The Bitter Pill has really outdone itself. It published a letter, I assume without editorial correction (I refuse to buy it in order to check) which started off with the following jaw-dropping statement:
"It was interesting to read about the new Confraternity of Catholic Clergy in the British Province of Pope St Gregory the Great (News from Britain and Ireland, 2 April). The theologically dubious description of the priest as being an image of Christ, acting in the person of Christ, and possessing an “active instrumental power” all in a way in which the layman respectively is not, cannot, and does not, betrays a clericalist and power-based notion of priesthood at odds with any notion of service."Theologically dubious? It would appear that the letter-writer (and presumably the editor of The Bitter Pill who allowed it to pass unchallenged) is unacquainted with the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
The Catechism states:
1592 The ministerial priesthood differs in essence from the common priesthood of the faithful because it confers a sacred power for the service of the faithful. the ordained ministers exercise their service for the People of God by teaching (munus docendi), divine worship (munus liturgicum) and pastoral governance (munus regendi).and earlier:
1581 This sacrament configures the recipient to Christ by a special grace of the Holy Spirit, so that he may serve as Christ's instrument for his Church. By ordination one is enabled to act as a representative of Christ, Head of the Church, in his triple office of priest, prophet, and king.Tabletistas are rather keen on quoting the spirit of Vatican II. I, on the other hand, prefer the actual documents, so that there is no chance that I reinterpret things to fit in with my personal viewpoint... So, how about one of the Decrees produced by the Council? The Decree on the Ministry and Life of Priests, Presbyterorum Ordinis, states quite clearly:
Wherefore the priesthood, while indeed it presupposes the sacraments of Christian initiation, is conferred by that special sacrament; through it priests, by the anointing of the Holy Spirit, are signed with a special character and are conformed to Christ the Priest in such a way that they can act in the person of Christ the Head. (n2)And if you're not happy with a mere Decree, what about a full-blown Dogmatic Constitution? Lumen Gentium, anyone?
The ministerial priest, by the sacred power he enjoys, teaches and rules the priestly people; acting in the person of Christ, he makes present the Eucharistic sacrifice, and offers it to God in the name of all the people. (n10)It really isn't rocket science. No ministerial priesthood = no Sacraments = no Church.
Lay people can become friends of the Confraternity and offer prayers, financial and practical support to priests. Check out the membership page of the website.
Twitch of the mantilla to the inimitable Father Z, who deserves an bravery award for reading through such tripe and having the patience to explain why it's so completely wrong. I,on the other hand, just want to slap someone...
UPDATE: To be honest, I didn't realise that the letter was actually published in 2011 (as was Fr. Z's article) as it only came to my attention on Wednesday. However, even though it's an old letter, my point still stands: it should never have been published in a Catholic newspaper without some sort of correction or editorial comment...