Dear Concerned Catholic Friend,
Please join the rising tide of faithful Catholics worldwide in asking for optional celibacy in the Roman Catholic Church. FutureChurch is asking you to send a postcard to Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, Prefect Congregation for the Clergy, with copies to the Priestly Life and Ministry Committee at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Pope Benedict and your local bishop.
FutureChurch has worked for nearly twenty years to raise awareness about the need to change celibacy rules if parishes are to stay open and the Eucharist is to remain the center of Catholic worship. In the past three years, over 400 parishes across the United States have closed, according to the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate. In March 2009, the Bishop of Cleveland announced the closing of 52 parishes, many against the recommendations of his own staff, parishioners and/or the Diocesan Priests' Council. Easily half of these are energetic congregations with important ministries in urban areas.
Sadly, this scenario is being repeated in dioceses from New Orleans to Nova Scotia, to the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and Europe as the irreversibility of the priest shortage hits home. Even worse, thousands of Catholics in the developing world have minimal access to Mass and the sacraments because of too few celibate priests.
While we are saddened to see so many Catholics suffer from the failure of church leaders to address the priest shortage, we do not lose heart. This is because ever Increasing numbers of Catholics choose to resist unjust parish closings, and calls for changing celibacy rules are rapidly expanding.
The postcard requests that Cardinal Piacenza's office begin "discussion at the highest levels of the Church about the need to return to our earliest tradition of permitting both a married and celibate clergy."
It also expresses your concern about the vitality and future of the Church throughout the world when so many healthy parishes are being closed because of the priest shortage. A recent Pew study found that four times as many U.S. Catholics leave the Church as join it, more than any other denomination.