PopeWatch: No Experience

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Perhaps PopeWatch is just noticing it more, but in the age of Francis there seems to be a great reek of stupidity from high ranking clergy.  An example:



Catholic priests lack “credibility” to prepare the faithful for the sacrament of marriage because they have never been married, according to the leader of the Vatican’s office for ministry to the family.

Priests are not the best people to train others for marriage, said Cardinal Kevin Farrell, prefect of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life.

“They have no credibility,” Farrell said, “they have never lived the experience; they may know moral theology, dogmatic theology in theory, but to go from there to putting it into practice every day…. they don’t have the experience.”

The comments from Cardinal Farrell, who hails from the Dublin suburb of Drimnagh, came in a recent interview with Intercom magazine, a publication of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference. His remarks were covered by The Irish Times and picked up by Crux.

The cardinal’s assertion that lack of marital experience is a handicap conflicts with Pope Saint John Paul II’s pivotal 1960 work Love and Responsibility. In it, then-Karol Wojtyla said that priests have a different and “wider” experience that allows them to minister to couples. He wrote: 

It is sometimes said that only those who live a conjugal life can pronounce on the subject of marriage, and only those who have experienced it can pronounce on love between man and woman. 

In this view, all pronouncements on such matters must be based on personal experience, so that priests and persons living a celibate life can have nothing to say on questions of love and marriage. Nevertheless they often do speak and write on these subjects. Their lack of direct personal experience is no handicap because they possess a great deal of experience at second-hand, derived from their pastoral work.

For in their pastoral work they encounter these particular problems so often, and in such a variety of circumstances and situations, that a different type of experience is created, which is certainly less immediate, and certainly ‘second-hand’, but at the same time very much wider. The very abundance of factual material on the subject stimulates both general reflection and the effort to synthesize what is known. 

Go here to read the rest.  For background on Cardinal Farrell go here.   Perhaps the best way for faithful Catholics to get through this pontificate is to view it either as God’s judgement or God’s practical joke.

More to explorer

Give ‘Em a Point for Honesty

News that I missed, courtesy of The Babylon Bee:   MENLO PARK, CA—In a move to better filter out unapproved positions and


  1. So many priests have told me over the years that NFP is impossible. It’s not the 99% accuracy of the awareness of fertility that seems impossible to them, it’s likely the 7-10 days of abstinence.
    Yes, sad to say, the lavender mafia knows nothing of marriage and 7-10 days of abstinence. In fact, they know nothing of the complex relationship a man may have with a women.

  2. “Perhaps the best way for faithful Catholics to get through this pontificate is to view it either as God’s judgement or God’s practical joke.”

    Sticking with Judgement on this one.
    I’m praying that the (pruning) to come will make up for the ambiguous Francis years.

  3. A term the “progressive” katholic loves to repeat: “the notion that Father knows best went out in the 50”. If they had their way a priest would mass consecrate a years supply of host, then turn everything over to the laity.

  4. I can’t stand the stupidity.
    I can’t stand the cowardice.
    I can’t stand the corruption, any longer.
    This Vatican’s purpose is to drive out the long-term cradle Catholic faithful.
    I am their enemy but will not go quietly. They have not the spine to do what is necessary for me to leave.

  5. About 50 years ago, they stopped preaching about two topics about which priests have absolutely no experience: damnation and Hell.

    To be fair, if they were married they would have more familiarity with Hell and being miserable.

  6. Well if they go by this theory then one can fairly say that a doctor has no right treating a patient for cancer unless he himself has had cancer. Seriously can the Vatican get any lazier. In reality, nobody can really prepare a couple for marriage, not even the couples parents. But what a priest can offer is explaining the purpose behind the sacrament- because I think the Vatican has forgotten that it is after all a sacrament- and teach the theology which goes with the sacrament. Otherwise it’s just a free-for-all and a kumbaya hand-holding hoopla. Not marriage.

  7. “Catholic priests lack ‘credibility’ to prepare the faithful for the sacrament of marriage because they have never been married . . . ‘They have no credibility,’ Farrell said, ‘they have never lived the experience; ‘”
    Alas, I have to agree with Cardinal Farrell on this. They have no credibility. My mother (an Episcopal) did not want to be lectured on marriage by some one who was not married. That was over 40 years ago. (My parents left the Episcopal Church back in the 70’s. Too liberal even back then. They might have gone Catholic, but I assume the celibacy issue was a deal breaker for Mother–so they dropped any kind of church attendance.)
    Certainly not after scandal after scandal after scandal–the hierarchy has no credibility for me. In theory a priest could say something intelligent about marriage, but I’m not sure with the current crop that we have, even with the new “orthodox” ones, there are many out there who can/do. To be fair, there are not a lot of married couples out there who probably can speak intelligently about marriage and give good counsel to a truly distressed couple. That might require a marriage counselor–a licensed psychologist or someone who has studied family psychology of something. Preferably a Christian/Catholic one.
    My favorite writer on marriage is actually a Baptist minister (I do not know a Catholic equivalent.) He has a back ground a family psychology. I don’t think he is 100% in his writings (books, blogs), but over all, I like his stuff. It has been much more helpful to me than anything I’ve read about Theology of the Body. My marriage prep was not helpful either, but I think it may have been a model for what the USCCB is trying to do (we had a mentor couple, some kind of personal survey, meetings with the priest–that was 22 years ago.) The values my parents (and my husband’s parents) instilled were more helpful.

  8. You know, one of the advantages of a priest for marriage stuff is that they don’t have a dog in the fight.

    About 90% of the “discussion” about marriage that I see going on is people discussing their own marriage and desires, rather than the philosophical and moral arguments involved. One of the major problems in explaining, oh, the “crazy” choices my husband and I make is other people who are in the conversation mostly to defend their own choices that went another direction.

    An argument is not better or worse depending on who is making it; you may as well say that Jesus shouldn’t be allowed to tell us divorce is wrong, because He wasn’t married. Yeah, He’s God, so He could tell us what His reasoning was– but Joe Blow saying the same thing is going to be just as right, because it’s true, not because he’s got good emotional authority.

  9. Foxfier- spot on. Every couple has their own take on marriage. The Church can’t keep outsourcing their responsibilities to the laity. We become just another Evangelical Church otherwise, with random leaders interpreting the Bible and Church teaching as they please. It’s almost like the world lacks strong men, who are willing to stick their necks out and call a spade a spade and teach the Truth. Everything seems so mediocre and limp-wristed lately.

  10. On those unmarried priests lacking experience;
    A philosophy professor once remarked in class that you can usually learn more from the honest guys that lost, than you can from the guys that won.

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