Dutch Dominicans: Choose Eucharist Presiders from Parish
At their June 2005 provincial chapter, Dominicans in Holland formed a committee of experts to study “whether celebrating the Eucharist depends on the ministry of ordained men, or whether it is possible that the Church community it has appointed, celebrate the Eucharist themselves.” In August, the outcome: “The Church and the Ministry” was sent to every parish in Holland. The 38-page booklet proposes that parishes choose Mass presiders from among their community and present selected candidates “women or men, homo- or heterosexual, married or single” to the bishop for ordination. At present, the Netherlands has 1,557 parishes and only 1,112 priests, many of whom are elderly. The number of Masses on Sunday fell from 2,200 in 2002 to 1,900 in 2004, while the number of Word and Communion Services increased from 550 to 630. The booklet ends with “An Urgent Plea” well worth quoting here in part (click here for pdf of full text).
With some emphasis we urge our faith communities, the parishes, to realize what is at stake in the present emergency situation of the shortage of ordained celibate priests and to be allowed to take the extent of freedom which is theologically justified to choose their own leader or team of leaders from their own midst.
… If a bishop should refuse such a confirmation or `ordination' on the basis of arguments not involving the essence of the Eucharist, such as obligatory celibacy, parishes may be confident that they are able to celebrate a real and genuine Eucharist when they are together in prayer and share bread and wine.
We urge parishes to act in this way with a great amount of self-confidence and courage. … we would like to emphasize once more that our argument is based on statements of the Second Vatican Council and on publications of professional theologians and pastoral experts which have appeared since this council.