.

It also represents a return to the ancient attitude of being alienated from the world. Literally alienated, not just figuratively. (Again, way too many Scriptures to quote here.) For this reason, and the pure devotion this would require, I would expect the numbers to be very small at first, but as more and more honest people see how authentic Catholicism can be lived in this changing world, they will join the ordinariate whose numbers will then swell. Eventually, whole dioceses might convert, and the ordinariate become the worldwide Catholic standard.

I suppose religious orders could continue to live as they do now, owning their own lands and buildings. Religious orders might also be the ones to own and operate any seminaries that might be needed for those desiring to be itinerant bishops. Important to recognize, however, that all connections with worldly wealth and power are very risky.

OK, what name should we give this experiment? "Ordinariate of Amateurs" ? "Domestic Ordinariate" ? Or just "Jerry's harebrained fantasy" ?

previous article: Amateur Priests


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