Anglican Dean in Ireland quit Roman Catholic Church ‘over celibacy rules’

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A priest has told how compulsory celibacy was part of his personal journey away from the Catholic "church of his youth" towards the Anglican ministry.

The Very Reverend Dermot Dunne also spoke of his concerns over the Catholic Church's teaching against birth control, on not allowing divorce to couples in broken marriages, as well as its refusal to admit women to the priesthood.

He was speaking in Dublin yesterday at the announcement of his appointment as Dean of the Church of Ireland's Christ Church cathedral.

Currently the Church of Ireland Archdeacon in the diocese of Ferns, Dean-elect Dunne becomes Christ Church's first Dean since the 16th Century Reformation to have received his theological education in a Catholic seminary, St Patrick's College, Maynooth.

Read it all.



Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of Ireland

23 Comments
Posted February 27, 2008 at 1:09 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. the roman wrote:

A priest has told how compulsory celibacy….

Matthew 19:12 (King James Version)
King James Version (KJV)
Public Domain

12"For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother’s womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.”

If celibacy is a gift then what’s wrong with the Catholic Church choosing it’s priests from among such recipients? This “compulsory” claptrap is just a venue for cafeteria browsers to pile it on some more.

Rev. Dunne had a change of heart, that’s fine and good luck to him. He’s not the first nor the last ex-Catholic who is smarter than the Church.

February 27, 3:06 pm | [comment link]
2. austin wrote:

One of the ways in which Anglican (and orthodox Christian) teaching has been undermined is through a steady stream of liberal Roman Catholic clergy and laypeople entering the church.  I think this is a still more marked trend in TEC, of which the Presiding Bishop is a notable example.  In some NE parishes I have attended more than half of the congregation were ex-RC, many divorced and remarried or in gay relationships.  The former parishoners had melted away and would wander in for Christmas and Easter to wave the tattered flag of the WASP establishment.

February 27, 3:50 pm | [comment link]
3. Chris Molter wrote:

While it’s a shame when anyone leaves the Church, I’m glad Rev Dunne had the integrity to leave for Anglicanism rather than try to mutilate the Catholic Church to meet his idea of what it ought to be.  If only certain folks in TEC had followed a similar path to the UCC or UU denominations…

February 27, 4:40 pm | [comment link]
4. evan miller wrote:

Just what the Church of Ireland needs, another revisionist priest.  This guy would make a good TEC bishop.

February 27, 4:48 pm | [comment link]
5. Dan Crawford wrote:

Ah, the leap from canonically imposed celibacy to canonically permitted promiscuity. I wouldn’t pass it up - would yo?

February 27, 5:16 pm | [comment link]
6. Dan Crawford wrote:

I meant to write “you”, but yo will do.

February 27, 5:17 pm | [comment link]
7. Dale Rye wrote:

Re #4: What about this guy is revisionist? There is nothing in the article to suggest that he holds any belief that is not shared by the Church of Ireland and the majority of its membership (or that is not shared by the majority of Anglican provinces elsewhere in the Communion). Obviously, his belief that there is no intrinsic relationship between clerical celibacy and Holy Orders puts him at odds with the Roman Catholic Church, which is why he left it. That belief hardly constitutes revisionism for an Anglican, however (at least not since the 1530s). Nor do any of the other beliefs mentioned in the article. The Church of Ireland is historically a good deal more Protestant than the Church of England and it is hardly revisionist for its members (even its dignitaries) to differ from Roman Catholic dogma. Perhaps you are aware of some revisionist belief held by Dean Dunne that is not mentioned in the article. If so, I hope you will share it with us.

February 27, 5:31 pm | [comment link]
8. drummie wrote:

I have to congratulate the Dean. although they might be selfish reasons on his part, at least he left to organization he did not agree with rather than subvert the Roman Church from within.  Why are any of us members of one particular faith?  Because we feel it has the right theology.  I was raised in the Church of Rome, but found after maturing that I could not in good conscience agree with some of the decisions and dogma.  I never have figured out the forced state of not marrying.  I realise (quite well) that a family can be a distraction from priestly duties, but it can also be a blessing as well. If you have never experienced something, how can you counsel on the topic?  That is what kept me seperated fom the grace of God for so many years, I couldn’t identify with some mystical unseen perfect entity.  It took explaining to me the full humanity and divinity of Christ before I could go to Him with my problems and praises.

