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 CNS Story:

HUSAR-VOCATIONS Jan-4-2008 (440 words) xxxi

Ukrainian cardinal says married men not answer to vocations crisis

By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Ordaining married men is not a guaranteed way to solve a vocations crisis, and it will not automatically improve the quality of priests, said Cardinal Lubomyr Husar of Kiev-Halych, head of the Ukrainian Catholic Church.

"The quality of the priest does not depend on whether or not he is married," the cardinal said in a Jan. 4 interview with the Vatican newspaper.

The cardinal, whose Eastern-rite church ordains married men, spoke to L'Osservatore Romano about the Ukrainian bishops' decision to proclaim 2008 "The Year of the Christian Vocation."

"We are not limiting ourselves to vocations to religious life and the priesthood, but are focusing on the Christian concept of vocation," he said. "This is because we have seen a serious instability both in the family and in religious life."

The rate of separation and divorce, as well as the rate of priests and religious asking to be released from their vows, has increased, the cardinal said.

Cardinal Husar said he did not have statistics for either case, but it appears that the flourishing of vocations to the priesthood and religious life that occurred immediately after independence 17 years ago has slowed severely and that family separations have increased.

"We are aware that, unfortunately, a certain percentage of those who requested priesthood did not have true vocations," he said.

Even though being a priest is not an easy life, he said, priests are highly respected in Ukraine, which makes the priesthood attractive.

"So the drop in the numbers is due at least in part to a more attentive discernment on the part of rectors and educators," he said. "In a certain sense, it is not right to talk about a decline in vocations, but of a process of purification."

The Vatican newspaper asked Cardinal Husar how he would respond to Latin-rite Catholics who think ordaining married men would solve the vocations crisis.

"Abolishing celibacy is not a solution in itself," he said. "The quality of the priest does not depend on whether or not he is married. This has been our experience, and I think people are wrong if they think the vocations problem can be resolved by ordaining married persons. It will not ensure a large number of vocations.

"I come from a priestly family," he said. "My grandfather was a priest, and other members of the family were priests; some were married, others were not.

"If a person is good, he will be a good priest, and this does not depend on the fact that he is married," Cardinal Husar said.


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