VATICAN CITY, NOV. 16, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI and his collaborators in the Roman Curia reaffirmed the importance of priestly celibacy, and stressed the need for a “human and Christian formation” for priests and seminarians.
The decision was confirmed in a communiqué issued by the Vatican press office, after a special meeting today held in the Apostolic Palace.
The Pope presided at the gathering, which was attended by cardinals and archbishops who head dicasteries of the Curia.
The press office note revealed that “the participants in the meeting received detailed information on the petitions for dispensation from the obligation of celibacy presented in recent years and on the possibility of readmission, to the exercise of the ministry, of priests who at present meet the conditions established by the Church.”
“Reaffirmed was the value of the option for priestly celibacy, according to the Catholic tradition, and the need was confirmed of a solid human and Christian formation both for seminarians as well as for already ordained priests,” the communiqué said.
This was the third meeting of heads of dicasteries of the Holy See convoked by Benedict XVI.
A communiqué issued Tuesday by the Vatican press office explained that the meeting sought “to examine the situation that has been created after the disobedience of Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo.”
Milingo, 76, the retired archbishop of Lusaka, Zambia, ordained four bishops on Sept. 24 without papal approval, incurring automatic excommunication. Previously he had entered a civil marriage and was recently pushing for a married priesthood.
According to data from the Vatican Congregation for Clergy, every year about 1,000 priests leave the priestly ministry.
The congregation also published data on priests who have returned to priestly ministry between 1970 and 1995. They undergo a rigorous procedure, carried out case by case. Their number varies greatly from one year to another. In those years, a total of 9,551 returned.
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Here is a translation of the communiqué issued by the Holy See today:
“This morning, November 16, in the Apostolic Palace, the Holy Father presided over one of the periodic meetings with heads of dicasteries of the Roman Curia to engage in a joint reflection. Participants in the meeting received detailed information on petitions for dispensation from the obligation of celibacy presented in recent years and on the possibility of readmission, to the exercise of the ministry, of priests who at present meet the conditions established by the Church. The value was reaffirmed of the option for priestly celibacy, according to the Catholic tradition, and the need was confirmed for a solid human and Christian formation for seminarians as well as for already ordained priests.”
[Translation by ZENIT]