Priest shortages: Bring in the elders

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  • Martin Keenan

    Firstly, another simple error here: there are more than 5,000 Catholic bishops, not the meagre 3,00o you (or Bp Lobinger) mention – and “support” comes in many forms.

    Second, the instability of Bp Lobinger’s thought demands notice. He repudiated his earlier scheme for ordaining “viri probati” as unworkable. His latest plan (first elaborated by him in his book “Teams of Elders”) proposes that teams, not individuals, be appointed (he rejects the term “priests” for them) for a 3 year term.

    Most significantly, your (and his) assertion that such a scheme (or any variation of it) has scriptural authority is highly contentious and demands a forced reading of a clause in the Epistle to Titus on which I have made a post in the thread under your leader for Vocations Sunday but which I repeat here.


    [Bp Lobinger’s] latest scheme for “teams of elders” serving in rotation for 3 years derives, I think, exclusively from a half sentence in the Epistle to Titus which gives no support whatever for that particular idea:

    ” . . I left you in Crete so that you might set right what remains to be done and appoint presbyters in every town, as I directed you . .” (Tit.1:5, NAB).

    The commentary in the New American Bible says this provision – and the remainder of the passage, extending to verse 9 – is a reference to bishops (cf.1Tim.3:1-7), so it must mean one bishop in each town, not teams of “elders” in each town.


    Whether or not these “teams of elders” as proposed by Bp Lobinger are or are not “priests”, the proposal conflicts with the Church’s teaching that only an ordained priest may confect the Eucharist.

    Expanding provision for the celebration of the Eucharist is, I might add, of very limited value if there is to be no provision for catechesis (by homily and by other means) or for the sacrament of reconciliation. That aspect is ignored by Bp Lobinger because his “solution” is a purely mechanistic one.

    Now I am wondering if it is perhaps you, Günther, who has not read all of Bp Lobinger on this subject.

  • Pingback: The Case for Viri Probati « Catholic Sensibility()

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