Tuesday 18 November 2014

No Humanae Vitae, No Priests

This morning I read this article with interest. Bishop Remi "Racehorse" de Roo certainly rocks his civilian suit.

Unless you are a Canadian Catholic or hard to port on the American Catholic spectrum, you probably have no idea who Bishop de Roo is. On the other hand, you may have seen him in one of those amusing Giant Puppet Liturgy videos. In short, Bishop de Roo was ordained a bishop at the tender age of  thirty-eight and thus at the age of 88 is one of the youngest episcopal veterans of the Second Vatican Council. Although no friend to the patriarchy, Bishop de Roo prides himself on being one of the Council Fathers. He has had an interesting and colourful career. When he bankrupted his diocese through rather crazy investments, he begged his flock to pay off the debt, and lo, they did.  Hearing the news from the other side of the country, I was awed at the generosity of my fellow Catholics.

Apparently Bishop de Roo has written a memoirs and the article details his meeting with Saint John Paul II. Bishop de Roo emphasizes how St JP2 ate his lunch--heartily and like a man, not that Bishop de Roo said that. Anyway, Bishop de Roo began to whine at him about married priests and, since St JP2 wasn't interested in the topic, Bishop de Roo bided his time and then addressed him en francais. St JP 2 banged the table and shouted "Deus providebit!"

You can just see Bishop de Roo rolling his eyes at that one.: God will provide ??? Hoo boy. Are we in trouble.

The article (did Hilary write it? No, Patrick Craine.) also chooses to mention Bishop de Roo's participation in the Winnipeg Conference. Some Canadian Catholics fear "the Winnipeg Statement" caused a silent schism between the Catholic Church in Canada and Rome, for it basically told Canadian Catholics that Humanae Vitae could be safely ignored.

Bishop de Roo was all for Catholics deciding for themselves whether or not to use artificial birth control, and--lo! By the time I went to elementary school, large  families were viewed by my Catholic classmates as freakish. Since I had no idea that birth control was wrong, and only a hazy idea what it was and how babies were made anyway, I was incredibly thankful that my classmate Nancy (whose parents were from Portugal ) had even more brothers and sisters than I did.

My classmates thought pregnancy was a huge, slightly obscene, joke, and when someone asked me if my mother was pregnant, I denied it angrily with, "No, she's just fat."  As a matter of fact, she was pregnant. Hey, you should have heard my classmates on breastfeeding. Did I mention this was a Catholic school?  Thanks, Winnipeg Conference!

So I have to laugh at the thought of Bishop de Roo bothering John Paul II about the poor old Mass-deprived contracepting rural Canadians while the saint was eating his obiad, most important meal of the Polish day. Bishop de Roo thought the solution was ordaining married (probably contracepting) married men, when the priest shortage is quite obviously caused by CONTRACEPTION. No critical number of Catholic boys, no Catholic priests. DUH.

"God will provide" said Saint John Paul II, and yet God has given us free will, so we can reject His provisions in several ways. One way is through rejecting and suppressing our ability to have more than one or two children. Another is by running down the priesthood to the children we do have, if we have them. Still another is by turning away very good candidates from the seminary on the grounds that they are too pious or too interested in liturgical vestments, rubrics,the whole beautiful art of saying Holy Mass and the traditions of the Holy Catholic Church stretching back past 1962.

It would be enough to make me weep if my own parish didn't regularly attract men with embryonic vocations and send them out again to various seminaries. These are generally converts to Catholicism, mind you, so they did not grow up in soi-disant Catholic homes and  thus were not inoculated against the real thing.

Dear me, if I ever do, through some miracle, have a baby son, I will certainly do as one priest pal thinks his grandmother did to him, and take him to the altar in a basket and offer him up for a priestly vocation. But you can be very, very sure that B.A. and I would think very, VERY long and hard about into which bishop's or order's care we would put our child.

It is a total irony that, at the end of the day, after two hundred years of woman's struggle to be treated as equals to men,  and forty years of women studying theology alongside men, I realize that the best things women can do for the Church, besides going to Mass, as we have always done and always will, is, if women religious, to pray for her constantly and, if married women, give birth to and educate sons.

Oh how shocking.


  1. This was great! Thank you. Reminded me of this piece I read this morning http://www.aleteia.org/en/religion/article/after-john-paul-ii-does-the-church-need-a-new-feminism-5900662269280256

  2. I've been praying for the boy's vocation to the priesthood since I was pregnant. I used to have all these ideas about my importance in the world and then came to realize that my big role is to raise Christians who will love and serve God, as simple as that.

  3. I read an article by a parish priest (maybe a retired one) about his conversation with an older man upset at the closing of a parish school. Enrollment was so low they couldn't keep it open. The priest asked the man how many children he had. "Two." How many children did they each have? "Two." Did they send any of them to Catholic schools? "No." Of course the school had to close. You can't run a school on a memory, and we won't have priests for the sacraments if we don't have enough boys.


This is Edinburgh Housewife, a blog for Catholic women and other women of good will. It assumes that the average reader is an unmarried, childless Catholic woman over 18. Commenters are asked to take that into consideration before commenting. Anonymous comments may be erased.

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.