February 27, 5:53 pm | [comment link]
9. kb9gzg wrote:

Re#8: “If you have never experienced something, how can you counsel on the topic?” How about in the same manner that a psychiatrist who has never been psychotic can treat a person suffering with schizophrenia.

February 27, 6:30 pm | [comment link]
10. Ratramnus wrote:

Dale Rye is quite right about people here leaping too quickly to discover heresy, or its modern counterpart, “Reappraising.”  Nowhere in the article does the Very Rev. Mr. Dunne go beyond Thomas Cranmer in belief or practice.

Austin is also quite right that the Episcopal Church in the Northeast and Midwest has received a substantial influx of former Roman Catholics who thought Vatican II got it backwards: Rome should have modernized its doctrine instead of its liturgy.  These people bring some strenghths to our church, but having thrown off the authority of the Bishop of Rome, they are not always shown our Protestant authority in Scripture and how it as well as our worship grounds us in tradition.

February 27, 6:48 pm | [comment link]
11. Already Gone wrote:

Dale, Ratramnus - See this article in the Times re the views of the Very Rev. Mr. Dunne.  His objections to the Catholic Church go l beyond the issue of celebacy.  See http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/faith/article3441821.ece

February 27, 7:11 pm | [comment link]
12. Dale Rye wrote:

Re #11: The Times quotes basically the same soundbyte as the Independent article that Kendall+ linked above:

“It came to a point where I felt I needed to be honest,” he said. “I could see the Church was going one way and I another. My thinking was different on areas of human sexuality, on marriage, the place of women in the Church and the question of vocation of women and the admission of women to the ordained ministry.”

We also know that Dean Dunne would permit divorce and the use of family planning by married couples. Again, which of these positions contradicts any official position of the Church of Ireland? Not being Roman Catholic isn’t revisionist for an Irish Protestant.

February 27, 7:30 pm | [comment link]
13. Ratramnus wrote:

#11, Thank you for the link.  I have to admit that I am not sure if Cranmer ever contemplated the ordination of women.  It was not seriously on the horizon then, so I should have been more cautious.
I do know that Cranmer was married while he still professed allegiance to Rome and that he rose to prominence while negotiating a divorce.

Reasons not to ordain women in the past relied more on history as expressed in Scripture and on tradition rather than on specific theological justifications, and like many evangelical Anglicans, I believe women should be ordained to all orders of ministry.  The vague comments about human sexuality make me a bit more apprehensive.  Certainly, I have seen nothing in either article that proves Dean Dunne is a “reappraiser,” and, as a Protestant, I cannot fault anyone for objecting to the Roman Catholic Church on a number of grounds.

February 27, 7:44 pm | [comment link]
14. Already Gone wrote:

I agree that most of what he says has become at least common teachings in all Protestant churches.  However, I would argue that the use of the term “human sexuality” has become a common code for homosexuality, in particular, the view that homosexual and hetrosexual relationships are morally equal.  If that is his intent, his use of that term as one of the areas with which he disagrees with the Catholic Church strongly suggests he differs with the Church’s teachings in that area (and with most of the Anglican Communion).

February 27, 7:47 pm | [comment link]
15. The young fogey wrote:

Where do I begin?

A priest has told how compulsory celibacy was part of his personal journey away from the Catholic “church of his youth” towards the Anglican ministry.

A matter of discipline not doctrine.

“The difference of opinion we had was over whether there is an intrinsic connection between the vocation to celibacy and the vocation to the ordained ministry. The official view is that there is, I would hold that there isn’t. So that is why I moved outside.”

Obviously, his belief that there is no intrinsic relationship between clerical celibacy and Holy Orders puts him at odds with the Roman Catholic Church, which is why he left it.

That’s not what the Roman Catholic Church teaches! Eastern-rite churches, both under Rome and mostly not, ordained the married.

So doing or marrying the ordained as Protestants do wouldn’t stop the vocations slump.

The Very Reverend Dermot Dunne also spoke of his concerns over the Catholic Church’s teaching against birth control, on not allowing divorce to couples in broken marriages, as well as its refusal to admit women to the priesthood.

The first isn’t peculiarly Roman; before the Church of England cautiously changed its mind in 1930 ALL Christians taught this. The second seems mangled; couples may divorce. The issue is divorce after remarriage, another issue not peculiarly Roman. Its identification with Anglicanism’s origins is another example of common knowledge being wrong: Henry VIII had some of his marriages annulled. Historically the rule in Anglicanism is like Rome’s. In most of the world the third issue just doesn’t come up… for example there’s no movement to ordain women in the Ukrainian Catholic Church.

On all three Rome is maintaining the faith of the apostles and church fathers. Dean Dunne and modern Anglicanism are serving the changing fashions and opinions of the times instead.

Austin’s right in 2 except about Dr Schori: she didn’t leave the Roman Catholic Church as an adult; her parents did when she was a little girl. I don’t know why: her mother was a sound Catholic all her life, ending up Eastern Orthodox.

Blog.

February 27, 8:08 pm | [comment link]
16. Dale Rye wrote:

RE #15: Just for clarity’s sake (I know you understand this, but your readers may not), the Roman Catholic Church does insist that its Roman-rite clergy pledge perpetual celibacy and it does not permit “marrying the ordained” in any rite. It was these policies that Dean Dunne disagreed with to the point of leaving the Roman Communion over it.

While it is true that most Eastern-rite churches not in union with the Holy See will ordain men to the diaconate and presbyterate who are already married to their first wife (not usually remarried widowers), they restrict the episcopate to celibate monastics. They do not permit unmarried men already in Holy Orders (whether single or newly widowed) to marry after ordination. The same rules generally apply to Eastern-rite Catholics outside the US (and to former Anglicans ordained under the Pastoral Provision). However, to discourage friction with Roman-rite Catholics, married Eastern-rite men in the US are not usually permitted to enter Holy Orders.

Since Dean Dunne was in the Roman Rite, there was an intrinsic relationship between celibacy and ordination in his case. The fact that the connection is disciplinary rather than doctrinal doesn’t alter that relationship. Even a cursory reading of the Reformers will provide chapters full of arguments why imposing that relationship might be not only unscriptural but even in conflict with the earliest Christian tradition (the first Pope, Saint Peter, was married). Again, adopting the Reformers’ reasoning rather than Rome’s hardly makes an Irish Protestant a revisionist.

The same is true with regard to women’s ordination. A church that has steadfastly rejected Catholic teaching on the nature of the ordained ministry and the Eucharistic Sacrifice since 1548 or thereabouts is hardly going to buy the argument that women can’t be priests because they can’t represent Christ while offering the sacrifice. That is hardly surrender to the changing fashions of the times, either, except to the same extent that allowing women to be doctors and lawyers represents revisionism.

Now you can certainly argue—-and I suspect you may be arguing—-that all Anglicans are automatically revisionists by virtue of their refusal to submit to the universal ordinary jurisdiction of the Bishop of Rome. However, if you can concede that we may be the victims of invincible ignorance on the matter of Petrine Primacy, it hardly seems a stretch to give us the same leeway with regard to Catholic marriage discipline.

February 27, 10:25 pm | [comment link]
17. The young fogey wrote:

Your first paragraph is correct and I’m not here to preach either way about the Pope.

February 27, 11:14 pm | [comment link]
18. azusa wrote:

What I’d like to know is not his views on marriage but whether he rejects transubstantiation as unbiblical and affirms the 39 Articles as true. Did he have *positive biblical reasons for becoming a Protestant? He could of course have left the Cathlic priesthood, married and remained a Catholic.

February 28, 3:29 am | [comment link]
19. pair of scissors wrote:

8 - How can anyone criticise same sex unions unless they have personally experienced one? Or abortion unless they have been pregnant?
16 -

Now you can certainly argue—-and I suspect you may be arguing—-that all Anglicans are automatically revisionists by virtue of their refusal to submit to the universal ordinary jurisdiction of the Bishop of Rome

And I suspect that you may be arguing that the test for revisionism is whether someone agrees with you or not. I’d be fascinated to learn when WO stopped being revisionist, and the traditional Christian prohibitions on divorce and remarriage are at least as strong as those on homosexuality.

Anyway, (even by the narrow definition of a revisionist as someone who accepts SSU’s), the dean clearly is a revisionist since on this side of the Atlantic “human sexuality” is popular code for homosexuality.

February 28, 4:35 am | [comment link]
20. The young fogey wrote:

Good point, The Gordian, and to clarify further, Dale Rye, I don’t believe Rome’s teaching the truth on the three Controversial Issues™ named above is necessarily related to its claim

February 28, 9:47 am | [comment link]
21. The young fogey wrote:

I don’t know why this was published before I finished writing it but here is the real comment:

Good point, The Gordian, and to clarify further, Dale Rye, I’m not saying here that Rome’s teaching the truth on the three Controversial Issues™ named above - birth control, remarriage after divorce and women’s ordination - is necessarily related to its claims for the Pope of universal and immediate ordinary jurisdiction or ex cathedra infallibility.

Getting back to The Gordian’s point I suspect Dean Dunne’s conversion was little to do with doubts about the scope of the Pope nor with becoming convinced of the claims in the Articles of Religion on the Lord’s Supper and other matters. (Said the worldly-wise Roman Catholic bishop to the young curate asking him for a leave of absence because of doubts, ‘What’s her name?’) But on transubstantiation (I believe in a complete change of the elements however you want to explain it - transubstantiation’s fine) I think many liberal Roman Catholics dissent, not flat-out denying the Real Presence but preferring a more Protestant view of it.

Blog.

February 28, 9:57 am | [comment link]
22. Dale Rye wrote:

Re #19: My test for “revisionism” tends to be the same as my test for “insanity.” It is not whether someone agrees with me, but whether they agree with the common sense of the community they live in. Someone who belongs to a particular group, the great majority of whom happen to share a common belief that has been officially validated by the agreed processes of the group, is of course free to disagree. However, he is not free to suggest that only he, and not the group as a whole, has the right to decide whether that belief is acceptable within that group or not.

People are free to wear tin-foil hats to protect against alien radio waves, but they are not free to condemn the majority who disagree with them as insane. Anglicans are free to disagree with decisions made through the due processes of their province with the concurrence of the Instruments of Communion and most other provinces, but they are not free to condemn the majority who disagree with them as revisionist Anglicans. The fact that they would be revisionists if they were Roman Catholics holding the same beliefs is irrelevant.

Dean Dunne has chosen to be a minister in a rather Protestant-leaning Anglican province, rather than a priest in Roman-rite Catholicism. His personal revisionism or lack thereof needs to be measured against the orthodoxy defined by the community he belongs to, not by some other group that regards his church as revisionist simply for existing. The Church of Ireland and the Anglican Communion are both revisionist by that standard, whatever their position on clerical marriage and birth control might be, and they will remain revisionist for so long as they refuse to submit to the Holy See. Calling the Dean a revisionist for adhering to the standards of his own church on those side issues is picking at gnats while ignoring the elephant in the room.

Like it or not, the Church of Ireland happens to accept birth control, remarriage after divorce, and women’s ordination. It does so, in part, because it holds different theological views on human sexuality than the Roman Catholic Church. (If you regard “human sexuality” as code for “homosexuality,” what term would you prefer Dean Dunne to use for the other 97% of us?) The great majority of members of his church agree with him on all three points. A majority of other Anglican provinces agree on all three as well. Hence, I don’t think you can fairly single out Dean Dunne as holding personal views that are revisionist in nature.

February 28, 12:12 pm | [comment link]
23. The young fogey wrote:

Good point as always but I think the big issue here at T19 is how and how much on Anglicanism’s own terms (this being a conservative blog) can Anglicanism change itself? Many Anglo-Catholics left over WO and now some of the last Central Churchmen are bailing over Gene Robinson’s issues (one may argue that waiting until now didn’t make sense - that horse ran out of the barn when Bishop Paul Moore ordained a practising lesbian 30 years ago).

Blog.

February 28, 12:25 pm | [comment link]
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